Oh boy, you are going on vacation and don’t want to leave your cat at home alone. You have found a wonderful place that will take very good care of her but, here’s the part you dread the most….getting kitty into the carrier. That big plastic box tends to mean just one thing to most felines – a trip to the vet! So, is there anything you can do to help your baby overcome this fear? Yes, but it’s a gradual process – one that needs to be started way before the any more trips are planned.
First of all, take the carrier out of the closet or wherever it is currently stored and leave it out on the floor with the door open. Make it look a bit more inviting by putting a soft, fluffy towel and a favorite toy inside. Your cat’s natural curiosity will soon get the better of her and she will eventually explore it on her own. After she seems comfortable with the idea of the carrier being out in the house, place a treat near the opening. If she eats the treat, put out another one but just inside the door. Continue doing this over a space of a few days….putting the treat further inside the carrier so that she has to actually go into it to get the yummy. Once she is inside and eating the treat, pick up the carrier and simply walk it to another room. Once there, let your kitty out. Gradually increase the time she spends in the carrier until you see that she is more comfortable about the carrier itself. Once this happens you should be able to move her, in the carrier, to the car without the usual drama!
However, if your cat shakes uncontrollably or screams the whole time during the car ride then it is a good idea to get her use to going places that aren’t so frightening to her. Take her for a ride around the block, or go somewhere fun like a friend’s house. Do this often enough so that she will get the idea that car rides are not akin to a House of Horrors!
If your kitty is afraid of the car, start to desensitize her by putting her in the car for a few minutes without turning the engine on. Work up to starting the engine, backing the car out of the driveway, and then actually going on a short trip. If you slowly desensitize her to more and more of the elements associated with a car, she will eventually learn to tolerate a road trip. Remember, it takes time and patience but the reward is huge!