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Posted on 01-15-2018
So, here we are, ready to explore the next step of our process which is “adding confinement”. If you remember from my earlier post that I had taken the door off of Simba’s carrier. It makes perfect sense that the first step of adding confinement would be to get the front door added back on, which is exactly what I did. What was interesting is after the door had been added back on it took Simba a couple of days to reconsider entering his crate. He would cautiously enter the carrier for short periods of time and then leave. It took him about week or so before he once again became comfortable napping in his carrier.
The day came when I decided to start the process of closing his door. Boy did that get a reaction! Simba immediately started to vocalize his protest and he let me know that, in no uncertain terms, wanted out of his carrier. I started with short amounts of time in the beginning (about a minute) and over the next few weeks I just kept on adding on more time. Soon he was not bothered when I closed the door. He knew that it would soon be opened back up and unlike before it did not mean we were taking a trip to the vet.
To reinforce the process, I started to offer him one of his meals in the carrier. I would coax him in the carrier with some tasty canned food, he would enter, and I would close the door while he ate. Once he finished his food I would let him out. This was working out great and paving the way for taking some short car trips.
I reflect back to the days of spending many minutes trying to catch Simba to get him into his carrier. I can still feel the stress in my stomach and chest just thinking about it! He would see the carrier and then run and hide under the bed. I would have to find a way to get him from out under the bed, which created even more stress for the cat. What I have learned is how much anxiety my cat was experiencing before we ever even arrived at the vet hospital. Oh, and not just the cat! I was never really aware of the fact that I was stressed too.
What this process has taught Simba is the carrier can mean something different. It can be a safe place to nap. It can be a place to play and have some fun. It can even be a place for a tasty meal. The addition of feeding him in the crate this process gave me an alternative to having to catch him, which he views as me “doing something to him”. Now, I call him, show him his food and he will load himself in the crate. Now, I am doing something for him. How cool is that? Oh, and this is fun, not stressful at all!
Things are going along very well. Simba has progressed to being able to spend time in the carrier with the door closed and without stress and anxiety. Fantastic! In the next installment “Road Trip” we are going to be taking our act out on the road, literally. Until next time.
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