Training Your Cat To Love Its Carrier

If you own a cat, there is no escape from buying a carrier. Sooner or later, you will have to travel with kitty, be it a short trip to the vet or something longer like a road or air trip. It is crucial to make sure your adult cat and kittens are accustomed to using crates and carriers. In such a way, your cats will not associate the carrier with disastrous and scary events like visiting vets. Therefore, your cats should be taught to enter their carriers and crates voluntarily.

Cat Training Tips

​A successful cat training process will ensure that the pets can be transported with minimal stress and without causing a fuss. Before we get to it, be ready to use a lot of treats and have loads of patience. Remember, every cat is different and will respond differently to training.

​​Get The Right Carrier For Kitty

Choosing the right crate for your cat is the first step to a successful training program. Ample space is very important when choosing a cat carrier. You don’t want it to be too big leaving your cat feeling isolated and anxious or too small making her uncomfortable. There are many ways of getting the size of the carrier right including taking measurements of your cat or depending on professional guidance.

​Also, make sure that the carrier is well ventilated for the safety of your cat. The size of exit/entry points of the carrier also matter. A carrier with a removable top and at least two exit points will come in handy when moving her in and out especially during tough situations such as a visit to the vet.

Teaching Your Cat To Like Their Crate

​​Let It Happen Naturally

Making the crate part of the furniture that your cat interacts with makes the training effortless. Place the carrier at one corner of the cat’s room. Your cat will have all the time they need to explore the crate at their leisure. This way, the carrier becomes familiar to the cat as it will be interacting with it daily. 

Moreover, the cat will rub onto the carrier leaving behind her scent making the familiarity process easier. By doing this, the association of the crate with stressful events will wear off making your cat trips less dramatic and stressful. We have also had great success in buying a cat scratching post and placing it near to their usual corner of your home. Cat's leave their scent when they scratch which in turn can aid familiarity. 

​​​​Take Advantage Of Their Great Sense Of Smell

Cats have excellent smelling abilities. You can take advantage of this by leaving cat bedding inside the carrier as well as your car. By doing this, she will be familiar with the smell of the carrier and be more inclined to get in and stay in. ​We also find that making use of a suitable cat bed is a great way to help familiarize your cat with its environment.

During the training, you should ensure that the carrier is free of odor that may create discomfort for your cats. In cases where the cat has previously used the crate, it is advisable to clean and disinfect it then let it dry before subjecting her to it.

​Woo Her With Treats And Toys

The cat carrier should be in your cat’s favorite spots, for instance, places that they like to lie. The position of the carrier is vital as it helps the cat to attach positive emotions to the carrier. As soon as this happens, you should place the treats around and inside the carrier to further entice her to get in. Treats can include your cat’s favorite toys, gifts, and even food. 

Crate Training For Your Cat

While at it, have the cat wearing a collar with updated identification information. This includes your contact information. Instead of using your home phone number, have your cell phone number to make it easier to reach you in case of anything.

Throw in her favorite toy. At first, she may be hesitant to go in and get it but after a while, when she has observed the carrier, she will slowly approach the carrier to fetch the toy. This will be the first of many more carrier entries. You can also place a bowl of her favorite dish in the carrier, encouraging her to feed in there. We also find that using a cat tunnel as the entrance to the carrier may make your cat a little more reassured to enter it. 

​Remove Obstacles From The Carrier's Door

It is essential to remove the door from the crate to prevent accidental scratches on your cat as it tries to explore. Keep in mind that, if the door is closed, there is no way of your cat accessing or exploring the carrier. While at it, keep away any obstacles that may be blocking the doorway.

In cases where your cat is too scared of the carrier, you can consider removing the lid and leaving the bottom side to serve as its bed. Furthermore, you should give the cat ample time for discovering the treats on its own. It is crucial to monitor your cat’s movements and consumption so that you can add more gifts after depletion.

Also, if you witness the cat entering the carrier, be sure to utter some words of encouragement or reassurance, to help develop a positive attitude towards the crate. Just be sure to use a calm voice to avoid startling her, leading to more complications. If you have to get rid of the lid, replacement can take place after the cat gets used to the carrier.

Ensure that the door fastens so that it does not bang or shut unexpectedly as such noises will scare your cat. It is important not to restrict the cat from coming out of the carrier whenever they wish. Such freedom will help in the development of an excellent attitude towards the crate. Sometimes, you can drop your cat’s favorite treats into the box to create the impression that cat gifts are found in them.

​Ease Your Cat Into Accepting A Closed Door

Shutting the carrier door should be a process so that the cat does not feel as if it is a punishment. First, you should place your hand on the carrier doors and toss your treats to the cats into the crate. After that, you can shut the entrance slowly while passing more gifts to your cat. If your cat seems relaxed and continues to eat the treats after shutting the door, you should proceed to open the latch door and continue to reassure your cat whilst holding the door open.

