317787 tn?1473358451

Taking cat to vet

Hello, Can someone give me some tips on how to get my cat in to a carrier to take her to the vet? She is behind on her rabies shot.
I have tried to get her in but she spreads out so her legs won't go it.
Does picking up by the scruff of the neck work?
Thank you in advance.
16 Responses
134578 tn?1614729226
Sorry, Dee, but the image of a kitty spreading out her legs and not going in the carrier is so funny, it reminds me of that classic old prizewinning America's home video with an Irish Setter they are trying to get into a bathroom to take a bath, and the dog is wild-eyed-ly holding onto the door jamb with all four feet and growling as the owner tries to carry him into the bathroom.

Here is some carrier advice.  (I assume you mean a plastic type with a bottom that is leakproof and has a swinging door that is a grill.)

For long-term detraumatization of the idea of a carrier, it is a great idea to get a pretty large carrier, take the door off, and put a soft bed in it, to let the cat use it as a hangout.  It might be too late if your girl hates carriers, but it's good to get kitties used to carriers in more benign settings.  Some day you might need to take her to the vet with a broken leg, it just helps a lot when the cat is not afraid of being in her safe, secure carrier.

But it is now time to go to the vet and kitty hates her carrier.  There are three things I can think of that might be making it worse and you can solve with some kitty technique.  

First of all, get the carrier ready for anything she might dish out once she is in it.  We always travel with our kitties in carriers; they're used to them, and know nothing can get at them once the door is shut and so are less frightened than they would be by other forms of transport.  To get ready for a more teed-off cat being in her carrier, get incontinence pads, the kind sold for old people to put in their bed under the sheet (the older I get, the more embarrassed I will probably be to buy those at the drugstore!  but they are great).  Fold the pad into half or thirds with the absorbent side out, and put it in the bottom of the carrier.  This is in case your baby has to 'go' before you reach your destination.  (This can happen in particular if you wake Precious up from a nap to leave for the vet's.  Full bladder upon wakening, you know.  lol)  Bring a couple of spare pads along in case Precious hurls or poops and you need to clean things up once at the vet.  It doesn't hurt to have wet wipes along, too, and a plastic sack rolled up in your purse to put trash in, in case of an emergency that goes beyond the boundaries of the carrier.

Second thing is to be sure to prep the carrier and have it standing ready with the door open somewhere that the cat cannot hear you handling it.  My dad always thought his cat was psychic or could understand what they were saying about going on a trip to the beach house because Kitty disappeared whenever he wanted to take Kitty in the car.  Kitty wasn't psychic, he could just hear the carrier being gotten down from its shelf and the door swinging open. (Once a cat who does not particularly like car trips hears the squeak of the carrier door, fuggetaboutit, he'll be under the center of the king-sized bed and not even dynamite will get him out.  Kitty was so good at it that Dad thought Kitty just dematerialized.)  Anyway, we prep our carriers in the laundry room, and even though our cats are used to carrier travel, we are still careful to do it quietly.

Third thing and probably the main trick is to put your cat in the carrier bottom first, swinging him or her in pretty fast.  My cats are used enough to the drill and unfrightened enough of carriers that I just pick them up, form them into a bread-loaf sized bundle with their feet tucked in, carry them into the laundry room where the carrier is waiting on top of the washer with open door, swing them in rear-end first before they can think, and shut the door.  But a cat who does not like the carrier might benefit from being swaddled.  

To swaddle -- try swaddling your bundle of love in a hand-towel or even something slightly larger (like a pillowcase, but don't put her inside it, I'm just mentioning it for the size), so she is swaddled with only her head out, like a baby. No hanging legs, please, she should be all tucked in looking like a duck does swimming in a pond.  It should be tight enough that she can't get her front legs out readily, but not pinned nor in any way secured that would prevent her from getting out of it once she is in the carrier.

Then, again, the technique is to walk to the carrier and pop her into the carrier butt-end first, so her head is still looking at you as most of her bod goes inside, and shut the door.  One reason kitties plant their feet is that their owners try to put them in head-first, which of course gives them a ton of time to decide they dislike being put into something the size of a mailbox and flail their legs. Hiney-first, they have very little time to think it over.  The swaddle will drop away once kitty moves around, and that's fine.  Its purpose was to keep her octopus-style legs from grabbing on the doorframe.

