Slowly acclimate cat to its carrier

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I adopted a 3-year-old cat from a local shelter. I have been unsuccessful with transporting her to a veterinarian for a well visit. She refuses to be coaxed into a pet carrier. An at-home visit by a veterinarian was also futile. After each prospective attempt, she becomes terrified and will hide for a few days. I would appreciate any advice.

Most carriers break down into a top, a bottom and a wire door, so break it down into parts and just leave the bottom in the kitchen where the cat eats. Place the cat's food bowl in the middle of the carrier's bottom and forget about the situation for a few of weeks. The cat is most likely going to climb into the carrier bottom to eat every day and will quickly lose any hesitation about it.

Then put the top on the bottom but leave the door off and keep putting the cat's food dish inside the carrier. After a day or two of hesitation, the cat will crawl inside to eat.

When the cat is comfortable, put the door on but tie it open, so it doesn't swinging wildly when the cat touches it. Keep feeding the cat inside.

When the cat is going in and out of the carrier of its own free will, periodically close the door and carry the cat around the house, then put the carrier back down, open the door and act as if this were the most natural thing in the world. Gradually, you can put the cat and carrier in the car for short trips.

On the day you take the cat to the vet in the carrier, it will just act as if it's one of life's random events -- but you have to keep feeding the cat in the carrier and acting as if all is well. When the unfamiliar becomes familiar, then fear is no longer an issue.

My cat, whom I have had for the past 17 years, just died. Her death was peaceful, but it is still tearing me apart. My friends at work think I am crazy when they see me crying at my desk. I just cannot imagine how my life can feel whole again, yet I feel guilty for grieving so much over an animal. Everyone says to get another cat, but I feel that doing that is not being loyal to the memory of her. What can make me feel better? Should I get another cat?

This is a question close to my heart. This year, I lost my hyacinth macaw, Remus, that I had for 43 years; my African grey parrot, Darwin, that I had for 22 years; and my Flemish giant rabbit, Harvey, that had been on television with me hundreds of times. Plus, my big, 15-year-old mixed-breed dog, Garfield, is on the way out.

Harvey, Remus and Darwin were all in my pet store, so every day, customers ask me where they are, and every time I answer it feels like a knife is twisting in my gut. But because I am in my place of business, I have to keep it all inside and show my happy face. It makes it all the worse as those animals were on television with me for 15 years and, even though my shows are no longer filming, they are still all over the Internet.

So what advice can I give you? Nothing. The void in you will always be there, and nonpet keepers will always think you are crazy. But the ability to endure grief and go on with life is universal among us, and, in time, you will deal with the situation better. Finding a support group helps.

Get another cat ASAP. It will definitely help you feel better. Part of the void in your life is not having a pet to care for, and the new cat will fix that right away.

Please do not feel guilty about the new cat. Your lost cat is not looking down on you from pet heaven, knowing that you miss her.