Cat Transportation

There are a number of considerations when transporting your cat to hospital and the information below will help you prepare.

The Cat Basket

There are numerous different cat baskets available on the market now, some of which require a degree in engineering to be able to take apart and reconstruct! Ideal things to look for when choosing a cat basket are:

  • Options for access – ideally from the top, but a second access from the side or front is perfect. This can make getting cats in and out of baskets easier. The access should also be reasonably wide – cats will be less willing to walk into a basket if the opening is narrow
  • Rigid construction of a material that can be cleaned, should the basket become soiled
  • Large enough construction to accommodate a fully-grown cat – many people buy their cat basket when their cat is a kitten, resulting in an uncomfortable mode of transport when the cat’s middle-aged spread kicks in
  • Baskets that can be taken apart enable cats to be examined where they are, without being ‘dragged’ out of the box


Bedding within the basket should be provided to stop an uncomfortable journey in contact with a hard plastic or wire floor. For cats that are sick or toilet when travelling, a kennel liner/incontinence pad can be placed on top of the bedding and removed once an accident happens. For cats that don’t travel well or if travelling a long distance, a ‘clean kit ‘of rubber gloves, wet wipes, spare liner pads and a plastic bag for soiled materials should be carried.


Ideally the basket should be removed from its storage place 2-3 days before the appointment and placed in the house e.g. near the feeding bowl, so that your cat becomes used to it. Spraying the basket with a pheromone spray such as ‘Feliway’ or ‘Pet Remedy’ may make the basket more appealing, as can putting treats in the basket. Allowing your cat to familiarise itself with the basket and rub of some of its scent onto the basket will make it less stressful when it is time for the trip.

Getting Your Cat Into The Basket

Prevent your cat from accessing areas where they can hide in inaccessible spots (e.g. under the bed). Place the basket with the lid/door open ready to receive your cat, and a few treats in it if they are responsive to food. If using a front-opening, having the basket in a corner of the room up against the wall can prevent the basket from moving backwards if your cat is reluctant to go into it voluntarily. Calmly but decisively collect your cat, holding it close to your body to prevent struggling. For cats that can struggle quite badly, wrapping them in a towel or blanket can enclose the legs and reduce their ability to escape. For top loading baskets the cat can usually be placed quite readily into the basket but be prepared to close the lid quickly if they are prone to jump out. For front loading baskets some cats will go in more easily if they are ‘backed in’ especially if they tend to brace their legs out in a wide stance.

Travelling In The Car

When carrying the basket to the car, try not to bounce it around too much. It may also be useful to cover the basket with a towel or blanket if the cat is likely to see unfamiliar things such as dogs or cars on the way to your vehicle. Once in the car, the basket should be secured with a seatbelt on the rear seats or in the passenger footwell. Securing the basket on the passenger seat could lead to problems if the airbag is deployed. It is not illegal to drive with a cat loose in the car, but you could be prosecuted if you cause an accident as a result of this. It also could lead to your cat escaping when you open the door. Talking to your cat throughout the journey can help to calm them, as can playing music, although this should be calming, rather than loud. Relaxing music for cats is available from on-line platforms.

Arriving At The Hospital

Keeping your cat covered with a blanket will stop them from seeing dogs or other cats that might upset them. On arrival at the reception desk, keep your basket up off the floor, as cats feel safer at a height. Our Client Care Team will try to ensure you can move as quickly as possible through to our cat only waiting room. Please let us know if your cat has soiled their carrier so we can attend to it straight away.

Our Cat Lounge

We’re very lucky to be able to provide a cat only waiting room in our hospital. A room free of the sight and sounds of other species is designed to help your cat relax before his or her appointment. Cats often appreciate being chatted to and stroked whilst waiting. If another cat is present, try to ensure your cat is turned away from them.

In The Consulting Room

We have a cat-only consulting room which has direct access from our cat lounge. We often try to give cats the opportunity to explore the area whilst we are taking the history (finding out about the problem). Ideally it is preferable for cats to come out of their basket on their own, rather than being lifted out, but many cats are shy and will not explore. This is where a basket that can be split into two halves can be useful, so that we can examine the cat without removing them from their basket.

Returning Home

Much of the advice given above applies in reverse for the trip home, but where there is more than one cat in the house the return greeting is not always friendly. Bringing something from home with the second cat’s scent on it can help the returning cat acclimatise on the way home. On arriving home, keep the ‘patient’ in the basket and monitor for any aggression in the cat(s) that have stayed at home, as the ‘patient’ will often smell differently. If the cats seem unhappy with the returning patient, then it is best to keep them in a separate room for 24 hours or so until they regain the familiar smells of home.