It is also important and possibly goes without saying, but be sure you aren't using a carrier that is too small.  My dad, who can be quite obtuse, said his cat fought and fought being put in his carrier, and only later did I learn that they were making the cat go on long car trips to their vacation house in his kitten carrier, which is one of those small enough to go under the airplane seat.  This adult cat couldn't even stand up, let alone turn around!   No wonder he dematerialized at the sound of the carrier, it was practically a coffin for an adult cat.  I felt so terrible that I had heard Dad complaining for years that the cat hid from being packed up to drive to the beach, without asking him what kind of carrier he had.  I bought the cat a big carrier after that and things were much better, but I still feel like there is some time I'll have to spend in the part of heaven where they make you atone, for not asking the question sooner.  Be sure kitty can stand and easily turn around.  Cats are bigger than you think when buying a carrier at the store, don't get the smallest size if your cat is full grown.  We even used to get them big enough for a small litter box along with the sleeping pad, when driving on long trips.  That's a good size for even a small dog.

Good luck!  Gotta love my kitties -- we got a kitten this Christmastime and he is a total riot.

Hi Annie, thank you.  I think that is the problem. The carrier is ok size wise but the door gets in the way so I am going up a size.  We used to have a soft sided carrier which we used.  For some reason I got the idea this hard sided one would be better. I thought she would feel more secure. Not working LOL
Avatar universal
Yes, it does help a lot.  You might also try standing the carrier up and slowly dropping her in, or taking the top off and putting her in and quickly putting the top back on
3149845 tn?1506627771
I never take my boys to a vet but have them come to the house. They are called mobile vets and im sure there a few in your area. and believe it or not its cheaper in the long run as he can have a good check up at the same time. The stress of forcing them into a cage and out of the house is not good and they can get sick at the vet from virues in the air there.
740516 tn?1360942486
The process of getting the cat udes to carrier should start as soon as you get a cat.Letting carrier and cat in the same place, offering treats and touys inside etc
Do it for best results next time.By now, you will need put her inside -as gently as possible.
740516 tn?1360942486
242912 tn?1402543492
Dee...absolutely nothing else to add to the excellent advice already given.  Just wanted to wish you luck!
317787 tn?1473358451
OH my gosh! This is the best site ever!  Thank you all very much!  I think the carrier is too small.  I will get a larger one.  We have been placing treats in and she will go in but she always keeps her back legs firmly on the ground and at the slightest sound bolts.

Then she runs from me for a week.
I thought I should ask the professionals here.

We did not get her as a kitten though we thought she was a kitten, she only weighed 4 lbs, now she weighs 9 to 11 lbs.
She was living outside in the winter, very cold, she started following us as we walked a neighbors dog.  Everyone said we could not take a feral cat in.  

The vet said she wasn't feral or she never would have come in our home.
She also would not have let the vet handle her and she had been fixed.

It was 17 degrees the day we brought her in.  There are cats living in a storm drain out back. I guess when her owners left her she found them.

Thank each and every one of you for your help.
Bless your heart Dee for taking this kitty in from the cold and giving her a home, she is one of the few lucky ones. But no certainly far from feral. A group of ladies in my small city took on trapping a colony of Ferals living in a junk yard last fall. I ended up with 2 momma cats and 9 kittens at my house( more went to other places) they trapped 24 in total. A trap needed to be used as a true feral is wild. These kittens all needed months of daily handling to finally trust and accept me. All have now since gone on to homes or a rescue, I adopted one, the tiniest, wildest and most petrified of the lot.....he is now 5 months old, loves to be hugged and stroked, but still skittish and startles easily with the slightest noise...even TVsounds lol. With a true feral this may never change, but he has come a very long way.
506791 tn?1439842983
My wife and I have had 3 kitties who "came in from the cold" over the years (out if the 11 we have had/have).  it is different for every one of them.

Reads like you are trying to do everything the best for her.

