One of the most rewarding parts of working at the Cat Connection is getting to meet our customers’ feline friends in “person” (catson?) through our boarding and grooming services. But as fun as it is to meet the cats we’ve heard so much about, we often receive questions about our requirement that all cats be in a carrier when visiting the Cat Connection, so we decided to address your concerns here.
Why we require a cat carrier
At home in her own territory, your cat may be confident, relaxed and social. But when bringing her to an unfamiliar place, such as the vet or a groomer, your cat will inevitably become a bit stressed and potentially a bit unpredictable. In our many years of experience, we have witnessed the most loving, sweet kitty become a snarling beast when brought into an unfamiliar situation. This is in no way a reflection on the character of the cat, but rather a natural stress response to a new and frightening situation. And unsurprisingly, these stress responses are made that much worse when the cat is either being held by a person, even a beloved family member, or allowed to roam free.
A cat in an appropriately sized carrier, in contrast, will feel secure. Cats in stressful situations invariably seek out a contained hiding spot, preferably one where they can put their back against a solid wall. This provides the cat with at least some assurance that they will not be ambushed in a new and unfamiliar place (which is also why cats love sitting in under-sized boxes). The cat carrier provides the perfect security blanket for your cat: not only does it smell of home, but the cat can survey and monitor from a protected spot.
The Cat Connection is a very busy shop with our own shop cats. A stressed cat will be on the lookout for any kind of escape route, be it under a piece of furniture or out the door. While we do our best to monitor the doors leading in and out of the store, we have had some close calls where cats not in carriers have almost escaped into our parking lot. Again, your kitty may be the most angelic creature at home, but all it will take is a slight provocation for your cat to make a mad dash to what it sees as safety.
Furthermore, while our shop cats are friendly and lovely, we do not want them to be confronted unexpectedly by a stressed, free-roaming feline. This could end very poorly for all parties, and our utmost concern is for the safety of all felines, shop cats and your own.
Why we require a single carrier for each cat
Stress brings out the very worst in people and cats alike. Even if your cats are the very best of friends at home, the stress of being put into a box and taken to an unfamiliar place often results in redirected aggression, where one cat associates the other cat with the feelings of fear and uncertainty she’s currently experiencing. At worst, this causes the nightmare situation of a cat fight erupting in your cat carrier, which could mean not only physical injuries to your cats, but also severe trauma to their bond, necessitating a slow, sometimes unsuccessful reintroduction process for cats who had been great friends before the incident.
This is particularly true for grooming appointments. Cats recognize one another primarily through scent, and a grooming session temporarily alters the cat’s unique scent. When putting two cats who have just been groomed together in the same carrier, you can expect that the cats will not recognize one another, resulting in an epic feline meltdown they may not recover from.
The good news is that all of this can be avoided by simply using one carrier for each cat. Your cat, and the Cat Connection, will thank you for it!
Choosing the right carrier
Like cars, there are seemingly endless models of cat carriers to choose from, and making the selection can be daunting. In general, the carrier should be about one and a half times the size of the cat and allow her to turn around and stand up freely. Large carriers are best reserved for dogs, as the cat will feel more secure in a smaller carrier and will likely slide from side to side as you attempt to balance a larger carrier. Very small carriers can be great for kittens, but too cramped as your cat matures. And in some cases, size is determined by an external entity, such as an airline. For more information, see this article by Cat Behaviorist Pan Johnson-Bennett.
And of course, the Cat Connection has a large selection of carriers and is more than happy to help you select the correct one for your feline. Please visit our online store or speak to a sales person in our retail store for more information.