Not many cats will willingly go in their carrier when it's time to go to the vets or you need to get them to the cattery. Many find the experience extremely distressing, as do many owners!
Here is how I suggest you start helping your cat to feel better able to cope with going in a pet carrier:
- Don’t rush through this process. Go slowly and spend at least a week on each stage.
- Make sure you have a carrier that is large enough for your cat to turn around in, that is rigid enough to hold its shape when the door is open, and ideally one which you can take the whole lid off.
- If the mere sight of the carrier makes your at disappear it might be worth investing in a new one which looks different.
- Make sure the carrier is clean, but do not use bleach products.
- Dissemble it and leave just the bottom part somewhere your cat often sleeps / rests.
- Put some comfy bedding in it. Ideally something that already smells of your cat.
- Spray the bedding with Feliway spray and leave for 30 mins (for any alcohol smell to evaporate). Repeat this before every session.
- Leave some of your cat’s favourite treats in and around the box for your cat to find and enjoy.
- When you see your cat investigating with the carrier (or going in!) give them a treat.
- Once your cat is happy to be near the carrier you could start to put their meals in it.
- Next reassemble the carrier and repeat the above process, so your cat gets used to going inside the carrier. For now, leave the door off or propped open.
- The next stage is encouraging your cat to go in when asked. Use some super tasty treats and toss them into the carrier. Initially when your cat goes in do not close the door! Let them choose to come in and out freely.
- Once they are happy going in after a treat, you can start to close the door for just a few seconds, give them another treat through the bars and then let them out.
- Very slowly start to build up the time the door is shut. Eventually you can start shutting them in the carrier for a few minutes at a time, then carrying them out to the car and back, then going for a drive round the block etc.
- Ideally take a passenger with you to provide super tasty treats on the journey.
- Make sure you practice regularly.