Many of you know that I am in the process of slowly introducing Zorro (a former feral) into the rest of my cat family. All the cats have recently endured a big move across country right after we captured (and neutered and vaccinated) Zorro. There’s been a huge amount of change for everyone, so I’ve tried my best to ease the transitions for all of us.
I’ve always been a big believer in taking cat introductions slowly (unless I get extremely lucky — it has happened — where the cats make it obvious that they’re meant to be together right now and everything will be fine). In this case, I’m taking it pretty slow. Zorro’s had an entire room to himself, with a lot of visiting from me, and gradual introductions of the two younger (and hopefully more laid back) cats, Norton and Jamie Bluebell. But Zorro has a lot of energy, and I could tell that he was getting bored and lonely in the room when I couldn’t be in there. And Zorro is very very attached to me. (As an example, when I bring his food, he is more interested in me than the food. Food can wait.)
Zorro would love for me to be with him, exclusively, all the time. But I can’t work in his room because Zorro is an extremely strong velcro kitty, and is all over my hands and laptop and won’t get off.
I decided to use a cat carrier to bring Zorro into the rest of the house, and to do my writing work with him nearby. There’s no furniture here yet, but there is an ancient card table. Figuring that Zorro would want to be as close to me as possible (because that’s how he is), I put the cat carrier on the table with me as I worked. I pulled it as close to me as possible, just like he was sitting on the table. Here are four things that surprised me.
This is a cat who loves to use body language, and this carrier is plenty big enough for him to roll around in and dance with his paws. Zorro dances when he’s happy.
All day long, as I worked, I watched Zorro obviously enjoying himself in his safe space.
Many of the others came and checked out Zorro in the carrier. It was a non-threatening enough situation that both cats (Zorro as well as the cat on the outside) were often purring at the same time. This is good! My cats also like to be around me when I work, so everyone was happy.
I wouldn’t expect this guy to spend his whole new life in a carrier, obviously. When he starts getting antsy (which is happening right now in real time), I’ll take him back to his home-base room.
But he sure seems to enjoy the security of his enclosed space, and he loves the close proximity to me. And I’m getting writing done more easily than if I worked with him out of the carrier. Honestly, I think he’s happy in the carrier. During the time he’s been in the carrier today, I noticed him sleeping sounding, grooming, flirting, purring, and doing his happy body dancing.
Do you think you might want to give this a try? Here are three things to think about if you’re considering a crate or cat carrier to help your cat feel more secure.
The carrier is one way to begin to bring your newbie into the other cat’s space, as the cats will be able to easily check each other out, and the newbie may feel secure in the carrier.
If your cat needs a secure hiding spot, but you’re not necessarily introducing him to others, a carrier may still feel like a cozy home. It depends upon the cat.
When I first brought Rama into our household, he had some trust issues and was a bit unnerved and insecure. He started out in the bathroom (because that was what I had at the time). Sensing that he’d like a more enclosed space (even though the bathroom was already pretty small), I put an open carrier in the bathroom. He’d often just stay in that carrier, and I didn’t try to drag him out of it. I let him come out on his own, when ready.
Do you have a cat that loves to use his body, like Zorro? If you need to provide a carrier as a secure space for such a cat, pick one that will give him room to dance. If you sense that your cat loves the security of “hiding” in a small space (maybe this is why cats love to squish into too-small boxes?), use a carrier that will be almost tight and cozy.
If snuggling on warm soft things seems to help your cat feel more secure in the carrier, use a piece of fleece or a soft towel in the bottom. Some cats seem to care about this, some don’t. Zorro, for example, is too busy dancing to care about whether there’s fleece on the bottom of his carrier or not.
Do you have insights to share about how to give your cat security in a crate or carrier? Please share in the comments!
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About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr (cat fantasy novel out June 1), the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.