Transporting your cat

The only way to transport a cat safely is in a cat carrier. However, there is little more frustrating than being unable to get your cat into your carrier. If this sounds familiar, read on – the vets at your local Healthy Pet Club practice  have some advice.


  • Leave plenty of time to achieve your goal
  • If your cat has a bad experience, it will probably be worse the next time – so it pays to be patient and kind.

Becoming familiar with the carrier

If your cat only associates the carrier with going to the vet, he probably won’t be very cooperative. So you need to make the carrier a happy place. Here’s how:

  • At least 24 hours before departure, put your carrier in one of your cat’s favourite places, with
    the door left open
  • Make sure the carrier is clean – but don’t use scented cleaning products, as this may put your cat off
  • Place in the carrier:
    • A towel/blanket
    • Something that smells familiar to your cat (e.g., a toy, or something of yours)
    • Treats
  • Allow your cat to explore the carrier in his own time.

Pheromone spray on the carrier may also help.

Cat carrier specs

The best carriers are:

  • Specifically designed to carry pets
  • Made of plastic
  • Designed so that they can be taken apart and cleaned, with the door on the top.
  • Have either a fully removable lid or a large top opening door. This will help the vet or owner to easily remove the cat from the basket if they refuse to come out. This is much better than "coaxing" or "dragging" the cat out of the side door which can cause more distress.

If you don’t have time to prepare

Training your cat to go into the carrier happily is the ideal scenario. But you may need to transport him before he has been trained. In this situation you should:

  • Prepare your carrier as recommended above
  • Check that you can close the carrier door easily
  • Take the carrier, your cat, and a medium-sized towel into a small room (e.g., the bathroom) and close the door and windows
  • Position the carrier with the opening facing the ceiling
  • Pick up your cat with one hand under his chest and the other hand supporting his rear
  • Lower him gently into the carrier, rear end first
    • If your cat doesn't end up inside the carrier, try wrapping him in the towel, with only his head sticking out; then lower him into the carrier as before
  • Close the carrier door and, if the carrier is placed on its end, gently turn it so that it is the right way up
  • Throughout this procedure, be sure to stay very calm yourself.

Carrying your cat

When carrying the carrier, be aware that your cat cannot brace for unexpected movements. Also, some cats are happier if they can see out and some prefer it if you cover the carrier with a towel or a blanket (but don’t do this in very hot weather).