Surely many of you, as cats owners, have found yourselves some day in the situation of having to put them in a carrier. And surely for many of you that situation often turned out to be, at the very least, a bit unpleasant.
As veterinarians, we hear quite frequently “there’s no way to get them in there”, or “as soon as they see me with the carrier, they run off, and hide”.
Why do they reject the carrier?
The answer is learning. The cat has learned that whenever we put them in this funny box, something bad happens — like going to the vet. The result? The cat knows that whenever the carrier shows up, they better do whatever they can to avoid it, even if that means confronting their dear owner. Anything but getting in there.
What can we do to avoid this?
The only way to do it is to accustom the cat to the carrier from a very young age, and to show them that it’s not a bad thing at all, but, on the contrary, it can turn out to be quite nice. How?
In most cases, the carrier is kept away somewhere until it’s needed, and produced only then. This is the first thing we must change. We need to make the cat sees the carrier as just another piece of their usual surroundings: we will leave it somewhere in the house — without the door — so they see it every day, scent it, mark it with their odor, etc.
How to acclimate a cat to the carrier
The carrier should have positive connotations for the cat. Besides getting them used to its presence, we can resort to several tricks:
- Placing inside tasty food several times a week.
- If the cat has a favorite toy, we can throw it playfully into the carrier, so they get inside to catch it as part of the game.
- We can put inside something we’ve worn, so they can feel our familiar scent.
- It is also helpful to reward cats by offering treats or petting them when they get in the carrier on their own.
How to travel without incidence
If we use these little tricks, the day we need to use the carrier we shouldn’t have too many problems. Nevertheless, there are two more things that will help our cat be calm:
- Using pheromones, that we are to apply about 15 minutes before putting the cat in the carrier, mainly on the corners and the roof.
- Covering the carrier during the trip with a blanket or throw; that helps them to stay serene.
In short, the key to have peace when using a cat carrier is to accustom them since they’re kitten to get in and out of it, and to associate it with positive feelings.