Leaving Your Cat At The Vet’s Clinic

Leaving your beloved Kitty for an overnight stay at a veterinary clinic can be an extremely emotional experience. As one of our cat forum’s members notes, it can be hard to tell if this is more stressful for the cat or the owner. As with many crises, planning and preparation can go a long way towards stress relief for both of you.

When Do You Have to Leave a Cat Overnight at the Clinic?

An overnight stay is usually required following operations where a body cavity is opened. More complex surgery may require longer stays. Even routine operations may require longer stays for some cats; age, overall health, temperament and response to confinement are all taken into account when your vet recommends hospitalization.

Another factor at play is the owner’s ability to administer proper post-operative care. For example, when owner and vet feel that a necessary course of medication cannot be administered at home, they may decide the cat is better off at the clinic where a vet tech can pill it.

On occasion, an owner may prefer to leave the cat overnight to save them the stress of traveling back and forth to the vet’s office on consecutive days; or it may be more convenient to bring the cat in the previous evening, when a procedure is scheduled early on the next morning.

And finally, cats that need to be quarantined following biting episodes can sometimes spend their confinement period in a vet’s clinic rather than in the pound.

While there are various possible scenarios for a feline to stay overnight at the clinic, in most cases, the cat in question has suffered from illness or trauma and an alarmed owner has to deal with the added stress of separation.

Your Cat’s Stay at the Clinic

Veterinarians often set up their own protocols, based on their own experience and adjusted to deal with the conditions in their clinic. Moreover, specific conditions relevant to your cat may affect the way your vet conducts the stay. If there’s anything about the medical procedure or the hospital stay that you feel unsure of, discuss it with your vet beforehand.

In a recent discussion on our forums, members have shared from their experience and offered advice about that difficult time when you have to leave your cat alone in the clinic. Here are some issues raised, that you may want to discuss with your vet.

Is the Clinic Staffed Overnight?

Our forum member Jennyranson shared a tragic story with us, where her cherished Napoleon was left at a clinic following a poisoning and died overnight. Along with the tragic news of his death, she was also informed that Napoleon spent his last hours alone. “It had never occurred to me that there would not be an assistant on duty. So he died alone, in a strange place and in pain”, she shared in the thread.

Unlike people’s hospitals, not all veterinary clinics have medical stuff on hand at all hours. Some places are left empty once business hours are over, with the animals left in their confinement cages on their own for the night. This may not necessarily affect the quality of medical care provided, but if you feel it may, or if the cat is in a poor condition, you may want to discuss this with your vet and in some cases consider going to an all-night clinic instead.

Will the cat receive adequate attention while confined?

Arguably, some cats may prefer less attention when in pain and away from home, and in fact some may even get aggressive and resent being handled by unfamiliar people. However, if your cat takes to strangers, she or he may benefit from extra attention.

This may be more important during longer stays of several days/nights in the clinic and it’s something you may want to discuss with your veterinarian in such situations. When a cat is in quarantine for a longer period of time, petting and grooming may become essential, and you should look into officially adding grooming sessions to the cat’s care routine.

Can You Bring a Little Piece of Home with You?

While you can’t make the clinic cage feel like home, you can help make it just a little bit less intimidating. Many cats find comfort in familiar scents of their home, so a used shirt or blanket may help your cat adjust. Owners sometimes bring along a favorite cat toy, but keep in mind that a sick or injured feline may simply ignore a toy, especially when in a strange place. If your cat has a favorite blanket, it may be a better choice.

As always discuss this with your vet and make sure that the clinic’s hospitalization protocols allow for these items to be introduced to the cat’s cage.

Can You Visit Your Cat?

Ask about visitations if your cat is to be hospitalized for more than a day. Some vets advise against visits because they feel the cats get confused by seeing the owner only to be left behind again. They claim this may actually add to the feline’s stress level.

Other vets welcome visits and encourage them as they feel the presence of a familiar person helps put the cat at ease. In longer stays, you may want to try and see how a visit affects both the cat and yourself and then set up a visitation routine.

Going Back Home

In many cases, owners are required to keep a course of medication at home following the cat’s release from the clinic. The vet may ask you to confine the cat as well, to prevent extra movement. Listen carefully to the instructions and ask to have them in writing if needed.

