How much does your cat like his carrier? If your cat is like most, the answer is “Not at all!” Most of us drag the carrier out of storage minutes before we need it and wrestle our cats inside. If we are lucky, no one is bleeding and we can still get where we need to go.
This is a big but solvable problem. Why? Dogs and humans find comfort in people when they are nervous. In general, cats do not. Cats find comfort in a familiar place to hide and feel safe when they are under stress. We can use this knowledge to help our cats and reduce their fear and anxiety when they face a stressful situation.
In other words, you can make the carrier your cat’s new BFF, instead of her worst enemy. Here’s how.
- It’s time for a reset. Find a carrier that you want to be a part of daily life and a fixture in your home décor. Place this carrier in your cat’s favorite part of the house 24/7.
- Make sure the carrier has cozy bedding, or add some. You want your cat to think of it as the preferred resting spot, not the dreaded cat carrier.
- Daily snack time is now in the carrier. Once a day, put a small amount of dry or freeze-dried food or treats in the carrier. Give your cat a chance to discover and enjoy these on her own.
- After your cat has reached Zen in the new carrier, take her for a ride. Find a calm time when your cat is already inside the carrier and gently close the door. The first few times, just cruise around the room for a minute or two and then replace the carrier in its normal resting spot and open the door. Every now and then, take this journey a step further. Go outside or even on a short car trip.
Soon, your cat will think of the carrier as a safe haven. On the day of your next planned journey, all you will need to do is stay relaxed, place some treats inside, wait for your cat to jump in, and you’ll be on your way.
You will both be very happy that you did!
This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.