Cat carrier issues solved
14 September 2021
It's the time every cat owner dreads- a trip to the vet or cattery means kitty has to go into her carrier, which she doesn't like one bit! Worst of all some cats seem to have a kind of sixth sense and will disappear even before you bring it out. So what's the solution to avoiding this annual wrestling match? If you have difficulty getting your cat into her carrier, or if she vanishes the minute you bring it out, it could be that she has a negative association with it.
For example could the carrier be too small for your cat? Your cat should have enough space in her carrier to stand up and turn around. If this is not the case, it would be a good idea to buy a new one. Does your carrier smell of another cat, if you have more than one in the house? If this is the case and the cats don't have a good relationship, the smell of the other cat and the inability to escape from it may be stressful for your cat. Also, if your other cat doesn't like going in the carrier either, he may have deposited chemical scents (pheromones) from the pads of his feet and other parts of his body, which communicate that he was anxious while there. Therefore, it's a good idea to disinfect the carrier after use, for this reason a plastic carrier is recommended.
The main issue is usually that your cat only goes in the carrier when she is going to the vet or the cattery- cats are intelligent animals and they will simply learn that the carrier signals that this lies in store. This can be combatted by ensuring that the carrier is accessible in the home at all times. Leave the carrier out and open (with the door off) and make it a cosy and comfortable place in a safe and secure area of your home. Place it in a room that your cat spends time in and ideally not the room you have previously put the cat into the carrier if it has been a battle in the past. Spraying a synthetic feline facial pheromone into the carrier can help your cat's perception that the carrier is a positive place. An alternative is to rub a cloth on your cat's facial area when you are stroking him and then rub this cloth on the outer corners, entrance and inside the carrier.
Place things that your cat really values in the cat carrier (such as her favourite food, catnip or toys), and if she shows any interest in the carrier, reward her with lots of cuddles. Having your carrier in the home all the time with positive things in it should be enough to build up your cat's courage to explore it and see that as soon as she sniffs it she is not pushed in, door closed and taken out of the home to the car. So now you've got kitty in the carrier without a fight, trips to the vet should be a lot less stressful for all, how it goes when you get there is another story!