You may have heard about Georgia the cat, who disappeared into the New York City subway system earlier this year when she escaped from her carrier. Her owner had taken her to be spayed, and on the way back home, Georgia freaked out and managed to get out of her carrier.
This story does have a happy ending; Georgia was found three weeks later, and and is now safe at home with her owner. A story like this doesn’t always end happily, though. How can you prevent this from happening to you and your cat?
Any time you take your cat someplace, you want to be sure he’s wearing a collar with your name and phone number on it. Some groups recommend that you have your cat microchipped, but since there are questions about health issues associated with this, personally, I would just go with a breakaway collar with an id tag.
You need a study cat carrier, too. You would not believe the stuff I saw people using for carriers when I worked at the vet’s. I think the best one was the two laundry baskets duct-taped together. I remember how the kitty peered out at us through the holes in the baskets. She didn’t think it was as funny as we did!
Boxes and carriers made of cardboard aren’t the best choice either. Cats look pretty pathetic with their heads sticking out of any available hole, but they don’t stay pathetic long, as they have a way of enlarging the hole pretty quickly. And a cat determined to escape can be impossible to hold onto, unless you happen to be wearing a suit of armor!
I have one of those plastic carriers with a metal grid door that has two posts that go into two holes to latch it. I have yet to meet a cat who can escape from one of those. Just be sure the door is closed properly.
Does Your Cat Have Houdini-Like Tendencies When The Carrier Appears?
If your cat disappears into the most inaccessible place in your house whenever you get the carrier out, you need to work on teaching your cat that the carrier is his friend. How do you do this? Slowly and gradually.
Your kitty needs to learn that bad things won’t happen every single time he has to go in the carrier. The best way to do this is to make the carrier part of your feline’s daily routine.
- Wash the carrier out with hot water and vinegar. Let it air dry for at least 24 hours. This will get rid of any funky scents that may keep your cat from going into the carrier.
- Set the carrier against a wall. Cats feel more secure there, than in the center of a room. Plus you’ll be less likely to trip over it.
- Make sure the door is propped open so it won’t close, or take it off completely, if you can.
- Put a nice soft blanket or even a piece of your clothing, like a sweatshirt that you’ve worn, inside the carrier for your cat to lay on. The clothing will smell like you, which will reassure your kitty.
- Try feeding him inside the carrier. Put some favorite canned food in there. Don’t make him go in the carrier. Let him go in on his own. If he doesn’t, take the food out after 10-15 minutes and put it in the fridge so it doesn’t spoil. Try again later on. Don’t feed your kitty anywhere but in the carrier.
- Toss a couple of ping pong balls in there. They make a cool noise that will attract your feline’s attention.
- You may want to try spraying a little Anxiety/Fear Flower Essence , from Only Natural Pet Store, or some Bach Rescue Remedy inside the carrier, especially if your kitty is nervous or high-strung, or has been abused in the past. These flower essences will have a calming influence on him.
Once your cat is comfortable going inside the carrier, close the door for five minutes, and then let him out. Give him a nice treat for being such a good boy. Do this twice a week, gradually increasing the time to ten minutes, but no longer.
The Moment Of Truth – Going To The Vet’s!
Here are some things you can do to keep your kitty calm and get her ready to travel:
- Before you put your feline in the carrier, spray it inside with theAnxiety/Fear Flower Essence .
- Spread disposable diapers pad side up inside the carrier on top of the bedding. My cat always “let loose” inside the carrier whenever I took her anywhere. I wish I had known about this tip then!
- Put him in the carrier, lock the door and double-check it, and cover the carrier with a dark cloth.
Once you’re out of the house, absolutely do NOT open the door to pet your cat, or for any other reason. Keep your fingers out of the carrier, as he may scratch or bite them to express his displeasure at being stuck in there!
When you get to the vet’s, you may want to put a dab of vanilla extract under your cat’s chin. This will keep him from getting upset over the strange smells at the vet’s office. Don’t open the door to do this; do it through the wire on the door.
Keep the carrier covered with the cloth while you’re in the waiting room. This will keep some of the smells and noise out, and he won’t be able to see that giant dog laying in wait out there.
When you get home, just leave the carrier out with the door open, and your cat will probably wind up sleeping in there. No more carrier anxiety!
What Do I Do If My Cat Escapes From The Carrier?
Stay calm. Most of the time a cat will hide very close to where he escaped. He’s in unfamiliar territory, so he probably won’t go too far.
Put some canned food inside the carrier with the door open. Call his name, and see if you can coax him into the carrier and shut the door behind him. Be careful trying to grab him; a scared cat can do some damage, and I have the scars to prove it!
If you can’t get him into the carrier, try putting a live trap with canned food near where he got out. A piece of clothing that you’ve worn may lure him in, too.