Cat Sleeping in Per Carrier
Training a cat to like the pet carrier can cause less stress for you and your cat on a large scale. For many cats, they only see a pet carrier when they are going to a veterinarian’s office. The cat that was sleeping on the sofa is now under the bed because you pulled out the pet carrier.
This can cause the cat to form a negative association with the pet carrier which can be stressful for you and the cat when you have to transport him. Trips to the veterinary office does not have to start with a chase and end with forcing your cat into a carrier. In this article I am going to discuss ways you can train your cat to make positive associations with the pet carrier.
The Right Pet Carrier
Pet carriers are available through most pet stores in varying sizes and shapes. I prefer to choose a pet carrier that is large enough for your cat to turn around and stand comfortably. People who travel may benefit from choosing a larger pet carrier along with choosing a pet carrier that is soft sided and comfortable.
Pet carriers that open up from the top are often least stressful for cats than trying to push them in the front. Top loading pet carriers are easier for the veterinarian during the physical examination. The cat will also appreciate having more than one opening that they can see out of.
Keep Pet Carrier Open And Out At All Times
It would be a ideal to keep the pet carrier out and open at all times for the cat to investigate. Leave the pet carrier on the floor and take the door off since the cat may be scared to approach the pet carrier otherwise.
You want to prevent the cat from thinking that the pet carrier is only out when something bad is going to happen such as a visit to the veterinarian.
Make The Pet Carrier Fun and Intriguing
You can insert a cat bed or a soft cover inside the pet carrier so he is more likely to investigate it and sleep inside. Sprinkling catnip and leaving treats inside of the pet carrier can help hesitant cats build positive associations.
I suggest that you start with treats and catnip on the outside of the pet carrier first and leave a trail leading to the inside of the pet carrier. Some people have had success by feeding each meal to the cat by the pet carrier if he does not feel safe enough to approach the pet carrier with other methods.
You may start leaving some toys in the pet carrier such as puzzle feeders or catnip mice. Another method is to engage in interactive play around the pet carrier using wand toys which is explained here. The last thing you can try is spraying the inside of the pet carrier with Feliway. Feliway is a pheromone spray which can help your cat feel less stressed out and comfortable.
Get Your Cat Used to Closing The Door
If your cat looks comfortable and relaxed in the pet carrier then it is time to practice closing the door with the cat inside of the pet carrier. Close the door to the pet carrier then leave the room for a few minutes. Reward your cat with treats or canned food after returning to the carrier if he is calm and not crying out.
If the cat does seem upset or frustrated then you do not want to reward this behavior. Try this exercise a few times each day for shorter periods of time to get your cat acclimated to this experience. Continue rewarding him for when he is calm upon your return.
If this fails then you can try feeding canned cat food at the back of the carrier. The cat will be too distracted with the cat food to notice you closing the door and leaving in most instances. You can open the door and let the cat out after he finishes eating.
Practice Transporting The Carrier
When your cat is completely comfortable in the pet carrier with the door closed then you can proceed to the next step. You will want to close the door to the pet carrier and practice picking up the pet carrier and setting it down over and over for the next exercise.
Next you want to practice carrying the pet carrier around the house from room to room then back to where you started. Give the cat a few treats after you have set down the pet carrier and opened the door so it ends on a good note.
Practice Taking The Cat For a Ride
Take your cat for a few trial rides in the pet carrier. Just a 10 minute drive around the city would be enough. Reward your cat with treats or canned food after you return to your house to build a positive association with traveling in the pet carrier. You want to start having your cat associate the carrier with something other than a veterinarian’s office.
You will avoid a ton of the stress and chasing your cat right before traveling if you start training your cat to like the pet carrier as soon as possible. You do not want to be chasing your cat in the case of a real emergency.