Most cat owners understand and dread the idea of having to place their normally sweet, gentle kitty into a carrier for a trip to the veterinarian. Getting your cat in the carrier can result in your perfectly peaceful feline turning into a ball of claws and teeth, fighting to flee.

First, it is important to start with the proper carrier to transport your kitty. Cats don’t like to be exposed to uncomfortable or new environments. It is important to introduce your cat to the carrier before you need to use it for transport. Make it a familiar, secure and pleasant place so your cat feels comfortable and safe being in and around the carrier. This can mean getting the carrier out and open a few days before your trip and leaving a few pieces of kibble or a treat in the bottom. Or use a pheromone spray or wipe to help calm your cat. I keep my carriers open and stored on the floor of my laundry room.

Being a house with 8 cats, my cats enjoy being able to “hide” from the other kitties in carriers on occasion. This has helped them be accepting when they need to be placed in the carrier for an occasional trip to my mom’s.

#1 Keep a calm upbeat attitude. Cats will feed off of our anxiety.

#2 Prepare your cat carrier. Make sure there are not lose or sharp pieces. Place a soft adsorbent towel in the bottom of the carrier. This will make your cat for more secure and will help if your cat should soil the carrier.

#3 Locate your cat well in advance of your trip. If your cat is known to hide for long periods of time or is an outside cat, it is a good idea to find them and put them in a secure room where you can easily get them. Remember to take into account places your cat can hide in the room.  No one wants to have to crawl under bed to get a hissing, spitting ball of fur. I find the laundry room or bathroom are the best places to keep them secure until travel time.

#4 If your cat is social and you are not worried about locating them. Before attempting to load your cat into the carrier, it is best to put the carrier into a secure room and then carry your kitty to the secure room to load them into their carrier. This will be help keep the cat in one small area if your normally calm cat tries to escape.

#5 Leave yourself plenty time to get your cat loaded into their carrier. It is always better to have your cat loaded up and ready to go than be running around trying to make your appointment.  Your cat will perceive your stress and act accordingly.

#6 Calmly enter the room and approach your cat. Speak in a calm, even tone telling your cat how pretty, smart, sweet, furry, etc. they are.

#7 Find the best way to get your cat in their carrier. If your carrier has a top loading cage door:

  • Place the carrier on its bottom and open the top cage lid.
  • Pick your cat up under his front and back legs.
  • Lower your cat feet first into the carrier trying to keep the cat compact in a ball to keep them from using their feet to get away.
  • Close the door and secure the latch.
If your cage only has a front cage door:
  • Place the carrier on its end so the open door is facing the ceiling.
  • Pick your cat up under his front legs, with your other hand supporting his bottom.
  • Lower your cat rear-end first into carrier – this way they will not feel like they’re being forced into a situation where there is no way out.
  • Close the door and secure the latch, then gently return the carrier to the correct position.

It is important to remember to try to keep the events of traveling to the vet as stress free as possible. With proper planning and a calm attitude, a trip to the veterinarian can be as stress free as possible and you and your fun, furry ball of feline love can continue to live in peace.