After that, you can gradually increase the number of times that the door is shut and double the treats. If you sense any nervousness, you can repeat a prior step to reassure your cat that the process will not cause harm. You should ensure that the cat is relaxed and calm in the carrier before you proceed to the next step.

Cat Crate Training Tips

​Picking Up The Carrier Is The Next Step Of Training

You should ensure that your cat is relaxed before lifting the crate off the ground. Therefore, you can occupy your cat with a few treats whilst you slowly pick it up. If you notice any incidences of nervousness or your cat stops eating, you should try to make it less anxious before proceeding to lift the crate. You can gradually raise the carrier a bit higher every time. Each time you raise the carrier and return it to the floor, you should allow your pet to come out of the crate. This will assure her that the carrier is not a dangerous place as they have the freedom to return to it at will.

Transporting the carrier with your cat inside will need you to take a step at a time, ensuring that you don’t rush the process.

Accustomise Your Cat To Car Journeys

​Introduce Her To Your Car

We have covered this in a separate article but training your cat for travel with their carrier will involve putting the carrier in a car that is not running while offering treats. Let it sit in the car for a while to allow it to gain familiarity with its surroundings before proceeding. Start the car and let it remain stationary as you continue to reassure your cat with affection. After that, you should increase the time that the engine runs while the carrier is in the car.

Finally, you can drive a short distance with your cat in the carrier. However, you should not push your luck in this step by driving too far with her. It is important to note that if your cat gets confused or spooked in the process; you may need to revisit some of the previous training to reinforce the positive experiences your cat has had with their carrier. Don’t despair and remember, patience is the key.

​Perseverance Is Key

You can gradually increase the distance that you travel with your cat in their carrier to ensure that they do not get upset when traveling over long distances. Remember to bring a supply of cat toys and treats with you, which will be helpful as they can create a long-lasting calming effect.

Cat Enjoying Their Cat Carrier

​A productive training program will ensure a calmer cat during visits to the vet and at any time at which you need to travel – a stress free cat is a happy cat.

Cats are much more than just furry animals that hog the bed at night. Nor are they just temperamental and mischievous little things that makes us wonder who is the pet and who is the owner. Cats, for many of us, are a member of the family. And, like the rest of the family, they are going to need to be taken to the vet from time to time – or maybe you just want to bring them along on a family vacation. For these situations, you’re going to want to make sure you have a cat carrier.

What is a Cat Carrier? (1) (2) (3)

As the name would suggest, a cat carrier is something that you use to transport your cat (or other small animals like small dogs, guinea pigs, ferrets, tiny pigs and the like) from one place to another. There are several different types of cat carriers that you could choose from. These include:

Homemade Carriers: A homemade carrier is basically anything that you grab from around the house and put your cat in. Some people will use a cardboard box, laundry basket, and even a tote bag or pillow case. These carriers (especially the pillow case and tote bag) aren’t safe for your cat because they could get hurt or escape when you are taking them from point A to point B.

 

Cardboard Carriers: A cardboard carrier is primarily given to people who just adopted a kitten. These carriers are typically designed for temporary transport and are not recommended for long-term use because they can get damaged, either by general wear and tear, or the cat may scratch a hole into the carrier. Also, these carriers are basically useless if they get wet, whether it is because of the weather or because the cat urinated or spilled their water.

 

Soft Sided Carrier: A soft sided carrier is going to be made from either nylon or ballistic nylon. The carrier will be lightweight and are usually pretty easy to carry, even with the cat in tow. There are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind if you decide to go the soft carrier route:

 

These carriers are very popular for travel but they are best suited for cats who travel well and remain calm. If a feisty or anxious cat is in one of these carriers, they could easily tear a hole in the nylon material and possibly escape. If you’re driving, this could be a very dangerous situation to be in. Not only that, but if your cat is determined to get out, they could catch their nail in the material which would lead to a vet visit.

 

When choosing a soft carrier, you want to make sure that it is going to be large enough for your cat to comfortably move around in it. If you plan on going on long trips, you will also want to add another several inches so that you can include a food dish and water dish, too.

 

With that said, cats prefer small spaces, so you don’t want to get them a massive cat carrier. We’ll talk more about how to choose the appropriate size a little later.

 

Soft carriers are going to be easier to clean than a cardboard carrier, but it is important that you choose a soft carrier that has something in the bottom to prevent the carrier from sagging while you’re carrying it. In most cases, the carrier will have lightweight framework that will prevent this.

 

Hard-Sided Carrier: A hard sided carrier is going to provide you with the best support for transporting your cat. They will also be more durable and easy to clean. It’s important to note that if you are flying with an airline approved hard carrier, they may not fit under your seat very well, but if something should fall onto the case, your cat will be safe.

