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Cat Tips: Getting Kitty Into the Carrier

Posted by at 5:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (27)


Cat Tips: Getting Kitty Into the Carrier By Ingrid Newkirk

Who among us cat lovers has not struggled when our cats run and hide when we try to get them into the carrier for another checkup or move? Below are some helpful ideas outlined in my book 250 Things You Can Do to Make Your Cat Adore You to make the process a little easier … for both parties involved!

Sounds simple, doesn’t it! If kitty is comatose, it is; or if your cat is used to sleeping in the carrier or finding a cache of favorite treats hidden inside it. But if kitty is halfway functional and only used to going to the vet in that thing, getting her into the carrier without losing clawmark-size parts of your shoulder is as simple as making something edible out of garden mulch. You will have to call on your powers of persuasion and, possibly, deceit.

Because cats can see, don’t parade about with carrier in hand or get it noisily out of the closet. Subtlety and speed are called for here. Plan your maneuver carefully first. And don’t smile too much. The cat’s no fool. Try to act as if nothing’s up.

1. Make sure the carrier bottom is comfy, not lumpy, barren, cold (don’t store it in the potting shed), or lined with thin paper. A warm towel makes a good floor covering.

2. Make sure the door works well and closes tightly. If necessary, oil the hinges. There may be a time and place for fumbling, but as on a date, this isn’t it.

3. Try to ever-so-quietly get the carrier as near as possible to the cat without the cat seeing it. This means that once you pick the cat up, there isn’t far to go. Keep the carrier at chest level (yours) so that you don’t have to bend down at a crucial moment.

4. Pick Tiddles up, facing away from the carrier and, talking gently to her so that she will  trust you again, move backwards if necessary, until you are just in front of the carrier.

5. Back her into the carrier, gently but firmly. Before you let go, keep one hand inside the carrier at her face level to stop her from dashing out as energetically as she would if given a clear view of the escape hatch.

6. Slip a little treat in through the bars.

7. Latch. Cover carrier with a towel. Pick carrier up evenly (some people seem to instantly forget there’s a cat onboard and start swinging it about, banging it into doors, holding it at weird angles, and otherwise misbehaving).

8. Depart. Do not be tempted, for any reason, to open the carrier until you are safely shut in a room somewhere.

There. Easy wasn’t it?

Do you have any other tips for getting a cat into a carrier?

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27 Comments

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    Sharon says...

    April 30th, 2009, 3:24 pm

    Credit my cousin for this…but the key is to grab the back legs and hold them together gently so that kitty doesn’t do a spread eagle across the opening of the carrier. Doing that is a big help!

    Donna says...

    April 30th, 2009, 7:29 pm

    Tips for stray or feral cats. Stand the carrier on it’s back end. Hold the cat by the scruff and support his back end and back legs with your other hand. Gently lower him down into the carrier and cover it with a towel.

    To make it more comfortable, secure a towel or soft bedding..duck tape the bottom, or whatever works best.

    This is obviously the method to use for cat’s that aren’t tame, but need to go to the vet regardless. I have found this method much kinder than trying to grab an already scared cat, and force him into a carrier.

    Jessica says...

    May 1st, 2009, 6:26 am

    Throw some biscuits in and just let your cat eat them then go out.

    Do this a few times and he/she thinks that’s what happens when the carrier comes out.

    Works for me, but that could be because my kitty loves food so much!

    Mary says...

    May 1st, 2009, 11:13 am

    I enlist gravity’s help by turning the carrier on its end, with the opening at the top, and propping it up in the corner of the bathroom. (Because the bathroom is small and doesn’t contain anywhere for kitty to hide.) I’ve found it’s much easier to gently lower my cat into a carrier than it is to slide her in sideways.

    kerry says...

    May 1st, 2009, 11:59 am

    My kitties love catnip, so all i have to do is withhold catnip for a few days and then put catnip in the cat carrier and they run in willingly. Only one of my kitties has gotten wise to my trick, the rest fall for it repeatedly.

    Pamela says...

    May 2nd, 2009, 1:54 am

    I agree with putting the carrier on end and letting gravity work; so much easier and they can’t immediately shoot out again! I also pick up my cat with a towel or small blanket, wrapping them with loose flap end over their head, slipping it off as they go into the carrier. Also, I have learned to warn people who have never before tried to catch and put cats into a carrier that the nicest, quietest, most loving little pet will turn into an eight-legged, three-foot wide creature with 18-inch fangs!

    Scott Ogilby says...

    May 2nd, 2009, 1:58 pm

    Well, this is always a challenge, especially with two large cats. I have top-loading carriers, which helps, and some time before putting them in, I quietly close my bedroom door so they can’t go under the bed. Then I pick them up with towels and drop them in the carriers, towels and all.

    petaboy says...

    May 4th, 2009, 1:43 am

    interesting post and very helpful too. keep me update.

    anonymous says...

    August 25th, 2010, 8:12 am

    Cunning and guile is vital. Try not to panic, your cat can read your mind and he/she will be thoroughly awkward. Am going to try cat carrier on its end against corner of room. Entice feline to corner and swiftly take hold of him by scruff of neck and pop him in. He’s a brilliant traveller but doesn’t like the packing! Grateful for posted advice.

