Does your cat hate the carrier? Do you dread taking her anywhere? You are not alone. Surveys have revealed that people’s fear of the stress of transporting a cat is a major hurdle to preventive vet care. Being able to transport your cat may seem unnecessary to you now, but it is inevitable that she will be sick sometime or you will have to take her with you somewhere during her lifetime. Regular vet visits are critical to her health too, even though many cat owners avoid me until their cat is so sick that I am hard pressed to help. If your cat travels well and likes her carrier, it could literally save her life.
If you can apply these tips, you can make the carrier somewhere that your cat actually likes and impact her whole life!
- Keep the carrier in full view all the time. People tell me that the minute they bring out the carrier, their cat hides. How awful is it for you and your cat to have to drag him out from under the bed and stuff him unwilling into the carrier? No one wants to do something that their friend hates and your vet doesn’t want to be dreaded and hated either. The carrier should be a part of your décor that your cat is familiar with and there is no association of it to stress or fear. There are carriers that are attractive and nondescript.
- Make it the best place ever. Choose a carrier that is only large enough for your cat to lie comfortably and to stand and turn around. Fill it with warm fleece that is sprayed with pheromone spray. Pheromones are hormone markers that cats rub onto items that they want to mark as safe and pleasant. You have seen your cat rub her face on you and on items in your home. She is depositing her pleasant pheromones on those items. There are synthetic versions of facial pheromone that you can spray inside the carrier to mark it as a safe zone.
- Associate the carrier with food. Hide treats inside the carrier at random times. Regular feeding times should be inside too. Your cat loves meal time and knows that food is a good thing. If you can link the carrier with the positive feelings that come with food and treats, your cat will naturally feel better about it. It is ok to leave the door open while she is eating most of the time(if it is convenient), but be sure to sometimes close it for short periods so that the sound of the door latching and the confinement are not scary either.
These strategies will help you feel better about the carrier too and she depends on your body language to warn her when she should be afraid. If the carrier becomes a routine part of the day for you both, it is less likely to seem like a harbinger of bad things. That way, when the inevitable road trip comes, you and your cat will be stress free!
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