Occasionally every cat owner has to take their beloved companion on a trip. Usually this is to the vets, although there are plenty of other possible destinations such as a new home or a cat show. Whatever the destination, one problem is common to all trips – under usual circumstances cats simply don’t like cat carrier baskets!
The great thing is that it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, you can actually train your cat to love the carrier basket!
The main part of the problem is negative association. You may have noticed that cats don’t actually mind being in confined spaces, and in fact most cats seek out confined spaces to have a sleep or just hang out.
The problem with the cat basket is that it is where one is involuntarily trapped for long periods of time and taken to generally unfamiliar places, where they may be poked sphynx cat for sale and prodded by strangers.
You can see how this would make the cat feel that the basket is a bad thing, right? But trips are sometimes unavoidable, so what’s a responsible cat owner to do?
Simple – teach the cat that the carrier basket is a safe a friendly place where they can feel comfortable because good things happen there.
You may think this is not as simple as it sounds, and I’ll agree that it may take some hard work, persistence and a bit of patience on your part, but bear with me, it really is a straightforward process.
The following steps will show you how this fantastic situation can be created with almost any cat.
Step 1 – Desensitise
The aim of this step is to remove the negative associations they have with the cat basket and show them that being around the cat basket has no significance.
The first thing to do is to desensitise the cat to the carrier basket. This starts with giving the carrier a thorough clean to remove any smells and then leaving the carrier around the house at all times with the door wide open. Allow the cat to ignore or investigate as it sees fit, just don’t make a big deal out of it.
Silently observe your cat’s reactions and interactions to the basket. Maybe pick it up a few times and move it somewhere else, see if they get nervous. If they do seem nervous around the basket then stick with this stage for a while longer.
After a few days (possibly a few weeks if a really strong negative association has built up) you should find that the cat is at worst indifferent to the basket, but possibly has now developed some level of interest.
With persistence they will eventually know that the basket is no threat, even when it’s being moved.
Step 2 – Positive Association
The aim with this step is to show that, far from negative things happening in and around the basket, most of the time good things happen when they interact with the carrying basket. To put is succinctly, this means making the cat associate the basket with something they already like, such as toys, food or sleep.
Once the previous step has been completed and any negative association has been removed, or at least lessened as much as possible, you can start to create a positive association much more effectively.