Cat vaccinations – tips on taking a cat to the vet

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Just as it is important for our canine companions to be up to date with their vaccinations and parasite protection, same too for our cats. However, taking a cat to the vet is not easy, so it can be hard to keep cat vaccinations up to date to protect them from diseases and illnesses that can cause pain and suffering.

Core cat vaccinations

The core cat vaccinations for include Feline panleukopaenia, also known as feline parvovirus, the Herpes Virus and Calicivirus.

There are also vaccines available against other viruses, including Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, also known as FIV. FIV is transmitted between cats through fighting, and so is more common in cats with outdoor access.
Studies have shown that 1 in 7 outdoor cats in Australia are infected with FIV.

Just like us humans and our dogs, if cat vaccination rates drop below herd immunity levels for some of these diseases, we start to see them become a threat again in the community, which has happened with parvovirus in recent years for both dogs and cats.

Cat vaccination rates tend to be lower than that of our canine friends. I suspect one of the causes may be the stress associated with vet visits for both cat and owner.

Cats and car travel

The key to making your cat’s trip to the vet a stress free one is creating a positive association with their cage or carrier. Cats are territorial creatures and feel very vulnerable when out of their usual environment. They can however be trained to tolerate (or even enjoy) social outings and the carry cage.

In the same way you would crate train a dog, place the cage on the floor open, put their food and treats inside and slowly encourage them to spend more time in there before slowly shutting it for small amounts of time.
Crates that open at the top can also make it a lot easier for examination time.

Take your cat in the cage for rides in the car to get them used to it, but without going to the Vet so they don’t always associate being in the cat cage and car with a vet visit. My cat comes on holidays with us and for visits to my parent’s house so he remains quite comfortable in the car.

They can suffer from motion sickness, particularly if stressed, so just make the trips short, use a calming pheromone spray like Feliway and don’t feed them beforehand.

At the vet clinic

Ring up before you enter to see if there is a space you can wait away from any dogs, use treats and lots of praise in a nice quiet voice to help keep them calm.

During the exam stay close to your cat, use treats and lots of praise to try to create a positive association.

Try to keep yourself calm and allow plenty of time to get them in there so they don’t pick up on your stress or anxiety.

There are also many different medications that can be prescribed to reduce general anxiety or just occasional anxiety triggered by a vet visit or car ride. Talk to your Vet if you suspect your cat is anxious to determine the best course of action.

You can also check out the ‘Have We Seen Your Cat Lately’ website, for more tips and tricks for getting your cat to the vet, which is one way to ensure your cat vaccinations are up to date.


Dr Melissa Meehan is a highly experienced and respected veterinary surgeon with over 18 years experience. Dr Melissa obtained her Members in Small Animal Medicine through examination in 2008 and now runs her own veterinary ophthalmology service.

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