Keeping Your Cat Calm During Veterinary Visits

Promote Feline Wellness with our Certified Cat-Friendly Practice


Cats are independent creatures that need time to develop trust and often rely on their trusted human sidekicks to feel safe while navigating the world, especially veterinary visits.

That’s why expert veterinarians must approach cats differently than dogs; specific steps must be followed to ensure the feline community can get the care they need while advocating for their well-being.

Thankfully, our own Dr. Rebecca Donaldson at Metro Paws Animal Hospital, White Rock location only, is a certified cat-friendly veterinarian through the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP). This means she has undergone additional training on techniques specifically designed to reduce stress for cats. She has also passed on these techniques to our extended staff so we can ensure our feline friends feel comfortable while they are visiting us.

What is a Certified, Cat-Friendly Practice?

The Cat-Friendly Practice Program is a global initiative started by the AAFP to improve cat care by reducing their stress levels, as well as the caregivers.

By completing the program, veterinarians gain confidence in treating cats thanks to the additional knowledge and tools under their belt. They become experts in the arena and take the opportunity to mentor their veterinary support teams in applying the same philosophies to understand cats’ behaviors better. 

certified cat-friendly veterinarians help to:

  • Gain confidence in treating cats 
  • Commit to the importance of feline health
  • Gain knowledge and tools that they can transfer to their team
  • Enhance their ability to meet and exceed the needs of patients and their owners
  • Help clinics better understand cats
  • Gain a better understanding of how this feline knowledge plays into bettering the practice
  • Use CE and professional development to gain and showcase feline expertise

Things you can do to prepare your cat for the veterinarian:

  • Conquer the cat carrier – This is the first and most critical step in this process. You want to make it a comfortable place that’s not only associated with going to the veterinarian. Put your cat’s favorite blanket and toys, something with their favorite scent, and perhaps even some treats into the carrier. Get it out on occasion to entice them in there, so it’s not only associated with going to the veterinarian.
  • Use pheromones to keep your cat calm – As mentioned above, the Feliway diffuser is something veterinary practices often use, as the pheromones reduce the signs of stress in cats.
  • Bring your cat in for a non-exam visit – Many people don’t think of this, but we’d love to have you pop in and introduce your cat to us so we can get to know them and, conversely, for them not only to associate the clinic as a place where they are poked and prodded!
  • Get your cat used to being handled – Ideally, you should start this when a cat is a kitten, as you want them used to being handled, so it’s a bit easier on the veterinary team (and the cat!) during visits. 
  • Take your cat on rides before the veterinary visit – Full disclosure: Some cats will never like the car. But it would be best if you took them on short trips around the neighborhood here and there to get them used to it outside of the veterinary visits.

When your cat visits Metro Paws Animal Hospital White Rock location, you can expect: 

    1. Set your cat up in a “cat only” exam room – no dogs allowed! This means your cat won’t pick up on dog smells or pheromones that could make them feel anxious
    2. Perform their physical exam in a manner and location where they are the least stressed (like the bottom of their carrier, under a blanket, or in a warm lap)
    3. Use Feliway diffusers (a calming pheromone)
    4. Provide your cat with “safe havens” or hiding places during any hospitalizations 
    5. Use low-stress, safe handling techniques for treatments and blood draws 

While Dr. Donaldson becoming a certified cat-friendly veterinarian will go a long way in helping your cat during veterinary visits, you can also do things at home to ensure all goes well. Ease your cat at home before the veterinary visit by regularly exposing them to their carrier at home, trying catnip and pheromones, and taking them on regular car rides.

We know that some cat owners put off veterinary visits due to the stress they may feel about it, which is why we’ve taken action to make this a more pleasant experience for all involved.

Thanks to this program, we can elevate the care we offer to our community’s cats, as our entire team will be fully prepared to ensure a smooth experience from the beginning to the end of your visit. 

Request an appointment today for your fur baby’s next visit at Metro Paws Animal Hospital, White Rock Location, to see our cat-friendly approach in action!