How to Get a Cat Into a Pet Carrier

We have been feeding 4 barn cats and we need to take them to the vet, especially one who has a sore eye. They allow us to pet them and occasionally pick them up, but they are very, very suspicious any time they sense we want to put them in the nice pet carrier we bought. How can we lure them into this carrier without scaring them?

Almost everyone who keeps cats or works with cats will be familiar with this challenge. The way you choose to get your cat into a carrier will depend on the urgency – whether you have time to train him or whether it is an emergency. I would suggest in this case that you may not have time to do this "the nice way" before his eye condition becomes more serious.

There are specialist carriers which open from multiple ends, and even from all sides in order for you to "trap" your cat, but let’s assume you have a conventional carrier with a door at one end only. The easiest, although not nicest, way to get a cat into a carrier is to place the carrier on it’s end, with the door facing up. While holding the cat so that the legs are hanging in the air, back towards the upright carrier and place his back legs into it. Before he has a chance to realize what is going on try to quickly lower him into the carrier. It would be helpful to have an assistant to close the lid before he can escape (escape can be achieved in well under a second!).

If you can plan carrying your cat in the carrier ahead of time, you can familiarize your cat with the carrier. Cats learn quickly and so they are likely to learn that the carrier will not cause them harm if you approach the problem with patience and sensitivity. Firstly you can try feeding your cat next to the carrier, so that the door is in front of him – and gradually move the food inside the carrier. You will find that he can usually still eat while having one or more legs firmly blocking he door. In this case, give him a gently push inside, but do not close the door. Once he is happy to put all four feet inside the carrier, you can gently close the door so that he is still able to open it by pushing. From here, let him experience having the door locked for a few minutes at a time before moving to very gently picking him up in the carrier.