Friday, 25 November 2016

‘How can I get my cat used to their carrier?’ and other behavioural FAQs

In our latest Q&A on Facebook, Cats Protection Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow responded to live questions from cat owners. Here are some of the topics discussed:

Question: My cat is due her annual booster again soon. She is terrified of her cat carrier and travelling. She gets so distressed and aggressive and it takes numerous cancelled and rebooked vet appointments to get her there. I have tried many things including a bigger carrier and even sedation tablets from the vets to no avail. Have you anything you could recommend? She also soils herself on the journey.

Answer: You could see if your vet will do a home visit. Many people face this situation, but there are steps you can take to gradually get your cat used to the cat carrier. However, this does take some time and may not work in time for your cat's booster, depending on how soon it is. This video is the first in a series looking at how to get cats used to carriers:


There is more information found in The Trainable Cat by John Bradshaw and Sarah Ellis. We would recommend a referral to a qualified behaviourist (www.apbc.org.uk) too.

Cats relaxing in pet carrier
Photo: Rob Marquardt via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: Why does my 18 year old cat cry and face the wall? The cry is really unusual.

Answer: Sorry to hear your cat is crying and facing the wall. I would strongly recommend getting your cat seen by the vet to rule out medical reasons as there are quite a few possible underlying reasons. If you can get a recording of your cat's cry to show the vet even better (although it's amazing how quiet cats get when there's a camera pointed at them). If you can't get a video, an impression can work too! If the vet feels it's behavioural, then I'd recommend a referral to a qualified behaviourist (see link above).


Question: I have a mother and daughter, aged two years and 18 months, and the mother constantly hisses and spits at her daughter. I got them from CP one year ago and they have never been close, although I hoped their relationship would improve. The little one is quite timid. Is there anything I can do?

Answer: Thanks for adopting your cats from Cats Protection and I'm sorry to hear they are not getting along at the moment. There are many possible reasons for a break down in a relationship so it is always worth ruling out medical reasons for both cats first. While there are also many behavioural reasons, one possible is that cats go through social maturity between the ages of 18 months and four years of age, and may drift apart or even fall out with one another around this age as they develop their independence. Cats are less likely to experience conflict if they have plenty of resources spaced out all over the house (eg one resource per cat plus one extra, eg three litter trays, three food bowls etc). It would be worth contacting your local Cats Protection branch or adoption centre where you got your cats from for more advice and support. All the best.


Veterinary note: Please note that we are unable to give specific advice on your cat's health or any change in behaviour observed. For medical problems, consult your vet who will have access to your cat's medical history and will be able to examine them.

You’ll find more information about cat care and behaviour at www.cats.org.uk/cat-care/cat-behaviour-hub

Would you like to ask one of Cats Protection's feline experts a question about your cat? Don't miss the next live Facebook Q&A sessions: Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow on 30 December and 12 January; and vet Dr Sarah Elliott on 26 January. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

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