How to Get a Cat in a Carrier?

cat is laying in carrier

A cat carrier is mostly not your cat’s best friend. Cats may try anything and everything to avoid getting in the carrier. It can be very difficult when your cat using the claws and teeth when you try to put your cat in the carrier.

Getting your cat in a carrier can be very challenging. But some following guidelines will make it easier. You get your cat in a carrier if your cat is not afraid of it. Introduce the cat carrier and make it familiar, pleasant en secure for your cat. If you let your cat get positively used to the carrier from the start, you avoid many problems.

Many cats only have bad memories of the cat carrier. To prevent these bad memories, you must ensure that your cat has positive experiences. In this blog post, you can read how to get a cat in a cat carrier and how to acclimating your cat to the cat carrier. Also, I give tips about how you can train your cat to go inside a cat carrier on free will.

Acclimating Your Cat to the Cat Carrier

It is very important to get your cat used to the carrier and to spend much time on this process. It causes fewer problems and stress afterward. Below are the steps you can follow to get your cat used to the cat carrier. Kittens are often more flexible than an adult or older cats, so if you have an older cat keep in mind that the acclimatization process will probably take a little longer.

  1. Start the acclimation process early. Before your cat feels at ease in the cat carrier, you will be a few weeks and maybe even months later. Are you going away for a weekend or vacation and do you want to take your cat on a trip? Then start acclimatizing a few weeks before you are going.
  2. Let your cat decide. For cats, usually, a carrier means that something bad will happen, such as a visit to the vet. If you only take the carrier with you if you have to take your cat somewhere, your cat will sooner learn to fear it. Always let the carrier standing on the floor with the door open. Your cat can then go in and out of the carrier when it wants to, and it doesn’t have to worry about a closing door.
  3. Place the carrier on a favorite place. Even though your cat can now determine when it goes in and out of the carrier, maybe your cat won’t go in yet. Place the carrier in a place where your cat often comes and feels at ease, so a favorite place of your cat, such as the living room or a bedroom.
  4. Make the inside comfortable and safe. Your cat must feel safe and comfortable in the carrier. By putting several things in it, you can make it more comfortable for your cat. For example, by placing a blanket or towel in the carrier, the carrier smells more familiar. Also put some kibbles, treats or some catnip in it. Refill the food when needed. If your cat has another favorite toy, put it in the carrier.
  5. Feed your cat in the carrier. If your cat likes to spend time in the carrier, you can try feeding your cat in it. If your cat does not want to eat in the carrier, you can try to put the food close to the carrier. Place the food bowl at a distance of approximately 3 meters from the carrier. Each time when you feed your cat, gradually move the food bowl closer to the carrier. If your cat doesn’t mind eating in the carrier, try feeding your cat into the carrier every day. Your cat should not have the feeling that you are looking at him/her while eating. Your cat may think you want to close the door. Stand far enough away from your cat so that it can eat without suspicion.
  6. Practice opening and closing the door of the carrier. If your cat is in the carrier, it may feel trapped for your cat. So make sure your cat feels comfortable when you close the door. If your cat enters the carrier, close the door very briefly. Give your cat a treat through the door, then open the door and let your cat out. You can practice this several times. Make sure that you do not practice it too often at one moment. For example, divide it over the day. Give your cat space and time. It is better to practice a little longer so that your cat feels at ease than afterward having problems with a cat that does not dare in the carrier.
  7. It’s okay. If your cat goes into the carrier itself or goes into the carrier with a reward, then it’s okay. From this point, you can take your cat into the carrier, and you don’t have to worry that your cat is afraid of being in it. Always pay attention to your cat’s behavior. It can go well for months and then suddenly your cat doesn’t want to be in the carrier anymore. Then ask yourself what could be the problem.

Putting a Cat in a Carrier

You can follow these tips/guidelines if your cat does not enter the carrier or your cat has not been acclimated to the carrier independently. Sometimes you have no choice, and you have to take your cat with you. So to ensure that your cat has not too much stress and to safely place your cat into the carrier, you can follow these guidelines.

  1. Place a newspaper, kitchen paper, or a towel on the bottom of the carrier. Due to the stress, it is possible that your cat will urinate. An extra newspaper or towel helps to soak up the urine. Your cat will then still be sitting comfortable and dry. To be sure, always take an extra towel or paper with you. If your cat has urinated, you can replace it with a dry towel.
  2. Position the carrier. Place the carrier on its end, so the opening facing toward the ceiling. This way, you can safely put your cat in the carrier. An extra tip to use is: place the carrier against the wall to prevent it from falling back while you try to place your cat in it.
  3. Pick your cat up. To place your cat safely in the carrier, it is very important to pay attention to how you pick it up. Wrap an arm around the hind of your cat and place your arm under the chest. The arm that supports the back of your cat, you use your hand to hold the back legs. The hind end of your cat must touch your chest, and the rest of the body is away from you. So in a short description: pick your cat up under the front legs, with your other hand supporting the bottom. If your cat is struggling or scratching quickly, it is wise to use a thick towel to pick up your cat.
  4. Lower your cat into the carrier. Slowly put your cat’s hind end first in the carrier. Because you put your cat in the carrier in this way, your cat will not feel like it is forcing into the carrier with no way out. If your cat doesn’t want in the carrier and starts to struggle, put your cat down, and give it time to calm down before trying again.
  5. Close the door and position the carrier properly. When your cat is safely in the carrier, close the door and lock it. Place the carrier back with the bottom on the floor. Give your cat treats if it behaved well when it was placing in the carrier. Rewarding positive behavior is important.
  6. Cover the carrier with a blanket, pillowcase, or light towel. When you are placing a pillowcase, towel, or blanket over the carrier, it gives your cat a more snug, comfortable, and safe feeling. This step reinforcing the idea for your cat that a carrier is a place of comfort and safety. Do not cover the carrier on a hot day, because this can be very dangerous.

