Cats are most comfortable with the familiar and need time to adjust to the unfamiliar. Getting your cat to the vet is often very difficult because the carrier, the veterinary hospital and the situation is not familiar. Here are tips to help you make trips to the vet less stressful for both you and your cat.
1. Purchase a carrier for your kitten, NOT A SMALL CARRIER. While you might want to buy the smallest carrier possible because you have a tiny ball of fluff, you should buy a larger size carrier. Keep in mind this cat will grow to be at least 6 lbs. and possibly even 11 lbs. at their adult weight. Trying to squish a big cat in a small carrier will not be fun for either one of you and will not make the visit to the vet a very good experience. This may even cause injury to you or your cat.
2. As soon as you purchase the carrier, which should be the day you bring your kitten home, you should open the carrier up, remove the cover and use the carrier as a bed for your kitten. Put a nice soft blanket in the carrier. Your kitten will soon realize that being in the carrier is a good thing. You can even put some catnip, toys and even treats in the carrier to entice them into the opened carrier even more.
3. Each cat should have their own carrier. Do your best to not force the cats to share a carrier. Being in a carrier is stressful enough, and if you try to squish two cats in one small carrier, they will become anxious and more stressed.
4. Do not purchase soft sided carriers. We agree that the soft carriers look nicer, but the hard-plastic carriers are much safer for your cat. We have seen cats escape through soft material cloth carriers many times. They can scratch and chew easily through the soft material and often the zippers break very easily.
5. Cover the carrier with a blanket or a towel. Cats will feel more secure when they will have the opportunity to "hide" and they will relax more.
It may take some time to get your cat to trust the carrier. Be patient, remain calm and reward desired behaviors; with treats of course! When taking your cat out of your home, they should always be in a carrier for their safety. If you follow these tips, we are sure that getting your cat into the carrier will be a breeze!
(Photo: Joy, one of our TNR cats, by Kaly White)