cat carrier

How to Get Your Cat Used to the Carrier

cat-in-carrier

A cat carrier is an important part of your cat’s life. For most cats, the only time they’re in a carrier is when they have to go to the veterinarian, so the association with carriers is often a negative and stressful one. But carriers can be vital in an emergency, and it’s a good idea to get your cats used to the carrier so that they can associate it with a positive experience.

Pick the right carrier

Carriers come in all shapes and sizes, from hard-sided crates to soft-sided carrying cases,and it comes down to your preference and your cat’s as to which one you choose. Make sure that the carrier is large enough for your cat to be able to stand and turn around in it comfortably. If you plan to travel with your cat, a larger carrier that can accommodate a small litter box may be a good choice.Continue Reading

Top 7 tips for traveling by car with your cat

cat_in_car

Guest post by Kim Salerno

Among pets, dogs are the most frequent travelers. They account for over 85% of pet travelers. Trips to the beach, family vacations, traveling to pet friendly accommodations…no matter what the adventure, most dogs love car rides and can’t wait to hop in and hit the open road. Cats on the other hand – not so much. Most cat’s car travel takes place when they are going back and forth to the vet (no wonder they don’t like the car). However, many cat parents are faced with a big dilemma when they have to move – particularly if the move is a long distance. They are stressed at the thought of putting terrified Fluffy in the car – traveling for hours on end. In addition, a growing number of cat parents would like to include their cat in their daily travels.

We’ve come up with some tips to help make your cat’s car travel experience a better one…for both of you!

1. Pet Carrier Training: Always use a pet travel carrier for your cat when traveling in a car. Continue Reading

Are your cats prepared for an emergency?

cat in the rain with umbrella

September is National Preparedness Month. We recently experienced an earthquake and a hurricane here in Virginia, all within one week, so emergency preparedness has definitely been on my mind. It also made me realize how woefully unprepared I really am. Irene was one thing: at least with a storm, you get a few days advance warning and can think about what you need to do while you’re not in panic mode. With the earthquake, I truly didn’t know how to react, nor would I have known what to do to keep Allegra and Ruby safe. Now granted, earthquakes are not a common occurrence in my part of the world (the last time Virginia had an earthquake was something like 100 years ago!), but it still provided incentive for me to focus on making a plan and being more prepared in the future.Continue Reading

Take Your Cat to the Vet Week Contest: Share your stories

cat vet stethoscope veterinary exam

August 22 through August 28, 2011 is National Take Your Cat to the Vet Week. Created by the makers of Feline Pine in 2009, National Take Your Cat to the Vet Week is sponsored by Petfinder.com this year. The purpose of this campaign is to remind cat parents to take their cats to the vet for regular physical exams.

Why is there a need for this campaign? According to statistics, cats are substantially underserved when it comes to veterinary care.  Even though cat owners consider their cats just as much members of the family as dog owners do, a 2006 study showed that dogs were taken to veterinarians more than twice as often as cats, averaging 2.3 times a year, compared with 1.1 times a year for cats, and significantly more dogs (58%) than cats (28%) were seen by a veterinarian one or more times a year.  Cat owners often express a belief that cats “do not need medical care.”   According to Dr. Michele Gaspar, DVM, DABVP (Feline), Feline Pine’s in house veterinarian, “there is a misconception that cats are independent and they don’t need the level of care that dogs do.  Cats also don’t show disease well. We can have cats who look normal but they are covering up a serious illness.”

The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends annual wellness exams for cats of all ages, with more frequent exams for seniors, geriatrics and cats with known medical conditions. I recommend bi-annual exams for cats age 7 and older. Cats are masters at hiding discomfort, and annual or bi-annual exams are the best way to detect problems early. Once a cat shows symptoms, treatment may be much more extensive, not as effective, and will also cost more.

One barrier to regular vet visits for many cat parents is the fact that vet visits can be very stressful for cats. During National Take Your Cat to the Vet, Petfinder.com will provide tips for making vet visits easier for cats and for getting the most out of your visit. Be sure to like Petfinder’s Facebook page so you don’t miss any of their tips.

 Vet Confidential pet health

We’re holding a contest during National Take Your Cat to the Vet week to help spread the word about this important campaign. Share a story of your cat’s vet visit in a comment. Allegra, Ruby and I will judge the entries, and the best story will win a copy of Vet Confidential: An Insider’s Guide to Protecting Your Pet’s Health by Louise Murray, DVM. Contest ends August 29. For an additional chance to win, share this contest on Facebook or Twitter, and post the link in a separate comment.

Related reading:

Is your vet cat-friendly?

How to make your cat’s trip to the vet less stressful

Can classical music lead to better veterinary care for you cat?

