Why Does My Cat Sleep In Her Carrier? [A Look At The Behavior]

If your cat prefers to sleep in its carrier – whether you’re on the move, but they have access to a hotel room, or you’re safely at home – you might be wondering what on earth prompts it to stay in a space it can be closed into. Most cats hate being in their carriers, at least when they are put there!

Why Does My Cat Sleep In Her Carrier?

Many cats feel secure in their carriers; the carriers are dark, enclosed spaces with only one entry point. Carriers can also be familiar and may be associated with safety and security (as well as with stress for some cats) as a result of them being a constant when everything else is changing.

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Why Do Carriers Feel Safe?

They’re Enclosed

You have probably observed your cat’s behavior when it comes to cardboard boxes or other enclosed spaces. Cats famously love areas they can crawl into and settle down in. They like the security of having walls on every side, with just one entrance that can be easily defended should the need arise.

Cats even enjoy being a little cramped because that makes them feel safe. They know nothing can sneak up on them – perfect for having a good, long nap undisturbed by noises or movement. The walls of the carrier, therefore, make them very attractive to your cat.

They Are Secure

The right cat carrier can help them feel particularly secure if there’s a lot of chaos going on in the rest of the house. There may be people moving around, loud thumps, kids playing, and hectic happenings, but within the carrier, all is peaceful, and the cat feels safe.

Carriers also feel safe because they are a bit dark. Most carriers allow some light in but filter out at least a bit, and this leaves the cat able to see but undisturbed by bright lights.

You can increase this by draping a towel over the top if you want to, but most cats will be satisfied by the light levels already in the carrier and won’t need the additional darkness. They may prefer having a bit of a view out of the sides, as this lets them keep an eye on things going on in the rest of the world.

Check out some of the best cat carriers for difficult cats or cat carriers for long road trips

They’re Warm

Carriers can also be warm. Because of the roof, heat generated by your cat’s body will be trapped and not lost to the surrounding room to the same degree. This means that it’s cozier to curl up for a nap in the carrier than to sleep out in the open, e.g., on a cushion or couch.

If the room is cold, warmth is a more significant reason for a cat to seek a carrier. They tend to be made of plastic, which is rarely very cold to the touch, so the cat can snuggle in and get cozy more quickly than on other surfaces.

Few cats enjoy being moved in the carrier, but many will like sleeping in it when they get the chance!

Is This A Good Thing?

You might be wondering if you should encourage or discourage such behavior. Unless there is some reason that you don’t want your cat sleeping in the carrier (e.g., you need it for another pet), you should encourage it!

A cat that likes its carrier is more likely to be willing to go in when it’s time for a trip to the vet or groomer. It will also generally be more relaxed on the journey. While it may not enjoy being in the car, it will feel safe because it’s in a space that smells and feels familiar.

You might find that your cat still dislikes being put into the carrier and trapped, as few cats enjoy this and most actively hate it. 

They may still complain during the journey and might be very glad to get out of the carrier. However, their overall stress levels will probably be lower as a result of the familiar space.

There are no disadvantages to letting your cat sleep in its carrier if it wants to. You may even want to encourage it to do so!

How Can I Encourage My Cat To Sleep In Its Carrier?

There are a few things you can do to increase the chance of your cat settling in its carrier. 

Leave The Carrier Around

Firstly, you should leave the carrier around where your cat has regular access to it. Even a cat that is initially suspicious or actively dislikes the carrier should soon adjust to it and may start to investigate it.

Leave the door off, and don’t push your cat in; it will almost certainly leave. Let your cat warm up to the carrier in its own time. And it will probably eventually start to nap in there from time to time. 

The carrier may gradually become a favored spot for sleeping in.

You should put the carrier in a quiet corner, so you don’t accidentally kick it as you walk past, and consider the towel trick if the room is brightly lit.

Make It Comfy

Putting a blanket in is also a good idea, according to VeazieVets. This makes the plastic more comfortable to sleep on, less slippery, softer, and warmer. You could also do this with an item of your clothing to make it smell of you. Most cats will find this very reassuring.

Take The Top Off

If your cat seems nervous about the carrier, try taking the top off and letting them get used to the bottom half. They are more likely to cuddle in here, as they will see they can’t be trapped in it. After a while, you can add the top back on and see what they do.

Not all cats will enjoy sleeping in a carrier. Some cats won’t want to be locked inside one at all. Here’s how to get a mean cat inside a carrier.

Make It Smell Good

Another option is to use a pheromone spray to make the space smell relaxing and safe. These can be purchased from veterinarians and are simply sprayed around the area you want the cat to feel relaxed in.

You can also buy pheromone sprays online, pet stores, etc. This particular brand has received several positive reviews from cat lovers everywhere.

RELAXIVET Calming Pheromone Spray & Scratch Repellent for Cats - Reduces Scratching Furniture, Pee - During Travel, Fireworks, Thunder, Vet Zone - Helps to Relief Stress, Fighting, Hiding
  • ✅100% DE-STRESS FORMULA: We can provide comfort with traveling, boarding, and vet visits. Changes to the home can cause anti stress for cats and kitten. Our spray will help to ease anxiety and...
  • ✅ DRUG-FREE: The calming catnip sprays emits a copy of the organic pheromones. This allows cats to feel at ease and maintain a harmonious connection with one another.

If your carrier is usually associated with stress, you might want to wash it before spraying it. This may help to get rid of any scents that may worry your cat or cause it to feel stressed.

Add An Incentive

Finally, try treats. Placing a few treats around the carrier will interest your cat. Next, put some inside and gradually work them to the back. 

Once your furry friend has seen that there’s nothing frightening about being in the carrier and nothing terrible happens when they go in to eat the treats. They will start to consider it a safe space.

Eventually, they may start to nap in it. Not all cats will do this, as some prefer open spaces, beds, furniture, or their owner’s lap, but this acclimatization should still make journeys less stressful because your kitty will be used to its travel arrangements.

Final Word

It’s perfectly normal to have a cat that likes to sleep in its carrier. Many felines enjoy the cramped, cozy, dark conditions offered by their boxes. As long as your cat doesn’t have any negative associations with the carrier, they will often choose it as a prime spot for napping.

Encourage your kitty to snuggle in there so that travel becomes more manageable and less stressful for both of you!