Teach Your Cat to Love the Carrier in Six Steps

Your cat's carrier is an essential part of her life. Whether you're taking her for a vet visit, traveling to visit your family or friends, or evacuating in an emergency, your pet needs to learn to accept this form of transport. With the right carrier and a few simple steps, your kitty can learn to love her carrier.

Cat carriers come in every style from disposable cardboard boxes to designer purses, and your choice of carrier can make or break your cat's relationship with this vital safety device. The best all-purpose choice is a medium-sized (large enough to fit one cat comfortably) plastic box with a handle and openings in the front and the top. These can be found at pet stores and online pet supply outlets.

Here are six steps for best results with cat and carrier:

Step 1 - To get your cat used to the carrier, start by making it a part of her ordinary life. Leave the carrier in the living room, backed up against a wall, with the door propped open.

Step 2 - Put a small blanket or comfortable pillow in the bottom, and toss in a catnip toy and one or two of her favorite treats.

Step 3 - Let her explore the carrier at her leisure: no stress, no drama. For extra de-stressing power, spray a little bit of Feliway Comfort Zone, a synthetic "happy cat" pheromone, inside.

Step 4 - The next step is to get your feline used to doing different things in the carrier. Close the door while she's inside and leave the room for a few minutes. When you return, prop the carrier door open again. The goal here is to make your cat feel that the carrier is not a trap. Do this several times over the course of a week or so.

Step 5 - Once she's used to that, close the door while she's inside and walk around the house with the carrier. Afterward, set it down, open the door, and give her a treat.

Step 6 - Once you've gotten your cat used to her carrier, it's time to take her for a ride. Close the carrier door while your kitten is inside and take her for a short drive. Even a trip around the block will do. Repeat this at random intervals over the next week or so. The idea behind this is to help your cat understand that being in the carrier, in the car, does not necessarily mean she's going to the vet.

With the right carrier and a low-key, drama-free introduction, you'll have a pet who will love--or at least, accept--the carrier.