Feles mala! What carrier should I get for this bad kitty?
July 30, 2009 6:32 AM   Subscribe

CatFilter: Help me, hive mind! One of my cats cannot stand being in a normal carrier. We need a carrier for him while moving. What carrier should I get? Details of a feline nature inside.

So, the cat in question is a 4 year old neutered male, polydactyl oriental short-hair. The last time he was in a carrier, he nearly tore two of his claws out trying to scratch though the plastic. He FREAKS inside the plastic carrier we have, and will spend the entire trip digging at the walls, yowling, and spastically trying to get out in any way possible.

I NEED a carrier for him that will not make him a fuzzy bloody mess every time I have to transport him. I also need a carrier that, were he to continue this behavior, would NOT injure him if he dug at it with his claws.

posted by strixus to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have two soft-sided carriers, and both my travel-unfriendly girls tolerate them - in fact, they both hang out in them if I leave them lying around. This is about the idea - there's plenty of airflow, they can see out, and there's nothing to hurt themselves on. The mesh is super-sturdy plastic-coated stuff - they haven't managed to so much as stretch it yet.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:37 AM on July 30, 2009

My cat has never gotten used to the carrier and never will. He's a howler. I would still get a hard-case carrier (safer) for your kitty, but get him a dog-size one that is much bigger than he is, so he can move around. Put in an old robe or towel -- something that smells like you -- for him to lay on. Put in a little bowl of water as well. If you're transporting him, consider getting some tranq pills from your vet.
posted by heather-b at 6:38 AM on July 30, 2009

See if you can get a sedative from the vet. I got one for my kitty when we moved cross-country and it chilled her right out without knocking her out.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:38 AM on July 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

When we moved, we used a vinyl pop-up dog kennel that we found at Walmart. It was collapsible, so no big deal to carry around, soft sided and left tons of room for the cat to wander around and for us to place a little food and water bowl. Our cat didn't feel nearly as claustrophobic in it as she did with her regular carrier, but she's not much of a clawer so I am not sure how kitty's claws would interact with the mesh and vinyl. It's pretty tough stuff, but then so are kitty claws.

Also, one more thing that helped was that we put the kennel on top of a box in the back and once our cat could see out the window, she was able to calm down even more.
posted by bristolcat at 6:43 AM on July 30, 2009

If the top comes off, take it off and start feeding him in the carrier so that he's getting used to it. When he's OK with that put the top back on and continue feeding him in the carrier. When he's OK with that, close the door for a short period of time. Later close the door and lift and move the carrier a foot then open the door. If he's OK with that increase the time the door is closed and the distance the carrier is moved. All this has to be done in small steps and he's has to be comfortable with each step before moving on. I also second the soft sided carrier who has the advantage that the top unzips so that would make the above training program easier.
posted by Ferrari328 at 6:52 AM on July 30, 2009

We often use a cheap cardboard carrier for our cat. We also use a typical hard carrier sometimes. Whichever we use, we line the thing with towels, so kitty has something soft to lie on, or curl-up in.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:24 AM on July 30, 2009

No suggestions for a type of carrier, but maybe you can try to delay putting him in a carrier if you can. I had a cat like yours, and it turns out, he just loved looking out the car windows (he also came when you called and tried to drink out of the toilet; his kittenhood must have been in a house with dogs). A screaming cat from the parking lot into the vet's office is better than a screaming cat the whole ride there. Will your cat tolerate a leash or harness? Maybe you can avoid the parking lot stretch too. Good luck!
posted by alygator at 7:30 AM on July 30, 2009

I used to have a cat with the same problem. Getting him to the vet was an unmitigated nightmare. We had a big plastic carrier, lots of room for him to stand and turn around, a blanket to snuggle, etc. but he would Freak. Out. He was very wriggly and it always took 2 people to even get him in it. Then it was howling the entire time, scratching the carrier and himself, etc. I ended up getting one of those smaller soft carriers suggested above and he loved it. I don't know if he felt more secure inside the smaller space, or if he just objected to the plastic, or what, but it made all the difference in the world. I was able to transport him on a plane (as a carry-on) without any problems. Not a single cry. It was weird.
posted by Eumachia L F at 8:40 AM on July 30, 2009

Try putting in a shirt you have worn and sprinkle catnip on it. You might also try a soft carrier, as has been recommended, but also maybe sleep with it in your bed for one night so it smells like home and you.
posted by Billegible at 8:42 AM on July 30, 2009

Does he sleep on anything special? My friend stuffs an entire plush cat bed into a soft carrier...no complaints.
posted by aquafortis at 9:04 AM on July 30, 2009

I would try a soft carrier. However I had a cat that would go insane in any type of carrier; as Mediaeval as it sounds, the only way we could transport him comfortably was to put him in a fabric laundry sack and put it on the floor of the back seat. He would instantly quiet down and not make a noise the entire trip. I think the fact that it was soft and dark and totally smelled like us was the key.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:50 AM on July 30, 2009

I have two cats that I regularly move between Boston & Memphis. Several years ago we got a dog kennel similar to this--they like it about 1 million times better than being in individual carriers. We bought a foam insert that has a fuzzy top to go in the bottom of the crate, put the crate in the back seat and stick the cats in. They still aren't thrilled with traveling, but the crate is big enough that they can each have their own space and not feel so confined. I have also found that leaving the crate out in the house for a week or 2 in advance of travel, plus spraying it with Feliway, helps reduce hissy-cat fits when we put them in.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:27 AM on July 30, 2009

I really love my soft carriers - the one cat who used to freakout and poop in the plastic one would just huddle in the soft-sided one. I also find the soft carriers easier to deal with in terms of transporting things.

My mother swears by the Sleepy Pod - it was more expensive but she loves it for taking the cat on longer car journeys (3 days in the car).
posted by machine at 10:31 AM on July 30, 2009

Soft-sided carrier, with a t-shirt that smells like you (and that you don't need anymore), and a sedative from the vet. For the cat, that is.
posted by rtha at 2:25 PM on July 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

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