Fear Free Vet Visits

Laura Kelleher
Registered Veterinary Nurse.


Fear Free is the concept of practising veterinary medicine that involves the reduction of feelings of stress in our patients, which in return will result in a better experience for pets, owners, and the veterinary team.

Here at Rockhall, we are passionate about providing a fear free experience for your pet.
Did you know that 51% of pets hate going to the vet and 38% of clients are stressed just thinking about visiting the vet?
So what are the signs of an anxious pet?

The more obvious ones would be hiding, shivering, aggression and excitement. The not so obvious ones include shedding hair, yawning, tongue curling, etc. This is to name but a few.

Examples of stressors to pets include noise, odour, pain, disease and unfamiliar people. Our goal is to reduce stress as it has negative effects on pets and ultimately can result in decreased veterinary wellness visits, a decreased ability to appropriately examine and treat the pet, and slower recovery from disease or injury.

Sadly, many owners feel so stressed about getting their cat to the vet that they skip vet visits entirely. This means their cat is not getting the preventative health care that they need. Thankfully there are lots you can do to make the trip to the vets a more positive experience.
    1.  Get your kitten used to their carrier by making it a safe place for them to be. Keep it in the room they spend the most time in and take the door off. Line it with a nice blanket and chuck treats in there regularly to entice them in. You can take these steps with an adult cat, too.
    2. Make sure your cat carrier is big enough to ensure a comfortable ride for your cat, your cat should be able to turn around in the carrier. You could also consider using Feliway travel spray, which has a great calming effect.
    3. At the vets, don’t leave your cat on the floor in reception where passing feet and nosy dogs will stress them out.
This is where we step in – at Rockhall Veterinary we are very proud of our cat-friendly approach. At the reception, we’ll offer you a blanket to cover your carrier and an elevated spot to put it in while you wait. We will be quiet, gentle and slow when handling your cat in the exam room. Not only do we have a separate cat ward, but we also have a specifically designed cat consult room. Not to mention that calming Feliway diffusers are used in both of these areas.
Many of the team members at Rockhall are Fear Free certified and we utilise this knowledge with every patient.
Here are some of the many methods that we implement in our clinics to help reduce animals’ stress levels.
  • Use of pressure points when vaccinating.
  • Food distraction, which therefore reduces the amount of restraint required on an animal.
  • Use of Lik-e-mat, which combines food distraction and mental stimulation.
  • Delicious treats to distract and reward your pet.
  • Separate dog/cat ward for inpatients.
  • Separate dog/cat consulting rooms.
  • Feliway/Adaptil calming pheromone diffusers are used throughout the clinic.
  • Cat parking in reception, so your cat can feel safer in an unfamiliar environment.
  • Nurses trained in handling.
  • Longer appointment times enable us to take things at the pet’s own pace.
  • “Happy visits” welcome owners and their pets into the clinic for no medical reason but purely for cuddles and treats, so your pet can think of the vets as a positive place


While your animal is in Rockhall’s care they will be treated with kindness and respect and we will implement every measure possible to make their visit as ‘Fear Free’ as possible.