This post is sponsored by Sleepyod
Does your cat love her cat carrier? If you’re like the majority of cat parents, your answer will be “no.” Most cats are leery of the carrier, especially if trips to the vet are the only time they need to be in it. As a result, most cat parents are resigned that getting their cats into a carrier will result in a struggle. And yet, the carrier can be vital in an emergency – and it’s up to you to break your cat’s negative association with the carrier and convince her that being inside the carrier can be a good thing.
Make the carrier a coveted part of your cat’s everyday environment
Do you stow your carrier in a closet or in a dark corner of your basement that your cats never use? Letting your cat make friends with the carrier starts by making it desirable, and that means placing it in a location where your cat spends a lot of time, preferable, a location where you spend time with your cats.
It helps if your carrier is not only comfortable for the cat, but also pleasing to the human eye to make that happen. I know I wouldn’t want an ugly plastic cage highly visible in my living room. A carrier that addresses this problem beautifully is the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed. It’s really a luxury bed, lined with ultraplush foam. The domed cover unzips easily, so you can adapt it to your cat’s sleeping preference even while using it inside your home. Some cats may prefer the top removed, others may like the security of the cover. I’ve had these carriers for several years, and they’re simply gorgeous.
Pick the right carrier
Carriers come in all shapes and sizes, and your preference and your cat’s will determine which one you choose. Make sure that the carrier is large enough for your cat to be able to move around in it comfortably. If you plan to travel with your cat, a larger carrier that can accommodate a small litter box may be a good choice.
Easy entry and exit are key to a carrier that won’t turn getting your cat into it into an ordeal. Look for carriers that open to the top. All of Sleepypod’s carriers have a top entry option.
Another important consideration is carrier safety. Carriers that are not structurally sound or have insufficient connection strength can directly affect the safety of the pet, and they place human vehicle occupants at risk of injury, should an accident occur. Sleepypod voluntarily certified their entire carrier lineup with the Center for Pet Safety.
Make the carrier interesting for your cat
Now that you’ve found a good location for your carrier, make it fun for your cat. Place a soft blanket inside. Add a favorite toy. If your cat responds to catnip, periodically sprinkle catnip inside the carrier. Leave treats inside the carrier. Some experts recommend feeding your cat inside the carrier, but I have mixed feelings about that, because cats prefer to have their eating and resting locations separate.
Don’t rush the process of getting your cat used to the carrier. Some cats will be immediately intrigued with a new addition to their living space, others may take their time checking it out.
Incorporate the carrier into playtime. Lead your cat to the carrier with an interactive wand toy, or toss a favorite toy inside. Create a “carrier puzzle” by hiding treats underneath the blanket you placed in the carrier.
Proceed slowly with carrier training
Once your cat has decided that the carrier is a cool place to hang out, you can start working on using it for its intended purpose. Start with practicing closing the door when your cat is relaxed inside the carrier. Leave the room for a couple of minutes. If your cat is calm when you return, open the door and give him a treat while he’s still in the carrier. Be careful to not inadvertently reward undesired behavior: don’t give a treat if your cat leaves the carrier as soon as you open the door. Just try again later, and leave the door closed for a shorter period of time. Gradually increase the time the door remains closed.
Once your cat is comfortable in the closed carrier, practice picking it up and carry it around the house. Give a treat once you set the carrier down and open the door.
Your next step is to start associating trips in the carrier with something other than a vet visit by taking your cat for short practice rides. Even a short drive around the block will be sufficient initially. Reward your cat with treats when you return.
Avoid stress and be prepared for emergencies
I believe that in this age of increasingly frequent severe weather events in many parts of the country, it is vitally important that you have a way to get your cat into the carrier quickly. With the right carrier, and a patient, slow approach to getting your cat used to it, you’ll avoid a lot of stress for both cat and human.
How did you get your cat used to the carrier? Please share your tips!
For more information about Sleepypod’s carriers, and to purchase, please visit their website.
FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, which means that I was compensated to feature this content. Regardless of payment received, you will only see products or services featured on this site that I believe are of interest to our readers.
I think it is a great idea to get pets accustomed to carriers asap. You never know if you will need to leave the house in an emergency or go to a shelter. I keep mine in the house ready to use all of the time. It is just like having another bed in the house for the kids. They are under the piano.
With our cat, it’s best to capitalize on curiosity by keeping the carrier stored away and bringing it out an hour or two before we need to leave. Invariably, she will wander around it, smelling it, and then crawl inside on her own to explore. I then zip it up, and off we go!
That’s an interesting approach – that’s great that it works for you!
My cats do not like the sleepy pod carrier. We have left it out for them to explore, sleep in, whatever they want to do. we have spent over $1,000 on 5 of these carriers to no avail. One cat has constantly sprayed a few and now we are down to 2 carriers. I like the safety they provide, but my cats will not get in on their own, so they experience added stress of us having to put them in. But in fairness to
Sleepy pod, we bought 4 other brands and the experience is the same.
Many of my cats don’t get to go to the vet in a carrier. Because they are feral, they have to go in a trap. One of my ferals is ok with going in the trap. Mr Greyson has actually gone in to sleep in the trap before.
I keep the carrier in sight on the base of the stairs. Tasha will go in there and sleep. She is pretty use to it. Also if ever there is an emergency, I can just get her in the carrier.
I admit, I am one of those people who only use them for vet visits or when we have an emergency (like a tornado warning). My cats put up a huge fight when I try to get them in the carriers. I also wouldn’t want to look at the plastic carrier in the living room.
But I will try to find a good spot where they might want to crawl in and take a nap in them and hopefully get used to them more.
My furbabies do not like the cat carrier. I leave it out constantly. I keep it out as part of the furniture. I have a vet that makes house calls!