Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 10, 2023 by Crystal Uys
This post is sponsored by Sleepyod
While the cat carrier may not be your cat’s favorite place, it is an important part of your cat’s life, and it can be vital in an emergency. And it’s up to you to convince your cat that spending time in the carrier feels good. Unfortunately, for most cats, the only time they’re in a carrier is when they have to go to the veterinarian, so the association with carriers is often a negative and stressful one.
Pick the right carrier
Carriers come in all shapes and sizes, and it comes down to your preference and your cat’s as to which one you choose. Make sure that the carrier is large enough for your cat to be able to stand and turn around in it comfortably. If you plan to travel with your cat, a larger carrier that can accommodate a small litter box may be a good choice.
Another important consideration is carrier safety. Carriers that are not structurally sound or have insufficient connection strength can directly affect the safety of the pet, and they place human vehicle occupants at risk of injury, should an accident occur. In July of 2016, CPS published the first Crash Test Protocol and Ratings Guidelines for Pet Carriers. The Top Performing Carriers from the study were the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed with PPRS Handilock and the PetEgo Jet Set Forma Frame Carrier with ISOFIX Latch Connection. Additionally, later that month Sleepypod voluntarily certified its entire carrier lineup with the Center for Pet Safety.
Make the carrier a “high value” part of your cat’s every day environment
Getting your cat used to the carrier starts with making the association with the carrier a positive one, and the first step to making that happen is to keep the carrier out at all times. That doesn’t mean leaving it in a corner of the basement that you or your cats never use – it means leaving it out in a part of your home that your cats like to be in, preferably an area where you spend time with your cats.
In my years of counseling cat parents, I’ve found that one block to leaving the carrier in a high value area is often that cat carriers aren’t always pretty. If esthetics matter to you, having an ugly plastic “cage” highly visible in your living space may not sound very attractive to you.
One of the carriers that addresses this problem beautifully is the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed. It’s really a luxury bed, lined with ultraplush foam. The domed cover unzips easily, so you can adapt it to your cat’s sleeping preference even while using it inside your home. Some cats may prefer the top removed, others may like the security of the cover.
Make the carrier interesting
Place a cat bed or soft blanket inside the carrier (you won’t need to do this if you use the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed, it’s plenty plush as it is!) If your cat responds to catnip, periodically sprinkle catnip inside the carrier. Leave treats or favorite toys inside the carrier. Some experts recommend feeding your cat inside the carrier.
Train your cat gradually to get used to the carrier
Once your cat has accepted the carrier as an enjoyable place to nap, snack or even eat her meals, start working on using it for its intended purpose. Practice closing the door. Leave the room for a few minutes. If your cat is calm when you return, open the door and give him a treat while he’s still inside the carrier. If he seems agitated or upset, don’t give him a treat (you don’t want to reward the undesired behavior), and try again later, with a shorter period of time.
Practice picking up the carrier once your cat is comfortable being inside the carrier with the door closed. C, pick up the carrier and carry it around the house. Give a treat once you set the carrier down and open the door.
Take your cat for a practice ride
Take your cat for short practice rides in the carrier. Even a short drive around the block will be sufficient. Reward your cat with treats when you return. The idea is to get your cat to associate being in the carrier and in your car with something other than a trip to the vet’s.
With the right carrier, and a patient, slow approach to getting your cat used to the carrier, you’ll avoid a lot of stress when it comes time for a vet visit, and you’ll be prepared for any emergencies.
How did you get your cat used to the carrier? Please share your tips!
For more information about Sleepypod’s carriers, and to purchase, please visit their website.
FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, which means that I was compensated to feature this content. Regardless of payment received, you will only see products or services featured on this site that I believe are of interest to our readers.
About the author
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.