    Maureen C LaPerriere says...

    November 16th, 2011, 5:48 pm

    All your posts are HILARIOUS, especially Anonymous! I could see myself in every one! Our vets are necessary evils (according to my four cats and one dog!) but don’t we just feel awesome when we come home and open the carrier door!

    KP says...

    February 14th, 2012, 10:16 pm

    Gravity assist also works well to get kitty OUT of the carrier when he get’s to the vet’s office…. He’d much rather stay in it there, but turning the carrier on its end to allow him to ‘drop’ out a few inches works great!

    Blanka says...

    February 26th, 2012, 1:05 pm

    I looked up this article as, just minutes ago, we ended up cancelling a vet’s appointment for our, at other times very sweet, two year old black and white kitty. My proven trick, leaving the carrier out overnight and hiding her absolutely favourite treats in it a couple times the night before, to get comfortable with the carrier, has backfired!! Although she picked up her treats from the very back of the carrier during the night, she would not even go anywhere near it when the time came. At other times, of course, she would do anything to get to them.

    As we have the “duffle bag” type of carrier which I really like otherwise, there is no way to get her in if she does not want to. The final result of anything I could think of was cat under the bed, and the appointment being rescheduled for next week. Cat now walking around the house with her tail high up, as if mocking us!! :)

    New revised strategy – carrier stays out all week, to be included as part of her treat hunting game which she demands to play every night. And no breakfast on the morning of, to give her more motivation to get in to get her treats. But I am sure she is plotting right now as I do!!

    It helps to know that we are not the only ones going through little ordeals like this… The funniest thing is that people who never owned a cat will never understand this, thinking that they would love to have our problems (let them try)!

    Blanka!

    Sapphire says...

    July 19th, 2012, 5:23 pm

    This is a great forum with some excellent suggestions, keep them coming.

    We have recently adopted a stray cat and naturally took it to the vets for it’s injections. Trying to get the cat into the carrier was hard and distressing for both of us. My husband and I finally made it but not only was the cat distressed but I was too! He still won’t come up to me to be stroked (I was the one who took him to the vets)!

    We will try the scruff of the neck way next time but how on earth do you get to the scruff of the neck when he knows what’s coming and I’m sure he does. That morning when taking him to the vet, he kept eyeing us and didn’t come closer than an arm’s length, even though he hadn’t seen the carrier!

    I have asked the vet to visit me for the 3 week follow up injections because I can’t face trying to get him in the carrier again, it will cost me £55 for the vet to come to me! I have since bought some feliway and he seems to like it and seems more relaxed with it on his bedding but he still won’t come to me like he did previously. I note the suggestion re feral and strays and if I could get near him on the days he must go to the vet this would probably work. He is a very knowing cat! Any other suggestions gratefully received!

    Gail says...

    August 13th, 2012, 4:19 pm

    I have come to the conclusion that getting a cat into a cat carrier should be a new Olympic event!

    Annoyomous says...

    October 8th, 2012, 8:57 am

    Well, I appreciate the suggestions but NONE of them worked! We tried everything! The scruff of the neck thing worked to get her halfway into the carrier…but not enough to get the door closed before she jumped out. She’s a pretty long cat so her feet touch the bottom way too soon. I think we’re going to have to try a dog carrier or my vet suggested trying two laundry baskets one flipped upside down on top of each other and tie them together…not sure if that will help at all or not! I wish I could just carry her to the car and into the vet’s office but I know that won’t work :)

    katherine says...

    December 7th, 2012, 11:00 am

    I find getting one of my Ragdolls into the carrier when we’re in a motel room, almost impossible. Muffin knows we’re getting ready to leave. Therefore she hides under the bed, situated of course safely in the middle. I have to move the bed and hope I can get to her before she figures out what I’ve done. Her sister goes into her carrier with no problems. I find the best method if it’s a hard sided carrier is backing the cat in with the carrier on end. If it’s a soft sided carrier I have the carrier on the table and back her in keeping my hand in front of her face.

    katherine says...

    December 7th, 2012, 11:03 am

    My biggest problem when travelling is to find a motel that accepts cats and doesn’t put us into smoking rooms. I’ve had to be devious about this and make reservations (usually with Muffin and Mittens meowing in the background) claiming we are travelling without pets. Does anyone else have any suggestions? I’m terribly sensitive to cigarette smoke and can’t breathe in a smoking room.

    carolyn says...

    March 10th, 2013, 10:30 am

    None of the above work for one of my cats, the other one gets right in as soon as he sees the cat carreir and hangs out in there until we are ready to go. The problem cat is huge and barely fits through the door and as soon as that carrier is within six feet of her she hides. She can run faster than me and turns into a monster when caught, hissing,scratching and fighting to get away. She does not like cat treats, I have tried them all. I cannot cut her claws and the only thing I have been able to catch her in is a thick jacket that her claws cannot penetrate. I have tried everything, nine times out of ten I have to cancel her grooming and vet appointments simply because I cannot get her into the carrier. What can I do? I see animal control officers with noose like gadgets……………an net maybe?

