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More Tips on Training Cats to their Carrier


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Q: “I finally got a method down that works and is super chill to get my cat in a carrier. I put the carrier in the bathroom at least a few days before a vet appointment. If it’s more of a last-minute thing, I take the time to put treats out in the opposite side of the house from the bathroom (dash the carrier into the bathroom) and then join him and give more treats. Either way, from there I can just casually pick my cat up and walk him into the bathroom and close the door. He is usually pretty good at not fighting me but if he does jump out of the carrier he doesn’t have anywhere to run and just lets me put him in without issue. But of course, at the vet office he just gets into the carrier on his own – cuz the lad wants to go home! Can you comment further?”

A: It sounds what you’ve done works for you.

My only additions are to leave out the crate more often, so it becomes even more of a fixture in your home. And to periodically drop treats and sprinkling catnip inside it (assuming your cat is a positive responder to catnip).

Even suggest going into the carrier a cue, like “go to your house.” Take a trip with your cat inside, while he is still inside the carrier, all the way into another room. When you let your cat out, now it’s meal time. So, your cat associates something very nice for traveling in the carrier – even if the “trip” is a very short one. Over time, consider taking your cat down to the car and driving around the block, then return from that trip inside the carrier to a meal.

During this “training,” spray Feliway into the carrier before coaxing your cat inside. Feliway is a copy of a calming pheromones, which cats naturally produce to help them to feel comfortable wherever they happen to be. For others, not likely your cat – based on your description – ask your veterinarian about a drug which can be used just a few weeks to take off the edge and help to make training to the carrier far more agreeable to a cat.

My hope your veterinarian is Fear Free certified or at least uses gentle handling and Fear Free techniques. While your cat is eager to return to go the carrier go home, it doesn’t sound like he’s all that afraid of the vet visit – it’s not his favorite thing to do. Other cats, though, need more help. Learn more at fearfreehappyhomes.com.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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