A big part of the stress of a veterinary visit is just getting your cat into the carrier. Here are some tips to make things easier.
INVEST IN THE RIGHT TYPE OF CARRIER: The easiest type of carrier to get a cat in and out of is a hard-sided plastic carrier with an opening in the top as well as the door in the front (sometimes called 2-door or top-load). The top opening is generally much larger than the front door, and gravity will help you gently lower your cat into the carrier. The carrier does not need to be much larger than your cat – remember cats tend to like small spaces (remember that shoe box you left on the floor and found your cat smooshed into?). These carriers can be purchased at pet stores or online for about $30 – $40. Although soft-sided carriers may look comfortable, they tend to collapse easily and are much harder to use.
LEAVE THE CARRIER OUT IN YOUR HOUSE: The biggest mistake most people make is storing their cat carriers in the garage, basement, or in a closet and only pulling them out right before a vet visit. Cats are smart! If the carrier only comes out right before a car trip to the doctor’s office, they will disappear as soon as they hear the jingle of the door. If you leave the carrier out and make it comfortable with a blanket, shirt or towel, then chances are good your cat will use the carrier as a resting place and form a positive association with it. Using catnip or treats when your cat is in the carrier will further enhance this good feeling. With enough patience, persistence and lots of treats, you may even be able to train your cat to go into the carrier on command.
START CLOSING THE DOOR TO THE CARRIER: Every once in a while, close the door while your cat is inside the carrier and give treats or catnip to reward your cat. You only need to close the door for a minute or so to get your cat used to being enclosed in the carrier. Now all you will need to do to get your cat to the vet will be to walk up to the carrier and close the door! EASY!!
TRY TAKING YOUR CAT FOR SHORT RIDES: If you want to get adventurous, try taking your cat (who now enjoys being in his/her carrier) for a short car ride. Be sure to use lots of treats and praise during and after the ride. If your cat gets car sick during these test rides, there may be medication that you will be able to give to prevent motion sickness. If your cat gets upset during the ride, try covering the carrier with a towel or blanket, playing music, or giving catnip. Keep the rides short (start with a trip just around the block) and build up as your cat gets used to it.
As always, feel free to call us with any questions or concerns!