Cats sleep in their carriers for a number of reasons; to feel safe and secure, because it’s comfortable, if they can’t find somewhere better, if they’re distressed, and it’s possible they’re unwell.
In this article, we’re going to help you decode this behavior. As well as explaining what you can do to stop your cat from sleeping in their carrier and have them sleep elsewhere.
5 Reasons Why Cats Sleep in Their Carriers
They Feel Secure in Their Carrier
Even though your cat likely associates her carrier with going to the vet, which terrifies most cats, if you find your cat sleeping in her carrier it could be because she feels secure there.
While it can be strange to find your cat sleeping in a place where she usually objects to being put, she probably feels secure sleeping there because of the small, confined space.
Cats derive comfort from being in tight and safe spaces. Maybe her old sleeping place disturbed her somehow and it no longer provides the comfort she needs to feel secure enough to fall asleep.
The Bedding and Scent Is Familiar and Comforting
Cats like familiarity and comfort, and sometimes they need extra comfort. Since your cat is likely the only cat that has been in her carrier, her scent is in it, and it could be enticing.
It’s probably warm inside the carrier as well, especially if you have blankets inside it. There’s something about cats and their own scent that makes them feel comfortable that people really can’t explain.
Some cats are enticed by their owner’s scent, while others seek out their own. As long as your cat seems healthy and isn’t doing anything else out of the ordinary, you shouldn’t be worried.
They Haven’t Found a Better Place to Sleep
Since cats change where they sleep so often, it’s difficult to predict where a cat might sleep next.
There are certainly weirder places to sleep beside a carrier. Sometimes, a cat’s behavior simply can’t be explained.
Cats are very picky when it comes to different things, including where they sleep. Your cat could be sleeping in her carrier because she simply hasn’t found a new acceptable place to sleep.
For whatever reason, her old sleeping area is no longer acceptable and, since her carrier is familiar and has her scent, perhaps she is attracted to it and is using it as a temporary place to sleep.
Something Is Distressing Them
Unfortunately, your cat can’t come to you and verbalize that something is distressing them, but if you’re observant enough, you might be able to figure out what could be bothering your cat.
Anything could distress your cat. Is there a new pet in the household? A new family member? A visitor?
Cats are very sensitive to change, and even the most minute change could cause her to become distressed.
Your cat may show other signs of being distressed, as well, such as refusing to eat, showing aggression, or other out-of-character behavior like spraying urine on walls, and more.
If you determine that your cat is distressed, there are some ways you can help her. First, you need to identify what is distressing her.
If there is a new animal in the home, a visitor, or something else obvious, then you can try to help your cat to acclimate to the other animal or visitor.
Keep in mind that your cat may totally refuse to even come out of her favorite hiding spot whenever this person or animal is around.
Obviously, it will take some time for your cat to adjust. In the meantime, you may need to take your cat to the vet for some type of treatment, as stress can lead to physical illness.
Your Cat Is Unwell
Another reason your cat may suddenly be sleeping in her carrier is that she is feeling sick.
While some cats may become clingier when they aren’t feeling well. Your cat could be doing the opposite by hiding out and not being affectionate because she doesn’t feel well.
She could have an upset stomach or any number of illnesses. If you believe your cat is ill, you should check her out.
Is she less energetic than she usually is? Is she cranky or simply acting out of the ordinary in other ways?
If she is displaying some of these other unusual symptoms, you may want to have her checked out by a vet. You can also read this post looking at cat’s sleeping positions when ill for clues.
How to Stop Your Cat Sleeping in Her Carrier
If it bothers you that your cat is sleeping in her carrier and you want her to resume sleeping with you or wherever she was sleeping before or in another more suitable spot, you may be able to do so successfully.
However, you must make sure you do so in a gentle manner. Cats are like people in many ways. They don’t want to be forced to sleep somewhere they don’t feel comfortable.
You could try putting some of your cat’s items, like a blanket or a toy, in the new spot that you want her to sleep in.
You could also leave her favorite treats near the proposed new sleeping area. However, there is no guarantee that your cat will sleep in the new area right away, if ever, even if she does accept the treats.
Can My Cat Sleep in a Carrier? Is It Ok?
As long as your cat isn’t ill, you shouldn’t be concerned about her sleeping in her carrier, as it will do no harm.
In fact, it may help your cat to sleep in the carrier until she recovers from whatever possible trauma she may have experienced.
If nothing scared your cat and she isn’t ill, then simply allowing your cat to sleep in the carrier for as long as she wants is not a problem.
Your cat can safely sleep in her carrier for any length of time. After some time has passed, and perhaps with some gentle coaxing, you can help kitty feel comfortable to begin sleeping in a more appropriate location.
Under no circumstances should you attempt to force your cat to stop sleeping in her carrier though, as she may become angry and lash out.
If your cat insists on sleeping in the carrier, you should simply accept it. When she decides to sleep somewhere else, she will do so on her own.
If your cat has started sleeping in her carrier, first of all, don’t panic. I’ve come across several cats that started sleeping in their carrier before and have always been able to change this behavior.
As with all cat behaviors, once you figure out the cause or reason why they’re doing something, you can change their behavior.
Go through the reasons I covered above. If you really can’t find anything obvious, then a trip to the vet to rule out any underlying issues is your best bet.
With some patience, a few treats, some cozy beds elsewhere, and rewarding positive behavior – I’m sure you’ll have your cat out and with a new lease of confidence in no time.
Image credits – Header Photo by Fidel Fernando, cat photo by James Yarema on Unsplash