Cat carriers and cat baskets – it’s as if your cat hears you even thinking about it and runs for cover!  More than often the carrier is associated with bad rather than good things – travelling in the car, moving house, going to the cattery or going to the vets.  There are things we can suggest to make the cat carrier issue less stressful for you and your cat.

The true secret comes from having the right type of carrier and leaving it out all the time, soaking up the smells of your household and having nice associations with it e.g. a comfortable resting place and being given treats when they are exploring the carrier or simply for being in there.  

Start now, if you have a new kitten leave it out for them in a nice quiet resting spot and don’t be tempted to put it away in the shed! For cats already worried about their carrier, take the top off it to begin with and put comfortable bedding in there. If that’s a no go then try a new carrier and start from scratch. 

  • Please buy a suitable cat carrier  The ideal carrier should be solid and secure. Large enough for your cat to lie down and get comfortable and have enough room for bedding. Two openings will help with ventilation. We love carriers that are easy to take their top off - simple easy to use clips so we can literally take their roof off. This helps with minimal handling rather than fighting to get your cat in or out of his carrier!
  • Please only one cat per carrier  No matter how friendly your cats might be with each other at home, travelling anywhere in a cat carrier is stressful and will test any solid kitty relationship. 
  • Please make the carrier comfortable  Use newspaper and a washable absorbent towel or blanket in their carrier, ideally one that has familiar smells of home on it. This will reassure your cat. It’s not uncommon for cats to soil their carrier too and a towel or blanket will help absorb the mess until you can clean it up. Your cat will also thank you as they will be a bit drier too!
  • Using a calming spray  Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that is available in a travel spray. It smells the same as the cat’s own scent they leave behind when rubbing their faces and whiskas onto surfaces. This is calming and reassuring for your cat. If using this, spray in the four corners of the carrier 15 minutes before your cat goes in. 
  • Place a cover over the carrier  This really helps too. Cats often deal with stressful situations by not looking and hiding, so covering their carrier will help. And if you have your Feliway, then spray this too! 
  • Please carry your carrier like a fragile item  We recommend you carry the carrier with both hands to minimise movement - as you would a parcel with something fragile inside. For further information visit the Cats Protection advise page on choosing and using a carrier,
 click here.   The smallest of changes can make your cat’s carrier experience a little less stressful next time. 

If you are really interested in training your cat to go into their carrier voluntarily then it’s time to meet Herbie and see how he has managed it under the guidance of Dr Sarah Ellis. Three short videos cover the steps to his success, click here

While this takes a little time and patience, you will soon notice the difference it makes to your cat and you …