Easy Guide: How to Get Cat Into Carrier Without Stress

how to get cat into carrier

Traveling with your cat doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. With the right approach and some helpful tips, you can make the process of getting your cat into a carrier much more enjoyable for both you and your feline friend. In this guide, we’ll share some expert advice from Certified Cat Behavior Consultant Shannen McNee of the Toronto Humane Society to make stress-free cat travel a reality.

Let’s dive into some essential cat carrier tips that will teach you how to get cat into carrier without any added stress or anxiety.

Key Takeaways:

  • Start training when no trips are planned to avoid rushing the process.
  • Familiarize your cat with the carrier by making it a part of their daily environment.
  • Use treats and meals to create positive associations with the carrier.
  • Introduce the carrier with the top removed for anxious cats.
  • Gradually increase the time your cat spends in the carrier.
  • Reward and praise your cat throughout the training process.
  • Experiment with head-first or bum-first carrier entry based on your cat’s anxiety levels.

Understanding the Importance of a Carrier

Cat in a carrier

As a cat owner, recognizing the significance of a cat carrier is crucial. These carriers offer various benefits, ensuring that your precious feline companion remains safe, secure, and comfortable during travel. Let’s discuss the main advantages of using cat carriers and why they are a necessity for responsible pet owners.

  1. Cat Travel Safety: When taking your cat on a journey, a cat carrier offers essential protection. By securing a carrier with a seat belt in a vehicle, owners can prevent injuries to their pets during sudden stops or collisions. Travelling without a carrier can put your cat’s life at risk, so it’s important to invest in one to ensure their wellbeing while on the move.
  2. Benefits of Cat Carriers: Carriers provide a secure space for cats to travel to veterinarians, shelters, or when relocating. Additionally, these carriers can prevent escape or injury by creating a familiar and controlled environment for your cat. This is especially crucial for cats that are anxious or easily startled, as carriers help minimize stress during transportation.
  3. Cat Carrier Necessity: Legally, many public transport systems require that pets travel in carriers for the sake of safety and hygiene. Moreover, some pet-friendly hotels and accommodations insist on cat carriers to prevent damage to their property. Ultimately, investing in a cat carrier makes it easier and more stress-free to travel with your cat both locally and internationally.

Let’s debunk a common misconception about cat carriers: many cat owners believe that carriers are merely a temporary prison for their beloved pets. However, this perception is far from the truth. In reality, cat carriers, when used effectively, can help create positive associations for cats while still ensuring their utmost safety and comfort.

“A well-designed cat carrier can actually be a safe haven for a cat, providing them with familiar scents and a cozy space that keeps them feeling secure throughout their journey. It’s all about getting your cat comfortable with the carrier, which requires patience and positive reinforcement.” – Shannen McNee, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant, Toronto Humane Society

In conclusion, understanding the importance of using a cat carrier is vital for responsible cat owners. These carriers provide numerous benefits, including travel safety, legal compliance, and a familiar environment for your pet. As a caring pet parent, choosing the right cat carrier and taking the time to acclimate your feline friend to it can significantly reduce stress and ensure a safer, more enjoyable experience for both you and your cat.

Choosing the Right Carrier for Your Cat

Choosing the Right Carrier for Your Cat

Both soft-case and hard-case cat carriers have their advantages, and individual cats may have their preferences. Finding the right carrier for your cat is crucial, as it plays a significant role in ensuring safe and comfortable cat travel. Shannen McNee, a certified cat behavior consultant, provides valuable insights into selecting the perfect cat carrier for your feline friend.

Soft-Case vs. Hard-Case Carriers

Soft-case cat carriers are lightweight, easy to transport, and often collapsible for convenient storage. They usually come with a padded base, providing a comfortable environment for cats. However, they might not be escape-proof and provide less protection during impact.

Hard-case cat carriers are more durable and offer better protection in case of accidents. They are typically escape-proof, ensuring the safety of your cat during travel. On the other hand, they might be heavier and take up more storage space.

Ultimately, whether you choose a soft-case or hard-case carrier, it should be sturdy, secure, and comfortable for your cat.

