Cat Carrier Disaster - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-15-2014, 08:08 AM Thread Starter
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Cat Carrier Disaster

Hi all,

My cat and I are both traumatized by a second failed cat-in-the-carrier attempt, and I'm in the process of missing a vet appointment.
Shadow is about 2 yrs old, a probable feral that we took in from our backyard. In the beginning we couldn't touch her or get close, but she exhibited submissive behavior and would ask for food. After a year of gaining her trust, she's gotten attached to me and loves being petted, allows me to pet her belly, and will stay on my lap. She's a very timid and fearful cat.
She doesn't like being picked up at all, and will struggle. I've gotten her into a carrier or crate a handful of times, because of vet visits or pest company visits for fleas (I had to get her of the house for those). I had to bait the crate with food and quickly shut the door, and when she got wise to that, was able to pick her up and get her into a carrier a couple of times, but now she struggles so hard she's gotten away a few times, and we're in a real mess now.
She simply goes into total panic mode -- I've been scratched just from her trying to get away, she hasn't bitten yet, but this whole thing is getting worse, and the loss of trust she has in me just kills me.This morning she literally screamed when I tried to get her into the carrier.
I've read that scruffing doesn't work with every cat, and she's so survival oriented that I think she'd fight that too -- and I don't know how to do it in the first place, I get the concept but have never scruffed a kitty.
So I'm thinking I have to train her, however patiently and however long it takes, to accept being picked up and being in a carrier. I've been able to train her to allow me to examine her ears and to give me her paw for treats, so she is trainable. But the trauma of being picked up and the bad carrier experiences might be tough to overcome. Any advice on this would be very welcome!
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-15-2014, 08:39 AM
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The first trick to this is to make the carrier part of everyday life...leave it out in a place where she spends a lot of time (Living room?). Then give treats...make the carrier part of a positive experience. If she won't get within 5 feet of it...give her treats there, slowly work closer until you can get her into it by placing some treats in it. You may need to work on this daily for months.

I have a carrier that has a removable lid, I find it's easier to put the base on the floor, put some treats in and place the cat in, then while they're eating pop the lid on. I also do this in a confined space, the bathroom, so they can't get very far if they do escape.

Also, spraying the carrier with Feliway (calming pheromone) is helpful.

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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-15-2014, 09:36 AM
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We replaced our old hard carriers with soft carriers. We keep the carriers open and in our bedroom. Chino and Shadow regularly go into them and use them like little dens. I went through a lot of grief trying to get Misty and Tiger into pet carriers over the years, and like you, I had to miss a vet appointment once because I couldn't get Misty into her carrier. I was determined to not go through this with Chino and Shadow and so far it's working.
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-15-2014, 09:45 AM
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Boy, I wish this would work for me. My cats go into the carriers no problem when they are just sitting there. I've even caught them sleeping in them. But they are not food-oriented so putting treats in when I want to get them in won't work. And it seems that they just know when I am going to put them in and they don't want to go, even though they are very comfortable with the carriers at other times. Mystique struggles and I have to peel her paws off the carrier as I'm trying to put her in but thankfully she doesn't scream or get too upset once she is in there.

But Sunny is another story - he literally pees when we are trying to get him in the carrier because he is so scared. He is so sweet that he doesn't try to scratch or bite even when he is that scared. I just wish there was another way.
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-15-2014, 09:45 AM
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Agree with above. Don't make the carrier a bad thing. Make it someplace to sleep and eat and hang put in.
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-15-2014, 09:56 AM
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I keep the carrier out, opened in plain site. Artie can use it to sleep or hide.

I found that if I am calm, go about my business as normal..meaning getting ready to go out, I can calmly scoop him up and put him in the carrier--FAST!!!

I put the opened carrier on the floor, back end against a wall, scoop Artie up (holding him kind of lovingly tight) kneel down, and into the carrier he goes!
I shut the door immediately!

Sometimes, putting him in back side first will help....

I even tried putting the carrier up-ended, with the door side up--on the table. I put him in feet first...that worked a couple of times, but I found that the first suggestion works the best, at least for me....

I also shut the other doors in the house-so he cannot run under the bed or behind furniture....

I honestly, cannot scruff... I tried it once and Arties reaction, and mine was miserable...

Good Luck
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-15-2014, 11:54 AM
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Sorry, was in a rush to get to work earlier.

The soft side crate gets stored in the hall closet. The hard carrier is out with the door open all the time. I'm always finding cat toys and stuff in there that they drag inside. MowMow likes to lay in there. I think he feels protected from Neelix, he can't be poked or prodded in there except from the open door.

I would leave it out and start tossing irresistible treats into it. Make it a homey nice place the cat enjoys hanging out in. Then you won't HAVE to handle him to get him inside Just toss a treat and when he's in, close the door and go. Just make sure that you give him lots of time and treats inside the open crate without taking him somewhere scary. You want it to be a good experience.
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-15-2014, 12:12 PM Thread Starter
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thanks all --
I do leave the carriers out (have a top loader also) -- she pretty much has ignored them. (until I tried to put her in one).It seems anything that restrains her or makes her feel trapped causes panic, real panic -- I don't know what she experienced as a wild kitty, or even abuse, but she's extremely timid and goes into complete panic, and I think she believes she's fighting for her life.
Since this morning's carrier incident, she has exhibited submissive behavior, rolling onto her back, but I think it's a fearful "please don't hurt me" kind of thing -- every time I move she jumps, her tail is down and confidence is gone. I know many cats hate carriers, but this seems pretty extreme. And the way I've gotten her into carriers before has reinforced the fear unfortunately.
What I'm thinking so far is, I have to work on her losing her fear of being picked up first, before we even get into the carrier business again. I don't know if towel wrapping & covering her eyes might be a possibility, if I can get her comfortable with it. . .my goal is to get her to somehow understand that my putting her into a carrier is not an attack, and the carrier doesn't mean she's going to die. I'm not even going to try to do her daily training sessions (give paw, examine ears etc) for a few days, since I was doing that this morning when I picked her up.
again thanks to all for the info, if I start to make progress on this I'll post again.
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-15-2014, 12:13 PM
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yes yes and yes to all the above.

i have SOFT carriers...and my cats love them if i leave them out..they play in them. i think cats do better in soft carriers...ones that they can be close to your body.

i would leave it out and put treats and toys in it....take a feather wand toy and play with the cat near the carrier...maybe dangle it over the carrier....try to get her to go in it. give it time
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-16-2014, 02:32 AM
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Is your kitty affected by catnip? If so, how about leaving a trail of it that leads inside the carrier, if your kitty isn't food driven? Playing with toys near the carrier may also help your kitty overcome some fears, too.

My kitty once had an accident in the carrier. Ever since that episode, I've sprayed it with a bit of Feliway inside and on the washable padding I place inside. I also take two of my cats in there (it's a large carrier), even if only one needs to be seen by the vet. If you have a second cat buddy, it can help by alleviating some stress and they could take comfort on each other. This also will prevent one cat to smell like the clinic after a vet visit. Keeps peace with them both, anyway.
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