From Cat-Nappings to Trusted Travels!

how to get my cat to the vet
King Albert The Grey carefully checking out the cat carrier

Traveling with your cat doesn’t have to be a crazy, stressful experience. It can, and should, be a stress-free even for both of you!  You can take trips together, and you go to the vet when needed, without having to catnap your cat.

Below are some tips and techniques that I have had success with over the years, with wild and domestic felines.  I hope these tips can help you and your feline family members, too!   Please note: this is an abbreviated list. If you would like more detailed help, feel free to contact me.


Your Goal:  Turn the Cat Carrier into a Safe Place.

How:  

  • Leave the kennel out weeks prior to transporting your cat to the vet (or any car ride).
  • Better yet, leave the cat kennel out all the time; it looses its “fear factor”. Your cat will start to see it as neutral as the rest of the furniture.
  • Put your cat’s favorite treats, food, catnip, and toys in the crate to help  your cat associate the “scary kidnap machine” as a yummy, fun, safe place!
  • Play games around the cat carrier.
  • Place familiar scents (ones that you know your cat feels safe with) in the kennel. This can be a blanket, your sweater, their bedding, etc.
  • If the sound of the metal carrier door is a fear trigger for your cat, remove the door. You can put it back on after he/she is using as a kitty condo.

Your Goal: Reward Your Cat for Being Near the Carrier

How:

  • Reward your cat when s/he looks at the cat carrier.  Toss treats in her direction when she glances at it!
  • Have a Treat Party and praise her calmly when she walks near it.
  • Offer huge rewards if she peeks her head into the carrier.
  • It’s ok if your cat walks away. You are building up her confidence of just being near the carrier.

 

Your Goal:  Build Up to *Asking* Your Cat to Go Into the Carrier

How:

  • Reward your cat for walking in, then close the door for a few seconds. Open the door, toss treats, then walk away.  This teaches your cat that you’re not going to slam the door on him and CatNap him/her.
  • Gradually work up to keeping the door closed for longer periods.  Always reward your cat.
  • Your cat will learn that the door closing will open again soon.  This helps cats to feel safe, and not trapped.

Your Goal: Quick Trips

How: 

  • Once your cat is feeling safe at this point, and walking in and out of the carrier, you can carry her around the house, then let her out.
  • Remember to reward and praise!
  • Slowly build up to walking outside to the car with your cat in the carrier.  Keep it short and sweet.  Continue using lots of treats and praise.
  • At this stage, you don’t need to even turn on the car, just place the carrier inside the car, offer your cat treats, and see if she’s calm enough to eat.
  • After your cat is feeling comfortable and safe with this stage, you can turn on the car, offer treats, and then turn off the car and end the session.
  • Eventually you can work up to driving down the street, then coming right back home.
  • All of this will involve lots of treats, praise, and patience.

Your Goal:  Go Slow.  Be Patient.  Allow Choices.

How:

  • Cats respond well to slow and steady progress.
  • Cats respond positively to being given choices.
  • Choices create security, safety, and improve their well-being
  • Forcing cats to do anything only creates fear.
  • Fear creates distrust, anxiety, and even health problems.
  • Forcing your cat to do anything they are uncomfortable with breaks down your bond and erodes their trust.
  • Your cat is very sensitive to your energy. Be mindful of this!

Remember: Always ASK, REWARD, ENCOURAGE, and BE PATIENT!

You and your cat will make tremendous progress together, and create life long bonds if you can remember these 4 things.


Kitty Tip:  Easy-Traveler has also helped to transform car rides for our cats! I highly recommend it!

Spirit Essences helped Albert and the other cats to relax the entire 10 hour car ride!
Easy Traveler allowed Albert and the other cats to relax and fee safe the entire 10 hour car ride!

 Way down deep, we’re all motivated by the same urges. Cats have the courage to live by them. – Jim Davis

King Albert The Grey enjoying a much needed break out of his kennel to do manly cool cat things. This was at the 7 hour mark of our trip to our new home.
King Albert The Grey enjoying a much needed break out of his kennel to do manly cool cat things. This was at the 7 hour mark of our trip to our new home.

How have you transformed your cat-nappings to safe travels? Please share your tips with us!

Mind Your Mood

Image
Knox relaxing on the back porch during his healthy days. This is the body posture of a cat who is very relaxed and feeling secure.

Have you ever noticed how our energy or mood affects the people around us?   Has your boss, co-worker, partner, or friend ever been in a bad mood and you had to sit there and “live it” with them?  How did you feel when you were stuck there, absorbing their muck of a mood?  Did you notice your mood shift?  Did you want to get away from that negative space?  When this happens to me, I find that it can drain my energy, stress me out, or bring me down if I don’t find a way to leave the situation or find something positive to focus my attention on.  This kind of situation is not unlike what happens when we are in a bad mood or stressful state of mind when we are around our animal companion(s).

Let’s talk science for a bit.  Scientists have proven that everything is energy.  In 1905, Albert Einstein proved that when matter is broken down into smaller and smaller components, we move beyond the material realm and into the place where everything is simply energy.  This is the Law of Vibration, which is a law of nature.

