Most cat owners know how difficult it may be to get your cat into a carrier once they see it. We want to help your cat see the carrier as not something scary, but eventually as a safe place. Here are some tips for choosing the best carrier and some common mistakes to avoid.
The best cat carriers are ones that are sturdy and made of impact-resistant plastic or fiberglass, which are easy to clean. Cats appreciate their privacy, so choose a carrier that provides a visual shield for them to hide or feel protected. Soft-sided, luggage/purse-style or cardboard carriers are acceptable, but two sides of the carrier need to have mesh or holes for ventilation. These type of carriers may not provide adequate impact protection and can be difficult to clean.
Carriers that provide a front and top opening are the most desirable since it can provide easy access for you and your cat. The top loading carriers can also be less stressful for cats when placing them in or taking them out. Also, carriers that can have the top portion removed may make a vet visit easier because cats may feel more comfortable having their exam conducted while they sit in the bottom.
One reason cats can develop anxiety towards their carrier is because it only comes out to go to and from the vet. If you want your cat to be comfortable with their carrier, leave it out and make it part of your home. After awhile, your cat should start seeing it as part of his or her space, and even spend time in there when they don’t have to go anywhere. Cats can feed off our anxiety, so if you try too hard to get them in the carrier or use forceful means, it can create an adverse reaction. The best way to put your cat in the carrier is by scooping them up with both hands and providing support on their bottom. Try to gently put them in the carrier using the front opening, but if it’s easier you can place them in it if there is a top opening. Trying to shove or push them in to the carrier can create fear, so your cat may try to bite or scratch. You can also try wrapping them like a burrito (similar to swaddling a baby) and sliding your cat into the carrier that way. It is also important to remember to line the bottom of the carrier before putting your cat in it.
For more information and carrier tips for your cat, check out these links:
Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jackie Sheppard.