Q: I adopted a 3-year-old cat from a local shelter. I have been unsuccessful with transporting her to a veterinarian for a well visit. She refuses to be coaxed into a pet carrier. I think early experiences in her life trigger these fears. I would appreciate any advice.
A: You can never coax a cat into doing anything, as the cat has to feel that all is OK with the situation. Most carriers break down into a top, a bottom and a wire door. So break it down into these three parts and just leave the open bottom piece where the cat eats.
Place the cat’s food bowl in the middle of the carrier and forget about the situation for a couple of weeks. The cat is most likely going to climb into the bottom half of the carrier to eat every day and will quickly lose any hesitation about it. Then put the top on the bottom but leave the door off and keep putting the cat’s food dish inside the carrier. After a day or two of hesitation, the cat will crawl right inside to eat.
Then, when the cat is totally comfortable, you put the door on but tie it open with a bit of string.
You have to look at the world from the animal’s point of view: When the unfamiliar becomes familiar, then fear is no longer an issue.