Because of the territorial nature of cats, felines tend to feel comfortable only when in familiar surroundings. For this reason, most cats that are not used to being in a carrier and taken outside will easily get stressed. That dreaded vet appointment may, therefore, have to be cancelled at the last minute because the cat may have learnt to associate the carrier with something unpleasant and is hiding in some secret spot. There are, however, many strategies cat owners may resort to in order to keep their cat calm in a carrier.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Cat carrier
- Catnip toys
- Cat food
- Dark cloth
The cat's carrier should be left around the home in areas the cat regularly frequents. To make it extra comfortable and appealing, a blanket and catnip toys can be placed inside it.
The cat should be curious and should enter inside the carrier on its own initiative. If the cat is reluctant to enter, it can be lured into going inside by giving him treats or, even better, some cat food when he is hungry.
Once the cat is familiar with the carrier, it can be taken out for a short car ride around the block each day. Each trip should end on a positive note, by giving a treat, praising or allowing the cat to play with a string.
At this point, the cat should feel secure when inside its carrier and should no longer hide upon seeing it. If the cat still appears anxious, Feliway, a special product meant to replace natural pheromones cats release, can be sprayed on the carrier.
Some cats may easily accept the carrier, but may dread the car ride because it easily gets motion sick. In this case, veterinarians may prescribe medications that will calm the cat down while easing its carsickness symptoms.
Some cats may feel more comfortable in their carrier if a dark cloth is placed on top. This, however, should be avoided on very hot days.
Getting Your Cat to Accept its Carrier
Tips and warnings
- Car trips using the carrier should be very brief at first and then increased as the cat starts feeling comfortable.
- The carrier should always be left out in areas the cat frequents.
- Medications to ease car sickness or sedatives should never be given without the professional advice of a veterinarian.
- Cats should not be placed in the carrier only to be taken to the vet or they will associate it with negative happenings.
- A seat belt is recommended to keep the carrier in place when going on a car ride.
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