Ask as many questions as you need, and make sure you have a phone number where you can ask more questions, including an emergency number. If you think you may not be able to administer the required medicine, ask about at-home visits by a vet tech.


Comments? Leave them using the form below. Questions? Please use the cat forums for those!

7 comments on “Leaving Your Cat At The Vet’s Clinic

lunariris March 24, 2014
If you wish to opt out of leaving your pet overnight following any procedure, isn't that your right as the owner to bring your pet home and watch them there, instead of them saying they'll keep them there and going home for the night, only to check on them in the morning? If they're home they can be watched all night while they are recovering, whereas odds are while they're in recovery at the clinic no one will be watching them, and I feel they will not only be under better supervision with their parents at home but also more relaxed and more comfortable, which helps healing too. Our one cat had a basic surgical procedure and they said it would be best for him to stay overnight, and insisted, so they could check on him-in the morning. Then I was billed an additional $80 for "overnight care" on top of a $700 surgery. All that was included in the "overnight care" was the space he had in the cage, and the handful of food given in the morning while they "checked" on him to make sure surgery was well. And all that they said was he's doing great, and then I had to make an extra trip to pick him up in between work the next day. Meanwhile, they wait an hour or so after surgery to call the owner anyway, after the pet's awake, so they should know by then how they are doing, shouldn't they? If they're concerned that the pet may scratch or knaw on their stitches from surgery, or that there may be swelling, shouldn't there be someone there to watch them, and can't the owner just do that at home?? I feel like I was ripped off $80.
lunariris March 24, 2014
If you wish to opt out of leaving your pet overnight following any procedure, isn't that your right as the owner to bring your pet home and watch them there, instead of them saying they'll keep them there and going home for the night, only to check on them in the morning? If they're home they can be watched all night while they are recovering, whereas odds are while they're in recovery at the clinic no one will be watching them, and I feel they will not only be under better supervision with their parents at home but also more relaxed and more comfortable, which helps healing too. Our one cat had a basic surgical procedure and they said it would be best for him to stay overnight, and insisted, so they could check on him-in the morning. Then I was billed an additional $80 for "overnight care" on top of a $700 surgery. All that was included in the "overnight care" was the space he had in the cage, and the handful of food given in the morning while they "checked" on him to make sure surgery was well. And all that they said was he's doing great, and then I had to make an extra trip to pick him up in between work the next day. Meanwhile, they wait an hour or so after surgery to call the owner anyway, after the pet's awake, so they should know by then how they are doing, shouldn't they? If they're concerned that the pet may scratch or knaw on their stitches from surgery, or that there may be swelling, shouldn't there be someone there to watch them, and can't the owner just do that at home?? I feel like I was ripped off $80.
lunariris March 24, 2014
If you wish to opt out of leaving your pet overnight following any procedure, isn't that your right as the owner to bring your pet home and watch them there, instead of them saying they'll keep them there and going home for the night, only to check on them in the morning? If they're home they can be watched all night while they are recovering, whereas odds are while they're in recovery at the clinic no one will be watching them, and I feel they will not only be under better supervision with their parents at home but also more relaxed and more comfortable, which helps healing too. Our one cat had a basic surgical procedure and they said it would be best for him to stay overnight, and insisted, so they could check on him-in the morning. Then I was billed an additional $80 for "overnight care" on top of a $700 surgery. All that was included in the "overnight care" was the space he had in the cage, and the handful of food given in the morning while they "checked" on him to make sure surgery was well. And all that they said was he's doing great, and then I had to make an extra trip to pick him up in between work the next day. Meanwhile, they wait an hour or so after surgery to call the owner anyway, after the pet's awake, so they should know by then how they are doing, shouldn't they? If they're concerned that the pet may scratch or knaw on their stitches from surgery, or that there may be swelling, shouldn't there be someone there to watch them, and can't the owner just do that at home?? I feel like I was ripped off $80.
lunariris March 24, 2014
