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We have two British Shorthairs, George and Martha, 4 years old. Last year, George peed himself in the pet carrier on the way to the vet. Looking back, part of the problem probably was timing, as I had the appointment about 2.5 hours after the cats had breakfast, and he usually pees about 3-3.5 hours after meals. I cleaned the carrier, albeit only with water and normal detergent, threw out the old blanket and put in a new one.

Last week I had another appointment for their annual checkup, which I specifically made in the afternoon, but unfortunately, this time both cats peed in their (separate) pet carriers. Also, I think one of the cats (pretty sure it was George) once peed in the carrier when we brought them to my parents-in-law, but I think that was only once out of the 2-4 trips they made to their house.

So this time I cleaned the pet carriers thoroughly with UrineOff and put in a pee pad, just in case (we use normal cat litter in their litter boxes). I also arranged that they'll be fed dinner at my parents-in-law's, so I expected their bladders to be fairly empty. But the very first thing Martha did when I put her into the carrier is pee!

I've read through most of the other questions relating to urinating in inappropiate places, but I feel that most of the suggestions don't apply - I can't shoo them away when I see that they want to pee, travelling is always associated with stress, they're not trained to pee on these pads, or blankets in general, and apart from the pet carriers, they never do; it's highly unlikely that this is related to a health problem, it's quite likely that it's related to George's very first accident a year ago.

Unfortunately I never marked the pet carriers, so it's possible that at some point we put the Martha into the one that was peed into by George. I do know that I used the same pet carrier for Martha last week and tonight, and I'm quite sure it was the one that hadn't been peed into, because we also used it as a crate and Martha actually used it quite regularly as a bed - so that's why I'm really confused why she peed, and why she peed into that carrier.

So I guess my questions are:

  1. What can I do to stop them from peeing into the pet carriers?
  2. Do I need to get them new carriers, and will they stop peeing if I do?
  3. What else can I do to minimize the risk that they'll pee in a carrier?
  4. If I get them new carriers, is it a good idea to use pee pads again, or will they associate that with urinating?

Update

I'm pretty sure now that the accidents were indeed fear-related, as several answers suggested. When my husband picked them up again from his parents' place this past weekend, they came home without any accident (surprise, surprise). I think putting them on the toilet in advance is a good idea (though I'll have to find out first which toilet is used by which cat). The cats are actually used to the carriers; as mentioned above, Martha sleeps in one of them quite regularly, so I was very surprised that she, too, peed into it.

I'm also wondering if it might help to organize things differently. I usually bring them to the vet, and my husband usually brings them to his parents' place whenever we're going on a vacation but I'll help him pack their things and put the cats in the carriers. Perhaps we should see what happens if he does that on his own.

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If I have to carry my cats I put them into their toilet in advance. When they feel the litter under their paws they usually feel urged to pee there even if their bladders are only half full.

After this procedure, the probability that so pees in the carrier is much lower than without. But it does not remove the primary cause of peeing.

If the peeing is strongly fear related you may check the different possibilites to go against the root cause like pheromones, trypsinated milk protein and so on.

  • Good idea to do before rolling out with cats on trips – LOSTinNEWYORK Sep 18 '15 at 16:17
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It's a fear reaction. My cat does it as well when I take him to the vet. You have to think about it this way. A dog is given a kennel as a bedroom and while they may be shut in sometimes, you know they know they'll get out. Most people don't do a very good job at training their dog to kennel. Almost no one trains their cats and while we often ask a dog to do things they don't want too, like walk on a leash, get a bath (though I do bath my cat occasionally, he rolls in dirt), do tricks, etc... People go out of their way to make their cats comfortable and baby them. I think you're cats just fear the carrier because 1) they're confined when they usually roam where they please, and 2) they associate it with a vet trip.

At this point in MY cat's life, I'm not going to kennel train him. I didn't thin about it early on and he doesn't have that many vet trips left in his life. Once a year for shots is it. However, with my next cat, I'll approach it the same way I do with the dogs. I'll take the door off and put snack in there to encourage him to go in. I'll make it like his bedroom. I won't leave it out forever, but I'll make sure he's comfortable in it. Cat's actually like to be in cave like things high up. I may put it somewhere high where it is secured. Maybe on the back of the couch or something like that, I don't know. Anyway, if he's comfortable in it. I may add the door back, shut it for a couple of seconds, and then open it. I'll randomly shut it and vary the length of time. I won't let him out when he meows, only when he's quiet. Eventually he'll learn that it's no big deal and come to accept it.

So, I'd advise that you clean the cages with the urine scent remover and leave them around the house with the doors off and maybe a treat inside. You can even take the tops off at first if they're removable and it makes them feel more comfortable. Maybe you can keep one at the foot of your bed during the day.

So you can try this kind of thing or just clean pee out once a year if you think it's past the point where it would do any good. Either way, good luck.

  • Near the end of my 17 year old cat's life he would throw up on the way back from the vets in his carrier, in the parking lot before starting the car. – Oldcat Aug 24 '15 at 22:51
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Sometimes cats will pee if the smell the scent of the pee from a previous accident. It sounds like you should try to get new carriers that are unfamiliar to your cats. I'd start them out just keeping the carriers open and available to your cats so they can get familiar with them first. As previously mentioned, you should try to make them as comfortable as possible. My cats love a sherpa blanket or nice soft fleece one. This way they start to associate it more as a bed then a negative experience of going to the vet. I'd also suggest putting treats in the carriers and maybe even getting a pheromone spray or wipe. Anything you can do to make them feel like it's not a bathroom.

If you do get new carriers I would not put the pee pads in because they will probably associate those with the last carriers and think that it is okay to urinate in the new carriers.

I think what you have been doing in terms of trying to time the trips accordingly with feeding etc is a good strategy as well. I believe if you combine that with the new carriers then that should solve the problem One thing that you need to make sure you do when you get the new carriers is to not switch them up between the cats. Allow each cat to have their own carrier with their own very soft blanket of some sort that smells as much like your home environment as possible.

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If you lock a cat or an elephant or a person in a cage they may just pee in it. It is just biology. There is nothing humane you can do to stop it.

Is there a particular reason you don't want them peeing in the carrier other than you just find it objectionable?

I use the standard plastic carriers with metal grate doors that are easily cleaned and hold any urine so the urine does not come in contact with any part of my car (which would be a horrible horrible thing). I also have a dedicated "cat towel" that I throw in their carrier to provide some bedding and to help absorb any messes.

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    It is no fun for the cat either to sit in its pee during the journey. At least in my eyes. – Ariser Aug 24 '15 at 21:26

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