Introducing a cat backpack takes time, positive reinforcement, and letting your cat set the pace. But the investment is worth it for the joy of bringing your furry friend. For cats, being placed in a backpack carrier can be a distressing experience.
At Cat Gear, we offer tips to pet owners on how to help felines feel more relaxed and comfortable while being transported in pet carriers.
In this post, we’ll discuss best practices for introducing your cat to a backpack safely and gradually, recommending carrier styles and materials they may prefer, along with advice on maintaining calm energy and minimizing motion sickness while your cat is on the move.
Start With the Backpack Open in a Calm Area
Cats dislike abrupt changes to their environment. Introduce the backpack to your cat at home first, where they feel most at ease. Keep the backpack open and place it on the floor in an area your cat frequents.
This allows them to inspect, sniff, touch, and acclimate to this new object on their own time without pressure.
- Be patient and let your cat approach and explore the carrier. Never force them inside right away.
- Have treats handy to reward your cat for any interest in or steps toward investigating the backpack.
- Try placing treats just inside the carrier to encourage your cat to step in. But don’t shut the flap.
- Keep introduction sessions brief (5-10 minutes) to avoid overwhelming your cat.
With repeated calm and positive exposures to the open carrier in their home base, your cat will start to gain confidence and see the backpack as non-threatening.
Encourage Your Cat to Enter the Carrier
Once your cat seems comfortable around the backpack when it’s open, you can start conditioning them to go inside.
Take it slowly and use the following training tactics:
- Place treats, catnip, or toys inside to motivate your cat to enter on their own. But never force them in.
- Praise, give treats, and use a happy tone when your cat steps into the carrier, so they associate it with positive reinforcement.
- Try feeding your cat in the open backpack so they see it as a rewarding space.
- Pet, brush, or play with your cat while they are in the carrier to build more comfort.
- Let your cat back out immediately if they seem uneasy. And end the session on a positive note.
With continued short training sessions, your cat should learn to willingly enter and relax in the open backpack.
Close the Flap While Your Cat Is Inside
Once your cat can spend time sitting or lying down in the carrier calmly, you can start temporarily closing the flap.
But introduce this step gradually:
- While petting your cat inside the carrier, briefly lift the flap for 1-2 seconds, then re-open it and reward them.
- Build up the flap closure time slowly over multiple training sessions.
- Distract with treats or toys if your cat seems agitated when the flap lifts.
- Always open the flap immediately if your cat tries to open it themselves.
- Keep sessions brief and end on a positive note, rewarding when the flap lifts.
Going at your cat’s pace and not forcing interactions will prevent overwhelming them as you work up to sealing the carrier with your cat inside.
Take Short Trips in the Closed Carrier
The final step in backpack training is taking your cat for little test runs:
- After your cat can stay sealed in the carrier calmly for 5 minutes at home, take them for a short walk around one room, praising them through the mesh panel.
- Slowly build up time and distance going outside, starting with your own backyard before longer adventures.
- Always bring treats and toys to distract and reward your cat while in transit.
- Avoid overly stimulating environments at first that could spook your cat.
- Monitor your cat closely and cut trips short if they seem very distressed.
With time, your cat should adjust to seeing the backpack as their portable den for accompanying you to places comfortably and without anxiety.
Be Patient and Watch for Signs of Stress
Introducing your cat to a new backpack carrier requires patience as you slowly shape positive associations through rewards, play, and praise.
Forcing interactions or moving too fast can cause lasting fear and stress. Let your cat lead the way, go at their own careful pace, and build trust that the backpack is a safe space for adventures together. With the right training approach, you’ll both be enjoying worry-free walks in no time!