Feline Fun Friday – The Dreaded Cat Carrier

Grandma used to take her cat to the veterinarian in a pillow case. I have to wonder how many pillow cases were ruined in the process.

I watch some of the veterinarian shows and see people bringing their cats to the veterinarian in their arms. The cat just hangs out comfortably in his owners arms and on his lap in the waiting room. This does not describe any cat I’ve ever had. I have to use the dreaded cat carrier. Most of my cats over the years have been rescued—many of them trapped and saved from dire situations. No wonder they do not like the carrier—it must remind them of the terrifying trapping experience. Cats don’t have the capacity to reason the positive aspects of having been trapped–being taken to a loving home.

There are a variety of cat carriers—hard plastic, canvas, wire in all sizes and shapes. I was given a sturdy wood and wire carrier many years ago. When we saw a second one just like it at a yard sale we bought it. I like that the cat can see out, but I’m not sure the cat sees this as an advantage. So often we will cover the carrier with a blanket during our trip to the vet, hoping to calm the cat.

Experts say to bring the carrier inside prior to a planned vet visit or other trip and we’ve done that. Put treats and food inside to make it a friendly place for the cats. But when it’s time to lock the cat into the carrier, it suddenly becomes unfriendly to the cat. I’m not sure that exposure was worthwhile.

I’ve had two interesting experiences with cats and the carrier. One day I walked into the bedroom to get my Himalayan, Katy, vet trip. She was lying on the bed as she always was that time of day. I’d often stop to pet Katy throughout the day and she always welcomed this. She loved our snuggle sessions as much as I did. That day, however, she saw me coming (the carrier was in another part of the house, mind you). Well, she sees me and immediately dives under the bed. I believe she saw my mind picture showing me thinking about picking her up and carrying her into the living room and putting her into the carrier.

Another time I needed to put a cat into the carrier and she bolted on me and hid where I couldn’t reach her. I decided to use mind pictures to get her to do what I wanted. I’d heard this could work. So I lay on the floor looking into Daisy’s eyes with the carrier next to me—open and waiting for her to walk in. And I imagined her doing just that—getting up, walking into the carrier and riding with me to the groomer (she had mats that I couldn’t manage that summer), and me bringing her back feeling wonderful. I was stunned when Daisy did exactly as I imagined. She even walked to the back of the carrier, lay down, and looked at me as if, “Well, aren’t you going to close the door. Let’s get on with this.”

We planned to take Olivia and Sophie to the vet this week. I brought in the carrier, put a cushy towel inside, covered it, and left the little door open so they could explore if they wanted to. And they did. I saw each of them actually go inside and come back out again. Sophie went in and took a nap. They were curious and they did spend an evening taking turns checking out the carrier. Otherwise they just seemed to take it for granted as they would any piece of furniture. Fast forward to the day for their vet appointment.

Well, it didn’t happen. I ended up with a gnarly scratch that actually lifted the entire skin off one knuckle. We cancelled the appointment at the last minute. I have new appointments for both cats on separate days. We will use our old method of putting them in the carriers and hope like heck it works. What is the method? A sneak attack. I catch the cat, hold her down and he brings in the carrier and we scoot her into it. Now to figure out how to protect myself from those claws. I will be so glad when it’s over.

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