Cats are rarely known for their ease of training – especially if the result is not something that directly benefits them.
However, it is extremely likely that your cat will need to be taken to the vets now and again for a check-up, and will therefore need to get used to travelling in a cat carrier. But how do you train your cat to use a cat carrier?
Choose the correct carrier
The best and most resilient carriers are those made of hard-wearing plastic that can be easily wiped clean for hygiene. While you can buy carriers made from wicker and fabric, these are hard to clean and can easily harbour bacteria.
The door to the carrier must also be checked for quality to prevent your cat from escaping in the event of bumps and malfunctions. The carrier itself should have a strong, comfortable handle on top and enough holes to allow for a decent airflow.
As carriers can become surprisingly heavy when a cat is inside, it is also recommended to go for a lightweight option that is easier to carry.
Make It Comfy
As with all aspects of their life, cats love to be comfortable – and this is doubly important when you need to take them out of the house in a carrier. By filling the carrier with blankets and toys that carry the scent of home, you can help them to relax in what could otherwise be a very stressful environment.
There are also certain pheromone sprays that can be sprayed on the inside of the carrier to help your cat relax.
How to introduce your cat to the cat carrier
- Place the carrier in a frequently used room, giving them time to smell it, get used to it and possibly even climb into it out of curiosity. If they do climb in, make sure you do not close the door until you are sure you can do so without stressing your cat.
- By placing comfortable blankets inside the carrier, you can help them to see it as an additional place for them to visit when they want some alone time. To encourage them to go inside, try placing their favourite treats inside.
- After they have gotten used to the carrier and are happy to sit inside of their own volition, begin to close the door without locking it so they know they can still leave whenever they want.
- By repeating the above step consistently until your cat is happy, eventually you should be able to lock the door for several minutes at a time without them getting upset.
- The first time you venture out into the world with your carrier, try covering it with a blanket that shield some of the light and obscures their vision. If they have to visit a vet’s office, it’s very likely that they’ll see other animals that can worry them – a blanket allows them to feel more protected and relaxed.
My cat hates the carrier
Of course, there are many cats in the world who will find it hard not to get angry at the world with any stimulus. Some cats are always going to only be happy at home and will never get in a carrier out of choice. In these situations, as long as you’re not hurting them you can pick them up with a soft towel covering their head and body and swiftly place them in the carrier before closing the door. They may not be over-impressed with you, but ultimately a trip to the vets is not up for discussion.
Tips for travelling?
- Never force cats to share a carrier, even best friends can lash out at one another when stuck in a confined space together.
- Keep the carrier securely fastened to the seat to prevent it from sliding around – this is quite likely to make your cat vomit.
- Drive as if you’re trying to avoid spilling a glass of water, an unsmooth ride is sure to upset your cat.
- Always take the carrier out of the car with you in case it gets too hot or cold, and make sure that the air conditioning within the car is at a comfortable temperature.
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