Perhaps the most common excuse for not visiting the veterinarian involves getting your cat there. The process of “stuffing” your cat into a carrier can be very stressful for both the cat and the owner, not to mention exhausting. Here is a video and below are some tips to adjust your cat’s view of the carrier. Please note that while this process is best started with kittens, carrier training truly is possible at any age, although it may take a bit more effort with older cats.
• Begin by choosing a hard carrier with a top that easily opens or lifts off, or a soft carrier with sides that don’t sag inward on the cat. You don’t want to have to struggle to place the cat inside, or pull or shake her out of the carrier.
• Keep the carrier out all the time in a safe place (you may want to start in “convertible mode” with the top off), and randomly toss treats inside so it becomes seen as an automatic treat dispenser by your cat.
• Feed your cat in the carrier. If the cat is afraid to enter, start by feeding right at the carrier door and gradually move the food dish farther inside.
• Periodically use an interactive toy (a fishing pole-type toy with feathers or fabric) to direct play to the carrier, encouraging the cat to jump in and out.
• Zip up or close the carrier with the cat inside, calmly pick up and take the carrier with you for just two steps, and then open it. Over time, take your cat on longer tours of your home inside the carrier. If your cat is anxious, you’ve done too much too fast; back up to whatever point in training your cat had accepted, and then proceed slowly.
• Now that your cat is no longer anxious about the carrier itself, it’s time to teach the cat to jump inside the carrier on cue, using a treat or toy as motivation. For example, toss the toy inside and offer a cue such as “inside your house” as the cat jumps in. Remember, cats always do better when they believe something is their idea!
• Now, take the carrier with the cat inside to the car — but don’t turn on the engine. Secure the seat belt on the carrier and sit there for a few minutes, popping treats through the carrier and telling your kitty how wonderful she is. Then take your cat back inside the house and give her a meal. Once you get to this point with a still-happy cat, you’re ready for a brief drive. Try to make the trip as rewarding as possible with calming conversation, treats popped through the closed carrier door or even play. Keep the car windows closed, and avoid loud music on the radio and sharp turns for those first few rides.
If transporting your cat anywhere seems impossible, don’t let that rule out twice-a-year exams. Some veterinarians
make house calls; find out if yours is one of them.