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Advice On How To Get Strong Nervous Cat In Cat Basket

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

I hope that someone here will be able to help me.

About a year ago now I got Thomas from the RSPCA. He's about 5 years old and he is a very nervous cat. However, he is also a strong cat - not fat, but solid and his claws are very sharp.

This weekend he was due his appointment at the vets for his boosters and this was the first time that we have had to take him to the vets as the RSPCA gave him his last jabs before we got him. This is the first time that we had to get him into his cat basket.

We were unable to get him into the basket despite trying the 'towel trick' where you wrap your cat in a towel with his legs inside so he can't move - ha! this didn't work and he is so strong that he just wriggled out and ran off.

Anyway, after trying for half an hour we had to give up as he was getting very stressed out. I had to call the vet and explain that I just couldn't get him in the basket no matter what I tried. My husband's arms were scratched to pieces!!!!

Has anybody else had the same experience and if so, how did you overcome this problem. He's got to go to the vets soon to keep his jabs up-to-date but I am at a total loss. Surely there must be an easy way?

He is just terrified of the cat basket now and even if I try to coax him in with food, it doesn't work. Also, he isn't a very playful cat so I can't even use the 'shoelace trick'.

Please help, I'm desperate.

Jayne X
post #2 of 21
If you can get him securely in the blanket might you be able to bring him in that? I think that would be risky though. Perhaps a bigger cat basket would help or just drop a large box on him. Also, I would have them trim his claws.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by furbum
If you can get him securely in the blanket might you be able to bring him in that? Perhaps though a bigger cat basket would help. Also, I would have them trim his claws.
Hi Furbum,

it's a 15 minute drive to the vets so he would have wriggled his way out by then, no problem .

I think we will end up having to get another basket, maybe the type that opens at the top and he can be gently dropped into it rather than trying to shove him through the door of the basket at the front.

Yes, we were going to ask the vet to trim his claws and we will - once we get him there .


Jayne X
post #4 of 21
It would be good if you could get a basket that you could just put over him and then slide something underneath.
post #5 of 21
If there's someone there to help you, try wrapping him a blanket, holding him tight, arms close to his body, then tilt the carrier up on it's end, and gently slide him in face first. A lady that i used to work with had to do this. It wont hurt him i promise.

post #6 of 21
One of my cats is the same way. I bought a carrier that you can take the top off pop him in quickly and on goes the top..
post #7 of 21
a dog cage might work better as they are larger and like you said, opened from the top.
post #8 of 21
Hi - we never get ours into their carriers face first, only behind first, and it works very well. Sure there's a little resistance, but you need to be very fast and don't react to every little wriggle. At least it's easier than doing it head first.
post #9 of 21
I would leave the carrier out in the house, so he gets used to it. Ours is under neath one of our coffee tables. One cat actually goes in on his own sometimes.

Zakk is a real pain to put in the carrier. We have a carrier that opens up on both ends, and we put it on one end with the top open, pick Zakk up under the elbows, and drop him in real fast. The wider the carrier the better, but make sure you close it real quick.

Another way would be to leave the carrier out, and throw a few treats in there. I've never personally done it, but this is how Cookie and Suzie were rescued from outside.
post #10 of 21
You've tried both suggestions (towel/food) I was gonna offer.

First, have you ever cut his nails? If so, you need to do that before you stuff him in the carrier. Perhaps you need a bigger carrier.

When you wrapped him in the towel did you cover his head so he could not see? Try that next time. My first cat was terrifed to even ride in a car (I think someone was mean to him in a car). He got away from me when I tried to put him in there (before I was wise with a carrier). So I wrapped him up really good and covered his head so he could not see where he was going.

You want to make it pleasant experience with the carrier. If your cat likes catnip, then put some in the carrier and leave the door open so it will not close on him. Curiousity might get the best of him. When he's in there try talking softly to him and petting him.
post #11 of 21
I keep my carriers out in the bedroom all the time (doors still attached), so they don't really mind being inside. I even have a hot pad in the larger carrier, on a low setting, so they actually enjoy the warmth.

Last Thursday, I took Rowan in because his eye was all puffy, and he needed to have blood drawn for the tests before he's neutered, and he actually hopped into the carrier before I was planning on sticking him into it. He hated the carrier for about two days after our visit, but he was sleeping in there yesterday afternoon.

You could try sticking a treat into the cage, if he doesn't go for food. Or if wet food is a treat for your cats (mine don't get it every day, so it's always exciting), you could put that into the cage. Just don't stick anything with gravy in. It can get messy.
post #12 of 21
I agree with the other posts that suggest getting a carrier that opens on the top. There are just some kitties that you can't get to go into one that opens in the side.

