New Horizons Veterinary Behavior Solutions

300 Somonauk St.
Park Forest, IL 60466


A must for your cat's safety and security!
David Martyn Hunt

Cat Carriers
should always be used for transport to the hospital for the safety of all!  Cats often feel fear as they enter into unknown territory and will want a place of refuge and safety.  A cat carrier provides a safe hiding place. Traveling in the car with a loose kitty is very dangerous and can lead to an accident.  Cats can be very frightened when they are out of their own environment and they may bolt out of the car when the door is opened.  Noises, sounds, sights, and smells of the animal hospital may overwhelm them and they may attempt to escape.  A frightened cat may accidentally bite or scratch their owners or others.  Provide your kitty with the safety and security of a cat carrier!

The ideal carrier should have an easy open and removable top, as well as a front door. Kitties do not like to be shoved into, or pulled out of their carriers, so easy open tops are best.   Many cats also prefer to stay in the bottom half shell of their carriers during their exams. 

Below are 2 examples of easy open carriers. Click to see them!

Aran Double Door Top Opening Cat Carrier by Marchioro

The Petmate Double Door Deluxe Cat Carrier

Cat carriers should be left out and accessible at home
. Cats love to hide and play in boxes, they will use a carrier in the same way if presented properly.  Line the carrier with a familiar blanket or soft fleece.  Spray the carrier with Feliway Pheromone, or have a Feliway Pheromone Diffuser plugged in nearby.  Toss treats and toys into the carrier frequently.  Hide treats inside the carrier, allow your cat to play, eat, and sleep in the carrier so that it represents a fun and safe haven. If you only bring the carrier out once a year for the "dreaded" car ride to the vet, it will become an object of fear and anxiety!  


Teach your kitty to enter the carrier willingly.  If possible start this out on cats when they are young kittens.  But with patience, this can still work in older cats. Consider making the carrier your cat's daily feeding station.  Begin by keeping the carrier out all the time. Drop treats and kibble around it. The cat’s curiosity and hunger will take over. Once the cat is willing to eat near the carrier, place the entire meal inside.  Make the cat carrier the "Kitty Kitchen"!   Soon your cat may even choose to sleep inside the carrier because it’s a secure place.”

Once the cat feels comfortable inside the carrier, walk to another room in your house with the carrier, unzip and let the cat hop out. Repeat and repeat many times!! Now, finally, just before dinner time, take tabby for a car ride. Head around the block and return home to give your cat dinner. So, instead of the destination being a vet office, it’s a yummy meal! Repeat and practice and your cat will soon willingly hop in the carrier with anticipation of great things happening!

Once inside the veterinary clinic it may help to lightly cover the carrier with a towel to help your kitty feel safe and secure.  Decreasing exposure to strange noises, sights, and sounds in the veterinary hospital can reduce stress.  

It is always easiest to train kittens, but with patience older cats can learn too.  Once you have your kitten or cat acclimated and loving the carrier, begin with short car rides just for fun.  Let the cat know the car ride has rewards too, remember to treat and praise relaxed behavior.  Try to avoid only putting your cat in the car for veterinary visits.  Teach your kitty to love car rides!


Use Feliway Pheromone spray to spray your cat's carrier, as well as inside the car, about 15-30 minutes prior to the trip.  Apply a squirt of spray into each corner, and the roof and floor of your cat's carrier, and on to any bedding inside the carrier before each trip. Feliway Spray will help the carrier feel like a safe and secure enviroment.  You can purchase Feliway at most veterinary clinics or online at places such as Amazon.

Here are some links and videos with other tips on how to acclimate your cat to the carrier.

A Step by Step Lesson Plan to Teach Your Cat to Love the Carrier  from our friend and colleague, Dr. Colleen Koch who is an amazing veterinarian and Karen Pryor Academy Clicker Trainer and now a resident in Behavior Medicine with the American College of Veterinary Behavior ACVB.

"60 Mittens" One of the best cat carrier training videos ever!  Watch to learn the magic and power of clicker training to make cat carrier training fun for kitty and force free! The trainer breaks the behavior down into tiny steps. The "click" tells kitty when she gets a step right! For each correct behavior step, kitty earns a tasty treat! Put all the steps together and you have a beautiful behavior chain! What a FUN way to learn to love the cat carrier, no force needed! Wouldn't this be a welcome sight when it is time to bring your cat to the vet?!

Visiting Your Vet  Steve Dale's video on teaching your cat to love the carrier

Teaching Your Cat to Ride in the Cat Carrier!  A great description with outlined steps from the ASPCA!

So Why Not The Carrier-Part 1
  Cats love to jump into boxes, so why not the carrier?

So Why Not The Carrier-Part 2

Training Cats to Love Their Carriers.pdf
  A great handout from Dr. Sophia Yin


Cats & Carriers: Friends Not Foes  A helpful video offering 5 simple steps for cat owners to use cat-friendly carriers.

Tips for Taking your Cat to the Vet   Ilona Rodan, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, Feline Practice, offers tips and advice on taking your cat to the veterinarian. Regular vet visits can improve your cat's quality of life and keep your feline healthy and happy.

Getting Your Cat to the Veterinarian A handout on reducing the stress of veterinary visits for you and your cat.

Cat Carrier Training with Dr. Neilson  Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist, Dr. Jacqui Neilson demonstrates cat carrier training.  Dr. Neilson is demonstrating a positive reinforcement technique called "Clicker Training".  The click marks the desired behavior when the kitten offers to enter the carrier, Dr. Neilson rapidly follows the click with a tasty treat. The same result can be achieved with just a treat if your timing is quick!

Cat Carrier Training with Dr. Neilson Day 2   Day 2 of Cat Carrier Training with Dr. Jacqui Neilson and Bug.