Key Features of a Safe and Comfortable Carrier

When picking the right cat carrier, keep an eye out for these essential features:

  • Size: The carrier should be large enough for your cat to sit, stand, and turn around comfortably.
  • Material: Durable and easy-to-clean materials like plastic or nylon are recommended.
  • Secure door: The entry should be secure and escape-proof, preventing any unwanted mishaps during travel.
  • Ventilation: Adequate ventilation is crucial for your cat’s wellbeing.
  • Easy access: Ensure the carrier comes apart easily for less stressful vet visits, allowing the vet to examine your cat while they remain in the bottom half if necessary.

Crash-Test Certified Carriers to Consider

Shannen McNee advises owners to examine crash-test certified carriers and harnesses to ensure the highest safety standards for their traveling cats. Certified carriers often undergo rigorous testing to confirm they can withstand impacts and protect pets effectively.

“Investing in a crash-test certified carrier is a wise choice for pet owners who prioritize safety. Such carriers have been tested and proven to protect your beloved pets in the event of an accident.”

As you research, consider carriers that have been crash-test certified, and prioritize safety and comfort when choosing the perfect cat carrier option for your pet.

Creating a Positive Association with the Carrier

positive carrier training

Establishing a good relationship between your cat and its carrier is essential, and several key components can make it happen. Positive carrier training involves using proven desensitization techniques and fostering favorable cat carrier associations. By carefully introducing your cat to its carrier and ensuring a stress-free experience, you’ll pave the way for smoother travel and less anxious trips to the vet.

Begin by thoroughly cleaning the cat carrier to remove any lingering stress hormones and create a clean, inviting space. Add your cat’s favorite blanket or bedding material to the carrier, ensuring it doesn’t slip inside. Not only will this make the carrier more comfortable, but it will also carry your cat’s scent, promoting a sense of familiarity and security.

“Desensitization techniques involve gradually introducing cats to the carrier while reducing any intimidating or stressful elements. When done correctly, your cat will feel at home in its carrier and not fear it as a symbol of negative experiences.”

Consider some of the following strategies to encourage positive associations and reduce anxiety:

  1. Place food, treats or toys in the carrier to encourage voluntary entry.
  2. Incorporate playtime around the carrier, using toys that your cat enjoys.
  3. Let your cat explore the carrier at its own pace, without force or coercion.
  4. Ensure the carrier is frequently available, not only during travel.
  5. Use calming pheromone sprays like Feliway to create a soothing environment.

By consistently practicing these desensitization techniques and fostering a positive cat carrier association, you’ll build a solid foundation for stress-free transportation with your feline friend.

Introducing Your Cat to the Carrier

Cat carrier environment

When introducing your cat to the carrier, it’s essential to begin with a clean slate and create an inviting environment for your furry friend to feel comfortable. This process requires cleaning the carrier thoroughly, eliminating any stress hormones, and setting up the carrier in a way that appeals to your cat, ensuring that their time in the carrier becomes a pleasant experience.

Starting with a Clean Slate

To ensure a clean carrier start, it’s important to thoroughly clean the carrier with a biological solution, efficiently removing any stress hormones from past experiences. This step not only maintains a stress-free environment but also resets your cat’s perception of the carrier.

By properly cleaning the carrier, you’re giving your cat the opportunity to form positive associations and feel more at ease during their time inside.

Making the Carrier an Inviting Space

Creating a comfortable carrier setup involves placing the carrier in your cat’s favorite room and spraying a pheromone product such as Feliway to make it more inviting. In addition, incorporating a familiar-scented blanket can help prevent slipping and promote a sense of security for your cat.

  1. Place the carrier in a room where your cat spends much of their time
  2. Spray a pheromone product like Feliway to increase the carrier’s appeal
  3. Use a familiar-scented blanket to make the carrier environment more comforting

Offering treats inside the carrier is another effective strategy for enticing your cat to enter voluntarily. By taking these steps, you’ll create a cat carrier environment that feels familiar and cozy for your cat, helping them become more comfortable with entering and spending time inside the carrier.

Using Treats and Rewards to Encourage Entry

treats for carrier training

One of the most effective ways to encourage your cat to enter and stay inside their carrier is by making it a rewarding experience. Treats for carrier training, verbal praise, and positive reinforcement can significantly help in this process. The following tips will guide you in creating an environment that entices your cat to willingly enter their carrier.

