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Home > Health & behaviour > Cats > Getting your cat into a carrier

Getting your cat into a carrier

When transporting your cat to the vet or anywhere else, it is important to keep it safe and secure in a cat carrier. This will protect your beloved cat from injury if your vehicle stops suddenly and will ensure there is no risk of your cat panicking and running into traffic when you arrive at your destination.

Cat carriers are used at the RSPCA to protect animals from each other while also providing a comfortable refuge for the cat to hide in.

How to secure your cat in a carrier

  1. Ensure the carrier is a comfortable and secure place for your cat. Keep the carrier open in the house and leave it open several days before your appointment. If you regularly wipe your cat down with a towel, you can wipe the crate with that towel and leave that towel in the crate.
  2. Regularly feed your cat treats or meals in the carrier. Praise your cat for entering the carrier using a phrase or word that the cat can associate with entering the carrier e.g. get in the box or travel time. If your cat learns to enjoy the experiences associated with the carrier, it may learn to enter the carrier on cue.
  3. Feliway (a synthetic pheromone analog) is commercially available and may be helpful if you spray it in the carrier 5-10 minutes before you want the cat inside. Alternatively, you may consider using lavender or chamomile sachets in the carrier which sometimes help to relax animals.
  4. Incorporate the cat’s favourite toys, treats or blankets to provide comfort in a strange environment. If your cat loves to be combed or brushed, you can bring along the comb or brush to use during the examination.
  5. If your cat does not go into the carrier on cue, get your cat to come to the bathroom or another small room with you where it cannot hide. Pick up the carrier and speaking softly and gently, place your cat in the carrier while continuing to speak calmly and praising. If you feel that you are struggling to get your cat through the door rather than placing the cat gently into the carrier, consider using a top-loading carrier. Never yell at your cat or chase to get it into the carrier, the cat will associate the carrier with stress and fear.

Choices of carriers

Carriers are made to either load your cat from the top or front. Most front-loading carriers have top halves that are screwed on. The screws and top half can be removed, so that the cat can be gently placed in the bottom and held in a towel while the top half is replaced and secured.

When selecting a carrier, it is important to consider the weight with soft-sided carriers lighter than hard-sided carriers.

Alternatively, a laundry basket may be used by securely clipping on a thick blanket on the top for a lid. Large document clips are best to use to secure the blanket down. If you choose this alternative always ensure the basket is very secure so your cat cannot escape.

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