Lockdown? The Purrfect Time to get Your cat Used to their Carrier!

Hi everyone,

As some of you know may know we are working with Sleepypod in Europe to help them introduce more cats to their brilliant cat carriers and mobile pet beds.

And since we are all in lockdown at the moment we thought why not re-iterate how to get your feline friend to like their carrier!

Many of us cat guardians probably have this image of trying to catch their cat and getting them to go into their carrier for an essential trip to the vet. And even when we finally manage to get them in… do they look more like this?

An angry hissing not so nice feline! ;o

What if it didn’t have to be the battle between human + carrier versus your beloved feline friend? Wouldn’t you prefer to be your cat more like this in their carrier?

A cosey and relaxed Rennie in his sleepypod mobile pet bed!

Of course, getting a good carrier is a good starting point and we LOVE all of the sleepypod products as they are designed for feline comfort to ensure cats fall in love them in straight away! But let’s start with the basics

The most important aspect in the cat/carrier relationship (yes we call it a relationship!) is to build up a positive association with the carrier. And this is where the current lockdown face is a brilliant opportunity as you can give your cat all the time they need to make this positive association.

Our personal favourite are the mobile pet beds as with the top on they make a nice and sturdy carrier and without the top…

They become a comfy yet stylish bed that can be placed anywhere in your house to provide a comfy and safe environment for your cat.

In fact, with most of us working from home at the moment your cat might especially appreciate this as their safe chill-out area to get a bit of “me” time.

There are of course a number of general tips that you need to take into consideration for training your cat to like their carrier so let’s look at some of these.

Could the cat’s distress be related to the way the cat is placed in the carrier? For example, is it a battle?
• The first step is to stop any physical forcing of a cat into the carrier. Therefore, the training process should be started when there are no scheduled vet appointments in the imminent future. (Purrfect opportunity at the moment right?!?)
• Purchasing a new carrier can be beneficial for cats that really hate the carrier as a new carrier has less association with negative events.

Could the cat’s distress be directly related to the type of cat carrier?
• Is it possibly too small? A cat should have enough space in the carrier to stand up and turn around.
If this is not the case, it is advisable to buy a larger cat carrier.

Does it smell of another cat? (eg, do all cats in a household travel in the same carrier but at different times?)
If this is the case and the cats do not have an amicable relationship, the close proximity to the smell of another cat and the inability to escape from it can cause anxiety or even frustration to the cat contained within the carrier. It is a good idea to wash the carrier after use with a warm solution of biological washing powder (approximately 10% washing powder) to remove any remaining scent of another cat. In addition, if a cat has not enjoyed being in a carrier previously, it may have left chemical secretions from glands between its toes which on subsequent investigation, alert the cat to its previous discomfort within the carrier – cleaning the carrier after such situations is therefore also recommended.

Does your cat have to travel in the carrier at the same time as another cat?
Even if cats get along well in the home, forcing them to share a small space from which they cannot escape from can create tension and hostility. Each individual cat should always have its own carrier. Unless of course they are Renegade and Freya who do not like being separated at any point in time. LOL

Does your cat only ever go in the carrier for a trip to the vets or the cattery?
This is very commonly the case and if the cat does not enjoy such events, it will simply learn that the carrier predicts an imminent trip to the vet or cattery. By ensuring the carrier is accessible in the home at all times, such negative associations can be broken down and thus is why we recommend leaving the carrier out in the home!

Does your cat dislike travelling?
The cat carrier is likely to indicate travelling to a cat and if it is not keen on travelling (some cats experience feelings of travel sickness just as people can), such negative associations can generalise to the carrier (even when not in motion).

Learning to love the cat carrier

It is a good idea to always have the cat carrier out, open and accessible in the home and this is why we like the range of Sleepypod as their designs are nice and stylish and especially the mobile pet bed can be used as a comfy cat bed all year around. The plush inside their carriers can easily be removed in order to wash them on a regular basis as well. 🙂

And in the current climate, the other carrier that spends out quite a bit of time with us is the Sleepypod Air as it naturally creates a nice hiding den for Freya who does like to sneak away and get a bit of peace and quietness while both of her humans are currently working from the home office 😉

If you leave the front open it provides enough space for her to sneak in and get away from all the conference noises and constant making of new coffee that we humans tend to drink a lot off while we work. 😉

Simply placed in a quiet corner of the room it’s an ideal hiding space while also getting her to relate to the carrier in a positive way. Just as well as we did have to use it for something a few weeks back… we shall update you on this soon but don’t worry Freya is fine!

Innocent as she might look… she is most certainly the cheekiest of the lot! LOL

So one of the key points of today is to remember that positioning the carrier in a cosy comfortable place that is safe and secure will help make the carrier inviting. Choose a room that your cat commonly spends time in and ideally not the room or place it has previously been situated if it has been a battle to get the cat in their current or old carrier should you have upgraded carriers.

And with any new carrier don’t rush your cat! Let them have the time they need to get used to the carrier. Sometimes it might even help to place their favourite blanket or toy in the carrier in order to give it a familiar and positive smell. 🙂

For more tips on getting your cat used to their carrier please also check out the research by International Cat Care who has helped us shape this advisory post:

  1. http://icatcare.org/advice/how-choose-and-use-cat-carrier
  2. http://icatcare.org/advice/bringing-your-cat-vet
  3. http://icatcare.org/advice/travelling-with-your-cat
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5 thoughts on “Lockdown? The Purrfect Time to get Your cat Used to their Carrier!

  1. Kris says:

    I’ll never forget the trip I took with a cat in a soft side carrier. I had a box style hard case that was supposed to be airline approved (a lady who used to work for a major airlines and was now selling pet stuff, shared it with me). Alaska Air said no and thus, the soft one was used. It didn’t fit under the seat any better than the first one. The cat hated it the flight and her claws came through the carrier often. We were in a very bad part of the plane (near the engine). Her relaxing meds wore off, it was horrible!!! My favorite part was when we landed and the luggage took ages to get unloaded. One of the first ‘bags’ off was the empty hard sided carrier. We wondered if someone was looking for a lost pet!

  2. simon7banks says:

    All good advice. But the best laid plans of mice (sorry) and men gang aft agley. A stray cat had been coming in here regularly to eat, but very, very nervous of me. Then I didn’t see it for three days. Then it turned up with an injured rear leg. It found a hiding-place (which I located), but it hissed when I came near. I rang the vet’s for advice. They suggested placing the carrier near and food gradually closer and closer to the carrier, finally inside it and then (if I was around), bingo. I took the advice. The cat took the food. The carrier, a very comfortable one, unzips so it has a lip lying out in front of the entrance. I got as far as to have the cat coming to take food from the bowl on that lip. Then my older cat discovered the carrier and decided it was ideal for snoozing most of the day.

    Thankfully, to my surprise, the injured leg gradually healed: I think it must have been a muscle strain as I could see no blood. That same cat is now fully established, loving strokes and tickles: in the last ten days it’s learnt how to get me to open the back door, then how to ask for wet food and finally, when resting on its bed (alias my bed), to allow me to lie down to snooze on the same bed. Fortunately, it’s mild and sensible in its attitude to the other two cats, who are OK with it, give or take the odd “No, you do not go past me that close” and it’s confident enough to vocally warn off a large interloping cat from a few doors away. It was rather thin and scraggy when it was just visiting, but now looks fine; and given the vet’s is currently open for emergencies only, I’m very grateful it has not passed on any fleas.

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