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My Cat Hates Carriers

Are you wondering how in the world you’re going to get your cat in a carrier for their spay/neuter appointment? We have conditioning tips!

Prep about 2 weeks in advance. You’ll be happy you did!

 

OPTION ONE:

The right carrier/kennel: Try to buy/borrow the right carrier. You will want a roomy sized plastic hard sided kennel, preferably with a door at both the top and end. Suggested size: Length 24 inch, Width 16 inch, Height 14 inch or larger.

2 Door Top Load Carrier Example (Petmate and Frisco brand pictured)

Scent: Smells matter. If it smells like other animals or yucky to the cat, your skittish kitty may decide not to go in. Wash carrier with dishwasher soap and rinse well. Rub your cat with a small towel that can stay in the kennel. Place towel in kennel. This will help the carrier smell familiar and safe. You can also try spraying the kennel with the calming pheromone Feliway Classic.

Carrier placement: About 2 weeks before your cat’s appointment, place the kennel where your kitty likes to hang out. Leave the door open so kitty can come and go. If the door won’t stay open, you can secure the door open with a twist tie, bungee cord, zip tie etc.

Toys, treats and catnip: Toss toys, treats or catnip in the kennel daily. Great things happen when kitty goes in the kennel. Try playing with a laser toy. See if you can’t get kitty to go in and out of the carrier to follow the light. If you can get kitty to go in when you want them too, this will make your surgery morning so much easier.

Night before surgery: If food is your cat’s motivator to go in the carrier, you will want to skip dinner or feed a very small dinner so kitty is extra hungry in the morning for the one or two treats you will use to entice them inside. Water should be available to all ages up until their appointment.

The morning of surgery: Even though kitty can’t have a full breakfast, a small treat or two is ok if that’s what it takes for kitty to go in the kennel. If kitty is under 4 months, they can have a small breakfast. Once kitty has gone inside, close the door quickly behind them. Cover the carrier with a large towel which will help kitty calm down.

Once back home: Place the kennel in the same place. Open door. Leave kennel out for a couple days. You may want to wash it out with dishwasher soap before putting it away. That way it will be clean when you need it again. Make sure to place the carrier back out a week or a few days before the next time kitty needs to go to the vet.

 

OPTION TWO:

Borrow a humane trap: We loan traps. Ask us! Watch the video to understand how to use the trap. Test the trap – set it and use a pencil or finger to reach through the side of the trap to press on the trip plate. The trap door should fall down. Video used by permission from Neighborhood Cats for demonstration purposes.

Scent: Smells matter. Though the trap should already be clean, you might want to wash it with dishwasher soap and rinse well. Rub kitty with a very small towel that can stay in the front of the trap and not interfere with the trip plate or closure of the door. This will help the trap smell more familiar and safe. You can also spray the trap with the calming pheromone Feliway Classic.

Trap placement: About 2 weeks before your cat’s appointment, place the trap where your kitty likes to eat. Secure the door open that has rings. Use a zip tie or bungee cord to keep the door open. Kitty can walk in and out now.

Food: Kitty only eats when they engage the trap. Start with feeding in a dish that is small enough not to interfere with the trip plate when placed in the back of the trap. Begin feeding at the front of the trap. Each meal, place the dish a bit further back until kitty is eating at the very back of the trap for each meal. You will want kitty comfortably eating at the back of the trap prior to your appointment. Try feeding at the same time for each meal. You will want to feed breakfast early in the morning since your surgery appointment is early. You want kitty to be conditioned to go in the trap at the time you need.

Night before surgery: You will want to skip dinner for cats over 4 months of age. You want kitty to be extra hungry in the morning for the one or two treats you will use to entice them inside. Use the same familiar dish for the treats so everything seems the same. If kitty is under 4 months of age, feed them a small dinner. Water should be available to all ages up until their appointment.

The morning of surgery: Place the small dish with treats in the back (very small breakfast if kitty is 4 month or younger). Set the trap. Call kitty in to eat. Once the cat trips the plate and the door falls, cover the trap with a large bath towel or sheet to calm kitty. Video below uses a different type of trap and there is much more food than you would place in the morning. Video used by permission from Neighborhood Cats for demonstration purposes.

Once back home: Place the trap in the same place. Pull back the cover so kitty can see out. Let kitty get oriented to being back at home. Open trap and let kitty walk out.