 

Hard sided carriers will have a steel wire or steel mesh door that is going to be much more durable than plastic and any hardware on the case should be metal.

 

The handle for your carrier should be stout enough for you to comfortably carry your cat, but it should also be strong enough to support the weight of the carrier and the cat.

How to Find the Right Size Carrier For Your Cat (4)

When you know what kind of cat carrier you want to go with, you need to make sure that you are choosing the correct size for them. But how do you do that? It’s actually pretty simple and it only requires a bit of measuring.

For the first measurement, you will want to measure your cat from the base of their tail to the tip of their nose. You will want to make sure they are standing when you do this. Once you have that measurement, you will want to add four inches. This will be the length of the carrier.

For the second measurement, you will want to measure the top of their head (when standing) to the floor. After you found this measurement, you will want to add four inches. This will be the height of the carrier.

In a properly sized carrier, your cat will be able to stand up comfortably and will be able to peer out at the world without having to duck their head. They should also have enough space inside the crate for them to turn around comfortably and be able to lay down with their paws extended.

Airline Regulations For Cat Carriers (5) (6)

If you plan on going on a plane with your cat, you have to make sure that your desired airline even allows for pet travelers, but you will also want to be mindful of the regulations set in place for the cat carrier you use. Some airline companies will have varying requirements and what may work with one company may not work with the next.

However, most airline’s will allow only one pet carrier per passenger, and one pet per carrier. There may be an exception for small puppies, but there is a limit of a maximum of up to three pets per flight.

For the pet themselves, most airlines require that the pet is no longer than 18 inches and does not exceed 12 pounds in weight. Of course, this could be different for each airline. Basic requirements for the cat carrier includes:

The carrier must be able to fit under the seat in front of you.

The carrier must have a waterproof bottom (also invest in good pee pads)

The carrier must have adequate ventilation – at least two sides should have ventilation.

The carrier must use zippers to secure your pet in the carrying case.

You must keep your pet enclosed in the carrier at all times.

The carrier must be made of a hard material like hard plastic, metal, or wood.

The carrier’s door must be made of metal and have a metal locking mechanism.

You should have two water dishes attached to the carrier and should be accessible from outside.

In order to find the right carrier for your pet, you will want to measure your cat. When they are standing, measure from the tip of the head down to the floor, then add about 4 inches. This will indicate the height of the carrier. Next, measure the tip of the cat’s nose to the base of the tail, then add 4 inches. This will indicate the length of the carrier.

How to Use a Cat Carrier (7) (8) (9)

Every cat owner knows that cats have a mind of their own and they aren’t always going to be cooperative. While many cats love to be in enclosed places (seriously, what is with their fascination with boxes?), when they are locked into a carrying case, it’s like they go crazy and they will fight tooth and (sharp) nail to get out.

You can make the task of loading the cat into the carrier a little easier for both of you by acclimating your cat to the carrier way before they actually need to be in it. How do you do that, you ask?

To do this, you will want to leave the carrier out and easily accessible. Cats are suspicious and when the crate comes out of nowhere, they feel like something bad is going to happen – like a visit to the vet. By leaving the carrier out and open, she will be more likely to go in, explore, and not be so afraid of it.

You can do other things that will help your cat feel less afraid of the carrier, such as:

Leave the carrier in their favorite place with the door open. If you put the carrier just anywhere, chances are the cat may not even pay it any mind. However, when it is in their favorite spot (likely a spot that gets a lot of sun), their curiosity will be piqued.

 

Put a favorite blanket and toy in the carrier. The blanket will help your cat to feel comfortable, not just because of the softness of the blanket itself, but the familiar scents will help them feel like the carrier is “theirs.”

 

When your cat is relaxed inside the carrier, practice closing the door. With the door closed, give the cat a treat and then open the door and let the cat out.

How to Get a Reluctant Cat Inside the Carrier (10)

Unfortunately, no matter what you try to do, your cat just may not want anything to do with the carrier. The problem is you are still going to have to get them inside without hurting them and getting scratched up in the process. But how?

Use a towel or blanket that your cat sleeps on and put it inside the carrier.

 

If you do not have a two-door carrier, put the carrier on the end with the open door facing up.

If you do have a two-door carrier, open the top door.

 

Pick up your cat and hold their back paws in one hand while using the other hand to support the chest.

 

Gently place the cat’s backend into the crate first so they aren’t able to see where he is going.

 

If your cat puts up a fight, you can wrap him in said blanket or towel and then place him in using step 4.

Traveling With Your Cat (11) (12)

When you are transporting your cat, you want to avoid feeding them up to an hour before you leave. This will reduce the possibility of your cat getting sick. You will also want to cover the carrier so the motion outside the vehicle doesn’t make them nauseous and sick.

