Does the mere thought of wrestling your cat into the cat carrier send panic-filled chills down your spine? And then, you must consider the agony of listening to the wails of distress for the entire 15-minute car ride…
Unfortunately, the nightmare doesn’t end there. When your cat returns from the “horrific experience,” she won’t even look at you. Your guilty conscience says – My cat doesn’t trust me after the vet – and that’s just the worst.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone!
This is a pretty common feat for most cat moms and dads (and if it’s not – lucky you!). If this is your cat’s first vet adventure, you might be thinking – Will my cat hate me after vet?
The truth is, Mittens might briefly hate you after his vet visit – but there are several things you can do to earn his love and trust back afterward. Without further ado, here are the top reasons your cat hisses at you after the vet and what you can do about it.
Your Cat Hates When You Mess With His Routine…
Let’s face it – cats are Type-A control freaks. No judgment here – I totally get it. I have my days mapped out down to the minute (and I have a digital copy + a written copy – both color-coded). I’m not crazy – I promise – and neither is your cat! Like many humans, cats crave routine because it guarantees their security. It gives them a feeling of safety that I truly get, and maybe you do too? If cats know exactly what to expect each day, they know they will be safe and they have nothing to worry about. Makes sense, right?
Cats are creatures of habit. They prefer to eat, sleep, groom themselves at the same time and same place – every single day. This regimented schedule might seem mundane and silly to us, but they are super important to our feline friends. Even a minor disruption (like a trip to the vet) can impact their physical health, emotional health, and mood. This explains why Fluffy gives you an attitude when you load him into a cat carrier every few months. We’ve all been there!
What To Do: Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to avoid this break in your cat’s routine. However, there are a few ways that you can ensure that your cat is as comfortable as possible. Experts suggest padding your cat carrier with a soft, clean blanket and placing it on the floor behind the passenger seat to limit the number of visual stimuli. You can also try covering the carrier with a large blanket to make your cat feel more hidden and safer in this new environment. Additionally, be sure to stick to your cat’s usual routine before and after the vet visit to ensure that he can jump right back in when he returns.
Oh, and don’t forget, your cat is a real foodie – so show her how much she means to you through lots of tasty dishes. She’ll be your bestie forever if you keep her well fed on gourmet tuna cans. Unfortunately your wallet won’t!
Your Cat Hates How The Vet Smells…
If you’re like me, you probably remember the exact scent of your family home when you were a kid – clean, comfortable, inviting – and safe. Just like you and your family, your cat also has a “signature scent” and it’s super important to them. If possible, they’d prefer to stay around it and not deal with any other smells. Same!
Back to the signature scent part, a cat’s scent basically serves as an “identification tag to other felines” – like a driver’s license for humans. When cats rub up against you or other animals, they are choosing to share their scent with you – whether you like it or not. But, as we know, cats like to be in the driver’s seat at all times. Because they don’t have a choice in going to the vet and mixing scents with other creatures – they are pretty unhappy when the time comes. Of course, they blame you for this inconvenience.
In a nutshell, when a cat visits the veterinarian’s office, he thinks he smells different. Just think about it – he’s been petted and handled by strangers and maybe given shots that smell like medicine. Your cat doesn’t recognize all these new scents and he certainly doesn’t like it (or you for the time being).
Then again, remember how much you loathed going to the dentist? Or doctor? You can probably even remember the smell…that horrible medical smell that you always associated with poking, prodding, and pain.
I’m sure if you had claws you would have scratched your way out of there. It didn’t take me long to realize that my cat hissing at me after a vet visit was simply because she was scared.
What To Do: If you have more than one cat in your household, be sure to schedule vet appointments together. Chances are – your cat is already comfortable with your other cat’s scent and will feel more at ease if they are experiencing all these new smells together. If you’re like me and only have one fur-baby, consider using a feline wipe or spray inside the cat carrier that contains pheromones to calm and relax anxious tendencies. This will give them that sense of security they crave – especially in unfamiliar situations.
Your Cat Hates That You’re Anxious…
Taking your cat to the vet is stressful, to say the least. We get anxious even thinking about it because we know exactly what to expect – loud cries of distress and the possibility of painful scratching and biting. Above all else, we feel so guilty that our cats are unhappy. Bad vibes all around.
But did you know that your anxiety rubs off on your cat?
All animals (and, especially cats) are super aware of human emotions. When we experience a sudden shift of emotion (like the stressful anticipation of a vet visit), our hormones also shift and our bodies give off a scent that cats are highly sensitive to. When cats recognize this negative change in the environment, they are immediately concerned and mirror the negative emotion. Your cat relies on you for safety, shelter, food, and comfort – so, when you’re anxious about something – they assume that it’s a threat to their well-being and they temporarily hate you for it.
What To Do: Ease your own anxiety by having a well-developed plan before loading your cat into the car. If you feel prepared and confident, your cat will follow suit! Create a to-do list, develop a list of questions you’d like to ask the vet, and find ways to help your cat chill out during this highly stressful time.
If that’s not enough, consider blocking off some time for self-care before taking the dreaded vet trip. Meditate, read, go for a walk, take a bubble bath – do whatever you can to relax and calm your own anxiety before your cat picks up on it! Seriously, when it comes to being a cat moma, self-care is everything! After all, a happy mom = a very happy Fluffy.
Stressful Experiences Are Fresh In Your Cats Mind
There is a lot of things not to like about visiting the vet. For us humans, it would be like visiting the hospital. Who here can honestly say they love visiting a hospital?
The Vet is full of new surroundings, people, and other animals which can be lots to take in and process. Even the journey before the vet of being cooped up in their carrier and traveling in your car. Once again it is a new environment and some cats can suffer from car sickness.
Not only that but your cat is in for some unusual treatment. Think of drugs or needles, and new touches from total strangers.
What To Do:
Your cat’s hate towards the vet will never totally go away. However, there are ways to dampen the blow of a vet visit. For starters, you can try getting your cat used to its carrier. To do this, bring out their carrier not just on vet visits but frequently. Add treats inside the carrier so they can associate the carrier with more positive feelings.
Alternatively, spray your car with some cat spray like Feliway. Feliway is a pheromone spray that helps your cat feel safer in a new surrounding or unusual environment.
Winning Back Their Love
Your cat may not be acting the same towards you, however, give it time. Patience is key. It’s important to give your cat space and time to get used to being back in familiar and safe surroundings.
You can always give them treats, new toys, and soft gentle strokes and rubs around the ears and chin.
Overall, don’t stress! Your cat will soon develop a good bond with you again.