Carrier issues- need suggestions
We have two cats, one male (Noodles) and one female (Shea) that are both about four years old. We adopted both of them from shelters back in 2011. Noodles is sweet and affectionate and loves to show his emotions. There is no problem picking him up or playing with him. At first he had no problem going into his carrier and/or taking trips to the vet. He was already neutered when we adopted him. We adopted our female cat (Shea) about five months later and she was spayed about a month or two later. After that vet visit, Noodles was never the same as far as going into the carrier or going to the vet. Noodles hisses and growls when he sees the carrier Shea was transported in. Subsequently when we have attempted to place him into that particular carrier or any others we have purchased, he acts out. We surmise that their is a scent or memory of Shea injured (from her surgery) associated with that carrier. Currently, Noodles has a new carrier which he seems to like and sleeps in quite often. He even cooperatively got into it for his last vet visit. However he still hisses and growls even when he sees the other two carriers we have.
As far as Shea, we were told she was an abused cat when we adopted her. She definitely is much more afraid and skittish than Noodles. Shea decides when itís time to play and be affectionate and she has no problem laying alone by herself for hours. She definitely is more of a loner than Noodles. Needless to say she never liked to be picked up and is always very afraid if you tower over her. She has improved over the years but she is still quite afraid and probably will never be 100% comfortable being picked up. Of course placing her into the carrier for vet appointments is an unimaginable nightmare. She is also smaller than Noodles and she is very, very fast. Both of them are quite resourceful and have escaped from the carriers even after when we have placed them into it.
Our vet prescribed acepromazine pills to help sedate them which we used only once so far when we moved to our current apartment 2.5 years ago. The pills did work and we were able to get both of them safely in the carriers but it was quite difficult getting them to swallow the pills.
Now, we recently tried to take Shea to the vet and unfortunately she only took half a pill and it didnít kick in. And as if it wasnít enough of a problem trying to get her into the carrier, then Noodles hissed and growled again and kept swatting at us while we tried to place Shea into the carrier. We don't think it's because he is trying to protect her. We think he is afraid that we will eventually put him in one of the two carriers he does not like. Of course we are not 100% sure. But something in those carriers brings out the demon in him.
So we have a few issues and hope others can offer some advice. We are good cat parents and we are trying to do the right thing, especially when it comes time to bring them to the vet. Is there anything else we can do that we have not tried? We have purchased multiple carriers, given them "calming'' pet snacks, tried pheromone sprays, cornered them in the bathroom where there is no place to hide and of course the pills but nothing seems to work as of late. We need suggestions and lots of advice. Thank goodness both of them are healthy but if God forbid there is ever a real emergency we are not confident we can get both of them in the carrier (even with the pills).
Sorry for the lengthy post.