How to transport your cat

For many owners, simply getting the cat to the veterinarian can be the most stressful part. Below are a number of tips which may make this first vital step easier:

  • If you were confronted with being shoved into a taxi every time you felt sick, were painful, or had to to go to the doctor, you likely would not care for them. The same is true for your cat -- you want to have the carrier just be yet another thing in the house to be slept in or on, not a harbinger of doom.

  • Ideally, start when the cat is a kitten so they have do not start off with preconceived notions of Carrier = Unhappiness. However, these tips can still work even on an adult cat.

  • Pick a carrier which has both a side entrance and a top entrance. Many cats will resent being pushed into a carrier from the side, while you can load from the top fairly easily.

  • Make sure the carrier is not dirty or smelly. Cats have more sensitive senses of smell than humans do, so even the slightest odor may make them feel like they are being surrounded by filth.

  • Consider getting some Feliway spray and spray it inside the carrier and on the towels in the carrier. This spray contains phermones which cats associate with calm and can decresase stress.

  • Take the carrier out well in advance and leave it open in an area where your cat can can examine it. Cats are naturally inquisitive -- remember the adage about curiosity and kitties!

  • Put the carrier near the feeding area or consider leaving a few treats, catnip or toys in the carrier for the cat to discover. The idea is to make the carrier a fun or at least neutral place, not a torture chamber.

  • Pet and praise the cat if you notice them invesigating the carrier or going inside on their own.

  • Once the cat seems calmer around the carrier, consider closing the door(s) on the carrier once the cat is in, pick it up, walk around briefly in the house, then set the carrier down and let the cat out. After several repetitions of this the cat will realize that being in the box and carried is not a horrible experience.

  • After training the cat to be relaxed while being in the carrier and carried, the next step is to take the cat to the car and take the cat for short drives, ending back home so the cat does not think that the only time they go in a carrier is to the place where "The Temperature Is Taken(tm)."

  • Consider bringing a towel or blanket to drape over the carrier so kitty doesn't see scary things such as dogs, other cats, or the landscape whizzing by.

  • For those cats that absolutely cannot be put into a carrier, there is always the housecall option. We do offer this for an additional fee.

That's great, doc, but I need to get the cat to the hospital NOW.

  • Start by confining the cat to a small area with few hiding spots such as a bathroom.

  • Try to lure the cat into the carrier by putting treats or food inside.

  • Open the top part of the carrier, or if the only opening is a side-door then open the door and tilt the carrier so the opening is facing skyward.

  • Pick your cat up and lower them, hindlegs first, into the cat carrier and close the door.

  • If your carrier is taken apart and put together easily, you may want to take the entire top off and put the cat into the lower part, petting and reassuring them, and then put the top back on and reassemble the carrier around the cat.

  • If your cat is especially upset or painful, they may try to bite or scratch you when you pick them up. You can wrap them gently in a towel or blanket to prevent them from injuring you and put the entire wrapped kitty in the carrier.

  • After the vet visit, re-read the information listed above with slow adjustment to the carrier and start getting your cat used to the carrier again.

These two videos show the difference between what you see, and what your cat sees:

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