Cats need to be transported every now and then; to the vets, to the cattery, or if moving to a new home. Transporting a cat is often a stressful event for both cat and owner but it needn’t be the end of the world. Here are some tips to make the whole event smoother.
1. Choose a good cat basket
Cat baskets come in many shapes and sizes. The traditional wicker baskets may look pretty but they are actually quite impractical – difficult to get the cat in and out of, and lots of gaps for claws to get caught in. They are also hard to clean if your cat has an accident.
The best cat baskets for taking your cat to the vets are ones with a solid plastic base where the top can be removed, so that your cat can stay in the base of the basket while being examined. The basket needs decent ventilation but also be dark enough so that your cat stays calmer. Make sure that the basket is big enough for your cat to sit in comfortably and turn around.
If you will be travelling in the car with your cat, consideration should also be given to how to secure the carrier.
My favourite cat carrier available is the Catit Design Cabrio. It is a good size and can be secured in the car using the seatbelt. The top opens up and there is a nice clear door for observing your cat.
For those on more of a budget, something like this Mappa Pet Carrier from Zooplus would be suitable.
2. Familiarise your cat with the carrier
If the only time your cat sees his carrier is just before he is caught, shoved into the box and taken to a scary place, it is no wonder that he will try desperately to escape whenever it appears.
Making your cat carrier part of the normal furniture, encouraging your cat to rest in it or eat in it as part of their daily routine will mean that rather than being a terrifying place, your cat carrier becomes your cat’s safe place which also happens to come with him when he goes to scary environments.
This should make putting your cat in his basket easier, as well as keeping your cat calmer during the trip as this is a place he feels safe.
If your cat has had bad experiences with your current box, consider buying a new one that looks different, using the guidelines above, and start from scratch.
3. Make the carrier a pleasant place to be
For a cat, being carried along in a hard, dirty plastic box with nothing to grip onto is very unpleasant. Some cats will be so scared of the experience that they may toilet in the box. If there is nothing absorbent in the base they will then end up soaked with urine or covered in faeces which is extremely unpleasant for any animal but particularly cats who are fastidiously clean creatures.
Lining your cat carrier with soft absorbent bedding, particularly something like VetBed® which wicks away any moisture, keeping the surface where the cat is sitting dry, is great.
Use Feliway® Spray in the carrier prior to travel can also help make the box feel like a safe, secure place for your cat and help to alleviate stress levels. It is ideally sprayed 15 minutes prior to use to allow the alcohol base to evaporate.