Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - GARDENING AND PETS - BY CRAIG REILLY

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 (cedar­ Send your pet queries to­ 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.

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