A Great Trick for Getting Kitty Into her Carrier


Photo Credit: Cathealth.com

As anyone who has ever tried to put a cat into a carrier knows it’s easier said than done. The tiniest rattle of the gate can send a savvy cat into hiding. Merely approaching the carrier with thoughts of travel may be communicated telepathically. Then comes the house hunt— under the beds, on the high shelves, behind the couches, anywhere kitty can fit and hide.

Extracting the cat from her hidy-hole doesn’t improve her mood, and the worst is yet to come. As you approach the sinister crate, she is miraculously expanding and transforming into a demon with extra legs made of steel and tipped with hooks. To press this mini-mutant through the little door will be next to impossible.

Rewind to the beginning; all is not lost!

I’ve discovered a trick that works! With these two easy steps, you can help ensure that neither you nor your cat will be unduly stressed by the prospect of travel.

First step: Preparation.

Prepare the crate. Check all fasteners to make sure they’re tight. You can spray a little Feliway or other reputable feline stress-reducer onto the back wall of the carrier if you like. This won’t help getting kitty inside but might make your trip more yowl-free.

Now, here is the trick:

Place the carrier on an elevated surface such as a chair or couch, with the back wall braced so the carrier can’t slide backwards. The front lip should be even with the front edge of the surface. This ensures there is no place for kitty to put her feet as you slip her inside.

Second step: Action.

Gently but firmly, pick up the cat and transport her briskly to the carrier. In a fluid motion, put her through the door, head and front feet first. There is something about not having that ground underneath her that makes her more willing to enter. Close the gate. (Watch the tail.)

I take my four cats to the beach with me once a month. They have never learned to love the carrier (in fact one is so scared, he pees at the sight of it) but they settle down in the car and they like the beach once they get there.

I’d love to hear if this works for you.

Happy traveling.

Crate Talk: There are many styles of car carriers. If you’re traveling by car, make sure you get one that has been crash tested. In my opinion, the crate should be at least twice the size of the cat. Line with soft bedding. If your cat has stress incontinence, use an absorbent crate liner or puppy pad, and bring a clean-up kit just in case.

Tip! Store the crate in plain sight, where your cat can go in and out as she pleases. Make it a friendly place by giving treats and food inside.

About Mollie Hunt:
Mollie is the author of the Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery series, featuring Lynley Cannon, a sixty-something cat shelter volunteer who finds more trouble than a cat in catnip. Mollie is a member of the Oregon Writers’ Colony, Sisters in Crime, and the Cat Writers’ Association. This year she won a CWA Muse Medallion for her 3-part blogpost series, “Life Stages”.

Like Lynley, Mollie is a grateful shelter volunteer. She is a longtime volunteer for the Oregon Humane Society where she socializes sad, fearful, and behavior-challenged cats. She also fosters sick and elderly cats in her home. In 2014, she had the privilege to work with cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy on a particularly thought-provoking case.

You can find Mollie on her Website: http://www.lecatts.wordpress.com/, her Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/molliehunt, and her Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MollieHuntCatWriter/.

Sign up for her Extremely Informal Newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/c0fOTn.

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24 thoughts on “A Great Trick for Getting Kitty Into her Carrier

  1. franhunne4u says:

    Nice try, but I have to chase my cat into a corner, where I put up the crate as the only way out (doesn’t work all times, but most) and then I gently push her with a blanket over my arm (for my protection) from behind so she growlingly goes into the carrier. Sometimes she has made a mess in the room I chase her in. Sometimes she even shits into the carrier. To transport my cat is hell for both of us.

  2. crystaleagle24 says:

    With Molly-Mildred the problem wasn’t getting her into her carrier but getting her out at the vet’s. She’d wedge herself in at the back while simultaneously growling, hissing and spitting. Tipping the basket didn’t help. The vet had to wrap his arm in a large bath towel, reach in grab what he could and pull her out. He’d have her annual inoculation ready, inject, let her go and she’d be back in her basket immediately, growling, hissing and spitting.

    • Cat's Meow says:

      I don’t care much for vets who try to dump my cats out of the carrier. The cats don’t like them either.

      I have two cats. The male is rather tall and weights 15 lbs. The biggest problem I had with him was that the normal cat carrier was not big enough. I had to fight tooth and nail to get him in. I had to get a medium dog crate for him (before the female came along). There is tons of extra room for him to be comfortable. Now he only gently protests while complying. He seems to like it and has been seen napping inside, without the door, of course!

      I put a soft cushion in the crate and used velcro to keep it from sliding around; one small strip on each side. That way the vet can reach in, grab the cushion and bring the cat forward if he is uncooperative. Most of the time, the vet will just reach in, grab the cat and walk him out of the carrier. Seldom does the vet have to pull/drag him out.

      Now that we have the female also, they travel in the carrier together. This idea paid for itself last trip to the vet. The male got overly upset on the way home, and she groomed him to calm him down.

