Synonymous with unpleasant experiences in Kitty’s eyes, the carrier is nonetheless essential to travel. There are many models on the market; here are some practical tips to help you choose the right one.
First, the carrier should have a removable cover to allow for easier handling at the veterinarian’s and cleaning afterwards. A plastic cage is strongly recommended. Then, the bottom of the cage must be strong enough to ensure stability. Finally, the cage must be big enough for the cat to stand and turn around. The size of the carrier depends on the size of the cat. It’s important to choose a carrier specifically designed to transport cats. The colour of the carrier doesn’t matter to the cat.
Put a blanket at the bottom of the carrier, to absorb accidents. This will make both the carrier and Kitty easier to clean! It’s important to clean the carrier after each use, even if it hasn’t been soiled. A thorough cleaning removes residual odours (as humans, it’s unclear what olfactory messages can be left behind and what they mean). If you have more than one cat, you should own more than one carrier.
OK, all this is nice, but no matter which model I present to my cat, it runs away as soon as it sees it! What should I do?
Madam, Sir, it’s possible to train your cat to enter the carrier of its own free will! The easiest and most passive way to achieve this is to always leave the carrier in the environment. By seeing the carrier every day, the cat will no longer associate it with the "evil " veterinarian. You could even put the occasional treat or catnip in there in order to maintain a good relationship between your cat and the cage. If you have a kitten, we recommend that you start this learning process immediately, before the carrier becomes synonymous with a thermometer up the…!
The process of habituation can be long and not enough to guarantee Kitty’s cooperation when the time comes. Your cat must be trained to enter the carrier by itself in exchange for treats, using positive reinforcement. To know more about training, we invite you to contact us by email and make an appointment so we can explain how to proceed. This feline coaching can take between 30 and 60 minutes.
Taking the plane
Before you consider traveling with Kitty, you need to contact the airline to inquire about its policies regarding animal transportation. Then, contact your veterinarian to assess whether your cat requires tranquilizers during the trip and to ensure its health, in order to avoid incidents during the flight.
Going on vacation
Before going on vacation, you must choose the best option for Kitty:
- Leave it with someone who doesn’t have other pets?
- Ask someone to come by X times a day while you’re away?
- In both cases, you should ideally write a note stating that the guardian is responsible for making medical decisions should a veterinary emergency occur.
- Have Kitty stay at a clinic which offers boarding services, animal care center or boarding house?
- Bring Kitty along?
All of the above may be the right option! It all depends on the context and the cat. However, most of the time, cats prefer to stay in the environment they are familiar with, even if you must leave for several days.