Cats seem to have an instinct to never do as you wish. They tend to please themselves and go their own way, especially when it’s time for a visit to the vet. Countless pet owners will tell you that the moment their cat sees the carrier it will do a disappearing act.
So how do you get your cat into a carrier without having to play “hide and seek” before your next appointment at the vet? Find out as we look at the tricks you can play to outwit your cat and get them to enjoy their next journey in a carrier.
Using a Carrier Benefits Both You and Your Cat
Indoor cats in particular can get anxious when they know they’re going to the vet. They can learn by association that, when the carrier makes an appearance, something they don’t enjoy is about to happen.
If you keep it in a place at home that your cat can’t gain access to, the carrier’s likely to have a different smell. That can add to your cat’s stress.
Getting your cat used to the carrier all starts with training. Once you’ve helped your cat to get into their carrier with ease, you’ll both reap the rewards. Here’s how:
- It will lower your stress levels when there’s a trip to the vet
- It increases the chances of making timely appointments to see the vet
- It speeds up reactions to emergencies
- It makes further potential overnight confinement at the vet less scary
- It makes traveling easier
- It offers a new hiding or sleeping place in the home
Get the Right Carrier for Your Cat
Before you even think of starting training, you must make sure you have the most appropriate type of carrier to suit your cat. The carrier should be big enough to allow your cat to stand up and turn around comfortably.
Hard-shell carriers tend to offer the greatest safety, particularly if they have a non-slip mat inside. If a cat feels it’s liable to slide, it will lead to increased stress.
Choose a carrier that you can remove the top from easily. It will make it far easier to manage the cat and keep them happy while your vet examines them.
How to Train Your Cat to Enjoy Their Carrier
This whole process may take several weeks to complete. The first step is to get your cat used to the carrier. If it’s been sitting in a cupboard or the garage for a month, dust it off, clean it and put it in a room that your cat uses every day.
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Leave the top off for now and place some soft bedding preferably with your cat’s scent on it in the base of the carrier. Put the carrier base in a part of the room where you are likely to spend a lot of time. That could be beside a desk or a sofa where you sit and watch TV, for example.
Put a few treats in the carrier and let your cat find them in their own time. Once your cat gets used to the carrier and enjoys spending time in it, introduce the top.
Plenty of Patience
Put more food puzzles and treats in the carrier for your cat to find during the day. Play with your cat close to and inside the carrier at regular intervals. Choose a game that gets your cat used to going in and out of the carrier as often as possible.
Next, add the door. As the cat munches treats inside the carrier, close the door gently and briefly. Build up the length of time you leave the door closed. If your cat ever appears distressed, leave the door open and end the training. You must be patient.
Adding Some Movement
When your cat is enjoying some treats with the crate closed, pick up the carrier gently while supporting it from underneath. Hold it securely and prevent it from swinging. Begin with a movement from the floor to your hip and back down again.
Release your cat from the carrier. If your cat appears to avoid getting into the carrier, go back a step in the training and start again from there. It’s important to take things at a pace that suits your cat.
Once all is well and your cat gets used to the movement of the carrier, try taking them for a short drive in the car. The next stop will be the vet!
Help! I Don’t Have Time for All This Training
If you’ve been unable to train your cat and still need to get them into their carrier for a trip to the vet perhaps in an emergency, there is a well-tried way to do it. Here’s how:
- Put the carrier on its end with the door open and pointing up to the ceiling
- Cover your cat, including their head, with a large towel and pick them up
- Hold your cat firmly enough to prevent their legs from moving
- Lower your towel-covered cat quickly into the carrier and close the door
You don’t need to worry about removing the towel! It can sometimes be helpful to practice this routine in a smaller room such as a bathroom.
Once at the vet, talk to your cat in a soothing voice and allow them to sniff your fingers through the carrier door before opening it.
When you have opened the door, place one hand on your cat’s head so that they face away from you. Wrap your other arm around their body, supporting them as you would a football.
Why Using a Carrier Is So Important
It’s a smart move to make a trip to the vet as painless and stress-free as possible. Cats are prone to a wide variety of conditions and illnesses and so getting them checked over regularly by the vet is important. Prevention is almost always the best form of treatment.
Do you still have any questions about how to get your cat in the carrier? Then schedule a video consultation with one of our qualified vets! We’re also able to offer a range of great value pet insurance products.
There are plenty more useful articles about pet care in our blog section. For example, find out why your cat might be always sneezing here.