Cat Travel: Everything There Is To Know
Cats love their routine, their comfort, and their territory. It is completely opposite to the purpose of cat carriers in which you break your cat’s routine, to take them away from their comfort and territory. No wonder cats are often reluctant to enter their carrier! However, there are ways to make your cat change opinion about their carrier.
See how our modern life differ from our cats’.
First, you need to choose a proper carrier. Not a teeny tiny thing your cat barely fits in. No, it must be large enough, have large openings to let the cat breath and be easily cleanable. Carriers of all sizes and shapes exist, so make sure to pick the best one for your feline friend.
How to put your cat in a carrier and make them comfortable
Now you have a proper cat carrier, we shall go to the next step: putting your cat in the carrier.
This requires a little patience, but tricks and training are key. This is a complex and long process. So make sure you train your cat to be comfortable with every step separately before moving on to the next one.
Cats must not associate the carrier with negative experience. To avoid that association, you may place the carrier somewhere your cat can explore, and put some of your cat belongings in there, such as their bedding, for familiar scent. Therefore, the carrier will not be associated with vet visits, or travelling. The familiar scent will reassure your cat when they are in the carrier, and make them more comfortable.
Rewards given after the behaviour you expected from your cat, paired with a sound - either a marker word, or a clicker for example - can help cats link the behaviour they performed with the reward. Also, you will see your cat will be anticipating the reward with repetition. Keep to the same routine : first the cat enters the carrier, then you give the reward. It is better for long term acceptance. After some time, you will be able to reduce the rewards. Though is it not the best way to do it, if your cat is still not keen on going into the carrier, you may try to lure them with a toy for example. Avoid playing or it could cause too much excitement and prevent your cat from entering the carrier.
When your cat is fully comfortable with the carrier, you need to teach them to be relaxed when it is closed. In that case too, rewards can help you and your cat achieve that stage. If your cat shows any signs of discomfort, or looks distressed, stop the session immediately, and give your cat a break. Training sessions must remain short. Blocking your cat’s view, with a blanket laid on top of the carrier for example, can help reassure them.
When your cat is relaxed in the carrier with the door closed, then you can carry on to the next stages: lift the carrier, and walking with the carrier.
How to travel with your cat in the car
Having a cat relaxed in a carrier is a good start, but then comes the car. And it is a brand new level for your cat. It can take quite a long time to get your cat used to the car. Here again, before you get to travel with your cat, it will require you to split steps, and keep to short sessions. However, when it comes to travel in the car, the length of the sessions will increase gradually. When you reach the travelling part, avoid food rewards since it may cause your cat to vomit.
Besides the fact you want to make your cat enjoy the trips you will take them on with you, place the carrier in the foot well behind the front seat. Cats are sensitive, so avoid placing them where there is too much sun or heat in the cat. Remember cats or any animal cannot stay in the cat whilst you are away.
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