I like to believe all my felines have two houses each. The obvious first choice is the home I share with them. The second, not so obvious abode, is the cat carrier.
The cat carrier should feel like home so that when your feline has to be transported, all of the trauma is eliminated. I have trained my felines to be possessive of their carriers, to the point they enjoy going into them.
My felines associate the concept of play with their carriers. This is easy to accomplish if a carrier is always kept in plain view. They accept it as a normal piece of household furniture. They jump on it and play in it (sometimes several at a time, making a silly game).
If I move the carrier, they give chase and want to know where I am moving it to. For them, the cat carrier is an everyday part of their world. They have no reason to fear it when they have to leave the house in it.
They do not understand they are leaving the house because part of my home (and theirs) is always with them. Going for a car ride has become a safe adventure.
If you only give your feline a car ride for purposes of going to the veterinarian, he may not be as calm. Try to plan a trip to the local pet store. Our animals are always welcome there if they are properly contained or restrained (harness and lead).
If you leave the carrier door open so your feline can go in and out unassisted, this makes for a great game in a multi-cat household. Do not be surprised if you find one feline in the carrier and another dangling upside down, taunting the feline that crawled inside.
If you place a bed or towel in the carrier you can create a cozy, warm place for your feline to nap. If your cat is initially afraid of the carrier, try removing its door. Sometimes, this makes going into the carrier more inviting and less threatening. A few toys placed inside can also assist in drawing your pet inside to investigate.
Once your feline is comfortable with the carrier, you will save yourself the hassle of running around chasing him when you must travel. Besides making the cat comfortable, keeping the carrier in the house at all times could be a safety factor that could save your animal's life in the event of an emergency. If you have to exit the home quickly, you can do so easily.
Your life and your feline's will be much calmer when your feline treats the cat carrier as an extension of your home.
• Huggie was left in a carrier outside the shelter back door with his sibling. He is a black-and-white, 5-year-old, domestic shorthair and is fully vetted. Shy at times until he gets to know you, Huggie would make a great addition to any home.
• Vickie is a black-and-white, 1½-year-old, domestic longhair. She loves attention and to sit on your lap. Vickie came to Buddy as a stray. She is up to date on her shots and gets along with other cats.
• The Buddy Foundation is a nonprofit (501c3), all-volunteer, no-kill animal shelter dedicated to the welfare of stray, abused and abandoned cats and dogs. For more information, call (847) 290-5806 or visit www.thebuddyfoundation.org.