How to Get a Cat Into a Pet Carrier?
A pet carrier is not your cat’s best friend. In fact, she may try anything and everything to avoid getting in the carrier, including using her claws and teeth. Although getting your cat into her carrier can be challenging, there are ways to make it a less stressful experience for the both of you.
Start the acclimation process early. The earlier in your cat’s life that she becomes comfortable with her carrier, the better. Kittens tend to be more adaptable than adult or senior cats, so it is best to start the acclimation process when your cat is a kitten. If you have an older cat, the acclimation process will probably take a bit longer.
Leave the carrier out at all times. To cats, the presence of a pet carrier usually means something bad is about to happen, like a trip to the vet’s office. If you take the carrier out only when you need to take your cat somewhere, then she will likely learn to fear it. Therefore, it is recommended to leave the carrier out on the floor all the time.
Place the pet carrier in a favorite location. Even with unlimited access, your cat may not want to enter the carrier if it is in a location where she does not frequent. Put the carrier in one of her favorite spots, such as by a window that gets lots of sunlight.
Make the inside of the carrier enticing for your cat. The carrier should feel like a place of comfort and safety to your cat, even if she’s not exactly thrilled about being inside of it. One way to entice your cat into the carrier is to make it smell familiar to her. For example, place her favorite towel or blanket in the carrier.
Feed your cat in her carrier. If your cat seems comfortable spending time in her carrier, try feeding her when she is inside of it. Initially, however, she may not want to eat her meals inside of her carrier. Rather, she may feel more comfortable eating her meals near the carrier.
Practice closing the carrier door. Being inside the carrier could feel like a trap to your cat, so she will need to become comfortable with you closing its door. When she enters the carrier, briefly close the door. Immediately give her a treat, then unlock the door and let her out.
Place an extra towel or newspaper inside the carrier. The stress of being in a carrier may cause your cat to urinate. An extra towel or newspaper will help soak up the urine so that your cat does not have to feel the ‘soil spot’ in the carrier. If you use an extra towel, you can spray it with cat pheromones if it is not one she usually sleeps on.
Position the carrier. Front- or top-loading hard-sided carriers are ideal for learning how to put your cat into a carrier. If you have a front-loading carrier, place it on its end with the opening facing toward the ceiling. This way, you will be able to place your cat in the carrier safely and with a relative amount of ease.
Pick up your cat. How you pick up your cat is very important to safely placing her in the carrier. Wrap one arm around her hind end and position your other arm under her chest. For the arm supporting your cat’s back end, use your hand to hold her back legs.
Lower your cat into her carrier. Slowly put your cat’s hind end in the carrier first. By lowering her in this way, she will not feel like she is being forced into the carrier with no way out.
Close the carrier door and reposition the carrier. When your cat is safely in the carrier, secure the latch and position the carrier with its bottom on the floor. Give your cat treats if she behaved well when being placed in the carrier (e.g., no biting, scratching, or excessive struggle).
Cover the carrier with a towel or pillowcase. Placing a towel or pillowcase over the carrier makes it feel more snug and safe to your cat, reinforcing the idea that the carrier is a place of comfort and safety. When traveling in the car, covering the carrier can help block out the fact that the car is moving but your cat is not.
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