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What am I going to do with that cat?

I've recently become aware that Lucas has outgrown his cat carrier (which is the largest one on the market, as far as I know). It sounds impossible, but the length of his carrier is 19 inches and he's 33 inches long. Now, this cat has a history of screaming and yelling in the carrier, working himself up into a panic that has raised his temperature to 104 degrees during vet visits. He used to enjoy being lugged around in the carrier for fun, and generally doesn't struggle when he's being put in... but now he has such a bad association with it related to vets and car travel that it only takes a minute for him to start screaming. Loud. Like, as loud as a car alarm. Loud enough to make you have to put your fingers in your ears, even when he was a tiny kitten. Loud enough to alert neighbors down the street. I've never heard a cat scream so loud before.


Once I let him out, he's perfectly fine. Affectionate, almost cheerful. When we take him to the vet everyone stares at us because he screams so loud and is so frightened, but the vet always compliments him on how well he puts up with the actual exam.


I hate seeing my cat terrified like this. I thought that since the carrier was obviously too small for him, he might like a cat stroller instead. So I got him a cat stroller and spent a hellish hour putting it together. I gave him a couple of rides around the inside of the house, and he seemed to enjoy it in spite of my lousy driving.


So today, I decided to give pushing him around outside a try. I didn't even make it down the steps when BooBoo started the car-alarm wailing. I brought him inside right away and let him out. He started head butting and rubbing against my legs, and was generally extremely affectionate and grateful for the next half hour. He kept peering at the stroller after that, swishing his tail back and forth slowly at mid-level.


I hate to think I wasted money on this stroller, but that's a moot point. I have to be able to take this cat to the vet, and he screams just as much in the carrier. I broached this topic with his breeder when I first got him, and she said, "Oh, gee, the whole litter was like that. They screamed even when I took them from their mother. His father had anxiety issues too."


I've broached the topic with our vet, and he doesn't seem to care, since Lucas doesn't scratch, bite or hiss during the exam. But he's terrified.


I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I know it's my own fear of seeing him freak out that's kept me from working on this issue for so long. I hope that I can train him to accept travel.


I noticed that when he freaks out like this, the only thing that calms him down other than letting him out is the sight of another cat or a dog. Sometimes I wonder if he would be less frightened if he had another cat to travel with, but no one in my household except me and Kristen wants a second cat.

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Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
merrycalliope
Apr. 17th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)
Time for a Moby Wrap! http://www.mobywrap.com/ I wonder if a cat would put up with that at all. XD
leene_chan
Apr. 18th, 2010 01:25 am (UTC)
I think that Lucas would really love that, but I wonder what would happen when he decided it was time to get out? :D
(Deleted comment)
leene_chan
Apr. 18th, 2010 01:39 am (UTC)
This is what the cat stroller looks like. I think the cats in the picture are Seal Colorpoint Ragdoll, but they might be Birmans.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B0007RR72U/ref=dp_image_text_z_0?ie=UTF8&n=284507&s=kitchen

Lucas was pretty cute in there until I tried to take him outside! I'm going to have to think of ways to make it cozy for him--make him a crocheted afghan, or something. This afternoon he reacted like a vampire faced with the midday sun. :O Sometimes I wonder if I'm being selfish for wanting to push him around in a cute stroller... I just want to get him used to travel so he can be more comfortable seeing the vet, but at the same time, I think that if I don't even try to address his behavior it would be like telling a social phobic that they don't ever have to go out in public....

I think that your experience with Jade has a lot to do with it. I'm glad you were able to get to the bottom of his problem! I think that I'm going to try to sweeten the deal for BooBoo with some canned food, which he loves more than anything. I'm going to give him a week to get used to the carriage by putting a little dish of food inside every day, and then, when he's comfortable with jumping in and out, I'll try to reward him a little with each extra step he takes. I've already been able to get him to hop in to eat a treat.

Birds can be tough to handle. I admire you for being able to work with Jade so well! I hear they can be pretty dangerous if they get in the habit of biting, too. You're a lot braver than I am--in spite of his screaming, Lucas has never tried to hurt me for real. The worst I get is a mock-bite every now and then.
(Anonymous)
Apr. 18th, 2010 04:29 am (UTC)
That stroller looks wonderful. I like the fact that part of it is covered so the cat can retreat if he/she wants to.

It sounds like you've got a good plan for your Boo. I think the treats and rewards are good motivators. Keep me updated.
cortarr
Apr. 20th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry to hear about the cat. When I raised one years ago it works both a chance to teach me how to look after another person and how to be more open around them, I would say that does wonder to a lonely person, but it can also hurt you too much when the cat goes through pain and you can't seem to do what may be the one way to help at the time. It really hurts

I don't know how I can help with yours, because I admit that cat I raised was fairly docile and timid like me, and it had other issues unlike yours, which involve some kind of trauma that makes him so scare. I do praise your cat stroller ideas
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )