So Why Not the Carrier?!? – Part 2 of 3

Jun 28, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

You can read part 1 here.

Put the carrier in a sunbeam or other comfortable place.

If the cat is suspicious, and doesn’t enter the carrier right away, toss in the treats, and walk away!  Don’t try to encourage or coax the cat into the carrier – – they will become suspicious, especially if they have had previous negative experiences with the carrier in the past.  Do this every day to start with, and don’t forget to walk away.  Cats will soon eat the treats, first it may be when you aren’t watching.  And most of them will start to spend time in the carrier.

Sense of Control: To protect themselves, cats want to have a sense of control over their environment.  Cats are more secure if they have options to hide and the ability to monitor their environment from a higher place.

If instead of putting them on exam tables at the practice, we allow them to choose whether to be on the floor, in the carrier, or in another place, we will be much more successful in our goals for feline healthcare and reduction of feline – and client! – stress.

Fortunately, if the cat has access to the carrier at home, it becomes a safe hiding place for them at the veterinary hospital, and we can do part or all of the examination while the cat remains in the bottom half of the carrier.

Towels are also good to allow cats to “hide” from us (if the cat doesn’t see us, we aren’t there!).

Hiding is an important protective mechanism for caged cats.  Providing a box, a bag, the carrier, a tall cat bed or other “hide-out” will greatly reduce the stress of the caged cat, and gives the cat the choice to stay in hiding or to come out.

Since cats need to feel a sense of control…

In addition to quiet places to sleep, cats need safe places to hide. They need to be able to scamper or jump to safety from perceived threats – the bark of a neighbor’s dog, the ring of a doorbell, a frightening crack of thunder.  Your cat will especially appreciate easy access to elevated hiding places, such as a cleared spot on a closet shelf or a strategically situated cardboard box.  When the threat is gone, your cat will venture out from the hideaway to investigate the commotion – and, if feeling safe, return to batting a toy about or gazing out the window.

The refuge provides your cat a haven from unfamiliar or risky situations. Give your cat plenty of time to adjust to change

Cats can be trained to use the carrier as a haven.  The carrier should be a comfortable, secure place where the cat can rest.  Instead of just using it for veterinary visits, which can lead to cats becoming fearful of the carrier, educate clients to leave the carrier out and open at all times. If this is not possible, have clients bring it out regularly for training sessions not associated with veterinary visits, as well as several days before the appointment.  Leave a favorite blanket or towel in the carrier, as well as treats and toys.  Cats can be trained to go into the carrier to a phrase such as “in”, “travel time”, “treat”, etc. The easiest way is to regularly entice the cat to enter the carrier by throwing in favorite treats, and immediately say the word(s) in a gentle tone, coupled with praise and additional treats.

If the cat still won’t go into the carrier, recommend that they wipe down the cat with a towel and then use the towel to wipe the carrier.  The towel is best left within the carrier.  The cat will be more attracted to the carrier because it already has his or her scent.  The carrier may also be sprayed with Feliway 5-10 minutes before using the carrier.  There are data supporting use of lavender or camomille to induce changes in activity associated with a more relaxed state in dogs.  This still needs to be investigated in cats.

Carriers that provide the option of loading from the top as well as loading from the front make it easier to get the cat into and out of the carrier in a non-stressful manner.  The ideal carrier also allows the top and bottom to be taken apart.  The screws or clips can be removed or opened, and top half of the carrier can be removed so that a more timid cat can be remain in the carrier bottom during the veterinary examination.

Dr Ilona Rodan

Dr. Ilona Rodan, ABVP Certified in Feline Practice
Medical Director and Owner, Cat Care Clinic, Madison, WI
Feline Behavior Consultant

Dr. Ilona Rodan has been a leader in the field of feline medicine for more than 25 years. She started the Cat Care Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin in 1987 to provide the best feline health care individualized to each patient in a compassionate environment that is more comfortable for cats and cat lovers, and where cats are better understood and handled in a respectful manner. With her extensive knowledge of feline behavior, she also understands the cats’ needs at home, and strives to enhance and prolong the relationship between cats and the people who love them. Our clients frequently tell us that our knowledge and caring has increased their cat’s length of life, often by several years.

When Dr. Rodan is not practicing and teaching at the clinic, she lectures internationally
and writes about feline-friendly hospitals, cat behavior and prevention of behavior problems, and recognizing and treating pain in cats. She has been active in the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) since 1982, and has served in every office, including President. She is most proud of her accomplishments in helping to establish guidelines for feline medicine, which include retrovirus testing, vaccinations, senior care, feline life stages, behavior, pain management, and feline handling guidelines (the latter published in 2011). Dr. Rodan was also an ambassador in the development of a specialist category in feline medicine.

In 1995, she became one of the first board-certified feline practitioners. Her hospital is an AAHA-Accredited Feline Specialty Hospital. She and her team are involved in community service, including free spays and neuters for Friends of Ferals. Dr. Rodan also lectures to the public and staff members of the local shelter, Dane County Humane Society.

Dr. Rodan received the national Friskie’s award for outstanding accomplishments in feline medicine in 1998. In 2005, she was chosen from 70,000 veterinarians to receive the most prestigious award given to a veterinarian, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Welfare Award, This award was given to Dr. Rodan for her work locally and nationally to enhance the welfare of cats through medical and behavioral advancements, and her contributions to community and society. Dr. Rodan’s passion and desire to help both cats and their people is unwavering.

Dr. Rodan continues to be well trained by the two feline family members she lives with, their predecessors, and the cats she has treated for more than 30 years. They have taught her how to respectfully handle and work with cats, to understand that the needs of cat’s in their home is an important part of their healthcare, and to ensure that they have the best quality and length of life.

Cat Care Clinic
322 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717

Phone: (608) 833-9750
Fax: (608) 829-0345
Email: catcare@catcareclinic.net

Website: http://www.catcareclinic.net/
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