How to Secure an Evasive Cat
Can’t get your wily cat into a carrier? Don’t panic! Use the following steps to safely secure your cat and get them into their carrier.
- Confine your cat as much as possible by closing the doors to the room that they are in.
- Place the carrier in the room with them.
- If they have just had a scary or unpleasant experience, such as an unsuccessful attempt to put them in a carrier, give your cat at least ten minutes to calm down before attempting to secure them again.
- Bring one or two large thick towels and your cat’s favorite food or toys into the room that your cat is in.
- Enter quietly and move slowly.
- Attempt to engage your cat in a pleasant activity using a favorite toy or delicious food such as tuna or chicken.
- If your cat begins to play with the toy or eat the food, slowly lure them toward the carrier, about 3-4 inches at a time.
- Sit or kneel next to the carrier and secure the door using your hand or a towel so that it does not swing and scare your cat when they enter.
- Slowly lure your cat into the carrier by placing the food or toy in front of the carrier, then on the bottom “lip” of the doorway, then 2-3 inches inside the carrier, until the food or toy is all the way at the very back of the carrier.
- Your cat will likely retreat several times during this process, and that’s ok! Allowing them to retreat and then come back will give them confidence that the carrier is a safe place.
- Once your cat has all four paws in the carrier, close the carrier door as quickly as possible (be careful not to get their tail though!). Be sure to brace the entire carrier so that it does not slide back if the cat panics.
If your cat does not engage with the food or toy, or in an emergency, proceed to step 3.
- As quietly as possible, bring the carrier within 6” of where your cat is hiding with the open door facing your cat. Moving slowly, cover both the cat and the entrance to the carrier with a towel or blanket, forming a tunnel. Alternatively, if your cat is hiding under the furniture, you can block off all exits except for a small gap where you will place the carrier. Create the towel tunnel from the carrier to the furniture.
- Ensure that the cat cannot see past the towel tunnel and brace the carrier so that it does not slide, and so that the door does not swing shut accidentally.
- Gently apply pressure to the back of the cat towards the carrier using your hand or an object.
- Once the cat goes into the carrier, close the door. You may have to push part or all of the towel into the carrier with the cat. If the cat does not move forward but remains in place, gently wrap the towel around the cat (see instructions below) and slide the cat and towel into the carrier together.
Tips and Tricks
Towel Wrapping Tips
- Hold the towel horizontally with about four inches at the top folded back toward you.
- Cover the entire cat and fold the extra four inches of the towel over the cat’s head and then under his or her front legs snugly. Bring your forearms firmly together under the cat. Ensure the towel is covering your cat’s hind legs and hold the cat against your body to prevent them from backing out of the towel. Keep your elbows firmly together under the cat.
- If your cat is hiding in a cat bed or on a blanket, fold the bed or blanket to form a snug “taco” around the cat, and place the cat and bed in the carrier together.
- If your cat is hiding in a cardboard box, you can cover the entire box in a towel and place the whole box inside the carrier. You may need to take the top off your carrier to achieve this.
- Now that you’ve secured your cat, it’s time to think about how to make future travel easier for both of you! Feed your cat their meals in a carrier every day to prevent struggles in the future and learn more about getting them adjusted to their carrier. If your cat is highly fearful, speak to your veterinarian about whether anti-anxiety medication would be appropriate to ease your cat’s stress during planned travel.
Still have questions?
Contact our Behavior Specialists at [email protected] or (212) 876-7700 ext. 4971