For bringing your new cat home and for transporting him to the vet or any other places, a cat carrier is probably the best option. It offers a safe and easy way to transport your cat around and it is a good idea to invest some money into buying a good one.
Cat carriers come in all shapes and sizes. A good cat carrier allows you to put in and take out your cat easily, especially if your cat refuses to come out on his own. In such cases, a cat carrier with a large top door would allow you to lift your cat out from the top of the carrier rather than pull your cat out through the smaller front carrier door.
Here are some other ideas on how to make your carrier less intimidating to your cat.
Make the cat carrier as comfortable and home-like for your cat as possible. Put your cat's favourite toy in there. Also line the carrier floor with a rag with his scent on it. Simply use the rag to play with him or rub his body, face and forehead with the rag so as to impart your cat's scent on it.
Make The Connection
If your cat seems cautious of the carrier, try to acclimatise him to it. It's best to acclimatise him to the carrier even before you first use it so as to avoid making the connection between the carrier and bad experiences. It may take a few days or weeks, but it's worth the time.
Firstly, place the carrier at a quiet place visible to your cat and near to where your cat usually hangs out or sleep. Leave the carrier door open at all times and make it comfortable as mentioned in the above first point. Let your cat explore the carrier at his own time.
Occasionally, treat your cat to his favourite treats by giving them to him near the door of the carrier and gradually throwing the treat into the carrier for him to take. When he feels at home inside, close the carrier door gently with your cat inside for a few minutes, but do not trap him inside against his will. If you see your cat feeling nervous inside, talk to him calmly, open the door and offer him a treat.
Do not proceed further until he is really calm and feels fine inside a closed carrier. Once this is achieved, take your cat in the carrier for a short car ride. Do this a few times to get him used to it. If he is frightened in the car, draping a towel over the carrier may help calm him down.
No Force Required
Most good carriers these days have both a front door as well as a larger top door. The front door is usually for cats to walk in and out easily, while the top door is for the cat owner to place the cat into the carrier or take him out easily from the top.
In case of an emergency whereby your cat needs to go into or come out of the carrier but is still not acclimatise to it yet, you may need to forcibly put him in and take him out. Putting a reluctant cat in through the top carrier door may be more difficult as the cat can jump out if you are not fast enough to close the top door.
Putting the cat through the front door usually does not have this problem. However, the front carrier entrance is small and you will need to grasp tightly the two front legs of your cat together with one hand and using your other hand to ease your cat gently into the front entrance with his front legs first followed by his head and body.
If your cat does not want to come out and your carrier only has a front entrance, you'll have to do the same thing, but this time with his front legs out first followed by the head and his body.
At the vet, do not open the carrier door until you are in a safe enclosed space. This is because some frightened cats will bolt out of the carrier and run. While waiting, do not leave your cat by himself in the carrier. Talk to him gently to soothe him.
Do not place the carrier near to overly-friendly or barking dogs or other hissing cats. And of course, never let your cat out of the carrier while in a vehicle.
*This article was updated on 4 Aug 2020. It first appeared in PetsMagazine.com on 2 Oct 2015.