If you wish to opt out of leaving your pet overnight following any procedure, isn't that your right as the owner to bring your pet home and watch them there, instead of them saying they'll keep them there and going home for the night, only to check on them in the morning? If they're home they can be watched all night while they are recovering, whereas odds are while they're in recovery at the clinic no one will be watching them, and I feel they will not only be under better supervision with their parents at home but also more relaxed and more comfortable, which helps healing too. Our one cat had a basic surgical procedure and they said it would be best for him to stay overnight, and insisted, so they could check on him-in the morning. Then I was billed an additional $80 for "overnight care" on top of a $700 surgery. All that was included in the "overnight care" was the space he had in the cage, and the handful of food given in the morning while they "checked" on him to make sure surgery was well. And all that they said was he's doing great, and then I had to make an extra trip to pick him up in between work the next day. Meanwhile, they wait an hour or so after surgery to call the owner anyway, after the pet's awake, so they should know by then how they are doing, shouldn't they? If they're concerned that the pet may scratch or knaw on their stitches from surgery, or that there may be swelling, shouldn't there be someone there to watch them, and can't the owner just do that at home?? I feel like I was ripped off $80.
lunariris March 24, 2014
If you wish to opt out of leaving your pet overnight following any procedure, isn't that your right as the owner to bring your pet home and watch them there, instead of them saying they'll keep them there and going home for the night, only to check on them in the morning? If they're home they can be watched all night while they are recovering, whereas odds are while they're in recovery at the clinic no one will be watching them, and I feel they will not only be under better supervision with their parents at home but also more relaxed and more comfortable, which helps healing too. Our one cat had a basic surgical procedure and they said it would be best for him to stay overnight, and insisted, so they could check on him-in the morning. Then I was billed an additional $80 for "overnight care" on top of a $700 surgery. All that was included in the "overnight care" was the space he had in the cage, and the handful of food given in the morning while they "checked" on him to make sure surgery was well. And all that they said was he's doing great, and then I had to make an extra trip to pick him up in between work the next day. Meanwhile, they wait an hour or so after surgery to call the owner anyway, after the pet's awake, so they should know by then how they are doing, shouldn't they? If they're concerned that the pet may scratch or knaw on their stitches from surgery, or that there may be swelling, shouldn't there be someone there to watch them, and can't the owner just do that at home?? I feel like I was ripped off $80.
sherit May 7, 2014
I have a word of caution. I left my cat at a vet office for boarding and  they were well known and a nice building in  town. They did not tell  me they had a sick cat with upper respiratory illness in the boarding area.   I returned and brought my cat home and she was losing hair , and would not eat and not breathing normally,  this vet would not see   her that I had paid to board her so I took her to another vet who diagnosed her with upper respiratory illness,   and told me to take her home nothing he could do I returned again with her and from what I remember he drew fluid off her lungs I think because when I got her back home she died within 2 hours on the floor and it was one of the worst experiences watching a pet gasp for air  in front of me for what seemed like forever till she died in my arms on the floor scrambling for air.   I would have euthanized her and stayed with her rather than come home and watch her crawl across the floor gasping for air that afternoon until she died..   Make sure if you board a dog or cat that it  has all  the shots a few weeks before you board an animal or leave it at someones  house. I pay someone to come feed my cats now and I do not board them anymore. Sheri
sherit May 7, 2014
I had one more experience to share and this was at another vets office, well known in the area. I left a small dog a rat terrier and two cats to be boarded for 10 days while on vacation. When we returned a day early, they got the two cats and put them in their carriers to bring home that we had left for them. Our dog was limping and I feel he had been dropped and  he was terrified of them, one of the cats I believe had bee left in a small carrier the entire time it was boarded and   what got me concerned was the cats rug in the carrier was soaked with urine and they had not had time to wash it ..because we came to get them one day earlier My husband felt the same way..that too many red flags were up, that they had been kept in the carriers to save space, not exercised, and left in their urine who knows how long and no one is there at night..ever.. I would think that it is very lonely and scary for an animals in a small cage or carrier to hear other animals crying or barking and strange smells and chemicals in the rooms from cleaning or otherwise.. If they have surgery I might leave them for one night but sure do not want to ever leave mine again.. This has happened at 2 well  known vet clinics that I have used.. Sheri

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Members online

Top