How to Carrier Train Your Cat

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If your cat doesn’t like their carrier, you are not alone. Many pet owners struggle with getting their cat into his or her carrier - but as difficult as the task might seem, your cat needs to learn to tolerate riding in its carrier.

Besides the occasional vet visit, there may be a time where you need to evacuate in case of emergency — and your cat will need its carrier to stay safe. Use these tips to help carrier train your cat.

Start Now

Don’t wait until the day before your cat’s vet appointment to introduce the carrier. Get their carrier out as soon as possible to get them used to it. Even if you only have a kitten, start now — your cat is never too young to begin getting familiarized with a carrier. 

Normalize the Carrier

Make the cat carrier a part of daily life. Leave it on the floor in a room your cat frequents, and prop the door open so your cat is free to go in anytime. That way, your pet can make the choice itself instead of being forcibly placed inside. You can also add a towel or soft bedding in the crate which may make your cat more comfortable while inside.

Additionally, you could also leave some treats and/or dried catnip inside the crate so when your cat finally does venture inside, they’ll find a nice surprise waiting for them.

Make it Fun

Bedding, treats, and catnip are all great ways to help your cat create positive associations with the crate.

At first, you’ll want to simply observe from afar and let your cat explore the carrier on its own terms; if your cat is used to being shoved inside and taken to the vet, it may run if you try to approach. 

But eventually, sit quietly near the carrier while your cat is inside. You can introduce toys in and around the carrier, treating the carrier as a normal fixture in your living room while you play with your cat next to it. You can also try putting your cat’s food bowl inside the carrier.

Ramp Up Slowly

As your cat becomes more comfortable with the carrier and is okay with eating inside, you can slowly move to the next steps: closing the door while your cat is in the carrier and giving your cat a treat.

Leave your cat inside the carrier with the door closed for longer and longer each time. Soon you’ll be able to pick up the carrier; walk around with it indoors and outdoors; and even put the carrier in the car to go on brief rides. 

Work up to riding in the car the amount of time it takes to get to your vet round trip. Don’t forget to give your cat a treat every time you let him or her out of the carrier.

Make It Work

If you’ve done everything you know to do and you just can’t get your cat to like the carrier, or if you need to go to an emergency vet visit and haven’t had time to prepare, don’t worry.

You can still get your cat into the carrier by picking him or her up and putting them in with their rear end first. If needed, stand the carrier up on one end so the door is pointing up and then gently lower your cat into the carrier.

Your cat doesn’t have to love the carrier. They just need to tolerate it enough to get to the vet or wherever else you need to go. But by strategically positioning your cat’s carrier as a fun place to be, you might discover that it becomes their new favorite nap location, too!

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.