Cat Carriers

Cats are creatures of habit and prefer the comforts of home over travelling to unfamiliar places such as veterinary hospitals and grooming or boarding facilities. But travel is inevitable, and carriers provide a safe and secure way to transport cats. Whether you’re raising a kitten or living with an adult cat, here are some guidelines for choosing a carrier and training your furry companion to accept and even enjoy spending time in it. For more tips on preventing or minimizing the stress associated with vet visits, see our handout “Vet Visits Begin at Home.”

Choosing the Right Carrier

Choosing the right carrier is the first step in making travelling with your cat and visits to your vet stress-free. Carriers come in a variety of styles and materials. It’s important to choose one that is:

  • Stable, safe, and secure to avoid an escape or jostling during transport. (Backpack-style carriers can make for too bumpy a ride.)
  • Sturdy, durable, and easy to clean. (Soft fabric carriers can be prone to collapsing and hard to keep clean. A sturdy plastic carrier avoids these issues.)
  • Equipped with multiple access points/ways of opening. An easily removeable top or a top opening will make it easier for your veterinary team to work with your cat while he/she remains in the carrier.
  • The right size – large enough for your cat to comfortably stand, turn around, and lay on his or her side and not too large for you to carry without jostling your passenger. For kittens that have yet to grow into their carriers, use towels or blankets to provide buffers from sliding back and forth.
Cat In Carrier

Training Step-by-Step

Start by making your cat’s carrier comfortable and inviting by including soft bedding, safe toys, and a T-shirt with your scent, or a towel or blanket infused with the calming pheromone Feliway Classic®.

Cat Walking Out Of Carrier

Introduce your cat to the carrier by leaving the door open to allow him/her to check it out. Place treats, toys, or catnip inside the carrier to encourage him/her to enter it. Repeat this exercise until he/she is comfortable entering the carrier voluntarily. Next, with your cat in the carrier, close the door for a few seconds at a time. Slowly increase how long the door is closed as long as he/she remains relaxed. You can add a blanket over the carrier to help him/her feel hidden and safe.

Cat In Carrier In Car With Family

Now bring your cat in his/her carrier to the car, being sure to support the carrier from the bottom to avoid uncomfortable jostling. Secure the carrier (on the floor behind the passenger seat or on a back seat with a seat belt) and let him/her settle. Then start the car and let him/her get comfortable with the sound and feel of the engine running. Once he/she is comfortable in a stationary car, drive back and forth in the driveway a few times, then slowly increase the length of the drive.

Important Do’s and Don’t’s


  • Keep your carrier out in the open rather than tucked away so it’s a familiar fixture for your cat.
  • ensure the carrier door remains open (in your home when not in use)to allow your cat to use it freely.


  • Use the carrier as a punishment when your kitten or cat misbehaves.
  • Force him or her into it. (Punishment and force cause fear and confusion and create a negative association with the carrier.)