      I leave the carrier out and open at all times. When it is near time for the trip (anywhere from a few hours to the day before), I bring the carrier into the area near the door. The cats wander by and check it out. Sometimes I entice them into the opening with a treat.

      When it is time to go, the female is always cooperative and will go in without much trouble. The male is usually sprawled on the dryer. I bring the carrier into the laundry room, put it on the floor, blocking the kitty door to prevent escape. I put the female in and then capture the male and maneuver him in. They adjust themselves and we’re good to go.

      I guess my advice is to be sure that the carrier is larger than the minimum required for the cat. If it is extra roomy and comfortable, the cat is more willing to enter. If you decide to double up, make sure the carrier is large enough for both cats to lie down and the handle is sturdy enough for the weight.

      Best wishes!

  3. Livie livie says:

    I have a trick to get my cat into a carrier. First I will put the carrier on the floor. Second I will put my cat in front of the carrier with his butt facing the gate. Then I will push him back slowly through the gate, and tada……He is now inside the carrier. Close the gate. Mission is accomplished.

  4. Liz says:

    My cat, Miley was really good with her cat carrier. She had 24 hours access to it and she would use it in the day. But if the cat carrier came downstairs, then she knew something was going on and her body would change. But putting her in the cat carrier, she was mostly brilliant. In the nearly 5 years of owning her, (passed away this year,) there were only two occasions where a little battle happened, otherwise really good.

    Now my previous cat, Lady, she wasn’t a lady when it came to the vets. We always had fights getting her in and when at the vets she was wild. This change in the vets though, one time she used to be nice. I know what didn’t help and that was how they got her out, by tipping the cat carrier up and pulling her out. I would have liked to have seen them take the lid off, which they used to. So this made her more worked up sooner, by doing his.

    Miley was a very good patient at the vets and I used a different vet with her who handled her in my preferred way. It made it easier for both of us.

  5. weggieboy says:

    I use a similar strategy for my two Persian kitty boys. The first one is easy enough to catch, but the second one requires a bit more effort because he now knows he is next. Of course, the first one is by the door, so there is a trick to push him back into the carrier (one designed for small dogs up to 24 pounds) using the second cat. Easier said than explained.

    I especially like the idea of leaving the carrier out so they can use it for naps or lounging on top. That seems to help reduce the anxiety as much as the Feliway spray, though I use that too. (Once, when trying to find one of the kitties to take him to the groomer, I found him hiding in one of the carriers! LOL! It never is easier than that!)

  6. helentastic67 says:

    Being one-handed, my mum ended up with the job of getting Jamima into her rather spacious cat condo. Once in and packed into the car and wrapped in my snuggly dooner she slept contentedly all the way to the country. Cheers,H

  7. Kate Crimmins says:

    I have a top entry carrier now which is much easier to load. It’s on wheels so it’s really wonderful. When I had the hard sided plastic I found that backing them in so they didn’t see it was very successful. There wasn’t any way to do the leg spread either. I had one cat that was so hard to crate I’d put him in a pillow case first and put that in the carrier. He would be out of the pillowcase fast but I’d already have the door closed. Good tips!

  8. Authoress51 says:

    Nope. Won’t work for my Siamese. I put the open carrier on the floor between my legs and put her in feet first. I do spray it with calming spray from Petco so the ride is okay.

  9. Pingback: A Great Trick for Getting Kitty Into her Carrier - Katzenworld Shop

  10. overthehillontheyellowbrickroad says:

    Wow Mollie, this is a great post! I always try putting my cat into his crate though the top, but he spreads his legs apart every time so he won’t fit. With other cats, I’ve tried different methods but I’m definitely trying yours next. I had a Maine Coon cat once who actually liked going in his case naturally. He was more like a dog. Otherwise, taking the cat to the vet (the only reason I put cats in cases) is my worst nightmare. I have resorted to buying dog cases for my cats because they’re bigger, much more comfortable, and have windows on all four sides.

  11. smARTwaydesign says:

    Won’t work, but it’s a nice try… btw, the difficult part is NOT how to put the cat in the carrier, it’s how to unload the package 🙂 Cats know that carrier means vet and use a special gravitational force to stay IN the carrier.

  12. foguth says:

    LOL, we have a front loading carrier, but for Mr. M I would tip it so the gate was up, then lower him tail first and quick close the gate… It actually works best if you have someone else closes the gate… M could be speedy when motivated and he tended to be motivated when inside that carrier.

  13. Rohvannyn says:

    My spouse had the brilliant idea of making a top loading carrier out of one of those clear plastic storage totes with a latching lid. We drilled one inch holes all through the top and upper sides of the tote, and lined the bottom with a towel. My cats are less nervous when they can see what’s going on around them, so they like the clear plastic sides, and the “gutter” around the bottom of the tote collects liquids quite well, keeping their feet drier. They aren’t a problem to load into it either. Also the tote is sturdy, spacious, easy to load, and cost less than $10 US. Works great for us!

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