Do you have a cat who hates going in the carrier? Does this make trips and vet visits both much more difficult than they have to be? If you’ve got a cat who hates his carrier, you’re not alone. This is a problem many cat owners have to deal with, but there are some tricks that might be able to help.
In this article, you’ll find more information about some of the most efficient ways you can help your cat get used to the idea of going into a carrier.
6 Tips for Cat Carrier Training
Below are 6 tips to for cat carrier training to help make trips easier for you and your cat.
1. Leave the Carrier Out
Many cats get used to the idea of seeing their cat carriers when the carriers are left out all the time. If you have the space to do so, keep your cat carrier in a room where your cat can see and interact with it regularly. You might want to put a blanket or towel inside in case he wants to go in and rest sometimes, too.
The more you get your cat used to the idea of seeing his carrier, the less panicked he’ll be when it comes time to go inside it.
2. Practice Often
The best way to help your cat reduce his carrier anxiety is to practice often. At first, you may not be able to get more than a couple of feet into the carrier, and that’s okay. Don’t push it, but just work up slowly to being able to place your cat fully in the carrier with the door shut.
You can then walk away and leave your cat alone in the room for a couple of minutes before returning and letting him out of the crate. Over time, you may want to add a few more minutes to this practice routine too. This experience will show your cat that being put in a carrier is not as awful as he thinks.
3. Provide High-Reward Treats
Place a small pile of high-reward treats in the carrier to entice your cat to go inside. He may be interested enough to stick his head or upper body into the crate, and you can gently push the rest of him into the crate to follow.
The treats may also provide a nice distraction for your cat until he can settle down within the carrier. However, some cats may become so upset by being put in a carrier that they will throw up from the stress, so treats may not work in this situation.
4. Add a Blanket from Home
A blanket from home—ideally, your cat’s favorite blanket that smells the most familiar to him—can make a big difference in his willingness to calm down. If your cat can smell something that is familiar and pleasant to him, then he’s much more likely to calm down and relax.
Although your cat might not relax fully in his carrier, something that smells like home can go a long way toward giving him a more secure environment while he’s traveling. If you don’t want to use his favorite blanket, an old shirt that smells like you might work, too.
5. Play Soothing Sounds
It might sound a little silly, but some cats respond well to white noise or soothing classical music. If your cat is the type who relaxes when he hears something soothing, you might be able to help him calm down for his crate by playing sounds like this.
Try a variety of different sounds to find the ones your cat responds to the best. With the right sound to help, you might find you’ve got a much more relaxed cat on your hands.
6. Talk to Your Vet
If everything else on this list has failed, you can speak to your veterinarian for some sedatives or anti-anxiety medication. Vets are usually hesitant to provide this type of medication for cats who dislike their carriers in all but the most extreme of circumstances. However, your vet can tell you for sure whether or not your cat might be a good candidate for medication.
Medication may sedate your cat so much that he sleeps through the whole process of loading him into the carrier and driving him to his destination. This method is usually best for situations where you’re moving a long way and need to drive your cat for several hours.
Patience and Practice are Your Best Bet
It’s not always easy to get a cat to go into his carrier, and some cats hate their carriers so much they might scratch or bite their human family members just to avoid being put in one. However, with enough patience and practice, you can help even the most stubborn of carrier-frightened cats to be secured for travel.
If you have any other questions or concerns, feel free to call Live Oak Veterinary Hospital in Sonora, CA at 209-432-9437. Your vet will be able to help you find the right solution for your cat if none of the options on this list work for you.