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How to get your cat to love his travel cage or carrier

Cat travel carrierIf you are reading this, you probably have a travel cage or your have a cat that won’t go in the cage. Maybe you want to use the travel cage for a trip to the vet, or you’re moving to a new house, point is, cat cages come in handy.

But not all cats are that fond of these cages. Some cats will do everything within their power to prevent going in the cage. Does your cat start scratching or pushing away from the cage when your try to put him in?

Cage fear

She doesn't like cagesThe most common reason that cats do this, is because they are afraid of the cage. Cats naturally like enclosed places. Thats why cats always sit in cardboard boxed, so its really illogical for cats to fear cat cages. So where does this fear originate from? Usually its because of bad experiences in the past.

This fear can start at a young age, when taking trips to the vet. It can be the scary sound of a car-engine or the bad experiences at the vet’s office. The cat will start associating the cage with these experiences and think “If i go in the cage, it will be scary or it will hurt”.

Cage training

There are ways that i have successfully tried to make cats feel comfortable in travel cages. First off, as with almost all training, start slow. You have to be patient. Open the cage and place it somewhere in the cats environment. Don’t put the cat in, just let the cat explore the cage on his own. Even if he ignores the cage, just leave it there a few hours. This will “tell” the cat there is no pressure or force to go inside the cage.

Letting the cat decide

Next you should make him go inside the cage on his own. So don’t push your cat in. Use a toy or a snack and trow it inside the cage. Let your cat get it in the cage. Don’t slam the door behind him, remember, take it slow. If the cat wants to walk out again, let him. Do this a few times until you see that the cat is getting more comfortable with the cage. You can start closing the door when your cat is not rushing out of the cage anymore.

Cages can become fun!

This cat love her carrierTake the cat somewhere fun! Don’t only use the cage to go to the vets or somewhere unpleasant for your cat. Use it to go to another room, open the cage and play with your cat or cuddle with your cage for a while. This way, the cage will become a method of going somewhere fun.

Trips to the vet are unavoidable, but if you can alternate between “fun” trips and “not fun” trips, your cat will be much more relaxed and easy going in the travel cage.

For cats that have a history with cages and are very stressed, this training can take a while to start having effect. You have to be patient. It won’t happen overnight.

Failsafe methods

If all else fails, there are other ways to transport your cat safely using travel cages. You should try some cat pheromone spray inside the cage, or have your vet prescribe mild sedatives (only do this for necessary cage travel!) and your cat will be more mild-manners. If this also fails, try to get your vet to come to your place instead of going to the vets office.

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3 comments to How to get your cat to love his travel cage or carrier

  • Amalia Pitsiladis

    My 7-year-old cat has a psychotic fear for her cage. We can’t take her to the vet’s or take her with us when we go on vacation.Have tried using pheromone spray, to no avail. Cannot sedate her because she only eats dried pellet food, so we cannot mix this into her food. She is not a cat that you can catch and hold her down and force a sedative down her throat so that we can transport her easily.
    We are at our wits end! Please can you help?

    • Er Win (Cats Around The Globe)

      Some cats are really hard to get into a cage. We always recommend you do not “force” a cat. It will only make it harder each time, the cat gets a negative memory of the cage and next time will try even harder to not get in. For going to the vet there is an easy solution: Explain to your vet and ask him or her to come to you. It may be a little more expensive, but is a good option. Else you can put some food inside the cage, leave the cage open and wait. If the cat does not go into the cage, even with food in it, it will be a hard job getting her in. One way to do it: Set the cage upright with the door facing up, open the lid and drop her in. But if you can not pick up your cat, this might not be an option.

      You ask about taking her on vacation with you: only a few, easy to handle cats, are able to travel with their owners. Cats attach to their enviroment more than to a person, so we recommend against it. Leave your cat at home and have someone (a friend or relative) come over once or twice a day to feed her and give her some attention and playtime.

      Sedation is never recommended unless if it for a medical emergancy.

      We hope this help you.

  • Alee

    My cat is a year old. It’s been really cold outside and he is spraying so I have to keep him in a cage. I can’t let him out side till it warms up and he can’t be inside till I get him fixed. I’m at my wits end trying to get him to relax in the cage. He gets so scared in it that he tried to claw his way out of busy the cage open. I’ve tried coaxing with treats leaving food with him making sure he is in the same room as me and even a blanket over the cage to hopefully calm him. I’m afraid he is going to hurt himself. Any advice?

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