There are certain aspects of cat ownership we all wish we could avoid (no, I’m not talking about cleaning the litterbox!). Trimming nails, giving medications and loading our feline friends into their crates can be stressful, exhausting and potentially dangerous. This simple technique used by veterinarians may be the answer to safely and gently providing your kitty with the care she needs – and all it takes is a bath towel!
Dr. Sophia Yin was a world renowned veterinary behaviorist and the author of Low Stress: Handling, Restraint and Behavior Modifications of Dogs and Cats. She said that it is normal for cats to react with fear and stress when restrained due to their evolutionary history as a prey species.
Yin recommended a towel technique known as the scarf wrap – affectionately nicknamed the “kitty burrito” – to help your cat feel calm, prevent escape, and protect yourself from claws. The video tutorial below shows just how simple towel wrapping can be!
Once your cat is securely wrapped in the towel, you can gently slide her into her crate, safely access her mouth to deliver medication, or work one limb free at a time for nail trimming!
Dr. Yin offered a few additional tips for turning your cat into a safe, snug kitty burrito:
- Never rush or force your cat into a towel. This may cause your cat to panic and react aggressively. She will also associate towels with danger in the future.
- Bribe your cat into burrito position. Place your cat on top of a towel on a flat surface. Offer a favorite treat or a bit of canned food on top of the towel so your kitty has to lie or sit to enjoy her snack.
- Loosely wrap the towel over your cat’s back while she eats. Gently pet her back and let her walk away when she’s done eating. Do this occasionally without attempting to restrain her so she learns that being on the towel can be a positive experience.
If you plan to use the kitty burrito to load your cat into her crate:
- Bring the crate out of storage several days in advance. Leave the door open so she can explore and go in and out. This will give her a chance to get used to its smell before she is placed inside.
- Set the crate in a spot where your cat likes to relax (ie: on a favorite sofa).
- Place a towel or blanket that smells like home and a few of your cat’s favorite treats inside.
- Use a pheromone spray (like Feliway) to help calm your cat on the day of travel.
- Place the crate on its end so the open door is facing the ceiling and lower your cat into it rear-end first.
Featured Image via Flickr/notoriousxl