For many cats their annual visit starts with their owners rummaging through the garage, basement or shed looking for that dusty old carrier that they purchased years ago. Cats are woken from their peaceful naps, placed, pushed or wiggled into the carrier somehow and carried to the car for a scary ride to a place that is unfamiliar to them. It is not surprising that many owners and cats alike dread the annual visit, therefore it gets put off again and again.
A stress free visit starts with acclimatizing your cat to his carrier. In your cat’s ideal world, doing time in a crate, or carrier, would simply not exist. But carriers are essential for safely traveling with cats.
Start by keeping the carrier in plain sight were your cat can play in and around it. If it’s out all the time, it’s easier for the cat. Add favourite toys to the cat’s crate, so he has something familiar and fun to play with. Once your cat is somewhat comfortable in the crate, the next test is taking him for a short ride. Then when you’re home, reward him with something very special, not just a regular treat. Gradually lengthen the drive time, allowing your cat to acclimate to longer stretches in the crate and on the road.
Making your cat crate-ready in a weekend is wishful thinking. Cats need time to adapt, praise for their efforts and consistent support to get crate training right, every cat is different. If you have concerns with bringing your cat to the vet, call your veterinarian ahead of time to discuss other things you can do to help make things as stress free as possible for your cat.