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How to get a cat into a carrier

There are more cats than dogs in the United States, but dog veterinary visits hugely outnumber cat visits. This is not because cat owners care any less about their pets, but due to the difficulty many people have getting their cats into a carrier without bloodshed.

There are many types of carriers and some are more difficult to use than others depending on the cat. Hard carriers with a top that opens up have an advantage of allowing the cat to be dropped down into the carrier and gently lifted out without having to reach in and drag the cat out. Some hard carriers have tops that are much more easily removed than the ones that have multiple nuts and bolts that need to be removed. Soft carriers vary also. Some unzip completely, making entry and exit much easier.

Once you have a carrier you will want to make it an area of fun, not just the transport to the veterinarian’s office. If you leave the crate out in a public area such as a bedroom, kitchen or living room and place some soft bedding in it, it will often become your cat’s hiding spot. Cats like dark enclose spaces, and many carriers serve nicely this way. Giving your cat special treats when she gets in the carrier is also helpful to make it a happy place to be. For cats that still don’t take to the carrier, you can remove the top of the carrier and again leave it out in a public area. Play games with your cats that cause them to run in and out of the carrier or hide in the carrier. Another way to desensitize them to the carrier is to have it in the same room that they are fed. Each day move the carrier closer to the feeding area until they are being fed in the carrier.

Though it is best to desensitize your cat to the carrier you may not have time for that right now. If you have an uncooperative cat and must get her into a hard carrier right now, you can do one of the following. 

1. Take the top off the carrier. Wrap your cat in a towel so that her head is covered and you are protected from being scratched. Place her in the open carrier, leaving the towel over her. Place the top back on. Or:

2. Place the carrier on the floor with the open door pointing up to the ceiling. One person should scruff your cat, lift her up, and then lower her down into the carrier. Another person needs to hold the carrier still, the door open, and guide the cat’s legs down into the carrier. Once she is completely in the carrier close the door before she pops back out.

If your cat is really uncooperative and scared, it would be a good idea for you to wear heavy gloves to lessen the risk of getting scratched. Always err on the side of safety. We don’t want you or your pet to get hurt.


Virginia Beach Veterinarian | Birdneck Animal Hospital
508 North Birdneck Rd Suite C
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
Phone: (757) 355-5694

Monday:

8:30 am-8:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Thursday:

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Friday:

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Saturday:

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Sunday:

Closed

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  • ""Dr. Johnson, I don't know why you decided to move here from your home in New Jersey, but I absolutely believe it was so you could help me and Mickey. I know coming to someone's home is not what a typical veterinarian would do, but you are obviously an extraordinary man in a world filled with ordinary men….On top of that, your sensitive and wonderful handwritten note arrived and touched my heart…You are one of those quiet, unheralded champions who make life easier for everyone you touch.""
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