    Sharon says...

    July 28th, 2013, 7:26 pm

    My 2 yr-old kitty is so unmanageable when
    it comes to getting her into the carrier to
    go to the vets. She even resists grooming.
    She came from a shelter, and I believe that
    she was shuttled around from one to another,
    ending up a t a no-kill facility. All good
    suggestions that I have read here, but alas… nothing works for this little gray
    dynamo of energy. When it comes to the
    carrier….all bets are off. Nothing works.

    Sharon says...

    July 28th, 2013, 7:33 pm

    I forgot to mention that AFTER I finally
    am able to get my kitty into the carrier,
    (with much difficulty),
    she might howl only a couple of protests, then sits in there as good as can be.—
    all the way to the vets office.

    Rita says...

    August 2nd, 2013, 4:20 pm

    WOW! This has been such a treat to read. And I must admit I had a good laugh too. I have a feral cat and have worked really hard to domesticate her. As soon as I saw her at the shelter I knew she was the one and then the staff told me she was feral. So I decided I would take my time with her and I visited her every night for 2 weeks. She had never left her cage like the other cats in the shelter to play or go explore. She just sat in the back hissing at everyone. I knew nothing about cats, I had always had dogs so this was all so new to me. Every night I would go sit by her cage and just talk to her. Eventually she started to trust me a little and she would come closer to the front when I came in. Then I put a teeshirt I had worn into the cage with her so she could recognize my scent. By the end of the 2 weeks I had her coming to the front of the cage with the door open and she would sniff me. The day before I took her home she headbutted me and I knew then I could win her over.
    Taking her home was going to be a huge ordeal but the staff were great! They put on full length gloves and got her by the scruff of the neck.
    And I like a fool thought “hmmm that wasn’t too bad!”. When we got her home I introduced her to one room at a time (per the shelter instructions) and after another 2 weeks she had the run of the house. It took months of hard work but we now have a super loving kitty who loves sitting with us and chats to us all the time.
    But then came vacation…..there was no way she was getting into her crate! OMG I was so frantic and so was she. I felt horrible stressing her out so much but I could not leave her for a week. Eventually we got her in but it was not pretty. Band-aids everywhere on both me and hubby.
    Well next week is vacation again and I figured I would start looking now for a better way to get her into the crate…..I love the bathroom idea and I can get her in there no problem because she HAS to come with me anytime I walk in there. I don’t have the long gloves, but the towel, crate up, backend in first I think will be my strategy! LOL – Fingers crossed!
    Thank you all for the tips, I am glad I am not the only one. I thought it was because she was feral that she hated the crate but now I know it’s just cats in general. Phew!

    Teddy says...

    November 16th, 2013, 8:54 am

    I’ve given up on treats in carrier and cat nip in the carrier; she learned that trick and will run out if if get near it. My next step is a live trap with food in it; only problem is I have two cats and I know the one I need to go to the vet won’t go in first but that’s my plan right now!

    Lexi says...

    November 25th, 2013, 2:00 pm

    Watch this technique, it works. Just be sure to keep carrier hidden , and quiet, until the very last moment.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdvEoC3U080

    Blind Superman Technique: An easy way to get your cat into the carrier for travel.

    Linny says...

    January 29th, 2014, 6:26 pm

    Just came across this board and would like to tell you how I get my kitties into their carriers,its on You Tube if you want to search for it. Get a friend to hold you kitty and tickle your pets head to relax her and then you gently put a pillow case under her legs and gently roll it up to her stomach area and then gently drop her inside it and then drop her in the carrier with the door end standing up, so easy for you and your cat. Had years of cancelled vet appointments and scratched hands, but no more. Good Luck

    Lori says...

    May 20th, 2014, 2:06 pm

    Love the trials and errors everybody has gone through and I’ve tried them all with no success. Even tried putting the smelling salts the vet gave me around the cage and no luck. My cat is a 22 lb feral cat and there is no way you are going to do anything with him that he doesn’t want to do. One minute he is loving, the next he is hell on wheels and you’d better watch out or you’ll be missing skin from somewhere. I’m going out of town for a meeting though so have to get him to the vet for his shots or I can’t take him to the kennel. My other cat is a doll and he goes for walks on a leash so don’t need a carrier, why can’t they all do that. I’ll let you know if I find a successful way to get him there.

    Rikki says...

    June 18th, 2014, 9:11 am

    My vet recommended getting the cat into a pillowcase and then lowing that into the crate, but I can imagine getting some cats into a pillowcase is hard enough! .. and I would only use that method sparingly as it strikes me as being even more stressful for the cat.

    Linny says...

    June 27th, 2014, 2:09 pm

    In reply to Rikki’s comments. This method in my experience is a lot kinder to my lovely cats than chasing them around the house and fighting with them to get them in the carrier, can I just mention that the pillowcase is never fastened at the top it is left open and once in the carrier my cat can walk out of it when in the carrier. They show no stress when in there and seem relaxed and happy, and I am all for a happy cat.xx

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