Every atom, molecule, particle, and subatomic particle is literally energy vibrating.  We interact with this energy every day and every moment.  Every feeling, person, and object is all energy vibrating at a different frequency.  This includes the house or room you are in, the chair or sofa that you are sitting on, the desk or coffee table in front of you, the animal in the room, and even you.  Objects, people, trees, and animals may look and feel solid, but we are all different levels of energy vibrating at different speeds.

Science shows us that everything is made up of energy and exchanges that with everything else at all times in a most complex way. It is the building block of all matter. The same energy that composes your flesh is the same one that composes the bricks of your house and the trees outside. It is all the same. It is constantly at flow, changing form all the time. This is a very simple explanation of a rather complex thing.” David Cameron

Animals are programmed to notice the slightest changes in their environment.  Energy is not excluded.  It’s encoded in their DNA for safety and survival.  Our companion animals are not immune to noticing shifts in energy or changes in the environment.   They may live under our manmade roofs, but their instincts are still present and always ON.  When our energy becomes drained, or our mood shifts to a lower energy, it becomes evident to people and especially to animals.

Recently, I had the opportunity to witness this in action. I was quickly reminded of how important it is for me to manage my mood.  Our youngest cat lives and breathes the definition of “scaredy cat”.  He thrives on routine. He doesn’t like change, and you can forget about whizzing down the highway in a metal box (A.K.A. car rides).   He had recently been experiencing some physical issues that needed to be addressed at the vet.   The day arrived for me to take him in, so I administered a double dose of Pet Rescue Remedy, then into his kennel and into the car we went.

Knox in his kennel in the car
Knox in his kennel in the car

We live somewhat in the country, so a trip to our holistic vet is a good forty minute drive.  It was raining that day (of course) and I don’t enjoy driving in the rain, especially when I have precious cargo on board.   The drive was going smoothly at first and Knox was vocalizing only when we hit a rough patch of road, or we had to stop abruptly.  It was obvious that he was not pleased that I had catnapped him from his safe, comfy kitty dojo, but he was doing remarkably well considering the circumstances.

We were making good time, the rain wasn’t too bad, and Knox was doing well.   Eventually we got closer to the split in the road to head for the vet’s office.  I decided to use my GPS to make sure I was turning at the correct junction.  Well, things quickly became frustrating.   This pretty much sums up the negative dialogue in my head:

“Ugggghhhh.  Stupid GPS.  Why can’t it find the address?  Why isn’t it coming up on the map?  Ugh!  Ok, I remember how to get there …I think. I just need to find that street.  Wait.  Was that the street?  Crap!  Ok, gotta turn around.  Great.  I can’t turn around here.  Why won’t you let me make a U-turn?  Ugh!  Please stop crying Knox. You are not helping.  I hate driving in the rain.  Ok, we are fine.  We still have a few minutes before we are late.  Turn green!  Hurry up, people!  Drive!  Great.  I totally missed that turn.  UGH!  Now I am driving way the heck out of the way.  UGH!!!  Ok, I am gonna pull over and try to plug it into the GPS again.  Damn it!  Why isn’t it showing up?  I have no idea where we are.  Seriously?!?  We are so late!  I hate being late!  Ugh!  SHUT UP, Knox!  Stop screaming!!!”

Then it hit me; Knox was really freaking out.  How long had he been crying and panicking?  I realized that not long after I started to become anxious and aggravated, he started to meow incessantly.  It seems so obvious now, but at the time I was so wrapped up with my little temper tantrum in my head, that I had failed to notice how I was affecting Knox.  The more he cried and panicked, the more aggravated I became.  The more aggravated I became, he would meow louder and louder.  We were both caught up in a vicious cycle.

It’s important to note that Knox couldn’t see me because his kitty kennel was covered (I do this to help him feel less threatened and safer while riding in a vehicle).  How did he know I was stressing out so badly?  He felt it.  He felt my anxiety, my aggravation, and my stress.  Once I realized what was happening I took a deep breath, calmed down and peeked into this kennel.  I saw that he was so scared and upset.  I spoke to him in my calmest, most gentle voice and within seconds he began to settle and relax.  He stopped crying and looked at me with his sweet eyes.  I knew he felt my mood change.  He was relaxed again.  Once I was able to manage my mood, Knox’s mood changed in unison.

Not every animal will display their resistance to a stressful situation the same way.  Some may become very quiet or withdrawn, and others may erupt in an explosion or other undesirable behaviors.  However, one thing’s for certain; no matter how calm an animal may seem when they are around a person that is angry or upset, they do notice it, and they do feel it.  Birds, rats, cats, dogs, horses, and countless other species are quite adept at picking up on each other’s emotions, as well as human emotions.

I had been having a particularly bad week when this happened. Everything seemed to annoy me, irritate me, and upset me much more than usual.  I am not normally that stressed while driving, or when getting lost, but I let it get the best of me and thankfully I recognized it and learned from what Knox showed me.  It was a lesson for me and a blessing in disguise.

As we become more consciously aware of our emotions, we start to see how we can negatively or positively affect the people around us and our companion animals.  When we become a conscious observer, we can learn how to manage our moods and the energy that we put out there.  When we do this we improve our lives and the lives of our beloved animals.

Have you noticed how your mood affects your animals? I would love to hear your experiences!