Taking Your Cat to the Vet

September 11, 2014Wellness News
Author: Christina White DVM

Most cats hate going to the vet. Even the sweetest most docile kitty can become a saber-tooth savage when brought to the clinic. For that reason, many cat owners put off seeking veterinary care until an emergency arises. This is very bad for your feline’s health. Cats, just like dogs, should have an examination by your veterinarian every year.

Yearly wellness exams can help a cat in many ways. They offer the owner and the veterinarian an opportunity to discuss prevention of disease, treatment of behavioral and medical problems, dietary concerns, and other aspects of the cat’s care. By examining the animal and questioning the owner, your veterinarian may discover unknown issues and can initiate treatment before little problems become big problems.

Getting cats to come to the hospital for a regular exam is vital, but that means travel. For starters, they should travel safely and securely in a cat carrier. But how does one do this with as little stress (for both you and your cat) as possible?

It all starts at home. If possible, choose a carrier that has access from both the top and the front. This makes it easier for your cat to get in or out. We recommend that the carrier be left open in your home in a safe comfortable place, so your cat gets used to it and can go in and out of the carrier at will. Eventually your kitty will view the carrier as a safe haven rather than a frightening cage.


Cats may have individual preferences as to the style of the carrier. Some cats prefer a soft carrier, others a hard-shelled one. Some like to see out, while others prefer to hide under a blanket or have a towel covering the carrier. Each cat is different, and you will want to discover what your cat likes.

When you schedule a cat exam at Riverbend, ask the receptionist to select a time when it is more likely to be quiet in the waiting room (fewer dogs, or small, quiet dogs might be around). When an owner and cat arrive, we move them as quickly as possible into a quiet exam room.

Once a cat is in the exam room, we let it come out of the carrier on its own, or we might take the top off the carrier so your kitty can stay in a familiar spot while we examine it. Sometimes we examine cats on the floor or on our laps. We try different techniques to find out what works best for your pet. Cats are individuals and may have their own strong preferences.

Cats are both predators and prey — they are interested in watching new things but prefer to be in a safe spot while doing it. Some freeze when scared, others attack. If we can keep your cat’s interest while making them feel safe, the veterinarian will be able to examine it, get the diagnostics needed, and treat any problems found.

At Riverbend Animal Hospital, we want cats and their owners to enjoy their visit, and we look to establish a long-term relationship. The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has developed guidelines for feline care. Animal hospitals that meet or surpass their set standards earn the accreditation “Cat Friendly Practice.” Riverbend Animal Hospital has become one of only seven such certified veterinary hospitals in Massachusetts.

“Thank you so much for the love and care you give to the animals and the humans of our family.”

Beth, Northampton

“Two bum knees is not a fair hand to be dealt. After her surgeries, Ivy now tears across the yard!”

Dave, Wilbraham

“The practice seems to center on providing comprehensive, loving care for animals, which you can learn easily by sitting in the waiting room talking to other happy pet parents.”

Nicole, East Longmeadow

“We want to thank you for the excellent care you have provided Arlo. Everyone is kind, compassionate and professional. We are grateful for your expert care for our wonderful dog.”

Denise and Bob, Greenfield

“Dr. Thomson is the Dustin Pedroia of veterinary medicine — determined, committed, talented, the ultimate teammate in what has been a very long season. Thank you for all you have done to help Tilly (and us) along this long and bumpy journey.”

MJ and Anne, Sunderland