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Posted on 06-24-2015

1. Make the carrier your cat’s second home.

To our feline companions, cat carriers are usually associated with a host of unpleasant things.  Many of us keep our carriers in the closet, attic or garage, so our cats haven’t had an opportunity to rub or sleep inside. Therefore, there’s been no transfer of scent from the cat to the carrier. Therefore, the kitty sees it as a foreign object.  Give your cat time to mark the carrier with facial rubbing. This will help kitty feel like the carrier belongs to her and perhaps make it easier to place her inside.  If you have room, make the carrier part of your family room or other room that your cat spends time in. That means leaving it out all the time with the door open. You can place a soft towel inside to make it more cozy.  With a little time and patience, many cats won’t think twice about entering the carrier if it’s part of their daily life.

2. Turn the carrier into a meal center.

Try putting part of your cat’s daily food in the carrier to help him associate something good with the carrier.  Or try making it even more tempting by placing a particularly tantalizing treat or food in the carrier. Tuna, meats or canned food often work well, or a favorite treat can be used. If your cat likes to be alone and have quiet time to himself, put the treats in periodically throughout the day to reward him for using the carrier for solitude. All this reinforces the idea that the carrier isn’t such a bad place.

If your cat is already suspicious of the carrier, you may need to start with the door off or even the top off. Sometimes simply starting with food outside but around the carrier and gradually moving it closer, then inside works too. Take your time & prepare early so there’s no rush to acclimate.

3. Try a different kind of carrier.

Say you have an emergency and don’t have time to let your cat adjust to the carrier.  Try using a pillowcase as a carrier.  With your cat on your lap, slip the pillowcase over her body, head first.  Knot the top of the case and support the bottom when holding kitty.  Other alternative carriers include: two laundry baskets connected together, sturdy cardboard box, or anything that he likes to nap inside. These usually won’t trigger his fear like a typical carrier might.

4. Consider using a synthetic product.

Feline facial pheromone products can help calm cats during stressful events.  You can spray these products on blankets, towels, or any fabrics before heading to the veterinary office.  These sprays can reduce stress for many cats traveling in the car or coming in for their veterinary visit.

Other products that may help are herbal or natural calming treats, drops or chews. Purchasing one or a combination of these products can make your life easier when it’s time to take Toonces for a car ride.  Most importantly, less stress for Toonces makes a better experience for everyone!

We have some of these products available here at West Hills Pet Clinic such as Stress Away spray or calming chews like Composure Chewable treats or Stress Away Chews.

Regular wellness exams are crucial for keeping your feline companion feeling fine.  Hopefully you’ll find these tips useful the next time it’s time for your cat’s complete physical exam.  Give us a call with any questions about products or other ideas to reduce stress for both of you when it’s time for a visit!

Did you know that we have Feliway diffusers in the exam rooms to help reduce our feline patient’s stress? We also have catnip and treats for those that are able to relax and take advantage of the extra TLC. Our doctors and staff believe in the importance of low stress handling and are well-versed in calming techniques for all our visitors.

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