How to Reduce Stress in Your Cat Prior to Visiting the Vets

Does your cat get worried about going to the vets?

It is no secret that cats don’t like being told what to do.  So what happens when you have to go to the vets for their annual checkup?  When it comes to the vets, cats seem to have a sixth sense.  You book the appointment, plan your journey, dust the cat carrier off and get all ready.  But the cat is nowhere to be seen.  He has failed to turn up for his morning breakfast of grilled kippers.  He has vanished.  Its as if HE KNEW what you were thinking.  We have had many appointments cancelled last minute due to the cat somehow getting wind of what was afoot and legging it.

Cats are creatures of habit.  They are the ultimate pleasure seekers.  Whether it be lying in the sunniest spot in the garden, or settling into a fresh laundry basket – they know where la dolce vita is best to be found.  We try to make our clinic as comfortable as we can for cats – you can book your cat in when there are no dogs around, for example.  However, we understand that cats would not want to enter a hospital environment – after all, most of us don’t want to go into hospitals ourselves!

Luckily, science can help you, and your cat.  A scientific paper was published in 2017 detailing the results of using a drug to calm the visit of your cat to the vets.  The drug was called gabapentin.  It was originally developed for use as a painkiller in people.  It acts on various receptors in the brain.  In this study 100mg tablets were given to cats about 2hrs before they were put into cat carriers and transported to the vets by their owners.  The owners and vets reported that the treatment dramatically reduced stress in the cats when they were examined at the clinic.  Some cats were even asleep!

So is this a solution to stressed out moggies?  For some, it is.  Some cats are so scared of the vet that they wet the bedding in their carriers.  Giving this drug could certainly improve their experience and get them access to healthcare that they would not otherwise receive.  But some cats in the study did suffer from mild side effects – like wobbling or vomiting.  These effects did wear off, but could be unpleasant for the individuals affected.  Overall, I believe that this is a great advancement in pet care – anything which reduces fear and pain for our pets is to be applauded.

If you are interested in trying this medication out for your cat, please just call into Downe Vets and we will be happy to help.


Effects of a single pre appointment dose of gabapentin on signs of stress in cats during transportation and veterinary examination

Karen A. van Haaften, Lauren R. Eichstadt Forsythe, Elizabeth A. Stelow, and Melissa J. Bain

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, November 15, 2017, Vol. 251, No. 10 , Pages 1175-1181