How to Get Your Cat into a Carrier and Not Get Scratched!
21 April, 2016

Let’s face it!  Most cats don’t like going to their veterinarian.  Can you blame them?  After all, most of us aren’t exactly thrilled to go to a doctor’s appointment.  And, most cats hate being in a carrier since it is associated with going somewhere unwanted and it is kind of claustrophobic.   The real challenge, of course, is how to get your kitty into a carrier without getting scratched or having them jump out!

Below are some tips to help:

Make sure to get the right carrier

Get a carrier that is designed specifically for transporting pets and that works with your particular cat.  Most carriers come in hard plastic or soft-sided versions and in all different sizes.  Hard-sided carriers are best for just starting out. Get one that opens from both the top and the front.

Soft-sided carriers are lighter-weight, smaller and easier to handle. These open from both the top and the side. Regardless of which carrier you choose, make sure you get one that can be easily taken apart. This is imperative for cats that won’t come out on their own, or for cats that are sick or in pain.

Align your carrier with a familiar scent

Cats are very smell oriented.  Their sense of smell is around 14 times more sensitive than ours. You can use this to your advantage by making the carrier smell more familiar and less like that last trip to the vet.  Clean out the carrier and then put a towel that your cat has slept on in the carrier to make it more familiar and comforting.  Or, try spraying the cat pheromone Feliway® into the carrier 15 minutes before placing your cat inside which relaxes them.

Take the carrier out the night before

If you take the carrier out the night before and leave it in your living room, your cat will get used to it being out.  Most cats will walk over, smell it and sometimes play with it.  By having it out the night before, it doesn’t become a big event.

How to get your cat into the carrier

Some cat parents can simply open the carrier quickly and place your kitty inside.  However, if your cat is a very skittish cat, the below method works wonders:

  • Put your carrier in a bathroom and place the carrier so the door is open on its end.
  • Then find a bath towel that is big enough to wrap around your cat and hold his legs, paws and body. But, you want to be able to have a towel that can fit in the carrier.
  • Get the cat into the bathroom with you and the carrier. Depending on your cat, you may be able to pick him up and carry him in, or lure him in with food or a toy. Quickly close the door.
  • Gently wrap your cat in the towel with only their head sticking out. You need to wrap and hold the towel securely enough so your kitty doesn’t escape, but not so tight that you are hurting them or inhibiting their breathing.
  • Then, put your cat’s tail end in first so your kitty doesn’t see what you are doing, lower your kitty into the carrier and quickly shut the door. The towel and the kitty will hopefully then be secure in the carrier!

With the right carrier, planning and timing, you will be able to succeed in getting your kitty into the carrier and off to the vet scratch-free!

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