It seems to be close to impossible to put my cat into a carrier. I'm not sure whether he is afraid of closed spaces or doesn't like being restrained or what, but it requires two people to put him into a carrier.

What can I do to make it easier on my cat and me to get him in the carrier?

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    Oh, a question about putting a cat onto an aircraft carrier... – sharptooth Dec 2 '13 at 14:29
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    @sharptooth: aviation stack exchange is that other tab... – Phil H Jul 25 '14 at 13:11
up vote 35 down vote accepted

When I put my cats in the Carrier (They don't like it) I use the following method:

  1. I stand the carrier up so the door is facing the ceiling
  2. I pick up the cat, and put it in so its back legs go in first. This makes it fairly easy to hold the back legs together so it can't try to hold itself from going in the carrier. With the carrier vertical like this, the cat sort of falls to the bottom so I have a chance to close the door.

This is perhaps clearer with a picture, so here is me subjecting one of my cats to this:

enter image description here

Also, as preparation I get my cats in a room where they can't hide, because as soon as they see the carrier they look for a place to hide :-) One last idea is to try to lure them in with a treat, but my cats figured that out pretty quickly and it stopped working.

  • So, you take the carrier out only when you are going to put your cat in it, right? Why? – Esa Paulasto Jul 19 '14 at 8:24
  • Also i would add to do it quickly but gently. If they figure out what you are doing before you get them in the cage there will be a struggle. If you are rough with them they may start struggling from the start or even scratch / bite. – Beo Nov 8 '17 at 21:39
  • It's not just the treat, a cat that hates the carrier will quickly identify the things that happen just before they get put into a carrier. Incrementally, our cat would hide when she noticed (1) the carrier (2) the good treats at an unusual time (3) the sound of the squeaky door where we kept the carrier (4) after she was fooled once, she would hide if she saw something in the room that was covered with a towel/blanket (5) putting the animal passport on the table in preparation of going to the vet. Clever cats are a blessing and a curse at the same time. – Flater Nov 10 '17 at 13:46

The easiest and most humane method is training. Instead of trying to force your cat into the carrier during those times you need him to go, teach him to enjoy going into the carrier.

Your goal is to make the carrier a warm, pleasant, and friendly place for your cat. Right now he is only associates it with unpleasant things.

First: leave the carrier in a place that cat can get to it. Put a towel and toy in the carrier, let the cat enter and enjoy at his leisure.

Second: occasionally call your cat to the carrier and put a treat in there for him, let him go in and enjoy the treat on his own.

  • This has worked with our cats. One or two of our carriers are all the time accessible somewhere in our apartment. And never close the door while the cat is inside, not even for a short time. Close the door only when it is time to go. – Esa Paulasto Dec 2 '13 at 21:54
  • Most humane, yes. Easiest, no. – J. Musser Jun 26 '14 at 2:36
  • This can work, and depending on your cat, even if you didn't intend it. Ours are rarely in one, except to go to the vet - but last time they went, after one had to get a shot, she zoomed straight to the carrier, climbed back in, and stayed there... having figured out it took her there but it also brought her back home where there were no shots. It was rather funny. – Megha Jun 15 '17 at 5:37

All but one current answers talk about "forcefully" putting the animal into the carrier. I do not believe that this is a good practice because it could cause your animal to have bad associations with the carrier (or just add to existing reluctance).

Disclaimer: My experience with this has been exclusively with kittens, the methods needed (and results) for an adult cat (or any animal) may vary.

The best method in my experience is also the one that will take longest. Training, training, training.

This method will take time. You'll have to start it long before you actually need to use the carrier for real.

  1. Place your animals food bowl next to the carrier (but not too close at first).
  2. Over the next few feeding rituals, start moving the food closer and closer to the carrier finally placing it right next to (even touching) the carrier.
  3. Once your animal gets used to the food being in the general vicinity of the carrier you can place the bowl at the entrance. Let the animal get used to each position leaving it there for a few days (I told you this would take time, no?).
  4. The next position should be inside the carrier but as close to the entrance (or exit in the eyes of the animal ;) ) as possible. For a bag carrier, you might need to place it on it's side or upright so that the animal can actually reach the food.
    It might be a good idea at this stage to make the inside of the carrier as comfortable as possible. You could achieve this by placing some soft blankets and toys that have a familiar scent.
  5. The final step is to put the bowl right at the back of the carrier. This will require the animal to enter the carrier right to the end. By this time, the animal should already be comfortable being around the carrier and shouldn't put up too much of a fuss.

I've used the term "animal" in this answer because I believe that the same method could be used for any pet. Many are reluctant to get into such a small space but almost all will have to go through this experience at some stage. It is better to start as early as possible to avoid the "forceful" methods that might even exaggerate the carrier creeps!