Hope it helps!
post #13 of 21
the other thing you might try with your front loading carrier:

pick up kitty with one hand under his chest (right behind his front legs) and the other hand holding his back feet.

when you go to put him in the carrier, don't let his back feet touch ground. he won't be able to backpedal that way. makes it much harder for them to get away.

good luck!
post #14 of 21
Wow - you have a cat like my OTB Tigger, and I have permanent scars from getting him into a carrier. This took me years to figure out how to get him into a carrier (I was never really able to give him medicines) - he was a truly wild boy.

A few days before the vet visit, I would put the (dog sized) carrier out in the open for him to get used to seeing it. On the day of the visit, I would close the doors to every room in the house except for the one that the carrier is in. This room would not have a bed for him to crawl under. He was smart enough to know that something was up and would eventually run to the room with the carrier (the only open door). I would follow him and shut the door behind me. I would open the carrier door and face the opening sky-ward. Towels never worked with him so I would have to corner him, give him a big scruff so that he would curl up in a ball and go somewhat limp, then pick him up by the scruff while supporting his feet with a thick leather gloved hand. He then went into the carrier feet first (fighting the entire way) and I would close the top down and carefully right it back on its base.

I don't recommend doing this unless you really are in an extreme situation. Picking up an adult cat by the scruff can injure the cat and if this is the only way to do it, you need to weigh his need to visit the vet with the potential damage you can cause to him if you do this wrong. Tigger didn't make it to the vet often as he was generally a very healthy cat and I didn't want to put him thru it. When he was ill I had no choice but to resort to this.

Good luck!!
post #15 of 21
Do you necessarily need to use a cage? We've always just carried our cats, with harness and leash on just in case, and we've never had a problem. Of course, we were kids and we'd hold the cat while the parents filled out forms, so I don't know if it'd be a hassle to hold a squirming cat and fill out forms at the same time.
post #16 of 21
Your risking injury to yourself or the cat if you don't have them in a carrier at the vets. You never know when a cat hating dog comes in and lunges for your cat you have on a harness.
post #17 of 21
I have to confess that when it comes to Jaz its a case of sneaking up on her when she is dozing, and very quickly scoop her up and pop her in before she realizes whats happening

Izzy is a very small, light cat so is no trouble at all. Jake used to struggle but seems to take everything in is stride now he is a bit older. Nothing much seems to faze him

We have front opening baskets but you can separate the halves as well. I have also invested in bigger baskets which seem to be more acceptable to them.
post #18 of 21
You could try feeding them in the carrier. Thats how I got my Drusilla to like the carrier.

Tara is a whole nother story. She rarely sees the vet because I just cannot get her there. Partially my fault for living in an open layout place where I *cannot* close her into a room and for having large, furniture she can hide under and behind. She won't stand being picked up and the towel/pillowcase over the head trick worked once and only once. She now hides at the site of everything linen. If you try to get her out from the hiding spots, she attacks. I ended up with six stitches in the side of my neck once because I thought it would be a good idea to spray the hell out of her with water when she was under the bed, figuring she'd come out so I could grab her. Nope. She charged at me and attacked. Same thing when I tried to vacuum under the bed to get her out. Probably my fault for trying such mean and scary tactics, but that was when she had a UTI and I knew she needed to go so I was no longer 'playing around' and trying to gently coax. She's 7 years old and the vet would like to have a senior panel done because she's lost weight, but I'm pretty certain that won't happen for a long long time because I can't even get her to come out of hiding for playing or cuddles anymore, she's angry since I just moved and still brooding over Drusilla arriving 9 months ago so on her good days I see her for perhaps 5 minutes when she uses the box and snags a teeny bite of kibble. Some cats just do not like carriers, be thankful you have a less extreme one than my little drama queen.
post #19 of 21
One of my cats loved her carrier till she went to the vet - even with treats and catnip and Rescue Remedy. So we have to trick her and she is so snart!! It is a game and difficult and I know how you feel. But we bought a large Pet Taxi and we just drop her in and close the top and she whines but cannot escape - poor baby, she's OK and forgives us after but it's hard!
post #20 of 21
I don't have top loading carriers, so if I am transporting a difficult cat, I just set the open carrier up on its end and drop the kitty in.

I also leave all the cats food bowls in the carrier if I have a carrier shy kitty. You could start with the food bowl near the carrier, and over time move it into the carrier. He may never love it, but he will stop fearing it.

During the adjustment period, don't try to trap him in the carrier. Give it at least 2 weeks, or a month is better, to let him stop fearing the carrier. Also, if you can get Feliway spray, and spray it around the carrier, that will help calm him.

Since he was 5 when you got him, you don't know what happened to him before. He may have a good reason to fear carriers, or maybe it is just kitty instinct saying don't get trapped.

Worse case scenario would be you borrow a live trap from the vet, and use that to trap him. I would not try taking a nice kitty out of the house without a carrier, and never would take a wild child like that. I would be afraid of losing them forever if they run off!
post #21 of 21
Try a soft carrier that opens from the top. And also, from now on, leave the carrier out, with some of his favorite toys in it, so that it does threaten him or cause him to go into a fit when it comes out.
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