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  • Writer's pictureDr. Liz Bales

Your Cat and the Carrier can be BFFs

If you are like most people, your cat hates the carrier and the car ride to the veterinarian. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way.  With a few easy steps, you can turn the carrier from your cat’s archenemy to her “Best Friend Forever”.


Your cat and the carrier usually get off on the wrong foot. It all starts when you drag the dreaded carrier out of the closet/garage/attic on the morning of the vet visit.  Your cat lets you know that she is much less than thrilled by disappearing under the bed. The next harrowing event occurs when your coax your sweet kitty out from under the bed and attempt to get her into the carrier for the ride.  If you are lucky, you are successful and no one is bleeding. Your cat is already in a panic before she even leaves the house. 

I am delighted to tell you that there is a better way, and it’s easy.  It just takes a little time.

You see, cats find comfort in a familiar hiding place to feel safe when they are under stress. In fact, comfortable, cozy places to hide and rest around the house are important for a cat’s well-being.  We can use this knowledge to help our cats and reduce their fear and anxiety when they face a stressful situation, like a car trip.

In other words, you can make the carrier your cat’s new BFF, instead of her worst enemy. Here’s how.

  1. Your cat carrier is now going to become a part of daily life for you and your cat.  It will be a fixture in your home décor. Place this carrier in your cat’s favorite part of the house and leave it there 24/7.

  2. Make sure the carrier has cozy bedding inside, or add some. You want your cat to think of this as the preferred resting spot and cozy bed, not the dreaded cat carrier.

  3. Daily snack time is now in the carrier. Once a day, put a small amount of dry or freeze-dried food or treats in the carrier. Give your cat a chance to discover and enjoy these on her own.  It could take a few days to weeks for you cat to start to feel at home in the carrier. Be patient. It is worth it. Just refresh the treats/food every day.

  4. After your cat has reached Zen in the new carrier, it is time for the next step. Find a calm time when your cat is already inside the carrier and gently close the door for a few minutes, and then open it back up again. When she is comfortable with the door being closed, pick up the carrier and cruise around the living room for a minute or two. Then, replace the carrier in its normal resting spot and open the door. Every now and then, take this journey a step further. Go outside or even on a short car trip.

Soon, your cat will be relaxed and happy in her carrier.  She will think of the carrier as a home away from home. On the day of your next planned journey, all you will need to do is stay relaxed, place some treats inside, wait for your cat to jump in, and you’ll be on your way.  You will be amazed at how different your vet visit will be when you and your cat arrive relaxed and happy.

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