Train your cat to use a carrier – Transcript

Getting your cat into a carrier for travel or vet visits can be a challenge but it doesn't have to be stressful. Here are our tips on how to make your cat comfortable with their carrier.

First let's talk about what a suitable cat carrier should look like. We recommend a sturdy plastic carrier, that is easy to clean and provide security for your cat. The carrier should be spacious enough for your cat to sit, lie down and turn around comfortably. The best carriers have top and side openings for easy access and some even allow you to remove the top half for vet visits. Avoid carriers with unstable bottoms such as fabric carriers as they may not provide secure footing and can be difficult to clean. Backpack carriers are also not recommended for cats as they can be unsettling. Make sure the carrier is clean especially if it was used by another cat as a strong scent can be off putting.

To help your cat get used to the carrier, place it in a quiet spot in your home as a permanent fixture. This way your cat can use it as a familiar hideaway or bed. Make sure to take the front door off completely and place comfortable and familiar bedding in the carrier. Placing a treat in the carrier from time to time will help create a positive association. If the carrier has a detachable top start by placing just the bottom half in a permanent location. Allow your cat to explore and reward them with a treat when they show interest. Once they are comfortable with the bottom half add the top half for more hiding space. Be patient as every cat will take their own time to feel comfortable inside the carrier. Some cats may avoid the carrier altogether in such cases place treats inside to encourage exploration. Never force your cat into the carrier. The goal is to create a positive association.

For play motivated cats engage them near the carrier with toys like a wand or feather toy, occasionally use the toy to lure them inside the carrier. When your cat is comfortable resting inside the carrier try putting the door on but leave it open. Use treats to reward calm behaviour. Gradually work up to closing the door for a few seconds with your cat inside, reopening it and offering a treat. Don't rush this process, watch for signs of stress and if your cat seems uncomfortable go back a few steps until they are calm.  

Some cats may never fully accept the carrier in such cases here's how to place your cat inside when necessary. If you have a top loading carrier open the top and gently lift your cat, holding their legs together, and lower them into the carrier. If you don't have a top-loading carrier, you can try a similar technique by gently pushing your cat inside or backing them into it. Before travel spray the carrier with a synthetic pheromone like Feliway half an hour in advance to comfort your cat. Covering the carrier with a light towel can also help keep them calm during the journey.

That was our advice on cat carriers and carrier training your cat the Battersea way. For more hints and tips head to the Battersea website and subscribe to our channels.