Easy method for Crating Cats
This method can help pet sitters and pet owners
As I've mentioned in previous posts, the reason I'm writing these blog posts is to share the wisdom I gathered after 16 years of professional pet sitting.
One of the things that stresses out pet owners and pet sitters is how to get a cat into a crate for a vet visit or for any trip in the car. The whole process can be anxiety-producing for both the human and the cat.
On more than one occasion I've had pet sitting clients call me for advice on this or they'd actually hire me to come to their house and get their cat(s) into crates for normal vet visits. I'd like when they'd do that because then they could see how I did it and hopefully would be able to do it themselves in the future.
Let's cut right to the chase, shall we? Here, faithful reader, is the method that worked best for me. I hope it helps you.
The keyword for this method is PATIENCE. So give yourself enough lead time. If you are too rushed or act rushed, the cat will pick up those vibes and it will take longer.
If possible, many hours before you will need to put the cat in the crate, take the crate out, and put it on a tabletop. Crate door open. Do it nonchalantly because you know how cats observe everything - even if they don't look like it - they are watching. Then just walk away and leave it.
This will give the cat time to realize it is out, sniff it, be anxious, and then let his/her anxiety subside when nothing is done with it. ("Oh well, maybe my human just wants to air it out or clean it - it has nothing to do with me." - they might think.)
A few times before you will need the crate, carry the cat by the table with the crate on it. You may sense their anxiety. Make no big deal about it. After doing this a few times their anxiety should subside.
When it is time to use the crate, and the cat is snoozing in another room, or very calm, pick up the cat and snuggle. (If not a snuggly cat, read on, for additional advice.) While not making a direct path to the crate, hold the cat gently with one arm (between arm and your body so the cat is snug and comfy and you have the other arm free), and as you get very close to the crate, gently move your other hand over the cat's eyes from the top down. The cat will not see where it is going, and you should easily and quickly be able to slip the cat into the crate in one easy movement and close the door because his/her body will be snug between your other arm and your body.
So, if the cat is not a snuggly cat, this is what I would do. Set up everything the same. As close to the time as the cat has to be in the crate for transport, but when the cat is calm, preferably sleeping, take a towel or small blanket and put it over the cat (not covering his/her head) and quickly but gently, sort of swaddle the cat so his/her entire body is wrapped in the material, preventing legs from wiggling out. This will prevent scratching or scooting away. By the time the cat realizes what is going on, you will have him/her snuggly and on the way to the crate. Same method as before - as you are close to the crate, gently slide your hand over the top of the head to cover the eyes, and put the cat into the crate. If you have to, you can use the blanket, as it is being released, to shield the cat from getting out and then just close the door and latch it.
I had one lady with two smart cats and she could never get them in the crate for vet visits without much anxiety for all, so she had me come over. I had her put the crates on the table well in advance of my arrival. The cats were my buds and were happy to see me. In this multiple-cat household, I separated the cats in different rooms so the second cat couldn't see what was happening with the first cat ! Then, within a matter of five minutes or less, I had both cats in their crates.
So, this method takes a little planning, patience, and pro-active preparation, but it works.
If you try it, let me know how it goes!