Although most cats like to hide in boxes, they seem to have a built-in aversion to cat carriers. This is probably because carriers are usually associated with a trip to the vet!
Many cat parents have walked away with arms covered in scratch marks after trying to force an unwilling feline into their carrier.
So, if you get anxious even thinking about getting your cat into a carrier, try these tips.
Acclimate The Cat To Their Carrier In Advance
First, try to remain as calm as you can.
Many cat parents have had the experience of thinking about a trip to the vet one second, and the next second, the cat is nowhere to be found! Not surprising, as animals pick up on our emotions. They’ll know something is up if you’re feeling stressed — and try to get away from it and you.
Remember to breathe.
Get the carrier out well before you’ll need your cat to be comfortable in one. Leave the door open and a blanket or towel with their scent on it inside, and maybe a toy, too.
Don’t make a big deal about this; just set it up and walk away. Your cat will most likely check it out on their own, and may even hang out inside for awhile, making the space more familiar, and less of a threat.
Make sure the carrier is clean and free of debris and smells from the last trip. Cats are keen to these things!
Getting Your Cat In The Carrier
There are a couple of ways to get your cat inside the carrier; head first, and hip first.
For head first, place one hand around the cat’s shoulders and the other along the hip on the opposite side. Gently guide the cat inside, clear the tail from the door, then close the door quickly without slamming it.
If this doesn’t work and your cat is resisting, tip the carrier up on its end with the door open. Pick up your cat as you do normally, and while supporting their chest with one hand, gently guide their hips down into the carrier. Lower the rest of their body down, then close the door and latch it.
Lower the carrier to the floor slowly to allow the cat to get their feet under them so they don’t end up on their back or side.
Some carriers have top openings too, but these usually require practice or a second pair of hands.
Always reassure your cat after getting them inside. You may even reward them with a treat, though they may not eat it. It’s the thought that counts!
For a very wiggly cat, try wrapping a towel around their back and crossing the ends around their chest – the way you wrap yourself in a blanket when you’re cold. Once inside the carrier, they’ll slip out of the towel, and you can remove it and close the door.
Once inside the car, resist the temptation to let your cat out of the carrier. Accidents can happen whether they’re on your lap or under the brake pedal, and escapes can happen if car doors are opened accidentally.
So play it safe, and above all, stay calm – even if you have to reschedule the vet appointment.
Personal Recommendation: The Sleepypod
Top loading crates, like this one offered by Sleepypod, are a cat parent’s dream come true. It’s circular in shape which is exactly how cats sleep, curled up in a ball.
The carrier is also lined with soft padding. The top slips on and off, and there’s a slit in the middle that zips open as well.
There’s also a way to attach it to your seat belt in the car, so your carrier won’t slide around while you’re driving. It’s got a thick padded shoulder strap. They have really thought of everything.
Now that I’ve got one of these, I’ll never go back to the old kind of crate/carrier again. They’re a little more expensive than a cheap plastic crate, but once you try one, you’ll be glad you got it.
That’s just my personal opinion and I didn’t get paid to say that. It’s just my honest opinion.
Do you have any other tips for getting a cat into their carrier? Does your cat get anxious when you bring the carrier out? Let us know in the comments below!