Your Cat Loves the Carrier

Many cats are afraid of the carrier, or at least they don’t like to be in it for a long time. However, what if you have a cat that likes to be in the carrier and also sees it as a toy? One of my cats, Mylas, is not afraid of the carrier. If the carrier is in the living room because we have to go to the vet in a few hours, he will get sitting in it. Mylas can enjoy it and discover the whole carrier and smell everything. Getting him out of the carrier can still be a challenge. When Mylas was a kitten, I already introduced him to the carrier in a positive way. We still benefit from this every time.

Zayra is not afraid of the carrier, but she doesn’t get excited about it. If the carrier is on the ground, she usually enters it herself, but sometimes she needs some help. For short trips to the vet, she doesn’t mind being in the carrier. On longer journeys, she becomes restless and goes meowing. Fortunately, both cats are still doing well so far.

So does your cat like the carrier and isn’t it afraid? Be happy with it and reward your cat for this good behavior.


A few important tips to keep in mind:

  • Have a lot of patience
  • Give your cat time to get used to it
  • Cats are creatures of habit. Give your cat time to acclimate to the carrier
  • Buy a good cat carrier
  • Practice a lot
  • Start as early as possible (the best starting point is when your cat is still a kitten)
  • Reward your cat
  • Also, use the carrier for fun things such as playing or eating.
  • Let your cat feel comfortable and safe in the carrier
  • Make sure that no fears arise
  • Look at your cat’s behavior
  • If you have questions, go to your vet

When coming back from a visit to the vet, the inside of the carrier will have scents of the veterinary clinic. The cat does not like these scents. After the visit, you can clean the carrier and rinse with warm water. Have you had a towel or pillowcase in the carrier? Wash it out, and give it back to your cat so that the towel or pillowcase smells to your cat’s familiar scent.

Youtube Video

In this video, they explain all steps about how to put your cat in the carrier. It where helpful tips about how to put your cat into a carrier. You see examples and the different options that you can use.

Let Your Cat Out of the Carrier

Once your cat is in the carrier, he/she must of course also go out. Every cat reacts differently to this. If your cat looks calm, talk in a soothing voice and let your fingers sniff through the door before you open it.

When you open the door, put a hand on your cat’s head to keep the face away from you and wrap your other arm around the body, support your cat body with your hand and your forearm as if you were holding a football.

If your cat is slightly anxious or very scared, you may need to gently grab the back of the neck and restrain the front paws with your free hand to prevent your cat from scratching.

Another way is to pick up your cat as quickly and carefully as possible and to put your cat between your side and your elbow. If your cat is very scared, you may need to wrap your cat once again in a towel before removing it from the carrier.

How to Choose a Carrier

It is important to buy and have a carrier that is specially designing for transporting pets. Using an improvised carrier such as a pillowcase, laundry basket or bag is not a good idea because these options are not safe and can injure or traumatize your cat.

Here are some considerations when choosing a carrier:

  • Hard-sided carriers are the best to get started. Buy one that opens from both the top and the front.
  • Soft-sided carriers are smaller, lighter, and easier to carry and hold. These open from both the side and the top.
  • Make sure you have a carrier that can quickly take apart. This is important for cats that won’t come out on their own, or for cats that are sick or in pain. This point is also essential if you don’t know your cat’s behavior well.
  • Soft-sided carriers, which open from the side or top, are easier to carry and the sides are collapsible. But a soft-sided carrier is not good if you take your cat on long car trips. Other carriers are recommending for longer car journeys.
  • Do not choosing a carrier that is too small or too big. Your cat carrier should be large enough for your cat to turn around and stand in. In big carriers, your cat falls when you travel. In a small carrier, your cat will feel cramped inside and feeling anxious and scared.
  • Ask your veterinarian if you are unsure which carrier is a good choice for your cat.

Closing words

I hope that you found this post useful and it would help you to get your cat in a carrier. Are you interested in other subjects of cat life and stuff? I have also written a post about Cat Calming Treats for in the Car.

When you know someone who likes to know more about How to Get a Cat in a Carrier? Then feel free to share this post. Additionally, does your cat like it to sit in a carrier?

By Marleen

Marleen is a truly madly deeply cat lover and founder of That Is for My Cat. She wants to share her knowledge about cats with other people who like to know more about cats.

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