For some cats a trip to the vet in a pet carrier is a fate worse than death. All you have to do is think about taking them to the vet and they disappear into the woodwork. You spend hours searching for the deathly ill feline, only to find them cowering in the most inaccessible and difficult space to extract them from. Nine times out of ten, the vet visit has to be rescheduled for these fear filled feline friends.
Why do so many cats have so much fear associated with being placed in a cat carrier? Logically, it can’t be the small space. Cats have a knack for finding the smallest, darkest space in the house to hide in to avoid being placed in any size pet carrier. The good news is that they do not have to be so scared.
Here are five simple steps to calm your cat’s carrier fears.
Step 1: Leave the pet carrier in a commonly used room in the house. Leave the door of it open. Just let it sit there. Do not call attention to it to the cat. Treat it as if it is any other piece of furniture in the house. At this point in reducing the cat’s fear, you are ignoring the cat in connection with the cat carrier.
Our cats know what we are feeling and respond to us accordingly. The goal here is to give the cat a feeling of safety about the pet carrier. By having the carrier out in the open with no thought of taking them anywhere in it, they will get used to it just being in the same room with it. This first phase may take up to a week. Give your cat lots of love during this time period.
Step 2: Once your cat is comfortable walking past the pet carrier, then move it to another part of the room or house. This next place you move it to should be in a space that makes them have to walk near it to eat or use the bathroom. You can place treats inside the carrier. Do not force your cat to have any contact with the carrier at this point. You are still treating it like a piece of furniture. Once your cat is comfortable walking around and near the pet carrier it is time for the next step.
Step 3: Hold your cat while you touch the per carrier. You can start with touching it with your foot and then with your hand. Only do this to the extent that they will tolerate easily. Keep your thoughts focused on what a great cat you have and not on putting the cat in the carrier. There is no pressure here. Lot of love and pats and cheers over what a brave cat they are afterwards help to build their confidence.
Step 4: In this step you visualize your cat walking in and out of the pet carrier on their own. Do not picture yourself putting your cat in the carrier.
Step 5: At this point, if your cat still has significant fears about the carrier, go back to previous steps until they are more comfortable. Set your cat in front of the carrier and guide them into it. They need to have their feet on the floor and have the option of not being forced into the carrier. You can prevent them from running away. Keep the picture of them walking in on their own in your thoughts. Point them in the right direction. Let them walk in and walk back out again. Repeat for longer periods.