ASK THE VET
Q Our cat is three now and getting him into the carrier and to the vet is a nightmare. He gets so stressed that he often urinates in the carrier, so he is soaking when we get to the clinic. He has to go regularly because he has skin issues, but we are very worried about stressing him. Help! Graham, Dunmurry
A Sorry to hear that, Graham, but you are far from alone in having this sort of problem/concern. I have lifted this reply from our website, where you can find some more useful tips.
The first goal is to teach your cat to associate the carrier with positive experiences, so that he will enter it voluntarily.
We suggest placing the carrier in a place at home where your cat likes to spend time. Put familiar bedding or clothes with your scent in the carrier to make him feel secure.
Rewards, such as a tasty treat, game or cuddle (you know what makes your cat tick) should be given when you see your cat sitting calmly in or near the carrier. You need to be very patient as it may take weeks before he trusts the carrier after having had several stressful experiences.
Of course, if he needs to go to the vet right away, and is not yet accustomed to the carrier, the following may help.
Put the carrier in a small room with few hiding places. Bring your cat into the room and shut the door. Move slowly and calmly and encourage him to enter the carrier with some treats.
Try not to chase him. If he will not walk into the carrier and it has a top opening lid, gently cradle him and lower him or her into the carrier.
Another option is to take off the top half of the carrier, so that you can lower the cat into the bottom half, and then calmly replace the top.
If your carrier only opens at the front, try ‘reversing’ your cat, tail end first, through the door (if you haven’t yet purchased a carrier, we strongly recommend a top opener).
Using familiar bedding and spraying synthetic feline facial pheromone (Feliway) into the carrier 30 minutes before transport may help to calm your cat. Feliway can be obtained over the counter from your vet.
Good luck — patience will win out in the end.
Craig is a partner in Cedarmount Veterinary Clinic, Bangor (cedarmountvets.co.uk). Send your pet queries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Craig can only respond to questions through this column, and these answers cannot substitute for treatment decisions based on a full history and clinical examination by your vet.