Your Questions: 'How can I get my cat into a carrier?

Q. I read one of your columns about a dog being fearful about going to the vet. My problem is slightly different but along the same lines. I can't get my cat into the carrier, which makes it impossible for us to go to the vet. Can you help?

Julian, Southampton

A. It's no wonder cats hate going to the vet. See it from their perspective: we take a box out of the shed, shove them into it and take them to a strange place to have an injection! Visiting the vet is a stressful enough experience in its own right – and starting it with a struggle over the cat carrier isn't going to help. There isn't a 'secret' method to persuading our pets to co-operate; simply approach this issue with time and patience.

Firstly, when you know you have a vet's appointment, get the carrier out and leave it out for at least 24 hours. Put something of yours or the cat's inside so it smells familiar to them. Cats are very sensitive to new objects in their environment.

Be aware of the size of your cat box and what material it's made of; try to avoid buying a cardboard model as these offer no protection in case of an accident in the car and they can get wet if the cat urinates in them. Plastic ones are best. Try to encourage him to go in it by placing some treats inside. Inevitably, curiosity will overcome his fear.

On the big day, give yourself at least one hour to get your animal in the carrier, and shut all the doors so he has nowhere to run. Put a fluffy towel in there so it's comfortable for him, and gently lower him in. And away you go to the vet!

Remember that if an animal shows signs of distress or discomfort an early visit to the vet is always recommended