If you own a cat, there is no escape from buying a carrier. Sooner or later, you will have to travel with kitty, be it a short trip to the vet or something longer like a road or air trip. It is crucial to make sure your adult cat and kittens are accustomed to using crates and carriers. In such a way, your cats will not associate the carrier with disastrous and scary events like visiting vets. Therefore, your cats should be taught to enter their carriers and crates voluntarily.
A successful cat training process will ensure that the pets can be transported with minimal stress and without causing a fuss. Before we get to it, be ready to use a lot of treats and have loads of patience. Remember, every cat is different and will respond differently to training.
Get the Right Carrier for Your Cat
Choosing the best carrier for your cat is the first step to a successful training program. Ample space is very important when choosing a cat carrier. You don’t want it to be too big leaving your cat feeling isolated and anxious or too small making her uncomfortable. There are many ways of getting the size of the carrier right including taking measurements of your cat or depending on professional guidance.
Also, make sure that the carrier is well ventilated for the safety of your cat. The size of exit/entry points of the carrier also matter. A carrier with a removable top and at least two exit points will come in handy when moving her in and out especially during tough situations such as a visit to the vet.
Let it Happen Naturally
Making the crate part of the furniture that your cat interacts with makes the training effortless. Place the carrier at one corner of the cat’s room. Your cat will have all the time they need to explore the crate at their leisure. This way, the carrier becomes familiar to the cat as it will be interacting with it daily.
Moreover, the cat will rub onto the carrier leaving behind her scent making the familiarity process easier. By doing this, the association of the crate with stressful events will wear off making your cat trips less dramatic and stressful. We have also had great success in buying a cat scratching post and placing it near to their usual corner of your home. Cat’s leave their scent when they scratch which in turn can aid familiarity.
Take Advantage of their Great Sense of Smell
Cats have excellent smelling abilities. You can take advantage of this by leaving cat bedding inside the carrier as well as your car. By doing this, she will be familiar with the smell of the carrier and be more inclined to get in and stay in. We also find that making use of a suitable cat bed is a great way to help familiarize your cat with its environment.
During the training, you should ensure that the carrier is free of odor that may create discomfort for your cats. In cases where the cat has previously used the crate, it is advisable to clean and disinfect it then let it dry before subjecting her to it.
Woo Her With Treats And Toys
The cat carrier should be in your cat’s favorite spots, for instance, places that they like to lie. The position of the carrier is vital as it helps the cat to attach positive emotions to the carrier. As soon as this happens, you should place the treats around and inside the carrier to further entice her to get in. Treats can include your cat’s favorite toys, gifts, and even food.
While at it, have the cat wearing a collar with updated identification information. This includes your contact information. Instead of using your home phone number, have your cell phone number to make it easier to reach you in case of anything.
Throw in her favorite toy. At first, she may be hesitant to go in and get it but after a while, when she has observed the carrier, she will slowly approach the carrier to fetch the toy. This will be the first of many more carrier entries. You can also place a bowl of her favorite dish in the carrier, encouraging her to feed in there. We also find that using a cat tunnel as the entrance to the carrier may make your cat a little more reassured to enter it.
Remove Obstacles from the Carrier’s Door
It is essential to remove the door from the crate to prevent accidental scratches on your cat as it tries to explore. Keep in mind that, if the door is closed, there is no way of your cat accessing or exploring the carrier. While at it, keep away any obstacles that may be blocking the doorway.
In cases where your cat is too scared of the carrier, you can consider removing the lid and leaving the bottom side to serve as its bed. Furthermore, you should give the cat ample time for discovering the treats on its own. It is crucial to monitor your cat’s movements and consumption so that you can add more gifts after depletion.
Also, if you witness the cat entering the carrier, be sure to utter some words of encouragement or reassurance, to help develop a positive attitude towards the crate. Just be sure to use a calm voice to avoid startling her, leading to more complications. If you have to get rid of the lid, replacement can take place after the cat gets used to the carrier.
Ensure that the door fastens so that it does not bang or shut unexpectedly as such noises will scare your cat. It is important not to restrict the cat from coming out of the carrier whenever they wish. Such freedom will help in the development of an excellent attitude towards the crate. Sometimes, you can drop your cat’s favorite treats into the box to create the impression that cat gifts are found in them.
Ease Your Cat into Accepting a Closed Door
Shutting the carrier door should be a process so that the cat does not feel as if it is a punishment. First, you should place your hand on the carrier doors and toss your treats to the cats into the crate. After that, you can shut the entrance slowly while passing more gifts to your cat. If your cat seems relaxed and continues to eat the treats after shutting the door, you should proceed to open the latch door and continue to reassure your cat whilst holding the door open.
After that, you can gradually increase the number of times that the door is shut and double the treats. If you sense any nervousness, you can repeat a prior step to reassure your cat that the process will not cause harm. You should ensure that the cat is relaxed and calm in the carrier before you proceed to the next step.
Picking Up the Carrier is the Next Step of Training
You should ensure that your cat is relaxed before lifting the crate off the ground. Therefore, you can occupy your cat with a few treats whilst you slowly pick it up. If you notice any incidences of nervousness or your cat stops eating, you should try to make it less anxious before proceeding to lift the crate. You can gradually raise the carrier a bit higher every time. Each time you raise the carrier and return it to the floor, you should allow your pet to come out of the crate. This will assure her that the carrier is not a dangerous place as they have the freedom to return to it at will.
Transporting the carrier with your cat inside will need you to take a step at a time, ensuring that you don’t rush the process.
Introduce Her to Your Car
We have covered this in a separate article but training your cat for travel with their carrier will involve putting the carrier in a car that is not running while offering treats. Let it sit in the car for a while to allow it to gain familiarity with its surroundings before proceeding. Start the car and let it remain stationary as you continue to reassure your cat with affection. After that, you should increase the time that the engine runs while the carrier is in the car.
Finally, you can drive a short distance with your cat in the carrier. However, you should not push your luck in this step by driving too far with her. It is important to note that if your cat gets confused or spooked in the process; you may need to revisit some of the previous training to reinforce the positive experiences your cat has had with their carrier. Don’t despair and remember, patience is the key.
Perseverance is Key
You can gradually increase the distance that you travel with your cat in their carrier to ensure that they do not get upset when traveling over long distances. Remember to bring a supply of cat toys and treats with you, which will be helpful as they can create a long-lasting calming effect.
A productive training program will ensure a calmer cat during visits to the vet and at any time at which you need to travel – a stress free cat is a happy cat.