A number of medications may be considered if your cat does not travel well or if he or she is particularly anxious or stressed when visiting vets. We recommend that you speak to your vet about appropriate medication. Alternatively, one of our Feline team would be more than happy to speak to your vet about current effective and beneficial medication.


What our clients say:

Alastair Kerr
Alastair Kerr
26 May 2024
The best place for great care for you pet.
karen hamilton
karen hamilton
21 May 2024
Our bernese mountain dog Merlin had issues with his gait and after physio exams and xrays from our own vet we were recommended to get an MRI. We decided to take him to Livingston rather than Glasgow based on reviews and we were not disappointed! The service and professionalism shown to us by all staff and especially Alexandra was unbelievable. She explained everything in layman terms for us so that we could fully understand what was happening with our boy. We arrived so anxious and we left with a full diagnosis and we can now get on with enjoying our boy. Thankyou so much to everyone 💓
fiona mccormack
fiona mccormack
11 May 2024
My dog was referred here by my vet after all other options had been covered. They were amazing and really looked after Buster. Sadly it wasn’t the outcome we wanted but I can’t fault anything about his treatment and the way the staff dealt with us through an incredibly difficult time. We were kept fully informed at all times and everything as very sensitively handled.
Gayle Mcdowell
Gayle Mcdowell
25 April 2024
All the staff are great and take fantastic care of my dog
Wendy Busby
Wendy Busby
16 April 2024
Our beloved dog Dougal was referred to VSS recently in a very poorly state. Tobias, Joni and the wonderful nursing team admitted him for some life saving surgery and critical care. We would have lost Dougal if it had not been for the skills and care of this team. The communication was clear and warm, but also was forthright and honest about Dougals chances. After nearly a week miraculously we got him home. He still needed care in his recovery and after what he went through I cannot quite believe how well he is doing. The updates from the team were just right, his condition explained each time and progress or risks discussed. Follow up caring communication has also been second to none. I would still say the same if the outcome had not been favourable, and wholeheartedly recommend the team that work in this incredible veterinary care service.
Janka Hudak
Janka Hudak
12 April 2024
Our journey with Veterinary Specialists Scotland began when our 8-month-old Papillon, Whisky, suffered a severe fracture to her front leg. The referral to Dr. Joni Viitanen and his team was a turning point during this emergency. From the moment we arrived, the response was both professional and deeply compassionate—they admitted Whisky immediately and made sure she was as comfortable as possible. Dr. Viitanen performed surgery the very next day, and during Whisky’s three-day stay, we felt she was in the best hands. The team was not only exemplary in their medical care but also in providing emotional support, making Whisky’s first time away from home as gentle as possible. They kept us well-informed throughout her treatment, always ready to answer our questions and calm our worries. The news that Whisky had completely healed after just seven weeks was a profound relief. Every staff member we encountered was incredibly supportive, ensuring that all administrative tasks, including the insurance claim, were handled smoothly. We are truly grateful to Dr. Viitanen and the entire Orthopaedic Team for their outstanding dedication. Their blend of professional expertise and heartfelt care made all the difference. We highly recommend Veterinary Specialists Scotland to anyone seeking exceptional care for their pets. Thank you for everything you’ve done for Whisky and for us.
John McKellar
John McKellar
22 March 2024
Recently took our dog Sparky to these guys and found the experience from reception staff to veterinary professional care brilliant.
Bill ferguson
Bill ferguson
9 March 2024
Very helpful and professional care team,could not fault any of the help we were given.
Bethany Rutherford
Bethany Rutherford
5 March 2024
My young dog was recently discharged after a long year of treatment at Veterinary Specialists Scotland. After an injury she required a carpal arthrodesis surgery and through no ones fault seemed to hit every bump in the road in the months to follow. The care she received was impeccable and Joni her surgeon was fantastic. During a really stressful and upsetting period of being a dog owner Joni was super helpful and patient. He kept us informed every step of the way. We knew the risks to every surgery and were able to make fully informed decisions about her care. Joni had our full trust and kept us reassured and confident that she would come out the other side with all four legs. I felt Joni and the team here were fully invested in my dogs recovery and wellbeing. We were kept up to date during her stays and kept in contact with after her discharges post treatment. I am glad to say that we are now on the other side after such a worrying year and my wee dog is loving being on the road back to her normal life. Thank you so much to everyone at Veterinary Specialist Scotland and a special thanks to Joni I am so grateful!