Why Doesn't My Cat Like Their Carrier?
The real question is “why would my cat like being in their carrier?” Cats tend to go in their carrier only when it is time to go to the vet, groomer, or boarding.
When they go to these places, stressful things happen to them. Not only do painful or scary things happen at these places, but cats are very sensitive to their environment. New smells, scary noises, other animals, and foreign equipment all add to this negative experience.
For some cats, just going into the carrier itself is scary. They are in a confined space with a lack of visibility. These factors can be overwhelming for an animal that is a prey animal (as well as a predator) because they can’t get away or fight back.
WHAT TO DO?
If you have a new kitten, it is important to create positive experiences with their carrier. Leave the carrier out for them to play in and investigate. Toss treats in the carrier to make it fun. The best option is to prevent them from becoming fearful of the carrier in the first place. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
However, it is common for kittens and cats to come with some fear of going into their carriers. Many cat guardians end up canceling vet appointments because they can’t find or coax their cat into the carrier. Some cats become so fearful of the carrier that when they are inside they soil themselves. Carrier fear ends up becoming a hassle for everyone involved.
LEAVE THE CARRIER OUT
For cats with mild fear of their carriers, you can leave the carrier out in the house with some soft bedding. When the cat has free access to the carrier, they can investigate it on their own without being trapped inside. This helps to boost their confidence because seeing the carrier doesn’t always mean something bad will happen.
Another option is calming pheromones, like Feliway. Spray the bedding in the carrier with the pheromone spray before they need to go inside.
These pheromones are a synthetic form of the “happy messages” that they give off. When your cat smells this, it reassures them and makes them feel calmer. Some cats respond very well to this safe option, while other cats don’t seem to be affected by it.
MAKING THE CARRIER A POSITIVE PLACE
The good news is that through desensitization and counterconditioning we can make the carrier a positive place rather than a scary one.
These techniques can help cats to overcome deep set fears to make going to the vet simple and easy rather than peeling them out from under the bed or tricking them to get inside.
This is also a great idea to set kittens and cats that aren’t afraid up for success so that they don’t become afraid of the carrier.
We offer a program to help work through their fears or to prevent fear of the carrier.