Why your cat hates his pet carrier?

Most cats hate pet carriers
Photo: emdot, CC 2.0

What happens when you reach for a pet carrier and place it in the room right before getting your cat in it? It’s highly likely he is now under the bed.

In this article we are going to, first, explain why cats are afraid of pet carriers, and, more importantly, what can you do to make your cat’s fright go away.

Your cat does not hate pet carrier – it’s the places you take him in there

The thing is, your cat does not hate pet carrier. It’s places you take him in a carrier what he hates. For example – a veterinary clinic.

If your cat associates the carrier to veterinary clinic, fright is hard to overcome. It’s the classic example of how animals learn.

You’ve probably heard about professor Pavlov and his experiments in classical conditioning, but if you did not, here’s a summary:

Dr. Pavlov presented a juicy steak to a dog, and the dog began to salivate. The next time, he first rang a bell and then presented a steak to the same dog, which made him salivate again. After several repeats, he then was able to make the dog salivate by just ringing the bell, with no steak being anywhere near. That is because the dog already knew that the bell equals steak.

Similarly, if your cat knows the pet carrier means a vet visit, he will undoubtedly be scared out of his pants (if he had ones) by just seeing the carrier. It’s similar like when you rattle a food bowl just to call your cat because he knows what that sound means, just in this case, it’s not that positive association.

So, it’s not the carrier he’s afraid, it’s the vet. The best way to make this fright of carrier go away is to break the link between the carrier and the vet. Let the carrier sit in an open space all the time, so your cat walks by every day, without the carrier abducting him and taking to a vet clinic. Read here to learn how to retrain your cat not to afraid of his pet carrier.