Ask the Trainer

Ask the Trainer: Getting your Cat into a Carrier or Crate

465292281Dear Jennifer,

I train shelter cats and would like to have more ways in which to “lure” particularly smart kitties who do not necessarily desire to be placed back into their kennels after being let out and also are not fond of being held in order to get back to their enclosures. What has worked best for you? thank you!

Dear Annette,

First of all let me say “thank you” for taking time to work with shelter cats.  It is because of people like you that more and more shelter cats get the chance to become adoptable and cherished family companions!

I do not know if you have the luxury of working with the cats in the area they are being housed.  If so, I would work on shaping the cats to go in and out of their kennels on cue, making a game out of it and heavily rewarding them when they go back into their kennels.  Check out this video of my assistant trainer Kelsey shaping her cat, Juice, to go into his carrier.  It would be the same concept as the kennel:

Using a wand toy to play their way in and then again ending with a high value treat or meal would be another thing to try.

When all else fails I would use a low stress wrap to pick up and place the cat back in her kennel.  For my own cats I use a basic “burrito wrap” as taught by Dr. Sophia Yin DVM.  I have had to use this several times with one of my foster cats in order to get him into his carrier before I had a chance to work with him.  I just wrapped him loosely so that once he was in the carrier he could easily get out of the towel:

I hope that helps!

Jennifer Mauger, CPDT-KSA

Jennifer is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and owner of both L’Chaim Canine and L’Chaim Feline.  Her interest in working with cats began after going into homes where, although she was working with the dog, Jennifer saw that the cat was also in need of behavior modification and mental enrichment.  She wanted to be able to advocate for the cats from the point of view of a professional.  For more training tips and tricks,  follow her on Facebook by clicking here.

Do you have a training question for Jennifer? Ask her by clicking here.



  1. Pingback: Ask the Trainer: Getting your Cat into a Carrier or Crate - Lake Murray Pets

  2. Cynthia

    Feb 17, 2015 at 10:40 am

    #1 easiest way, is to pick up the cat and put them in butt first. Try it, so easy I’ll think wow why didn’t I do this before.

  3. Glenda McCarty

    Feb 17, 2015 at 11:52 am

    I use to have a lot of trouble getting my cats in their cat carriers, but no more. My younger cats are being trained to use a carrier as a ‘play pen’ I place them in with a favorite toy, a ball with bell. They look forward to going in now. So, when it’ s time to go to the Vet, no more struggles.

  4. Debrah Ross

    Feb 17, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Years ago, my two cats would run and hide under the bed if they saw me taking their carrier out of the closet, because they knew it meant they were going to their vet. So I started taking it out when they weren’t looking. Back then, I had the big plastic kind like in the picture above. My solution, once I closed my bedroom door so they couldn’t hide under the bed, was to place the carrier on the floor with the door facing up. Then I’d just pick them up one at a time, and let gravity do most of the work. They would try to catch the edges with their feet, but I’d just unhook their claws and once their feet were in, I would just lower each one down. It worked a lot better.

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