In my space organizer capacity I have been asked to pack away lots of items. From dozens of wheel-chair cushions to an extensive collection of virtual art files, I have stored it all. So when I was asked to help with packing an unruly cat in his carrier, I was stopped right on my organized tracks. I decided to approach the project with the same open mind I approach all organizational conundrum: first, find out the objective/intention, then learn about the subject and finally the most important step, to follow through with efficient actions that get the job done. So here is my case study on how to place an unwilling cat in a carrier.
The objective: Kitty owner is moving, cat must be transported in a carrier to a far away land. The kitty in question doesn’t like being in a carrier and in the past has made a big fuzz about it. There is no time to train the cat.
Subject: these days you can learn about anything from YouTube or Google search. However the Internet is never my first resource, the first thing I always do is to reach out to the experts in my life. I don’t know much about cats, except that they are independent and fun (btw, good characteristics for Happy Hour friends), so I reach out to my cat loving friends to get a consensus. Professional help is always good, Veterinarian & yes, finally consulting the Internet can be good way to further find alternatives.
Action: There are ways or techniques to train or recondition a cat to feel comfortable getting into a cat carrier, but that takes time and we are on a time line, so below I am listing the fast learning technique I am calling “the-top-drop-of-the-burrito-cat.” I admit it’s a terrible name but it works. In less than thirty seconds your cat will be in the cat carrier if you follow these steps:
1- If you have time, a day or two before you have to put cat into the carrier (and while your cat is distracted by something) get carrier in the space where you will be packing your kitty. I am using the word packing because I pack things with love. Some people suggest bathroom but if you live in NYC your bathroom may be too small to hold two living organisms at the same time. Make sure you have the right size carrier, do some research on this if you need to. If you forget to get carrier out before hand, then bring it out at the last possible moment. Apparently cats don’t like changes, so you either give them time to adjust to changes in their environment or you use the element of surprise. The less stress out the cat is the less stress out you will be. Position the carrier so that the carrier’s door is facing the ceiling, this will let you take advantage of gravity (Apana vayu, my yogis, Apana Vayu).
2- Locate a lightweight bath towel that is big enough to wrap around your cat and contain all his legs/paws/claws, but not so big that wrapped around your cat you can’t get him through the carrier door. Either leave towel out around the cat days before or don't bring it out till the very last minute. Read above, either give your cat time to adjust to the towel or keep it a total surprise.
3- At the last minute, get the cat into the room with you and the upward facing carrier. Depending on your cat, you may be able to pick him up and carry him in, or lure him in with food or a toy. Quickly close the door/s. By now he knows something is up, so let him be for a moment. YOU take a deep breath.
4- Gently but with strength & confidence wrap the cat like a burrito in the towel with only his head sticking out. The towel is over the cat’s shoulders so his front paws are inside the burrito. You may not get this right the first time! You need to wrap and hold the towel securely enough so the cat doesn’t escape, but please don’t suffocate Mr. Cat.
5- Now lower the burrito cat into the carrier, and swiftly shut the door. Basically let his butt drop down into the carrier. Cat will land on his feet and he will unwrap himself, don’t do anything else other than bringing the carrier to its horizontal position. Cat is good to go.
Resources: Monica Longsdorf (the cat whisperer), Julie Dohrman (legendary yoga teacher & burrito cat expert) and a strange source, Joanie Coles (catering empress & unquenchable researcher of all things, including animals)