Your cat may not be as old as you think

Product Review: SturdiBag Pet Carrier

When the folks at Sturdi Products asked whether I would like a sample of one of their pet carriers for review, I jumped at the chance.  In all the years I’ve had cats, I’ve never had a soft-sided carrier, and I’ve always wanted to try one. 

When they said I could choose size and color, I was even happier.  I choose the large size pink one – even though Allegra weighs only eight pounds, I like having carriers that give the cat plenty of room to stand up and turn around in during transport.

The carrier arrived just in time for me to give Allegra a little time to get used to it before “road testing” it for her first trip to the vet’s.  It came in a flat box, so immediately I knew that there would be some assembly required.  These words usually instill fear in my heart.  I’m pretty useless when it comes to using tools, following directions, or figuring out diagrams.  Thankfully, what little assembly was required to put the carrier together was minimal, and the instructions were fairly easy to follow. 

Allegra was watching me with great interest, and even tried to help during the process.  Once I had the carrier put together, I put it in the middle of the living room floor.  Allegra immediately went inside and proceeded to sniff every nook and cranny.  Once she finished investigating, I put the carrier in our family room.  I always keep the carriers out, hoping that the constant availability won’t make it quite so scary when we actually need to go somewhere.  I’m not convinced that this theory really holds water, though.  All my cats have always napped in their carriers, and all my cat have always hated riding in the car in their carriers!  At any rate, I have seen Allegra take naps in the SturdiBag occasionally.

On the big day, she didn’t fuss at all when I put her in the carrier.  I loved how easy it was to carry and maneuver with it.  With my old hard-sided carriers, I was always bumping into corners and doors, and they were heavy.  This one is very lightweight, but yet, aptl named:  it really is extremely sturdy.  The handles are comfortable and didn’t cut into my hands.  It also comes with a padded shoulder strap, but I chose not to use that.   The carrier fit perfectly on the passenger seat.  I looped the seatbelt through one of the handles (they’re not designed for that, but I’ve always done that with my carriers).

Allegra seemed comfortable in the carrier on our short ride to the veterinary clinic.  It was easy to get her out of the carrier.  It unzips in the front, and also has a smaller opening on top.

The carrier is well-designed.  Zippers open and close smoothly.  Mesh windows on the front and on top of the carrier provide plenty of ventilation.  The zippered floor panel contains a durable foam core board that can be replaced.  The fleece pad is attached by velcro straps and can be removed for cleaning.  There’s a little zippered pocket on the side of the carrier that could hold treats, or travel or veterinary documents.

The carriers are airline approved for in cabin travel and,  due to their unique construction, fit under the seat.  Flexible fiberglass ribbing prevents the top of the carrier from caving in and crowding the cat while the carrier is stowed under the seat. 

The carriers comes in a variety of sizes, colors and patterns.  For more information about the carriers, and Sturdi Pet’s other products, please visit their website.

SturdiBag products are available in The Conscious Cat Store.

Sturdi Pet Products sent me a carrier for this product review.

How to Make Your Cat’s Trip to the Vet Less Stressful

cat-in-carrier

Most cats hate going to the vet’s.  What’s to like?  They’ll get stuck in a carrier, then they’ll get poked and prodded and stuck with needles.  Taking a cat to the vet can also be stressful for the cat’s human – none of us want our kitties to be scared and stressed, and what’s even worse is that, in the case of a vet visit, in the cat’s mind, we’re the ones who are putting them through this ordeal!  The ideal solution for many cats is a vet who makes housecalls (to find one in your area, visit the website of the American Association of Housecall and Mobile Veterinarians).  If that’s not an option, make sure that the vet you take your cat to is cat friendly.

You can make the actual trip to the vet’s office less stressful by following these tips:

Make sure the carrier is big enough for your cat to be able to stand up and turn around.  Carriers that allow access from the front and the top make getting your cat in and out of the carrier easier than carriers that only open in the front.

Get cats used to the carrier.  Keep the carrier out and open in a place where your cats can easily access it.   Some cats will actually like to use the carrier as a periodic sleeping place.

Get your cat used to car travel.  If feasible, take your cat on short rides in the car and offer rewards after the trip.  This may help create a positive association with travel, and that way, your cat won’t expect a vet visit at the end of each trip.

Use a calming/pheromone spray such as Comfort Zone with Feliway in the carrier on a regular basis, and also prior to placing kitty in it for transport.

Withhold food prior to transport.  This may help prevent motion sickness, and may also make cats more receptive to treats at the vet’s office, thus creating a somewhat more positive association.

Put a piece of clothing with your scent on it in the carrier prior to transport.  The familiar scent may help comfort your cat.

Cover the carrier with a blanket or towel while in the car – this may make some cats feel safer during transport.

Unfortunately, unless you have a very mellow cat, kitty may still hold a grudge for a little while after returning from one of these, in your cat’s mind completely unnecessary, outings.  Thankfully, our cats do forgive us quickly and all is forgotten – until the next vet visit!