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Get set for success with RVN Heather Grace’s top tips for coaxing your kitty into the cat carrier.

What can I do to help my cat like the carrier?

Try to make a carrier part of the furniture!

The carrier should not be stored in the garage but be something that the cat sees daily. When your cat then has to travel in it, the experience will not be so scary for them.

Provide something reassuring in the cat carrier

A blanket they often settle on or a toy they love. These should be put in there intermittently to help the cat associate the carrier with positive things.

Train your cat to accept the carrier

Firstly, by removing the top half of the carrier, and leaving the bottom in areas near where the cat resides. Encouraging them to explore with treats and toys. Once the cat is happy to sit in the bottom, put the roof on, again encouraging the cat to settle. Only when the cat will happily sit in the carrier should the door be shut (further information can be sourced on the ISFM website).

Ensure the carrier is the appropriate size and material

The carrier should be large enough to allow the cat to stand and turn round. It should also be of an easily cleanable material.

If the cat is really aversive with a specific cat carrier, it may be worth buying a new one of a slightly different design. Use this new carrier to start a fresh training programme.

Why does my cat hate the carrier so much?

“It smells funny!”

Cats have an extremely sensitive nose, and can smell a lot more then we can. A carrier that spends most of its time in a garage is not going to smell of home. If the cat was really stressed in the carrier the last time it was in there, it is likely to have left stress pheromones in there. These stress pheromones will also put off the cat from returning to it.

“It’s too small”

A cat needs to be able to stand and turn around in the carrier. A carrier that was bought when the cat was a kitten may not be suitable now the cat is older. If the carrier is too small, it is likely to make the cat feel trapped.

“I don’t like my travel buddy”

Even if your cats get along at home, being trapped together in one carrier can be very stressful.

“I’m being taken somewhere scary…”

If the only time the cat sees the carrier is to go to the vets or cattery, they are going to associate it with something negative.

Thank you to Heather Grace (Registered Veterinary Nurse at Greensands Vets, caring for pets in Milton Keynes.)

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