How to Get an Aggressive Cat into a Pet Carrier

If you’ve ever tried to get your cat to do something it doesn’t want to, you’ll know that cat owners sometimes face a challenging job.

When getting your pet through that carrier door for a vet visit or a trip, things can go a couple of ways. Sometimes they willingly wander into the carrier, having previously positively associated with it.

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But other times, they fight like feral cats! So what can you do when you face an angry cat and the need to get them in a pet carrier? Let’s look at the best tips on how to get an aggressive cat into a carrier of any type.

How to Get an Aggressive Cat into a Pet Carrier

You can try a few methods to get your cat into the carrier, involving enticing them or physically putting them in the carrier. Knowing your cat will help you decide what’s the best approach.

The Burrito Method

This is also known as the towel, blanket, or pillow method – all these things can be used to achieve the aim!

The idea is to restrain your cat so you can put it in the carrier without receiving a series of nasty scratches and bites.

Cat wrapped in a blanket to restrain it

It may be the harshest method, but sometimes, it is the best method if time is short. To do this:

  1. Put the pet carrier in a small room, such as the bathroom
  2. Bring your cat into the room, try to avoid them seeing the carrier, and close the door behind you
  3. Wrap the cat in a thick towel, blanket, pillowcase, or other cloth
  4. Slide them into the pet carrier, tail first, so they can still see you but not where they are going to help them stay calm
  5. Shut the carrier door but don’t try to take them out of the material; they will do this themselves

The Treat Method

if you have a little more time before the car ride and know that your cat has a favorite treat, then the treat method is a good approach.

Simply put some of their favorite treats inside the pet carrier at the back. When they go in to retrieve the treat, merely close the carrier door behind them.

They might be a bit mad, but they are where you need them to be!

The Laser Pointer Method

This is similar to the treat method and works if your cat loves playing with laser pointers or something similar to a torch beam.

Play around outside the carrier, then use the point to lure them into the carrier. Quickly shut the door, and your cat will be in place.

The Toy Method

Again, a similar concept in that you use a favorite toy your cat loves to chase. Play with it for a while, then purposefully throw it into the open carrier.

Make sure you are close enough to shut the door once they run inside.

The Pheromone Spray or Catnip Method

Pheromone sprays can help a cat relax and ease the cat’s fear. This is an excellent approach if you have a nervous cat and won’t want to make them any worse.

Catnip can sometimes work as well as it is a mood enhancer, meaning they are less fearful of the carrier and more relaxed.

Use a calm voice and encourage them to investigate the carrier first while spraying the pheromone spray or adding the catnip to the bottom of the carrier.

This will either calm them so they go in willingly or entice them to enter the enclosed space because the catnip is an appealing scent.

Wither either; the idea is to calm the cat by having the carrier around for a while before you attempt to get them into it.

Once inside, shut the door and cover the carrier with a blanket or large towel so the cat doesn’t realize they are on the move.

Head straight out the front door and quickly get them where needed. When you come back and release them, make sure you wash the carrier out so they don’t come to associate the smell with something negative.

That way, you can use the same method again if there’s another time you need to get them into the carrier.

How to Help Your Cat Overcome Its Carrier Fear

Most of the time, cats like small boxes and enclosed spaces; however, the only time they may resist is with a pet carrier.

Grey cat looking frightened and aggressive

There are many reasons why this might happen, and you may never know because the fear may pre-date their time with you.

One of the best ways to get your cat into a carrier is to start working on the process long before you need them to be in it.

That’s not to say pet owners can’t work with their cat to overcome their fear of the carrier and allow them to see it as a safe place.

Then the whole process of going for a vet appointment can be far less stressful for both of you.

Add a Favorite Blanket or Other Cloth

The first thing to do is to add a favorite blanket or other cloth to the carrier.

Choose something they often lie on so that it smells of them and will make the whole carrier smell strongly of their scent. 

Leave the carrier door open and let them investigate it as they want. You can even spray some catnip on the blanket if your cat reacts typically to this.

Put the Carrier in a Favorite Sleeping Spot

Most cats will have a favorite spot in the house where they love to sleep.

Place the carrier in that spot or close to it is the next step, as this will help them associate with positive things and not be something to fear.

Try Adding a Few Treats or Kibble

Sweeten the deal for your cat by adding treats or a few pieces of kibble. Let them smell what you are doing before you place it in the carrier so they know the treat is present.

Repeat this process until the cat enters the carrier to grab the treat. Wait until the cat even voluntarily sleeps in there for a while.

Then either leave them to it or observe from as far away as possible, allowing them to investigate the carrier in their own time.

Try Closing the Door for a Few Seconds

Once your cat is comfortable entering the carrier, try shutting the door for a few seconds.

They may lose trust in the carrier if they realize they can’t get out. Still, after a few attempts, they will realize that the door always opens, which will work as positive reinforcement that eases their previous aggressive behavior.

Test Out a Short Walk or Car Ride

Once the closed door no longer brings out their angry side, it can be worth trying to walk a short distance with them in the carrier and eventually try a car ride by having a series of pleasant experiences.

In contrast, in the carrier, your cat will turn from an unwilling cat to one that doesn’t mind when in the carrier.

A cat in a clear front backpack style pet carrier

Best Types of Cat Carriers for Nervous Cats

The best cat carriers may not always be the best when you have a nervous pet, are easily stressed, or are aggressive when confronted with a carrier.

Finding the best type of carrier may involve looking at how you will get your pet into it.  But also consider their size and if you can carry the carrier with the cat’s weight.

Hard-sided Carriers

Hard carriers are the traditional type of carrier, but you can now get a whole range where the top of the carrier opens and get the cat in through the roof.

A top-loading carrier can be easier if you use something like the burrito method or to get them to jump in while playing with a laser light or cat toy.

Soft Carriers

Soft carriers sometimes have a removable top, which means vets can often carry out their examination without taking the cat out of the carrier entirely.

They usually have waterproof bases; some have a hard shell on the sides like full plastic carriers, while others are made from the material.

Backpack Carriers

If you have a large cat, a backpack can be one of the best methods to get them to the vet.

These backpacks are designed specifically for cats and have durable mesh panels and vents to make them breathable.

There’s usually a whole range of ways to get them into the carrier and fully adjustable shoulder and chest straps to make them comfortable to carry.

Final Thoughts on How to Get an Aggressive Cat into a Carrier

Sometimes getting your cat into a carrier can seem impossible, but there’s almost always a reason for your cat’s stress, even if you don’t know what it is.

Using some of these methods shows you the most effective ways to get your pet into the carrier with the least stress and injury.

Then, when you have enough time, work on getting the fearful cat used to the carrier so that the issue becomes one in the past.

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