The best cat carrier for a fear free visit

Does any cat look forward to the annual vet visit? Most likely the answer is “no!”. From a feline point of view, the experience is traumatic. If you want to see this up close and personal, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GVKP8aj-kg . Most cats do not relish change, so new sounds, smells, people and exposure to other species or even other cats is unfamiliar and cause for anxiety.

We want your help to soothe your pet’s stress during a visit. A cornerstone to a “fear free” visit is to give your cat a “safe space” and that means acclimating your cat to the carrier. Carrier exposure is a very important part of limiting stress in the car and hospital. Allow your cat to become comfortable with his/her carrier as a kitten. Kittens should play, sleep and sometimes find catnip or good treats in the carrier. Doing this gifts your cat with a “Safe Space” that travels with them to unfamiliar territory.

There are two kinds of carriers I prefer to see when your kitty visits the West Davis Veterinary Center. The first has an easily detached top, like this one:


A veterinarian can examine your kitty and a technician can perform basic treatments like vaccines in the “Safe Space”. If your cat prefers hiding, we can drape a towel over the carrier to make a little cave.

The second type of carrier I like is a simple cardboard open top transport, like this one:

This is optimal for kitties who still do not like a carrier despite your best training efforts. You can wrap up your kitty in a blanket or towel, set him/her inside, and close the lid; there is no difficult squeeze through an undersized door.

Please avoid carriers like this one:

The doors are too small to allow an exam in the carrier and cat claws grab the fabric making easy removal from the carrier impossible.

Overall, your cat’s carrier should be a happy and comforting part of their life. That way, travel and vet visits are less stressful! Next “fear free” post will be about Feliway pheromone spray and properly outfitting your carrier for a trip to West Davis Veterinary Center. Thank your for taking time to learn about reducing your cat’s anxiety, Sally Nies, RVT, Cara Bradley, DVM and Michael Yackey, DVM