VCA Animal Hospitals

How can I help my cat get used to his carrier?

Published: Sep 07, 2012

Back to News

Whether your cat requires routine medical care or needs to be seen by a veterinarian to be treated for a cat illness, it is often necessary to bring your pet to a veterinary hospital several times each year.

However, traveling with your feline friend can be stressful for both the animal and you, especially if she is anxious about entering a cat carrier and driving in a car.

Pet health experts say it is common for cats to get stressed about going into a carrier and being transported. In fact, many animals will make it extremely difficult for you to get them into the carrier in the first place, and some will eliminate once they're inside.

While it is hard for pet owners to knowingly subject their cats to a stressful situation, it is crucial that they receive the necessary medical care, even when getting there is tough. In addition, getting your cat used to riding in a cat carrier will make it easier for you to travel with her to other places that are more enjoyable for both of you as well.

The first step to acclimating your cat to a carrier is to choose the right one. Experts suggest choosing one that is hard-sided and can be opened from the top or the side or taken apart in the middle.

Cat behaviorist Marilyn Krieger tells that individuals who are successful in getting an anxious cat into a carrier take their time getting the animal used to it. Once you purchase one, place it in an area of your home that is frequented by the animal.

"Make it a fixture in her living area," Krieger suggests on the website. "Get your cat used to the carrier by making it a place she enjoys. Feed her treats and play with her in it."

You may encourage your cat to get into the carrier by placing comfortable bedding with your scent or the animal's scent on it inside. Treats and toys she enjoys playing with may also help. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, it may take weeks before your cat starts to trust the carrier.

Some veterinarians suggest spraying the inside of the carrier with a product called Feliway, a synthetic feline pheromone that is available from your vet, to help your pet feel more secure inside of it.

Once your feline friend gets comfortable with it and decides to get inside of the carrier, continue to make it a positive experience by rewarding her with food, play or affection.

Taking short car rides in the carrier is also a good idea. Experts say it may be helpful to sit next to your pet and talk in soothing tones to ease any anxiety and to lessen her stress.

Additionally, many animals will react better when a towel or other covering is placed loosely over the top of the carrier while in transit. And, it's important to use a seat belt to secure the carrier in the car.

When the day of your appointment arrives, remember to give yourself adequate time to get the cat into the carrier.

Remember, your cat is sensitive to your stress as well so it's important for you to remain calm to encourage a positive trip, no matter where you're going.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

Find a VCA General Care Animal Hospital near you:


See all VCA Animal Hospitals >


Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

Find a VCA Specialty Care Animal Hospital near you:


See all VCA Animal Hospitals >


Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.