cat carrier

Training Your Cat to Love Their Carrier

| September 16, 2022

Your cat’s carrier is an essential part of their life. Whether you’re taking them to visit the vet, travelling to visit your family or friends, evacuating in case of an emergency, or simply providing them a safe haven when guests come for a visit, cats can greatly benefit from enjoying being in their carrier.

You may think that training your cat to enjoy a small, confined space will be tough – but cats actually enjoy hiding places. In fact, carrier training can help reduce fear in cats.

By following these simple steps, you can train your cat to see their carrier as their personal bedroom in a few weeks! It’s all about teaching them that great things happen in their crate – and by great things, we mean food. Here’s a simple step-by-step process to help you to train your cat to love their carrier.

Step 1: Feeding outside of the carrier

Depending on how comfortable your cat is with the carrier, you may have to start by feeding them meals just outside of the carrier.

Step 2: Feeding inside the carrier

Once your cat is comfortably eating meals outside of the carrier, place their food bowl just inside the door of their carrier. Soon, they should readily stick their head inside the carrier to eat their food.

Step 3: Gradually move the food

During the next few meals, gradually move their food bowl further into the carrier. Only proceed with this step once your cat is comfortable and confident when entering the carrier to access their meal. For most cats this should take fewer than 5 days. To help speed up the process, try hiding high value treats or toys in the carrier between meals.

Step 4: Close the door during mealtimes

Once your cat confidently enters all the way into the carrier when eating, practice closing the door during mealtimes.

Step 5: Extend closure time

Once your cat is comfortable with eating their meals in the carrier with the door closed, gradually start keeping them in the carrier for longer periods of time.

Step 6: Practice movement

Once your cat is comfortable with longer periods of inside of the carrier, practice picking up the carrier, and perhaps even taking it out to the car. Be sure to provide lots of tasty treats or toys during this step!

Need more advice?

Toronto Humane Society offers a variety of  feline training classes. These classes are tailored to help strengthen the human-animal bond with trust-building practices and positive reinforcement techniques.