For us cat parents, we know the best cat carrier is one our cat will actually get in… without a fight. So how do we choose one they will like?
Whether we’re heading to the vet’s office or moving across country, we must ensure our cats are safe and secure for the ride. It’s rare we find (or hear of) a cat that loves car rides. It’s more often that we hear a cat prefers to roam free in the car while it’s moving. This we must advise against. We’ve heard far too many heartbreaking stories of cats that were not properly secured for a car ride. We also admit we’ve done this ourselves (many years ago). Now we count our lucky stars our cats didn’t pay a dear price for our naiveté.
So let’s choose the best cat carrier for our cat!
- Size Appropriate. It’s not ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to carriers. Be sure the one you choose is big enough for your cat to move in comfortably.
- Secure. Some cats are super Houdini’s and seem to grow opposable thumbs that make zippers defenseless against them. While all of our cats prefer soft carriers (to the ones with the clanky cage door), you’ll need to examine the zippers every time it’s time for a ride. Make sure they are all completely closed – lest a claw wiggle it open while you’re going 75 on the interstate.
- Inviting. Make your cat’s carrier their ‘space’. Long before it’s time for a car ride, introduce your cat to their carrier by placing their favorite blanket or toy in it. Leave it out in your home (which is their home) as part of their territory and safe space. We regularly find our cats napping in their carriers – and provide positive reinforcement in their carriers with treats and love.
Once your cat has ‘claimed’ his carrier, you can also help remove the anxiety of car rides with practice runs. While they’re in it, zip it up and carry them around the house. Then put them down and give them a treat! Over time, take it to the next level by zipping it up (or closing it) and bringing them to the car. Let them get familiar with your car smells – then bring them inside for another treat. Then – for a taste of real adventure – take them for a spin around the block. No scary destination, just a short car ride. Maybe play some calming music and talk about what a brave and beautiful cat they are during the roll! You guessed it, follow this up with a treat too! Once it’s time for the real deal, your cat will thank you for choosing (and making) the best cat carrier ever!
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