How to Carrier Train Your Cat | PetFirst
How to Carrier Train Your Cat
Pet Care & Health

How to Carrier Train Your Cat

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
9 months ago

If your cat doesn’t like their carrier, you are not alone. Many pet owners struggle with getting their cat into his or her carrier – but as difficult as the task might seem, your cat needs to learn to tolerate riding in its carrier.

Besides the occasional vet visit, there may be a time where you need to evacuate in case of emergency — and your cat will need its carrier to stay safe. Use these tips to help carrier train your cat.

Start Now

Don’t wait until the day before your cat’s vet appointment to introduce the carrier. Get their carrier out as soon as possible to get them used to it.

Even if you only have a kitten, start now — your cat is never too young to begin getting familiarized with a carrier. 

Normalize the Carrier

Make the cat carrier a part of daily life. Leave it on the floor in a room your cat frequents, and prop the door open so your cat is free to go in anytime. That way, your pet can make the choice itself instead of being forcibly placed inside.

You can also add a towel or soft bedding in the crate which may make your cat more comfortable while inside. Additionally, you could also leave some treats and/or dried catnip inside the crate so when your cat finally does venture inside, they’ll find a nice surprise waiting for them.

Make it Fun

Bedding, treats, and catnip are all great ways to help your cat create positive associations with the crate.

At first, you’ll want to simply observe from afar and let your cat explore the carrier on its own terms; if your cat is used to being shoved inside and taken to the vet, it may run if you try to approach. 

But eventually, sit quietly near the carrier while your cat is inside.

You can introduce toys in and around the carrier, treating the carrier as a normal fixture in your living room while you play with your cat next to it. You can also try putting your cat’s food bowl inside the carrier.

Ramp Up Slowly

As your cat becomes more comfortable with the carrier and is okay with eating inside, you can slowly move to the next steps: closing the door while your cat is in the carrier and giving your cat a treat.

Leave your cat inside the carrier with the door closed for longer and longer each time. Soon you’ll be able to pick up the carrier; walk around with it indoors and outdoors; and even put the carrier in the car to go on brief rides

Work up to riding in the car the amount of time it takes to get to your vet round trip. Don’t forget to give your cat a treat every time you let him or her out of the carrier.

Make It Work

If you’ve done everything you know to do and you just can’t get your cat to like the carrier, or if you need to go to an emergency vet visit and haven’t had time to prepare, don’t worry.

You can still get your cat into the carrier by picking him or her up and putting them in with their rear end first. If needed, stand the carrier up on one end so the door is pointing up and then gently lower your cat into the carrier.

Your cat doesn’t have to love the carrier. They just need to tolerate it enough to get to the vet or wherever else you need to go. But by strategically positioning your cat’s carrier as a fun place to be, you might discover that it becomes their new favorite nap location, too!

Here at PetFirst1, we know accidents and illnesses happen to all pets. PetFirst Pet Insurance1 can help cover unexpected vet visits2 and can provide peace of mind. PetFirst Pet Insurance1  has cat and dog insurance policies2 to fit every budget. Consider getting pet insurance for your furry friend today.


1PetFirst Healthcare, LLC (“PetFirst Pet Insurance” or “PetFirst”) is the program administrator authorized to offer and administer pet health insurance policies underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, a Delaware insurance company, with its main office at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, or New Hampshire Insurance Company or The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, each with its main administrative office at 500 West Madison Street, Suite 3000 Chicago, IL 60661. For costs, complete details of coverage, and a listing of approved states, please contact PetFirst Healthcare, LLC.

2Like most insurance policies, insurance policies offered by PetFirst Healthcare, LLC contain certain exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force.

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