  1. Serve meals close to or within the carrier. Begin by placing the food bowl a short distance away from the carrier, slowly moving it closer, eventually placing it inside the carrier. This familiarity will help your cat associate the carrier with positive experiences.

  2. Provide high-value treats and rewards. When your cat interacts positively with the carrier, offer them their favorite treats to reinforce their behavior. This creates a strong connection between the carrier and a positive outcome.

  3. Praise your cat for their progress. Verbal praise and affection can motivate your cat further as they learn to get comfortable with their carrier. Ensure to reward their calm demeanor even when they are inside the carrier.

Remember, patience and consistency are key in helping your cat develop a strong bond with their carrier. Positive reinforcement through treats, verbal praise, and continued encouragement will make a significant difference in their progress.

To keep track of your cat’s progress, consider maintaining a carrier training incentives table:

DateTime Spent Near CarrierTime Spent Inside CarrierTreats/Rewards GivenVerbal PraiseNotes
05/01/202215 mins5 mins2 treatsYesCurious about the carrier
05/02/202220 mins10 mins3 treatsYesEntered voluntarily
05/03/202225 mins15 mins4 treatsYesStayed calm throughout

By following these guidelines, you will create a positive environment that encourages your cat in willingly entering and becoming comfortable inside their carrier. Be patient and consistent, and soon, rewarding cat carrier entry will become a natural and stress-free part of your cat’s routine.

Implementing Gentle Picking Techniques

Utilizing proper gentle cat handling techniques is vital for easing your cat into their carrier and avoiding potential stress. Keeping your feline friend’s needs in mind and handling them with care will create a more comfortable and manageable experience for both you and your cat.

How to Hold Your Cat for Carrier Entry

When lifting your feline friend into their carrier, it’s essential to support their body correctly to help them feel secure and prevent injuries. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to the best picking techniques for cats:

  1. Approach your cat calmly and confidently, ensuring there’s no sudden movements that could startle them.
  2. Place one hand under their chest, just behind their front legs.
  3. Using the other hand, support their hindquarters by placing it under their rear legs and bottom.
  4. Keep both hands steady and secure as you gently lift the cat, ensuring their body weight is evenly distributed between both hands.
  5. Hold your cat close to your body so they feel safe and secure.

Remember, cats can sense tension, so stay calm and relaxed while handling them. If you’re nervous or tense, your cat may pick up on your anxiety and become nervous themselves.

An added bonus to minimizing stress is to drape a blanket over the carrier before placing your cat inside. This simple trick can help make the carrier feel more like a cozy, comforting den rather than an unfamiliar or scary space.

By practicing proper easing cat into carrier techniques and maintaining a calm demeanor, you can help create a positive experience for your pet. Remember, every cat is unique, so be patient and adjust your approach based on their individual needs.

Minimizing Stress and Anxiety during the Process

reducing cat anxiety

Reducing cat anxiety is essential when introducing your feline friend to a carrier. A stress-free environment and a systematic approach can make a huge difference in creating a calm carrier entry. Here are a few stress minimization techniques to consider:

  1. Choose a quiet and safe room to place the carrier, preferably one with a door and limited hiding spots.
  2. Use calming sprays or pheromone diffusers, such as Feliway, to create a more soothing atmosphere for your cat.
  3. Consult with your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications if your cat gets extremely stressed during carrier entry.
  4. Remain calm, assertive, and gentle in your approach to reduce the cat’s stress levels while encouraging them to enter the carrier.

A firm and smooth approach helps reduce the cat’s stress. Make sure you’re patient and consistent throughout the process.

Additionally, creating a routine and practice sessions can significantly help in making your cat more comfortable with the carrier.

Practice makes perfect!

Schedule short and relaxed training sessions to get your cat accustomed to the carrier. Gradually increase the duration and frequency of these sessions, ensuring that your cat remains at ease throughout each interaction.

Finally, always remember to be patient and empathetic towards your cat’s feelings and anxieties. Success in reducing your cat’s stress during carrier entry may not happen overnight, but with consistency and a calm approach, you can make a significant difference in their comfort levels.

