Get Your Cat Cruising. 3 Tips to Make Kitty Love Their Stroller

Why Use a Cat Stroller?

Taking your cat outside in a stroller provides some unique benefits compared to using a carrier or harness/leash (1). The stroller allows your cat more freedom of movement and ability to engage their surroundings while still being safely enclosed (2). This can provide important mental and physical stimulation for indoor cats.

For cats that don’t do well on a leash or get overstimulated being carried in a crowded environment, a stroller offers a safer way for them to experience the outdoors (3). It protects them from other animals, people, cars, etc. while letting them see, hear, and smell everything going on around them.

Strollers are especially beneficial for senior, disabled, or anxious cats that still crave environmental enrichment. The stroller allows them to get outside while accommodating any physical limitations or comforting skittish temperaments (3).

Choose the Right Stroller

When selecting a cat stroller, you’ll want to consider the size, weight, and features that are best suited for your feline friend. Look for a stroller that is large enough for your cat to stand up, turn around, and lay down comfortably. For larger cats, consider strollers with more interior room like the Pet Gear No-Zip Special Edition Pet Stroller, which can accommodate pets up to 150 pounds.

The stroller’s weight is also an important factor, especially if you plan to take it on walks or public transportation. Lightweight strollers like the Paws & Pals 3-Wheeler are easier to maneuver and transport.

Look for useful features like storage baskets or pouches to hold your cat’s toys, treats, and other accessories when on the go. A weather cover or canopy will provide shade and protection from the elements. And for anxious cats, enclosed strollers with mesh windows can provide added security.

Introduce Slowly

The key to getting your cat comfortable with a new stroller is to introduce it slowly so they can get used to this novel object. Set the stroller out and let your cat explore it at their own pace, initially without forcing them inside. You can encourage exploration by placing treats or catnip inside the stroller.

Once your cat seems comfortable approaching and entering the stroller freely, try taking very short trips around the house or yard. Just a quick spin before bringing them back inside. This will help them get used to the motion of being pushed in the stroller.

Make the stroller more inviting by placing your cat’s favorite toys, bed, or blanket inside. Having familiar comforting items inside will help them feel more secure.

According to pet experts, a slow gradual introduction is key to getting kitty comfortable with stroller rides. Don’t force them inside or take them on long trips too soon. Let your cat set the pace and give them lots of praise and treats for any interest shown in the stroller. With time and positive reinforcement, your cat can learn to love strolling with you.

Make It Positive

The key to getting your cat comfortable with its new cat stroller is to make every interaction positive. Offer your cat praise and treats whenever it shows any interest in the stroller. This positive reinforcement will help your cat associate the stroller with good things happening. Avoid forcing your cat into the stroller or closing them inside against their will, as this can cause them to become fearful or resentful towards it. Success comes through patience, not pressure. Allow your cat to approach and explore the stroller at their own pace. Reward every step your cat voluntarily takes towards accepting the stroller, whether it’s a sniff, a paw batting at it gently, or eventually stepping inside on their own. Creating a calm, stress-free environment with positive associations is crucial for helping cats embrace new experiences.

As explained by Feline Behavior Solutions, “You can teach your cat all sorts of tricks using positive reinforcement: sit, high-five, sit-pretty, go to mat, lay down, come, up, down, jump, etc. Just search for ‘cat trick training’ online and you’ll find lots of examples” (Source). Focus on rewarding and reinforcing any behavior that brings your cat closer to willingly using their stroller.

Try Different Locations

It’s best to start slowly when introducing your cat to the stroller. Begin by placing the stroller indoors and allowing your cat to explore it and get used to it. Keep the stroller in a room your cat frequents so they can become accustomed to seeing and smelling it.

After a few days, you can move the stroller outdoors to your backyard or patio, so your cat can explore it in a familiar outdoor setting. Make sure to supervise your cat during these initial explorations. Bring some treats along so you can reward them for any interest in or contact with the stroller.

Once your cat seems comfortable with the stroller at home, you can attempt short walks around the neighborhood. Stick close to home at first. Pay attention to how your cat reacts and be ready to cut the walk short if they seem stressed. Don’t force them to stay in the stroller if they try to jump out.