Another important tip is to avoid putting your cat on the ground if there are dogs around, but also if the area is overly crowded with people. All the commotion could cause your kitty to feel distressed and become anxious.

Before going on long trips in the car, consider taking your cat on short jaunts, like around the block or just up and down the street (make sure you buckle the carrier securely in the backseat!). This will help your cat get used to the movement of the car. As soon as you get him back into the house, be sure to give him a treat for being good.

If you have tried traveling with your cat before and they get sick or they just cannot relax, you will want to talk to your vet to see if they can give your cat some kind of medication so that the trip isn’t so stressful for them.

Tips to Keep In Mind When Traveling with Your Cat (13) (14)

If you’ve never traveled with your cat before, it’s going to be a new experience for both you and your feline friend. Here are some tips that will help you prepare for you trip:

Before leaving on your trip, make sure your cat has been examined by the vet to ensure they are in good health. You will also want to make sure they are up to date on their vaccines and they’ve been microchipped just in case they do get away from you.

 

If you are going on a road trip, you will want to make sure your car is in good working condition as well. You may not realize it but a preventative check will save you and your cat a lot of headaches because you will be less likely to break down.

 

Make sure you have the best cat carrier for your cat. You want to make sure your cat, their blanket, water and food dishes will fit comfortably inside the carrier. You also want to make sure the carrier has plenty of ventilation so they have fresh air, too.

 

While you are driving, you want to try to be as calm as you can. If you get too excited, one way or another, your cat will pick up on this and they too will get excited or agitated.

 

If you have multiple cats, avoid trying to put them both into a single crate. Not only will it be heavier for you to carry once you arrive to your destination, but the cats need their own space. The only acceptable time to put multiple cats into one carrier is if they are small kittens.

 

Always make sure that your car is at a good temperature. If it’s cold outside, crank up the heat so that the cats can feel it in the back. If it’s hot, put a light colored sheet over part of the crate and turn on the air conditioning. Also, you should never leave your pets alone in a hot car! Windows up and no air conditioning is a very dangerous situation for any living thing!

How to Clean and Maintain Your Cat Carrier (15) (16)

For the most part, cats are pretty good at keeping themselves nice and clean. So it would make sense that a dirty cat carrier is not the best situation for your kitty. A clean carrier is going to help keep your cat comfortable, but also keep the car from stinking.

If you have a hard sided carrier, you will want to remove the blanket and put it in the laundry to get washed. When the blanket has been dried, put it back in your cat’s bed so they can get their scent on it. For the carrier, you will want to wipe it out with warm sudsy water made from a mild soap. You’ll want to make sure you get out any crumbs from food and other things. You’ll then want to rinse the carrier thoroughly and then let it air dry (or wipe it down with a towel) before putting everything back in.

If you have a soft carrier, you will want to remove everything from the inside and run it through the wash. This includes the padded portion of the carrier – just make sure you read the care instructions on this part for temperature settings and drying instructions.

With an empty carrier, you will want to fill a sink or bathtub with warm sudsy water (again, using a mild detergent) and dip the carrier into the solution. Wipe the interior of the carrier down with a sponge and then rinse the carrier with clean water. Finally, lay the carrier in the sun so it can dry thoroughly.

Throughout the course of using the carrier, it will get some wear and tear. After each trip, you will want to look over the carrier to ensure everything is in good order, such as:

Soft Carriers:

Zippers work easily and do not get stuck

The handles are firmly attached to the carrier

No loose threads, especially around the mesh which could allow your cat to escape

There aren’t any holes in the pad or the carrier itself

Hard Carriers:

Make sure there are no cracks anywhere on the walls or floor of the carrier

Check the hardware to ensure everything is good and tight – if not, tighten as necessary

Check the hinges and locks on the door(s) to ensure they work properly

Conclusion

Traveling is a wonderful experience for the whole family! However, if you have a cat, you may be hesitant to travel because you don’t want to put your kitty in a kennel or find a house sitter. Instead of foregoing traveling all together, why not bring your kitty along? A cat carrier will let you pack your furry friend up and bring them along with you! Not only can you use the cat carrier to travel, but it will also be very handy when you have to take your cat to the vet.

Many people will skip spending money on a cat carrier and opt for a box with some holes, or a basket. But neither of these options are going to be very safe or comfortable for your kitty to travel in. That’s why it is important that you have the best cat carrier that your money can buy. The best part is, cat carriers aren’t very expensive! Head on over to our buying guide to see for yourself!

In our guide, we provide you with five reviews on cat carriers that we believe are worth looking at. There are a few hard sided carriers and a few soft sided, so you can decide which will work best for your needs. We also provide you with a list of important features you should look for when choosing the best cat carrier, just in case you want to keep looking!

Leave us a comment and tell us what you want a cat carrier for. Will it be for travel or just going to the vet? We’d love to hear from you!

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