Do I really need a cat carrier?

When you have a cat you end up with lots of extra equipment. From cat beds and toys to scratching posts and even towers, there seems to be no end to the stuff they make for cats! Most of it though, you don't really need. You can get buy with one cat bed, a litter box, some bowls, a scratching post, a few toys and a cat carrier. 

Cat in carrier, safe and happy

When choosing what to buy it might be tempting to skip the cat carrier. After all you probably only need it once a year when you go to the vet and many cats wear collars that can be used with a leash. If your cat is good on a leash then you're probably leaning towards no carrier. 

Does my cat need a cat carrier?

It might works at first, but sooner or later you will probably find that you need to purchase a pet carrier. Especially if you travel anywhere with your cat! That way, you’ll be able to transport your cat comfortably without it being hurt or causing an accident by jumping off your lap or out of your arms and distracting the person driving. 

It also changes taking the cat the vet to a 1 person job if your cat is locked up safe and sound in a carrier!

There are many different pet carriers on the market in all different price ranges, so it won't necessarily cost you a lot to get a cat carrier! You might even be able to find one in a thrift shop or at a garage sale.

Bengal cat in soft sided pink carrier

Choosing a cat carrier

Pick a carrier that has enough room for a fully grown cat to be able to stand up and turn around in. We bought one of those cute kitten carriers to bring our cat home on an airplane, but had to upgrade when she was just 5 months old! If you don't need a small carrier for a reason, start out with a full sized one.

Choose a pet carrier that allows air to circulate on all four sides, and if possible has a place to add a water dish. You may not immediately have a need for the water dish but if you purchase a pet carrier that has this feature, you’ll be ready should a need arise.

When choosing a cat carrier you will find there are hundreds of different ones on the market to choose from. There are hard shelled carriers, soft sided ones and even backpacks. Pick one that is suitable for both you and your cat and remember you will need a place to store it when it is not in use. Many people choose a soft one that can be flattened so it takes up less space, but I find these are less sturdy.

A good cat carrier should be both safe and comfortable for your cat, it should have enough room inside for a fully grown cat to have some freedom of movement, and your cat should be able to both stand up and turn around in side its cage. Plenty of air holes on all sides are also needed as this allows the air to fully circulate and your cat to look out.

Pick a carrier that's easy to clean in case your cat has an accident inside. For this reason alone I prefer the hard shelled ones that can be hosed out if needed. Fabric carriers are sometimes difficult to clean.

Pet carriers to avoid

Over the years I've fostered dozens of cats and volunteered at many spay and neuter clinics. I've dealt with my fair share of bad carriers so here are a few things you want to avoid.

Cheap snap closed carriers. These have plastic slides to keep the carrier together. It's a great idea in theory because if the carrier pops together easily then it can pop apart for storage. In practice though, it didn't hold up!
Cat carrier with broken latch

This picture was taken at a clinic I volunteered at. I think we saw 3 of these that day and all of them broke from the weight of the cat! We managed to zip tie the carriers back together, but had they popped open outside we would have to catch the cat!

Cloth that rips or pulls away at edges zippers. Make sure all stitching is secure and zippers are functioning correctly.

Doors that pop off too easily. The doors that can be removed completely might be convenient, but they can also pop off when too much pressure is put on them from one side. If this happens when you're outside the cat could get out and run!

Always use a cat carrier in the car

While some people may consider it cruel to cage up your cat it's actually a matter of safety for both you and your cat. For example if you were driving and your cat suddenly jumped on to you, or it got trapped underneath your feet and the brake this could cause a serious accident.

Or if the cat suddenly got sick in the car, started clawing the seats or tried to climb out a window you might not be able to react if you're the one driving.

Pets can sometimes be unpredictable and for reasons like those mentioned above and more it is always safer to use a cat carrier when transporting your cat to another destination such as the vet.

Getting the cat used to his carrier

To make your cat feel comfortable and safe in its carrier you'll need to get the cat used to the carrier. Start by putting the carrier in a common area of your house and leave the door open. Put a soft blanket inside of it to make it comfortable for him. 

Being able to go in and out of the carrier freely while at home will get him comfortable with the carrier and this should help your cat to feel a little bit safer when you have to take him somewhere.

Occasionally toss her favorite toy or a little bit of catnip inside so she goes inside to get it. You might also want to bring her favorite toy with her inside the carrier for added comfort when you have to use it.

If you get your cat used to the carrier when she's young, then you'll find she doesn't mind being in it to go to the vet or on vacation when she's older!


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