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Carrier Training Your Cat

Step-by-step instructions to train your cat to use a carrier

We understand that getting our pet cats to use a carrier can be a tricky thing. Unfortunately, felines often don’t tend to like going in them as they associate them with stressful experiences. However, owners can help their cat become more comfortable going in their carrier through positive interactions and training.  Read our tips for training your cat to use a carrier.

Before You Start

It is easier to start building positive associations when our cats are kittens, but it can be worth investing in a new basket with less negative memories to start your training sessions. An adequately sized, partially slatted carrier with access via a roof flap is ideal.

It is recommended to leave the carrier out at all times in your home so that it is not alarming when it comes out of the back of the cupboard for the vet or cattery visit. Usually this is enough to get cats who are indifferent to their basket more accustomed to using it.

Steps For Training Your Cat to Use a Carrier

If your cat is a little more fearful of the carrier, following the training steps below can help:

Step 1

Place the carrier with the roof off in a room where your cat likes to relax. Place their favourite blanket near to the basket and give them a treat when they calmly sit on the blanket. You may have to place the bedding across the room to begin with. They will learn that their relaxed behaviour gets them a reward.

Step 2

Gradually over a number of training sessions, move the blanket across the room and closer to the carrier. Don’t attempt to do this while your cat is sitting on the bedding.

Rewarding your cat with a treat for their calm behaviour and allowing them to choose when they step off the blanket will boost their confidence.

Once they are contented sitting on the bed in their basket, we then need to build up to putting the roof on – again use treats for positive interactive behaviour.

Step 3

Once your cat is happy to spend a few minutes in the carrier, we can begin to shut the door. Partially close the door and reward calm behaviour. Slowly start to close the door fully but open it straight away again, especially if the cat moves towards the door.

Build up the length of time your cat is happily sat in the carrier with the door closed.

Step 4

It is now time to start moving the carrier once your pet is content with being in their basket. Slide the carrier across the floor a short space and reward. Place your hand on the handle and let go. Progress to gently lifting up before walking with it – keeping it as stable as possible.

It is very important to only move onto the next step once your pet is happy and comfortable. You may need to go back one stage until they are fully at ease with that part of the training, before proceeding again.

More Advice For Crate Training Cats

  • Use one carrier per cat.
  • Use familiar bedding, favourite toys and treats, and catnip to encourage your cat to use the carrier.
  • Place a towel over the roof to cover so they can hide.
  • Apply a pheromone spray to the blanket/towel to make them feel at ease.
  • Don’t pick your cat up to put them in the carrier – it must be on their terms

The following video was put together by international cat care together with CEVA and forms one of a series of videos detailing best practice handling techniques and approaches to help develop and build the bond between owners and their cats.

Putting your cat in a carrier video