Here are some points to keep in mind as you shop for a carrier:
- Look for a one that is sturdy and comfortable for your cat.
- The Center for Pet Safety recommends that the carrier be belted into the backseat only if they have been crash tested. All others should be placed on the floor of the backseat.
Entry and Exit
- Look for one with both a top and front opening or a very large round opening. This allows you to easily place your cat in and out if your cat is not trained to the carrier.
- It’s helpful to have a carrier that can be taken apart in the middle and have the top half be removed. This way your cat can remain in the bottom of the carrier during an exam by the veterinarian. Many cats feel more secure and experience less anxiety when they can remain in their carrier during the exam.
- Make sure your cat can easily walk in and out of it, so they can come and go as they please.
- Look for a carrier that is easy-to-clean and has a leak-proof bottom.
- Also, make sure you can place a comfy (and absorbent) towel or other cushioned material on the bottom.
Visual Shield/ Privacy & Ventilation
- Cats like privacy, so look for a carrier that offers some kind of visual shield. This makes it less likely for your cat to experience motion-induced anxiety or stomach distress.
- An easy method is to place a towel over the carrier that has just been sprayed or wiped with a synthetic feline pheromone. This can help reduce your cat’s stress when you go to unfamiliar places. Just make sure you can still carry in a stable manner.
- Make sure the carrier has good ventilation.
- When the carrier is left out, it allows your cat to become comfortable with it and see it as part of their space or territory.
- Select a location for the carrier where your cat likes it and where you are comfortable with it being left out and not moved.
Becoming Comfortable with the Carrier
Many cats dislike going to the veterinarian. It starts with the sometimes-difficult process of getting your cat into the carrier. Here are some quick tips to help your cat become familiar with their carrier and have a positive experience:
- Leave it in a location or room where your cat spends a lot of time.
- Place familiar soft bedding inside the carrier that either your cat likes or that includes your scent to help her feel more secure.
- Place treats, catnip, or toys within the carrier daily it to encourage your cat to enter the it on her own.
Contributed by Dr. Ilona Rodan, DVM, DABVP (Feline)