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    Being able to train them from kittenhood makes a big difference. Adult cats with unknown histories are much harder to train. – Monica Cellio Oct 21 '13 at 14:22
  • @mon (cont.)- Starting the training early is most definitely an added bonus that I was lucky enough to have. My two adopted adolescent cats both have unknown histories, but (I can only assume) that the same situation with a fully grown feline would be a different story altogether! – Lix Oct 21 '13 at 15:40
  • I made two "assumptions" in my answer, one was that you have enough time before hand to start with the training and the other was the cat's age. I'm fairly new to living with cats so my knowledge is limited to my own experiences. Going back to the chat transcript, I'm sure you can agree with me that it would always be preferable to not have to use force in any situation with your pet, one can only imagine how stressful it is for the animal. In a best case scenario, I feel my suggestions here would be useful to some. – Lix Oct 21 '13 at 15:44

For most of mine I do what Kyle does: stand the carrier on end and put the cat in rump-first. I also do this in a small room (a bathroom) so that if the cat squirms out of my hands I can still catch him to try again.

One of my cats just will not go into a standard carrier, even a large one. (The only time he's been in one, since I got him, was on the way home from the animal shelter, and I wasn't the one who loaded him.) For him I use a soft-sided carrier with a zippered top; I put him in from the top, use one hand to hold him down (I try to pet him while doing this), and use the other hand to zip the top most of the way. Then I just have to negotiate the final few inches, pulling my hand out while zipping up. By then he usually knows he's lost, though. The whole time we're doing this I talk gently to the cat (like I do sometimes when he's sitting in my lap); I don't know if that makes a difference.

carrier; no cats were inconvenienced in the making of this photo

It does get easier over time, particularly as the cats age. For the last several years of their lives my three elderly cats would just walk into the carrier when I brought it out. They were soemtimes seeing the vet every month or two, so it became routine.

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    Something to watch out for with these: I got one for my cat that goes nuts on a car ride (he would scratch at a normal carrier door until his claws would bleed). However, he was able to open the zipper, so if you go with this option you might need some sort of clasp to hold the zippers together. – Kyle Brandt Oct 11 '13 at 12:17
  • Thanks for the warning. Mine hasn't tried to open it yet, but I'll watch out for that. (Once he's in the carrier and the carrier's in the car, he just sits there forlornly crying -- no thrashing.) – Monica Cellio Oct 11 '13 at 12:52

It always works for me if I wrap the cat tightly in a towel holding its paws in like its getting a pill and then lower into the kennel, that way the cat cant flail its legs about and avoid the door

When a carrier is not a thing to be afraid of, things get a lot easier.

enter image description here

Keep the carrier out, not hidden in a closet. Take the door away. Leave it and forget it. And do the same with vacuum cleaner.

Allright, I admit that one of our five cats does not like a carrier. Probably because she gets easily sick during car drives. Too many times she crapped and vomited in a carrier, she has decided she no longer loves going inside. Once she is in, she is okay.

All the rest of our cats like being inside a carrier. We have one or two carriers always at home for them to freely go in. I have carriers up in the attick storage, and sometimes I switch the one that is down in our apartment.

The way I do it is to place the carrier against a firm surface, such as a wall, and then I back the cat in. If you to try to send them in face first, they're better able to see and use their paws to prevent.

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    Combine with the element of surprise - I do the feisty one first. Also do the last bit by pushing gently (but firmly) against their nose and face. They automatically recoil from the contact and offer much less resistance. – Phil H Jul 25 '14 at 12:56

I have to but my cat into his carrier in 'reverse'. The procedure I use is the following:

0> reduce to the minimum the places he can hide in 1> close all the escapes 2> bring the carrier 3> bring the cat in that closed room 4> gently pull the cat in his carrier keeping his head in my hand.

  • The point is to make the experience less stressful for the cat, not the other way round. – Sonevol Nov 8 '17 at 20:18
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    Won't work with strong big cats. Trust me, I tried. 😆 – Athari Nov 8 '17 at 20:38

Some cats love going in carriers and some don't. It is normal and there is nothing wrong with your cat.

To get him in try tossing his favorite toy inside and see if he will go in.

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    The only time I've seen a cat willingly go into a carrier is when they were leaving the vets! – John Cavan Oct 9 '13 at 14:52
  • @JohnCavan My cat LOVES going into a carrier! – Abdullah Shafique Oct 9 '13 at 14:54
  • That's a rarity! – John Cavan Oct 9 '13 at 14:55
  • Two of my cats also love going in the carrier, although they're not so happy when I shut them in. If I cover it, they think it's a cave and feel like they have to investigate and/or sleep in it. – Rachel Feb 25 '14 at 15:58

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