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I recently brought my kitten in to be neutered, he was approximately 10 weeks old. He used to love going into his carrier and never had a problem with it, he'd even sleep in it if we left it out. I dropped him off for the procedure at about 8:15 am and expected to pick him up after work. We called around 4 pm, as we expected a call to pick him up by then and they said they were behind and he was not taken in yet.

So my question is, has anyone else experienced this before? He seems traumatized now with the carrier as he was just sitting in it for a whole day without us. Any advice on getting him to not freak out every time we have to put him in there again?

Thanks.

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    Did the vet tell you he'd been in the carrier all day? Most veterinarians have pens they keep the animals in pre- and post-surgery where they can be better monitored, and only put them back in the carriers when their owners come to pick them up. – Allison C Jan 15 at 20:00
  • Its most likely he associates the carrier with vet now. You just need to help it like the carrier again. – SerenaT Jan 15 at 23:35
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    Downvoters: please give advice how to improve the question, especially for a person who is new to pets.SE! – Allerleirauh Jan 16 at 14:08
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Once a cat associates something with a negative experience, it can be hard for them to like it once again, so just know this will take time.

First off, don’t force the cat to enter the crate while he is learning to be comfortable in it again. Let all of this be in his own terms. Here’s a couple things to try:

  • leave the crate out and open in your house. No need to interact with it, treat it like any other object.
  • start adding “incentives” or comfort items in and around the crate. Treats, toys, or a old shirt that smells like you are good options.
  • if the cat goes on or in the crate of their own freewill, give them a treat!

You can also consider getting a new crate or carrier. My cat grew to dislike the one we used through his kitten years when he was sick. I bought a new soft travel carrier that he doesn’t mind it now, even after a few vet trips.

Ultimately, cats don’t love being confined in a carrier/crate at all. It’s an activity always associated with the vet and other negative things. There’s a chance your cat won’t like it ever again, but that’s alright. As long as you keep crate trips to a minimum, it shouldn’t affect your cat long term.

Best of luck!

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I think Gwendolyn's answer is making a great point. I do want to point out though that you do want your cat to be ok with a carrier again.

The cat does not need to sleep in it of its own free will, but it should accept being in there as not terrible.

I had a cat which did not like the carrier and she would be afraid and anxious of being in there. This was alright since we rarely used it; just for vet visits.

The cat then developed a heart issue and being afraid in the carrier would cause panting and stressing to a much higher degree.

What I want to say is, follow the advice given:

  • give your cat positive times in the carrier
  • maybe get a new carrier that does not smell like fear and vet

If your cat still does not like it, do proper carrier training. Your goal is to have the cat settle down and be neither afraid nor angry.

  1. Put the cat in there for a short time
  2. Give it something it likes maybe a treat or a toy
  3. Let the cat out and reward it
  4. Repeat this with longer timespans until you reach the goal

This is important since you usually take your cat in the carrier when it is not feeling well to begin with, so it should at least be at ease with the rest of the situation.

In addition:
It might also help to improve the overall carrier-vet situation if the cat associates the vet with something else than being sick and treated. Some vets offer kitten appointments where the only thing that happens is the cat going to the vet, it gets taken out of the carrier gets some pets and treats and leaves again. I think this a great way to associate the vet and therefore the carrier with positive feelings.

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The cat has deemed this object negative and therefore doesn’t want to go around it in fear of going to the vet again. I personally have found that with time and patience, they will sometimes lose that fear if you don’t have to take them in often of course.

You could try putting food and water inside of the carrier or even treats to establish that not every time they get in, they go to the vet. Make sure to give them loves of kisses and pets to encourage positive behavior.

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Like others have said. The cat has probably learnt a negative association with the carrier.

I have two cats and now I have several cats carriers. Typically the soft meshed ones. They really like them. Flexible, softer and they can pop their heads out of the top without escaping. Two are just for the vets. It seems a lot, but there is method to my madness.

Typically a day or two before a vet's appointment, we leave the vet carriers out. So they can get used to it. This way they are normally chilled getting in. They aren't stupid. If we try and just spring it on them, they will hide and we risk running late if we don't lure them into a room that has no hiding spots. We typically have vet only carriers, so they don't see all carriers in general as bad. If they do develop a negative association, it will be just with the vets rather than any other trip and sometimes they have been vocal about going to the vets.

Our other carriers for none vet trips are used when we need to travel somewhere else. They happily jump into them and chill out. They even double up as neat travel beds for them. Not sure if that is wise but they seem happy with set up.

It makes the trips easier and softens their attitude towards going to the vets. One of the cats just knows when it is time set off and will just walk into the carrier and sit down. Clearly not ecstatic about it, but almost accepting the sooner it is over the better.

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