Beyond the stress minimization techniques, consider choosing carriers with features designed for added comfort and a sense of security. For example, carriers with proper ventilation and removable tops can provide additional benefits and aid in minimizing stress.

Practicing Regular Carrier Familiarization Exercises

Consistent carrier familiarization exercises are essential for your cat to develop a positive relationship with their carrier, ensuring a stress-free travel experience. Integrating play-led carrier training and feeding inside the carrier can create playful carrier associations, transforming it into a comfortable and familiar part of their daily routine.

Incorporate Play and Feeding

Make the carrier an appealing space by placing toys and treats inside, encouraging your cat to explore, play, and relax in the carrier. Serve your cat’s meals near or inside the carrier to solidify positive associations between feeding time and the carrier. With consistency, your cat will come to view the carrier as an extension of their regular environment.

Gradually Increasing Time in the Carrier

As your cat becomes more comfortable with the carrier, it’s essential to gradually increase the duration of their carrier experience. Start by closing the door for short periods and slowly extend the time spent inside. Observe your cat for signs of stress and provide plenty of praise and treats to reinforce their positive behavior.

By making the carrier a familiar part of your cat’s life, negative associations will diminish, allowing for a stress-free experience.

You can further immerse your cat in carrier familiarization through timed carrier exercises, practicing different steps of the travel process, like lifting and moving the carrier with your cat inside. This will help your cat better adjust to the actual travel scenario, resulting in a more enjoyable experience for both you and your cat.

Remember, patience and persistence are key to successful carrier familiarization. With consistent practice, your cat will grow more comfortable with their carrier, ultimately leading to stress-free traveling.


In conclusion, successful cat carrier training involves understanding the importance of the carrier, choosing the right one, and creating positive associations for your feline friend. Introducing your cat to their carrier in a calm, rewarding manner can make a significant impact on reducing stress and anxiety during travel.

Ensure that you follow cat carrier guidelines by using treats, gentle picking techniques, and familiarization exercises to create a comfortable experience for your cat. As you progress in your training, your cat will begin to associate the carrier with positive experiences, ultimately making stress-free cat traveling a reality.

Remember that training your cat to enter a carrier voluntarily may not happen overnight. Patience, consistency, and understanding are key in helping your cat become more familiar with their carrier. Keep up the effort, provide praise and rewards, and soon traveling with your cat will become a hassle-free experience.


What is the importance of using a cat carrier?

Cat carriers play a crucial role in ensuring safe travel for cats, preventing injuries during sudden stops or collisions, providing a secure space for vet visits, and creating a controlled environment to prevent escape or injury.

How do I choose the right carrier for my cat?

Consider factors such as your cat’s size, preferences, and the type of carrier (soft-case or hard-case). Ensure the carrier is sturdy, secure, and large enough for your cat to sit, stand, and turn around comfortably. You may also want to explore crash-test certified carriers for the highest safety standards.

How can I create a positive association with the carrier for my cat?

Start with a clean carrier free of stress hormones. Place the carrier in a familiar area and add comfortable items like blankets, treats, and meals inside or near the carrier. Incorporate playtime around the carrier to encourage comfort and familiarity.

What can I do to make the carrier inviting for my cat?

To make the carrier inviting, place it in your cat’s favorite room, use a pheromone product like Feliway, and add a familiar blanket along with treats inside the carrier.

How do I encourage my cat to enter the carrier voluntarily?

Serve meals near or within the carrier and reward your cat with treats and praise when they interact positively with the carrier. Regularly incorporate play and feeding times with the carrier to create positive associations.

What are some gentle picking techniques for putting my cat into the carrier?

Support your cat with one hand under its chest and another under their hindquarters while placing them into the carrier. Adding a blanket over the carrier may provide additional comfort during entry.

How can I minimize stress and anxiety during the introduction process?

To minimize stress, create a calm environment by placing the carrier in a room with a door and few hiding spots. Utilize calming sprays or medications and hold your cat gently yet firmly when introducing the cat to the carrier.

How do I practice regular carrier familiarization exercises with my cat?

Incorporate play and feeding times with the carrier and gradually increase your cat’s time inside with the door closed. Practice lifting and moving the carrier with your cat inside while watching for signs of stress.

You are here:
Scroll to Top