Cats Trained to Use Their Carriers Find Vet Visits Less Stressful

Coaching cats to go inside their carrier and to get a car ride leads to visits to the veterinarian, study shows. It can be almost impossible to find the cat in the carrier (or even find them whenever they flee at the sight of it). And this anxiety is.

However research by Dr. Lydia Pratsch and colleagues in the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna reveals there is something which may be done: Train the kitty to use their carrier.

In a blinded, randomized controlled trial, 11 cats were trained to use the cat carrier, while 11 cats have been in a control group that was not trained. All of 22 cats possess a trip to the vet. The results showed stress is reduced by cat carrier training.

The scientists write,

“Coaching proved to be effective in reducing stress during the car journey and led to some shorter behavioural evaluation. Owners should be educated and encouraged to carrier train their cats to reduce stress about veterinary visits”

The cats reside in the University of Vienna and a pragmatic pretend veterinary clinic (complete with the smells of disinfectant and other creatures ) was set up for the purposes of the analysis. While another was vet and the driver, one of the researchers acted as the owner of this cat.

Each cat had 28 training sessions that (normally ) lasted 8 mins each and involved the kitty becoming 4 treats a minute. A range of treats were used as positive reinforcement depending on the cat’s flavor, such as lettuce, meat sticks, and various cat snacks.

The instruction program had seven stages, starting from teaching the cat to go into the bottom region of the carrier and building up to going from the carrier for a very brief car trip of 50-90 seconds.

Every cat evolved from 1 stage of training to the next if they had achieved the aim of that stage or if they had had 6 training sessions.

Only three of those cats completed the training. The seventh phase was reached by six cats but did not complete it, and two cats reached the first phase but didn’t complete it.

Vet visits are less stressful for the cat if they have been trained to go in their carrier and for a short car ride before hand, according to research. Photo shows African-American woman vet holding a cat.
Photo: Sean Locke Photography/Shutterstock

Before and after the training period, all cats (both control and coaching group) had a mock visit to the vet. This began with the cat being put into their carrier and being fed bites during a 10-minute automobile ride (unless they kept not eating themin which case deal with delivery stopped). Then the cat had a vet exam that included checking ears and the eyes, listening to the heart and lungs, and taking the temperature.

Rectal temperature-taking was the part of the exam cats appeared to dislike the most, and was the sole reason why some cats in the analysis had to have their vet exam stop early.

Video of these cats in the basket, in the mock waiting room, and throughout the exam was analysed for signs of stress or comfort.

The scientists looked at Cat Stress Scores (scores on a standardized scale), behaviour during the car ride, and how well the cat complied with becoming in the store and being examined at the mock veterinary clinic. At the same time, they looked for the cat was still breathing, urination, and signs of stress like vomiting, and took the cat’s ear fever.

The cats that participate in the training showed fewer signs of anxiety compared to cats in the management group. Cats who’d had the training didn’t conceal or pant in the automobile ride.

During the very first vet visit, the majority of cats in both groups didn’t consume during the car ride. At the second visit, eight cats at the training group ate compared to four in the control group.

The scientists took care to utilize a manner of cat carrier that is particularly suitable because, in addition to the opening at the front, it’s a hole at the top which cats could go through. At the same time, the top and the base of the carrier can be separated, so the top can simply be eliminated for the examination. Photo: Monkey Business Images

During the vet exam, most cats moved to the base of the carrier, suggesting that this was a’safe’ place for them. The scientists state,

“Our findings should encourage veterinary employees to work”gradually” with cats and to provide them with a safe place to retreat.”

Cats in the training team had to move on to the next phase of training in a set point, even if they hadn’t finished that point. This means they might happen to be fearful during later phases of training. This can be recognized at phase 7, where the cat was rewarded for good behaviour or counter-conditioned with food.

It appears likely that a more individualized training plan that allowed the cat to finish a stage before continuing on to another would be even more successful. This could be wonderful to see in future research.

It would also be wonderful to see study on how to educate owners to train their cats like the carrier, as no doubt many owners have tried and not succeeded.

Too, I have a blog post with links to sources for less stressful vet visits for cats and dogs.

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You might also like: Enrichment tips for cats (that a lot of people overlook ) and exactly the very best method to train cats is with food.

Subscribe to Companion Animal Psychology to find out more about the way to have happy dogs and cats that are happy. Carrier training cats reduces stress on transport to a practice. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 206. As an Etsy affiliate, I get from qualifying Etsy purchases.

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