FELINE CARRIER ANXIETY: THE GREAT CARRIER CAPER OF ’07

Blue was a surly old sot, for sure.  He’d always been like that even as a young cat.  Just his nature. Sort of a perpetually pissy old man, barking orders and refusing to admit he has the T.V. up too loud.  I loved him anyway and he loved me despite the fact that he was more intelligent than I, as he made abundantly clear in the ‘Carrier Caper of ’07.’
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no dullard but this cat was silently, diabolically brilliant!  The kind of smart where you begin to fear he’ll take over your identity and that maybe….just maybe you’ve always really been HIS pet!

Blue was generally a lovely friend, if you gave him everything he wanted when he wanted it.  Which was fine with me since I have a “bit ‘o’ the crazy cat lady” on my mother’s side of the family.  The only time we were ever truly at odds with one another was when it came to the veterinarian.  I was of the opinion that his doctor was a professional with only his best healthcare needs in mind.  He was of the opinion she was a deranged, testicle-stealing harpy.  As he did no longer have his testicles it was hard for me to win the argument.  Each vet visit required planning, strategy, dexterity and in the end Neosporin.  The minute that carrier showed its blasphemist face, Blue became the Amazing Disappearing Bluedini!  I hatched a plan to end the madness. Little did I know…..

I started by bringing his carrier into the house and placing it in an area that he loved. I removed the door so it wouldn’t shut on him and ruin any progress.  I was clever thinking ahead like that I thought.  He promptly walked in and peed on it. Take 2 through 7!  After many cleanings and rebuffs, he finally stopped peeing on it got a little interested.  I’d come home from work to find his hair all over the blanket inside but he swore it must be some other cat’s hair and how dare I accuse him!  Eventually he began to hang out in there even when I was home and slept there often.  The day came to see if my hard work had paid off.  Our appointment with the “testicle-stealing harpy” was nigh.  Early in the morning while Blue still slept at the foot of my bed, I slipped the door back onto the carrier.  My thought was he’d get up, yawn, stretch, give me a dirty look, eat and meander to the carrier for a post breakfast nap.  Eventually I heard the thump that told me he was awake and on the move.  Like all old men he wandered down the hall yawning and scratching his rear.  He got to the living room to give me my daily, “kiss my arse” look and as he looked up I swear the blood drained from his face!  He looked at the carrier, looked at me in disgust and pulled a Bluedini.  Amazed I was.  Blue was onto me.  How?  I worked so hard.  There wasn’t time to think it over if we were going to make our appointment.

I began the search.  Under couch, bed, closets, you know the deal.  I finally found him an hour later tucked behind an empty grill box in the work-room.  Another 30 minutes and a pint of my blood later had us ready to go.  I snatched my purse, cell phone, an angry cat in a bloody, pee-carrier and my…..car keys.  Where did I put….hmmm.  I spent the next 2 days looking for my car keys.  We missed the vet appointment.  Blue had won the battle. I was dashed.

Two days later as I’m doing laundry I grab the blankets out of the cat bed. Clink!  Fallen from the blanket folds to the floor are….my keys!  I look up in disbelief to see if anyone else has witnessed this wondrous moment.  There he sits, eye-balling me smugly from the window sill, Blue.  “If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you stole my keys to avoid the vet,” I lament out loud.  I turned and moved to the laundry room.  I swear I heard evil laughter as I walked away!  I had been counterplotted by a cat!  I think Blue may have won the war!

And so went the ‘Great Carrier Caper of ’07.”  It can be truly stressful for both cat and owner when it comes to going to the vet.  New people, other animals and the car ride are ‘Ways To Freak A Cat Out 101’.  In an effort to keep cats from taking over the universe and enslaving us all so they will never again be forced to endure the indignity of said visits, here are a few helpful tips on making the event more tolerable for all involved.

1.  Allow your pet to become familiar with the carrier prior to the vet visits. DON’T remove the door and expect that your cat not to notice when you replace it.  Use familiar bedding inside.  Also be sure your carrier has a removable top.  Nothing ticks off a cat worse and sets up failure like being drug or dumped from a carrier

2.  Introduce your cat to car riding for enjoyable, non-vet related outings.  Allow the cat to develop a trusting relationship with the car.  Start with 5 minute drives and slowly expand as your cat’s comfort level increases. Soon you’ll be slapping a leash on the cat and heading to the park.  No, I’m serious.

3.  DON’T manhandle or use force.  You will likely lose…blood and possibly an eye.  Worst of all you will teach your cat she can’t trust people.

4. Use a calming synthetic pheromone like Feliway.  Spray it in the carrier and the car to help ratchet down your cat’s stress level.

5.  Reward your cat with positive reinforcement as you would any pet.  Cats like the proverbial gold star, too. Spend time touching paws, mouth, ears, etc. to get kitty comfy with the vet touching her in these areas. Reward with tasty bits and praise for her toleration.

For more tips on avoiding stressful cat veterinary visits, call the office.  With decades of experience between our staff, we may have the tip that’s just perfect for you and your feline overlord:)

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