How to Get a Skittish Cat into a Carrier

How to Get a Skittish Cat into a Carrier

We’re going to walk you through how to get a skittish cat into a carrier, so keep reading.

As pet owners, we have to do things that are in our pet’s best interests, even if they don’t like it. One of these things is veterinarian appointments.

Cats can be particularly stubborn. Getting a cat to do anything it doesn’t want to do is tough, and getting them into a cat carrier may sound impossible. That, however, isn’t necessarily true.

Cat Carriers and Your Skitty-Kitty

The Carrier Itself

Cats are very aware of changes in their environment. If they’re not used to seeing the cat carrier out in the house, they might be more frightened of it when you take it out the day before you need it. To make transportation in a carrier less stressful, you’ll have to acclimate your cat to it.

Set the open carrier out in your house at least 2 weeks before using it. Make sure it’s within your cat’s reach so they can smell it and go inside if they want.

Setting their favorite treats, toys, or a blanket (with your cat’s scent on it) inside will help in getting them used to the carrier. You want your kitty to get used to having the carrier around as a harmless, everyday object.

Getting Your Cat into a Carrier

After the slow and steady acclimation period, it’s probably time for your cat’s veterinarian appointment. Sit the carrier upright so that the open end is facing the ceiling.

Lower your cat bottom-first into the carrier
Lower your cat bottom-first into the carrier

You should then put a towel inside the carrier. A towel or blanket will not only make the space a little more comfortable for your cat, but it will also absorb urine in case your cat gets too anxious and pees (this is why it’s so important to acclimate your cat to the carrier).

Gently pick your cat up with one hand under their front legs and the other supporting your cat’s rear end.

If it helps, you could wrap the cat in a blanket or towel while picking them up instead of putting it in the carrier beforehand, which is most useful if your cat scratches or bites when anxious.

Now it’s time to get them in the carrier.

Lower your cat bottom-first into the carrier, as putting them in head-first may make them more anxious.

Once they’re in, close the carrier door and slowly bring it down until the bottom is on the floor. Covering the carrier with a towel or familiar blanket can help your cat feel calmer for the car ride.

In addition to a towel, soothingly talking to your cat during the car ride can help keep them calm too. Knowing that you’re there with them and that you’re relaxed may help your kitty feel less stressed.

Getting Your Cat Out of the Carrier

You’re at your destination: now what?

Reassure your cat while opening the carrier
Reassure your cat while opening the carrier

For starters, keep yourself and your voice calm. When you open the carrier, quickly set one hand on the cat’s head and wrap your free arm around the cat’s body.

Pick up and support the cat tucked between your elbow and hip, sort of like holding an American football. If your cat is anxious and a bit aggressive, you may have to restrain their legs so that they don’t scratch you.

If you’re at the veterinarian’s office, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance in getting your cat out of the carrier safely and calmly.


We love our cats and don’t want them to be stressed. Sometimes, however, we have to get them to do something that they don’t like. One of these things is cat carriers.

You can reduce your cat’s stress levels around carriers by slowly and steadily getting them used to having it around the house. Keeping the carrier out in your house and within your cat’s reach can help them realize the carrier is a normal and non-threatening object.

A slow and steady carrier introduction, and staying calm and relaxed yourself, will help your cat feel safer and less anxious before, during, and after their next car ride and medical appointment.