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How to Get a Skittish Cat Into a Carrier (Easy Way!)

Getting a good cat carrier is one thing (Click here to see why I rated this one as the best) but learning how to place her into is another. Read on to see how this is done.

How do you get a skittish cat into your carrier? In summary, you need to choose the right carrier, familiarize her with it, prepare the carrier, and place her in using the correct technique. Keep reading for more info.

Now that you know, at a high level, let me explain in detail how you can place your skittish cat into the carrier.

01. Choosing the right carrier

The easy way to get your cat into a carrier is making the correct decision in the first place. Meaning, you should choose the right carrier. The advantages of a hard carrier (Click here to see why I feel that this is the best hard carrier is it’s easier to put her in.

The advantages of a hard carrier

Why? Well, you can position in one place, and dedicate your two hands to easing her in, are you with me? Soft carriers (Click here to see why I rated this carrier) are great for comfort, but for getting cats in, well, that’s another story.

Why top-loading carriers help

When I say hard carriers are good for this, in particular, the top-loading carriers. These carriers make it even easier to get her in and out of the carrier, are you with me?

Why a strong carrier is needed

Also, just because it’s a hard carrier, it doesn’t;t mean that it is strong. It needs to be strong to stop your skittish cat acting up and damaging it, are you with me?

02. Familiarization

Before you make a mistake like many other cat owners make, by trying to drop their cat directly into the carrier, let me advise you something.

Familiarization will make your job a whole lot easier. Why? Well, she will not put up a big fight if you get this step right, are you with me? Even if she is a skittish cat. With that being said, let me show you how.

Allow her time just to see it

Once you get your carrier. Just give her some time to get familiar with the carrier. This means leaving it near her. She will want to smell it and get familiar with it.

You see, cats hat changes, and this is one reason why some cats get aggressive. Which, may leave their owner scratching their heads.

Leave it in her usual environment

Once she has the initial smell and familiarization you should place it in a location she is used to. The idea is to disassociate the carrier with negative thoughts. It stops her anticipating being put in there once it randomly appears, are you with me?

I good idea is placing it near a happy place, such as her food bowl (Click here to see what’s so great about this raised cat bowl). cat tree (Click here to see if this faux fur tree is best) or near her toys, are you with me?

Leave the door open and offer her food

Another tactic is feeding her from the carrier. This means that you place the food near the carrier. The idea is she will, in time, start to comfortably feed near it, or actually inside of it, if you are lucky.

This will make her start to get less anxious about the door on the carrier. It makes her feel that it will not be closed as soon as she steps into every time, are you with me?

Slowly start to open and close the door

Before you even attempt to transport her around in the carrier it is a good idea for her to get used to it being closed. From time to time, slowly close and open the door.

See how she reacts. If she freaks out, take a few steps back and try another time. The reality is, each cat will have different levels of tolerance, are you with me?

03. Preparation

Before you take her out for your first trip it is worth spending some time getting the carrier prepared. But, what does that mean? Well, it means that you will add items to the carrier to make it more likely that she will feel comfortable. As well as preparing for any accidents that may happen. Let me explain…

Spray pheromones in the carrier

Pheromones can be used to make your cat feel calmer while she is in transit. You can consider a pheromone calming collar (Click here to see why I like this one), or you can get a spray and apply it to the inside of the carrier.

This weird and wonderful stuff can help to make her feel calmer, less anxious. And, help to make your journey easier.

Sprinkle catnip

kitten and catnip

Another alternative is catnip. Catnip is a well-known herb that has some amazing effects on cats. Many cat owners use it to help with their cats. You can get it in its pure form or even within cat toys.

Either way, you can consider using this in your carrier to help to keep her well behaved while you are on your journeys.

Put a cat toy in the carrier

As well as catnip and hormones, you can even put a basic cat toy into her carrier. This can be one of her favorites, to get the best results. This will make her feel more at home while you take her out and about.

Place old newspaper, or an old cloth in there

The reality is, sometimes your cat will have an accident in the carrier. And, to be clear I mean urinating or even worse, are you with me?

So, rather than waiting for it to happen, it’s worth preparing for the worst. So, you can simply lay down some old newspaper or old cloth to make the cleanup easier.

04. Placing her into the carrier

At this stage, if you have done all the other steps, you are ready to consider placing her into the carrier. You must take your time with this. And, if there is any resistance, do not try to force her in.

Place the cat carrier with the door facing you

The first thing to do is to position the cat carrier so you can place her into it. If you try to wait for her to just walk into it, on her own time, you could be waiting all day.

So, you need to place her in, gently. This is where a top-loading carrier comes in handy, as I mentioned earlier. But, if you do not have a top-loading carrier, no worries. You can position it on its side.

This is so that the door is facing upright, facing the ceiling, make sense?

Gently ease her in

First thing first, is she struggling? If yes, I suggest you stop and give her a break. You can try again at another time. You do not want to try and force her.

If you try and force it, she may build up a phobia for the carrier and make your life harder. However, if she is not struggling, you can proceed.

Gently close the carrier

Now that you have got to this stage, that’s great. You can start to ease her into the carrier. Reassure her, make eye contact, and say calming words, are you with me?

Now, close the door and wait a moment to see how she is reacting. Is she calm? If no, let her out and give her some time, you can try again later. If she is ok, move the carrier to its flat position. Meaning, if you have the door on the side, the door should be facing its usual position now when you lay it flat.

Cover the carrier with a fabric cover?

Some cat owners may consider covering the carrier with fabric cloth. This is optional. Some argue this is advantageous because it makes her feel less anxious and snug. But, if it is a hot day, avoid it at all costs!

05. Controlling her anxiety

When you are transporting her, it’s important to focus on how she is behaving. You do not want her to get anxious. The best way is to face her so she can see you, as much as possible. I understand there are times when is not possible.

Also, make use of the catnip, which we discussed earlier, to help her to feel less anxious while she is on the move.

06. Taking her out of the carrier

When you get to your destination. Getting her out is almost as important as getting her in comfortably. Talk to her slowly, using a loving tone. Offer her your hand to sniff and get familiar. Remember, this may be a new environment, and she needs reassurance you are there for here.

Let her out slowly

When you let her out, do it slowly. And make sure you avoid doing this in an open space. Why? Well, she may feel frightened and runoff. Giving you little chance of getting her back in.

Related Questions:

In this section, I will answer some questions related to cat carriers and travel. If you have any extra questions feel free to contact me.

Q: Is a cat carrier needed?

Yes, if you want to carry her safely for any great distance. Some owners have speculated if using a box instead of a cat carrier is viable, but, in my opinion, I say a cat carrier is needed.

Lindsey Browlingdon

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