Cat carriers are a must for the cat owner. They are a means of safely transporting your cat (for example to the vet or a boarding cattery), by keeping it secure.
A cat should always be placed in a cat carrier while transporting it, especially in a car. An unrestrained cat in a vehicle is a danger not only to himself but to the driver and other road users and pedestrians.
Types of cat carrier
- Cardboard carrier
- Soft carrier
- Hard carrier
Cardboard carriers can be used as an emergency, but they really aren’t very strong and can easily break. They can be okay to use when transporting a kitten but should be avoided unless absolutely necessary with older/heavier cats. As cats can often be stressed when being transported, they may also urinate or defecate, which weaken or destroy the cardboard.
Hard carriers have the advantage of being easy to wash if there is an accident. But they can be bulky.
Soft carriers take up less storage room, so may be of benefit in households where there are several cats; however, they are harder to clean than hard carriers.
What to look for in a cat carrier
- Easy to clean, it is not uncommon for cats to have toileting accidents during transit
- Large enough to allow easy movement and turning around of your cat
- Airline compliant (if you will be using it to transport a cat)
- Strong/well put together (you don’t want one that is going to fall apart when you are transporting a cat)
- Food/water storage, if the cat will be spending an extended amount of time in the carrier (show cats, cats who travel with their family on holidays)
- Ventilation to allow plenty of airflow
The American Association of Feline Practitioniers offer additional tips for selecting a cat carrier:
- Look for a carrier that has a removable top half
- Has openings in the top and front
- Sides that offer a visible shield
- Impact and water-resistant material
How many cat carriers do I need?
If you live in an area that has a risk of evacuations due to disasters (flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, bush fires), there should be one carrier per cat, even if you have one sturdy one and several foldable soft carriers for emergencies.
Introducing your cat to a cat carrier
It is recommended that you accustom cats to their carrier before an emergency occurs. If the cat isn’t used to the carrier and you do have an emergency, you may find it difficult to get the cat inside, which can cause a delay, and stress out the cat.
Leave the carrier accessible in the home. Put a soft blanket or towel in the bottom for comfort and add some treats or toys. Let the cat sniff out and explore the carrier in his own time. If he does enter the carrier, leave the door open and allow him to come as he pleases.
Transporting your cat in the carrier
When the time comes to transport your cat, do the following:
- Avoid feeding for an hour before if your cat suffers from motion sickness.
- If you have difficulty getting your cat into the carrier, place it so that the open end is facing the ceiling and then lower the cat in, tail first. If the cat is especially tricky, you may try wrapping it in a towel (head exposed), before placing it in the carrier.
- Place your cat’s carrier on the rear seat and put the seatbelt through the handle of the carrier to secure it.
Storing the cat carrier
Store cat carriers in easy to reach place so that they can be quickly located in an emergency.
Even better, if space permits, keep the carrier out in the open so your cat can come and go as they please. That way, the carrier isn’t associated with stressful trips to the veterinarian.