One of the most important parts of owning a cat is to regularly take them to the vet. The problem is that unless you have gotten your cat used to its carrier, it may be a very difficult task for you to achieve. Carriers are the safest place for a cat to be when traveling outside the home. It keeps them well confined and prevents them from running away as well as it helps protect them from their surroundings. Here are some steps to get your cat used to their carrier so that vet visits or any type of travel that requires them to be in a carrier less stressful.
Choosing a carrier can be difficult with so many options available. It is best to pick a carrier with two openings, one on the top and one on the side. This allows easier and safer access to your cat if they do not want to come out of their carrier. Both soft sided and hard sided plastic carriers work well and adequately confine your cat.
When you have chosen your carrier, now is the time to acclimate your cat to it. Leave the carrier out in an area your cat likes to hang out. Place a towel or small blanket in the carrier to make it more appealing. Putting a few treats in the carrier as well to reward your cat for entering the carrier.
After your cat has spent some time investigating the carrier over a few days to a week (or however long it take for your cat to feel comfortable going in on the carrier on their own), close your cat in the carrier and leave the room for a few moments, come back, open the carrier back up, and give your cat a reward such as a tasty treat. Do this a few times a day until your cat is comfortable when they are shut in their carrier.
After they have adjusted to being in the carrier for short periods, start picking the carrier up with your cat secured in the carrier and gently carrying it around the house before releasing them and rewarding them. Start taking them outside in their carrier or taking them for short trips in the car around the block. Not every trip should be associated with the vet so be sure to periodically gently put your cat in their carrier and take them for a short trip around the block.
- Start young! If you get a kitten, start getting them used to the carrier right away.
- Use a worn t-shirt that smells like you as a blanket in the carrier. The scent may help calm them or spray products such as Feli-Away onto the towel to provide a calming environment.
- Do not jostle the carrier and try not to let it bang against things. This can be very scary for your cat and have them grown to fear or resent their carrier.
- Cats can be trained to not fear the carrier with patience, time, and tasty rewards!