Does your cat panic at the sight or sound of a carrier? Many cats do. You bring it out and suddenly your cat is squeezing himself into the world’s smallest hiding place or becoming a raging lion hissing and swatting – claws out – at anyone who tries to come near him.
Yeah, we’ve experienced that too.
However, you can train your cat to accept the carrier and maybe even to love it. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could safely transport your cat? It is possible to train your cat not to hate the carrier with a little patience!
Imagine being able to take your cat to the vet for routine check-ups. It could make all the difference in your cat’s health. Too many cats don’t get regular wellness visits because of the drama that can ensue with the cat carrier. Then, by the time they do get to the doctor, it’s because they’re very ill.
Helping your cat feel at ease in the carrier is something you can do without.
5 Steps to Change Your Cat’s Relationship With the Cat Carrier
- Start Them Young –This is especially important if you have a kitten. If they’re not old enough to have negative associations with the carrier yet, then help them make positive ones right from the start by following these steps.
It will take patience to train an older cat. But it’s worth it for drama-free episodes when you need the carrier.
- Make The Carrier Familiar –This is probably the most simple thing you can do for your cat to make it less scary. Think of it from their point of view: You probably keep the carrier in a closet or garage. Then, right before you need to take your cat to the vet, let’s say, you haul it out. Cats by nature aren’t big on traveling, and they aren’t fans of medical offices. Combine the two and it’s no wonder they’re terrified.
Face your fear and you will conquer it. The carrier itself isn’t scary; the fear comes from what it represents. Let your cat know the carrier and you can help it to get over it. Let it out of its hiding place and allow it to sit in your living area. Cats can feel secure in their crates and enjoy hanging out in them just like dogs.
- Make Positive AssociationsIs there a particular treat your cat likes? Put a few treats on the floor next to the carrier. Depending on how panicked your cat is, you may have to put them down across the room and then ignore your cat for a while — watch tv, go about your day — until they see that’s okay. They’ll eventually let down their guard if they see you behaving normally.
If your cat is friendly and willing to be in the carrier’s vicinity, you can bring the treats closer. The goal is to eventually place the treats INSIDE of the carrier so your cat becomes used to it. But don’t rush it. Let your cat’s behavior be your guide.
- Play with Your Cat Near The CarrierContinue to reinforce the positive associations by playing with your cat and stroking him in the carrier. As your cat gets used to it being in the room and begins to associate it with positive things, then he’ll feel better about it.
After your cat is used to the carrier, you can give your cat some catnip.
- Practicinge – Once they’re okay with the carrier being around and even going in the carrier, then practice closing the door and feeding treats to show them it’s okay. Let them go. You can then practice lifting them up and carrying them around the room.
This whole process can take several days or even weeks depending on the cat. As you know, they’re slow to accept new things, so have patience.
Even the most stubborn cats will eventually accept the carrier and some cats even love it. Your life will be much easier if your cat is willingly able to enter a cat carrier.