With patience and positive reinforcement, your cat will likely come to enjoy stroller rides. But make sure to introduce new locations slowly so as not to overwhelm them. It may take some time, but eventually your cat can graduate to longer strolls around the neighborhood.

Bring Favorite Items

Bringing along your cat’s favorite toys, treats, and blanket can help them feel more secure and comfortable in the new environment of the stroller. The familiar scents and textures will help create a sense of normalcy. Try placing a favorite toy or two inside the stroller, or bring treats you can give your cat when they get inside. Drape their preferred blanket over the stroller to envelop it in a recognizable smell. According to this source, bringing items your cat already loves promotes feelings of security as you introduce them to the stroller.

Add Safety Features

To keep your cat secure and safe in a stroller, it’s important to use the proper safety features. A harness restraint is recommended to prevent your cat from jumping out while the stroller is moving. Make sure to get a properly fitted harness for your cat that secures them comfortably in place. Many strollers like the Pet Gear Happy Trails Lite come with an attached leash to hook the harness to.

High quality strollers will have sturdy zipper enclosures to contain your cat while allowing for adequate airflow. Dual entry points with zippers are ideal. You can check user reviews to ensure the stroller enclosure zippers are escape-proof for your specific cat’s abilities.

Stability bars add an extra element of safety by preventing tipping. Look for robust stability bars on all sides of the stroller.

Additionally, attach an ID tag with your contact information to the outside of the stroller, so your cat can be easily identified if you become separated.

Watch for Stress Signals

It’s important to be able to recognize signs of stress in your cat when introducing them to the stroller. Look for body language cues like dilated pupils, panting, trembling, and acting jittery or skittish. These are indications your cat is feeling fearful or anxious about the new stroller. If you notice these stress signals, go slower with the introduction process. Don’t force your cat into the stroller if they seem nervous or uncomfortable. Give them more time to get used to it at their own pace.

According to Cats Protection, some common signs of cat stress include “becoming more withdrawn or hiding more than usual” and “becoming less tolerant of people.” If your cat is suddenly acting more reclusive or irritable, they may be feeling stressed about changes in their environment. Reduce stimuli until your cat relaxes again.

Other signs of stress can include urinating outside the litter box, diarrhea, excessive grooming, loss of appetite, and sleep issues, as outlined by PetMD. Monitor your cat’s eating habits, bathroom usage, and sleep patterns when introducing new experiences. Any abrupt changes could signify they need more time to adjust.

Be Patient

It’s important not to get frustrated or force your cat into the stroller if they seem hesitant at first. Cats tend to be cautious and can take some time to adjust to new experiences like riding in a stroller. According to this source, the training process will likely take at least a week. Avoid getting angry at your cat, as this will make them less accepting of the stroller.

Plan on multiple training sessions over an extended period of time. If your cat seems stressed or refuses to get in on a particular attempt, don’t force it. Be patient and try again later. With positive reinforcement and a gradual introduction, most cats will eventually become comfortable riding in a stroller.

Reward Progress

It’s important to treat and praise your cat anytime they show even a small improvement in their comfort level with the cat stroller. For example, if your cat takes one step into the stroller when they previously would not go near it, be sure to immediately give them a treat and gentle praise. Say “good kitty!” in a happy, encouraging tone of voice and pet them gently too. This positive reinforcement will help your cat associate the stroller with good things happening.

Over time, continue rewarding slight improvements. If your cat then takes two steps in, treat and praise again. Increase the criteria gradually, so your cat is constantly making baby steps forward. Before you know it, they’ll likely feel comfortable sitting fully in the stroller thanks to the steady positive reinforcement. Just make sure treats are only given for forward progress, not for standing still. This ensures your cat connects their bravery with being rewarded.

Some good cat treats to have on hand for training are freeze-dried chicken, fish, or turkey, which most cats love. You can also try Temptations treats, Greenies, or anything else your cat goes crazy for. This makes the reward extra worthwhile. Just be sure treats are pea-sized or your cat won’t be hungry for their regular meals.

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