One other thing that may help, get some Feliway spray and dampen a paper towel with it.  Place that under the towel of blanket you have in the carrier.
3149845 tn?1506627771
The mobile vet is the only way to go!
Depends entirely on the cat, I think.  My sister's cats were so freaked out by car rides that they literally nearly had strokes each time, and the mobile vet was a total godsend for her. But kitties who have had some time in the wild are often good car riders. They have something worse to compare it to.  Starving in 17-degree weather while fighting off other cats -- bad.  Car rides -- eh.

The feral-cats outfit in my area is interesting to visit -- as a donor, I got to tour their operation one time.  No cat in the bank of cages there was meowing or wanting out if its cage, they were all silent, quietly keeping their counsel while waiting for their spaying or neutering appointment.  Indulged housepets fuss and cry when you walk by because they think something good will happen to them if they do.  Ferals have no such expectation.  

Our very best car rider is a kitty who "came in from the cold."  By the time he strayed in to our farm he was 18 months old, battle-scarred, wild and not neutered, and so frightened of us that at first he bounced off the walls.  But we handled him a little while, and after a surprisingly short time he tolerated it (meaning, to me, that he had been used to humans when a kitten).  When I took him to his neutering appointment, I was braced for the worst, considering his high fear level at first.  But he calmly tucked his feet in and looked at the sky through the carrier door, and didn't meow once.  

Anyway, Dee, good luck, I hope the larger carrier does the trick, and if not, as Dave points out, the vets who make housecalls are good to know about!  :)

317787 tn?1473358451
You all are so wonderful! The story about the carrier being too small really had me laughing.
I can see that this carrier 15 long, 10 wide 11 high is too small for her. DUH, now I get it. When I try to put her in the door gets in the way.
I wish I had kept the soft carrier.

We once had two brother cats. We had a dog carrier for them.  When I took one to the vet, we could not get him out so the vet told me to take it apart.
I took it apart, lifted the top, he wasn't there, that brother put all four paws out and stayed in the top of the carrier.
We laughed so hard about that.
It was like a Garfield comic LOL

This post has cheered me up so much, bless you all
My husband loved the story of the cat coming off with the top half of the carrier.  :)
317787 tn?1473358451
Thanks Annie, it is funny I have missed that cat so much. I remember when he died. This is the first time I was able to talk about him in many years without crying. And to have a funny memory is nice.

Again, thanks to all for your help.

Poor cat probably thought it was her coffin LOL No wonder she fights and claws, she is too big for the carrier :)

This post reminds me of why I started coming here, the camaraderie, the nice people all pulling together to help one another.

I might get another pet so I can come here more often LOL
874521 tn?1424116797
lol....that was just tooo cute that your cat would nearly outsmart ya'll lol. Dee you can come here any ole time and give some much needed advice to others...don't need to actually have a kitty, just need to know them..!! btw many out there needing good homes...:)
317787 tn?1473358451
Thanks so much!! Really such a nice place!
242912 tn?1402543492
Hey, Dee...lol, loved your story!  Did you get a new carrier and/or to the vet yet?

While I became a member of MH in 2007, I didn't discover this group until 2009.  I grew up with cats, but in finding this forum I realized I knew absolutely nothing as far as their health went.  

It's great having you here.  You don't need to know the answer to a question either (as I often don't!) just lending your compassion and support to an OP often means the world.  
317787 tn?1473358451
Oh, Jade, so nice to see you.

I did get a carrier and she seems to like it, then I realized I didn't have enough money so I am going as soon as I get paid on the 1st.

Thank you, your words mean a lot, I took a neighbor to the hospital today, we were there most of the day.  I am very tired and cranky, I need a nap, LOL
Love you! Dee
317787 tn?1473358451
FINALLY!! I got my cat to the VET! WooHoo
I mispoke above Jade, I meant to say I borrowed a larger carrier, she liked it.
It only took me 5 months to get her there. I like Dave's idea, I don't think I could afford.
The visit last week was $180 and then the cat avoided me for a week.  I did learn that I can pick her up by the scruff of the neck and hold her back paws.

Again, thank you everyone!!
It took us almost 2 years before we could get Miss Teia back in a carrier.
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