How to train your cat to like the carrier

Time to bring Kitty to your veterinarian in Markham?

We understand that cats and carriers often don’t mix – and we want to help! With some time and patience, even the most terrified of cats can become fans of their carrier.

Follow these 4 simple steps to keep mayhem to a minimum for traveling with your cat or transporting her to her next appointment with your veterinarian in Markham.

1) Choose the right carrier

Visit your local pet store, and you will notice that there is a wide variety of carriers to choose from. The best carriers for cats are hard carriers. Soft bags may be more fashionable, but they often make it difficult to get your kitty in and out.

An appropriate cat carrier should have a door in the front, and should have two halves (bottom and top) that come apart easily, should Kitty decide she does not want to come out the front door. If that’s the case, once you are at your veterinarian in Markham, we can remove the top and perform all or part of your cat’s exam right inside the carrier.

2) Bring the carrier out of hiding

Often, the simple act of getting the carrier out of the garage or attic screams, “We’re going to the vet!”  The aim of this step is to remove the negative associations they have built up, and to show them that being around the carrier has no significance at all.  Starting with giving the carrier a thorough clean to remove any smells and then leaving the carrier around the house at all times with the door wide open will desensitize Kitty to the presence of the carrier.   (Note:Never use bleach or strong smelling chemicals to clean your cat carrier!)

Allow the cat to ignore or investigate as it sees fit, just don’t make a big deal out of it.

Once you have the right kind of carrier, leave it in a room or part of the house where your kitty likes to spend a lot of time. You may want to remove the door so Kitty does not accidentally get stuck inside during your training.  The veterinarians in Markham recommend you silently observe your cat’s reactions and interactions to the carrier. Maybe pick it up a few times and move it somewhere else, see if they get nervous. If they seem nervous around the carrier then stick with this stage for a while longer.

3) Make it a safe comfortable place

Simply leaving the carrier in a room may be enough to pique your cat’s curiosity, but you can help speed the process along in several ways.

You want to make the carrier as cozy and non-threatening as possible. Put some familiar, comfortable bedding inside the carrier. You can even try a worn t-shirt that has your scent on it. Toss in Kitty’s favorite toy, a sprinkling of catnip, or a bunch of her favorite treats.

You can even try feeding your cat her meals inside the carrier. To do this, gradually move her food bowls closer to the carrier each day, until the bowl is inside the carrier. You may have to entice Kitty with her favorite canned food.

All these techniques help your kitty associate positive things with the carrier, and make it much less scary for your cat. Kitty may end up sleeping inside the carrier on a regular basis!

In general, the principle is to try to make good things happen when the cat has an interaction with the carrier. I’m sure you can think of some examples that would work in your own home that are not mentioned here.

4) Time for the big outing

Make sure Kitty is in the room with the carrier, and close the door to the room. If you have taken the door off the carrier, make sure to replace it first. Toss treats or a favorite snack into the carrier, to try to get Kitty to go in. If she won’t go in, do not chase her around the room. Take the top part off of the carrier, scoop her up gently, place her inside, and quickly put the top on. You may need to cover Kitty with a towel for this part.

If you have Feliway spray, you can use 1-2 spritzes on the inside of the carrier to help calm your cat. Allow it to dry for 30 minutes before putting Kitty inside the carrier.

Once the cat is happy enough to be inside the carrier for 10 minutes or more you are ready to try taking them out for a drive. The aim with this step is to show them that going in the car doesn’t mean going anywhere in particular – specifically it doesn’t mean going to the vet.  Getting Kitty to like her carrier will not happen overnight, but follow these tips and the next visit to your veterinarian in Markham will be smooth sailing.

If you found this blog informative, please share it with your friends on Facebook.

Sincerely,

Dr. Ernst Marsig, veterinarian in Markham

Practicing Veterinary Medicine in Markham for a Long and Happy Life of ALL Your Pets.

Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic on the north side of  Hwy 7, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, pocket pets (rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, skinny pigs, etc.), ferrets, and birds (budgies, cockatiel, parrots, amazon, cockatoo, love birds, conures, African greys, finches, canaries, etc.).

Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.

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