How to deal with a cat that fears being in a pet carrier?

epona

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Hi all, long time no see!

One of my cats is terrified of being in a pet carrier (for transport to and from the vet and so on), in the time I've had him I've been able to get him used to being in a large dog crate by putting his food in there and giving him treats - this serves a practical purpose - he recently had to spend time caged at the vets following surgery, and he was calm and relaxed and did not panic when confined in a large cage, he was probably sitting there wondering when he was going to get some food.

This is all for practical reasons, he has had to have several vet visits recently for dental surgery (and may need more visits in the future, he is prone to dental problems it seems!), he needs to be transported there and back and needs to recover in a cage at the vet for a few hours before they let him go home, obviously it's not good if he panics so although he is now OK in a cage, I need to do similar with him so he is OK in a pet carrier for the journey to and from the vet surgery.  Because he gets so worked up that I am worried he might injure himself thrashing around in a carrier.  I've never experienced anything like this before, my other cats are good in a carrier.

Any suggestions would be welcomed - different types of carriers, training techniques, I am keen to hear any positive suggestions.

PS> The carriers are left out all the time and are always accessible to the cats - he regularly goes in them to check them out so he is not afraid of the sudden appearance of a carrier - it is being shut in one and transported that he hates.  Unfortunately it is an occasional necessity.  And he is a massive cat - not overweight, but large-framed and extremely muscular, like a feline Arnold Schwarzenegger, he has already busted the door off one carrier.
 
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missymotus

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Hi! It's nice to see you again :)

What carrier are you using? Perhaps you just need a slightly larger one?  There are also top opening cages that are mostly wire, perhaps one like that he wouldn't feel as though he was shut in.
 

orientalslave

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I find a top-opener is far easier to get a cat into, which can be half the battle.  Some cats travel better covered, others want to see the world go by.  I have two top openers, one plastic and enclosed, the other wire with a rod to secure it.

You could also try some aversion therapy.  Start leaving the carrier open with food in.  Once the cat is going in to eat, shut it in for a few seconds, let it out, give it a treat.  Once that is working slowly increase the time the cat is in.  Once you get to a few minutes, take it out to the car, put it in, take it back in very soon after, more treats.  Then short car journeys, then longer ones.  If nothing else the cat will have no idea when it is and is not going to the vets!  It does take time and effort but is well worth the effort in my view.
 

txcatmom

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I also spray paper towels with calming spray (like Feliway, but we use an off brand) and put them in the carrier.  I've seen really good results with the spray.  It doesn't help with getting them into the crate (we've worked on that with treats and food.)  But once they are in it does calm mine down so they are chilled by the time we get to the vet.
 

sjcuk13

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When we first got our cats. I read that getting them used to the carrier was essential. So if we were going somewhere in the car. We would put the cats in the carrier and would go to the shops or anywhere really.
Going to the shops was a good one if we has to get a big shop I would stay in the car with the cats while my man went shopping.
Even now that they are almost 8 we will still put them in the carrier and go and bidet an understanding friend.
It has now become a local story I say road trip and the cats run to the carrier.
 
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