How to Get a Cat into a Carrier - The Trupanion Blog
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How to Get a Cat into a Carrier

Read on to discover essential tips on how to get a cat into a carrier.
Mochi – Trupanion office cat and member since 2019

Safe pet travel is an essential part of being a responsible pet owner. Whether you need to take your kitten to the veterinarian or you’re going on a vacation with your feline friend, eventually, your cat will need to be placed in a carrier. What seems to be a simple process may actually be quite complicated depending on your cat’s behavior or mood. Naturally, cats are particular when it comes to their space. Regardless, if you’re a new kitten owner or a seasoned cat owner, figuring out how to get a cat into a carrier is a specialized skill in itself. We sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Sarah Nold to learn more about the advantage of why a cat needs to be able to get into a carrier and tips on seamless carrier training for your feline friend.

A step by step manual on how to get a cat into a carrier

Learn how to get a cat into a carrier with this cat owner manual.

Why does a cat need to know how to get into a carrier?

Cats are mysterious and independent animals. Of course, they like their own space and really only do things when they want too. So, why interrupt that? Nold points out the value of teaching a cat to get into a carrier below.

“It is important that your cat is comfortable in a carrier, as this is the safest way to transport your cat from your house to another location.  In other words, being able to get your cat into a carrier is a key step in getting your cat safely to the vet or evacuating from your home in the case of a natural disaster.”

If you do need to get your cat into a carrier quickly, like during an emergency, you may not want this to be your cat’s first experience. It may scare your cat or confuse them. After all, not all cats like to be picked up. Consider practicing over time so your cat becomes familiar with the carrier.

Five essential steps to get a cat into a carrier

Trupanion office cat and member, Mochi, exploring around the carrier.

Every cat is unique and might take to the carrier differently. Some cats might go right in on the first try, while others it is a learning curve.

Nold breaks down five steps for a successful cat carrier transition

  1. Leave the door open and feed your cats treats or meals inside the carrier.
Step one of how to get a cat into a carrier - leave the door open and let your feline explore.

2. For longer rides in the carrier: start first with shorter car trips.

Step 2: How to get a cat into a carrier - For longer car rides, consider starting with shorter car rides.

3. Place a familiar item in the carrier, like a blanket, towel, bed, or toy.

Step 3: How to get a cat into a carrier - include a favorite toy or item in carrier

4. Once a cat is comfortable with the carrier – it is usually a matter of picking them up and placing them inside.

Step 4 - How to get a cat into a carrier - place your feline friend in the crate once they seem comfortable.

5. Consider your carrier options. For example, your cat might prefer an opening on the top versus a regular door.

Step 5: How to get a cat into a carrier- carrier options!

Signs your cat or kitten may be scared of the carrier

Regardless of your cat’s age or your kitten’s size or breed, they may be scared of the carrier. Also, new experiences, places, or people may scare some feline friends. For example, “I’ve heard more than once about a cat that runs and hides when the carrier is taken out of the closet or brought in from the garage. If your cat is scared of the carrier, they often will fight you, (sometimes even scratch or bite) to prevent themselves from being put into the carrier. Also, if a cat is stressed, they may pant, drool, or vocalize.”

Consider your options and try your best to familiarize your cat with the carrier in stages. Further, seek the guidance and expertise of your veterinarian as they can recommend a personalized course of action for your feline.

Tips for successful carrier training for your feline friend

There is no set rule or system in place to get your cat to familiarize themselves with the carrier. It may take time for your cat to feel safe, comfortable, and at home. Likewise, “as with any training, try to keep it positive and go slowly,” says Nold.

Team members Marlo and Mochi enjoying some cuddles and bonding.

Carrier training: safe travel for the entire family

Obviously, at the end of the day, you just want your cat to be safe, happy, and healthy. By taking the time to learn how to get your cat into a carrier, you help lessen the stress and uneasiness for you and your furry family member. In addition, by taking your time with your cat and seeking the guidance of your veterinarian, you and your cat can safely travel together.

What is your favorite way to get your cat into a carrier?

To discover more tips on cat stress, Read on to learn more about Understanding Cat Stress and What to Watch for.

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