ACCLIMATING YOUR KITTEN TO THE CARRIER
Don’t wait till you have to go somewhere to break out the ol’ cat carrier from its dusty corner in the garage!
Instead, START TODAY. Leave the carrier out in a room that the cat likes to be in, or in the bright sun if the cat likes to sun-bathe.
Cats should be transported in a carrier at the veterinary hospital
1. Place a favorite blanket or piece of clothing from a favorite person.
2. Toss treats into the carrier frequently so that the carrier becomes familiar and associated with positive experiences.
3. Take it slowly. Your cat may look at you with suspicion at first, but when you are out of the room, he/she will nab that treat.
4. Over time, the carrier will become more familiar and a nice comfy hangout, especially if it has treats in it everyday, and is welcoming and seems like a safe place.
Next steps – acclimating from the carrier to the car:
1. Once the cat is regularly using the carrier, close the door calmly and give a treat. Then open the door so that the cat doesn’t become frightened.
2. After the cat adapts to this, close the carrier door and move to another room. Reward with a treat.
3. Over days or weeks, move on to the car, then short car rides, then to the vet for a treat.
4. Bring favorite treats, toys, and bedding to the veterinary visits. If the cat loves to be groomed, bring the comb, or brush to the appointment. All these can be used to make the cat more comfortable and to distract the cat.
The car ride:
Okay, now that the carrier is a safe extension of the cat’s home, close up the carrier and take your cat on car rides to other places, not just to the veterinarian.
The cat and the carrier don’t have to leave the car. If you are going on a fast food run, take the cat along for the ride! (The cat DOES NOT want that order of fries, no matter how much he/she asks!)
It is important that the cat is first familiar with the carrier. Don’t do this until the cat is okay with the carrier or all your efforts might be in vain.
Common Sense side note:
Don’t take the cat on the car trip if you plan on leaving the car and if it is even a moderately sunny day. Temperatures can escalate in a car parked in the sun, even if the windows are cracked, and can lead to life threatening heat stroke. In California, it is illegal to leave an animal unattended in a parked car. So exercise common sense-don’t jeopardize your cat’s health on a warm day.
For a great pair of videos on acclimating the cat to the carrier, check out
Also, check out cats + carriers: friends not foes