Let’s Help Researchers Learn About Cats’ Vet Anxiety!

Brie was so cute at the vet this summer. He curled up underneath his pink, fleece blanket and didn’t come out. I called him “Raspberry Brie” because he looked like a really big berry hiding under there. He even had a chest X-ray under his blankie. He was cute, but it was because he was really scared.

We go to a veterinarian who is so sensitive that she did Nutmeg and Cheshire’s annual exam under the examining table the first time they went because they were comfortable down there. The technicians have great handling practices too. I take a yoga mat to put on the examining table so the cats won’t slip around or get scared by shiny reflections when they’re on the table. They always have a blanket.

cheddar-mat-smlThe Cheeses – and some of the other guys – eagerly walk into the carrier because we have played fun games, but Brie was still terrified when he went to find out why he was coughing. This was his first time going somewhere out of the house without any of his brothers, and he didn’t feel well. But Cheddar goes places with me on his own, and he gets similarly anxious and hides under his blankie too.

I would really like to know what I could do to make their trips to the vet less stressful. I just learned that veterinary behaviorist Dr. Theresa L. DePorter and cat behavior consultant and pet journalist Steve Dale are studying just this question!

They want to find out how anxious their cats get before going to the vet by surveying cat people. They will send us information about how to recognize cat anxiety – cats try hard not to let on that they are anxious – and a survey to fill out and return.

To get more information about the study check out Steve Dale’s post, “Help Us to Help Cats,” on Chicago Now.

To get a copy of the survey and information on how to recognized cat anxiety, contact Steve Dale at

The researchers plan to use their findings to develop methods to reduce anxiety before leaving the house to visit the vet.

I like that they are looking at anxiety from before cats go in the carrier. More people will take their cats for preventive care and monitoring if the cats aren’t freaking out. If we arrive at the vet office with more relaxed cats, their exams will be easier, too. Veterinarians will get better information about heart rate, breathing, and other important indicators if cats aren’t so stressed.

I’m sending Steve Dale an email now. In the meantime, we are going to focus on making the car ride more acceptable and keep taking the blanket to the vet.

4 thoughts on “Let’s Help Researchers Learn About Cats’ Vet Anxiety!

  1. We’ve actually treated with Dr. DePorter. She tried to get me to like Zoey. We get pretty anxious when we have to get in the carrier, so some research on helping us overcome our fears would be great. We’ll check out the survey.

  2. What a fascinating and interesting study to take part in, we face the same issue when we go to the vet. My brofur Kaspars being formerly feral does not enjoy the carrier, car ride, or visit to the vet. Mom has to hide the carrier from sight, try to grab him, and then have someone else bring forth the carrier to put him in, as if he sees the carrier before he is captured then he will run and hide, making it impossible to catch him.
    The mean human(s) who mistreated me before I adopted my Mom have caused me to suffer from panic attacks, PTSD, and have severe trust issues. Even though I’ve lived with my family for over a year, I only will allow 5 people near me: Mom, Grandmeowmy, Grandpaw (all 3 who I live with), and Mom’s assistants J & A (two ladies who work at our home everyday). When I have an appointment at the vet it is an extremely difficult process for everyone involved, especially me. I do not like being picked up no matter going to the vet or not, so anyone attempting to grab me to place in my carrier has a big task before them! Trying to make things the least anxious for me Mom gives me some Bach’s Rescue Remedy in the morning and then someone will approach me using a soft voice and quickly reach to pick me up, but 9/10 I am too smart, already know something’s up and will take off running. The panic sets in and I hide under the bed where I will hiss and lash out at anyone who tries to coax me out. If the person crawls under and reaches to pull me out I will have a panic attack: I hyperventilate, cower in to a fetal position or corner and wail. This makes my Mom cry as it reminds her of all I’ve been through and she feels helpless. Everyone is always gentle, loving but I cannot help but feel anxious as I eventually am put in the carrier, during the ride to the vet, while we wait and then when I see the vet in the exam room. Mom is trying to come up with ways to make these occasions less of an ordeal for everyone, with me as her main concern and feels a study like this would give valuable information in helping to figure out ways to make a visit to the vet less of a stress on we felines. The successful act of preparation for a visit to the vet would then further benefit our health in the long run, as if humans knew they would have an easier time transporting us then they would be more likely to actually take us. Studies show that cats are brought in a lot less for routine medical care than dogs, the hypothesis being that people believe it is not as important for cats which is then further reinforced by a cat’s dislike to leave home, be taken elsewhere. If our humans can be given tools and understanding about how to calm our fears, then the focus can be on our health

    1. Oops! My paw hit the post button too soon!
      which is the most important thing to most pet parents. Mom says she wants us to be as healthy as we can in order to enjoy many years together. Thank you for sharing this, we plan to look in to taking the survey.
      We send your family purrs of love, hugs, and head bonks,
      Clove & Kaspars

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