Cat Carrier Training Tips
There is nothing more frustrating than trying to get your cat inside their carrier and having your furry friend sneak their way out while you are closing it up. If you want to put your cat in its carrier without a fight, here are some tips on how to get your cat to voluntarily walk into its carrier with little to no stress. This guide will go over how to make the carrier a great place!
How to Start
- Start with the open carrier in a spot that your cat can access throughout the day.
- Make it an everyday object. This not only gives your cat a chance to explore the carrier at their own leisure but also makes a normal thing in the home. When your cat is in a carrier, they are usually being transported to the vet. Your cat has learned to associate its carrier as the precursor to the vet.
- One helpful thing to do is place an item of clothing with your scent on it or to spray your carrier with Feliway to make the space a happy place.
Feeding all meals in the carrier without closing the door teaches your cat that they get a reward if they enter the space. If your cat has an aversion to the carrier, begin by placing the meal outside of the carrier, then slowly move the bowl closer to the carrier over multiple days or weeks. You may have to start off with the meal away from the carrier if your cat is extremely scared of it. You can use extra tasty treats that your cat loves for this process as well.
Once your cat is comfortable voluntarily stepping into the kennel, begin adding cues such as “kennel up.” Close the carrier after your cat has stepped in, say your cue, and then reward with a high value treat. Fun fact: most cats love meat flavored baby food. When rewarding, be sure to place the high value treat in the carrier with your cat. Now that your cat recognizes the cue, start closing the carrier the moment your cat enters the carrier.
The alternative to capturing is luring. Once your cat is comfortable entering the carrier voluntarily, lure it in using a favorite toy or treat. While luring, say your cue for kenneling up. Once your cat consistently follows the lure, it is time to slowly take the lure out of the equation. This is called fading. To fade your lure, give your kennel up cue, wait a few seconds, and then present your lure. Be sure that when you give your cue that you are rewarding for any step that your cat takes towards the carrier. After enough repetition, you cat will know that cue means getting into kennel means receiving a tasty reward. With enough repetition of these tips, you will have your cat hopping into its carrier voluntarily in no time!