On the go with your cat in tow? Whether traveling by car or plane, you’re going to need a cat carrier. The best cat carriers will keep your pet safe and make it easy to load and unload your precious cargo.
Even cats who only leave the house to go to the vet still need a secure way to get there. “If you had a fender bender on the way to the vet, a cat could easily be injured in the car without a safe travel carrier,” explains Dr. Sandra Mitchell, DVM, DABVP (feline), owner of All Creatures Veterinary Services in Bangor, Maine. Another reason to own one: Say there’s a fire in your home—you’d want a carrier that’s ready to go so you could load your cat quickly, Dr. Mitchell notes.
Your travel cat carrier needs are going to be slightly different, depending on whether you’re taking your pet across the country or strolling to the park to get some fresh air. We break down the different types and what to consider before you buy so you can be sure to pick the best cat carrier for your fave feline.
What to Consider Before Buying a Cat Carrier
Choosing the best cat carrier for your needs depends on a lot of factors. Here are the things to keep in mind before you shop.
- How big is it? If you’re just taking short trips (say, to the vet or to visit friends), the cat carrier only needs to be large enough for your kitty to get up, turn around, and lie back down, says Dr. Mitchell. Traveling longer distances or cross-country? Then you’ll need a roomier cat carrier so your cat has more space to move about and stretch and to accommodate attach a water and feeding bowl.
- How long does it take to get your cat inside? This is probably the most important factor to consider, says Dr. Mitchell, especially in times of emergency. You should be able to load your cat in quickly and efficiently. For this reason, she recommends a top-loading cat carrier: “It is much easier to drop a cat in from above than it is to stuff them in the front door.” A top loading carrier or one that can be taken apart and reassembled will make vet visits go more smoothly, too. “We can get to the cat safely without having to ‘pour’ them onto the table,” she says.
- Does it keep your cat dry? Some cat carriers are lined with washable, absorbent removable pads for your cat’s comfort. But it helps if those liners can also soak up water or other fluids quickly and thoroughly. If cats have accidents while they’re in the carrier, they’ll be more comfortable if their paws and bodies stay dry. If the cat carrier bag you pick doesn’t do the job, try this trick from Dr. Mitchell: Line the bottom with puppy training pads.
- How many air openings does it have? Most carriers are already designed with oxygen flow in mind, Dr. Mitchell notes. There is one caveat, though: “Too many openings can be intimidating to cats, which usually prefer to hide than to view the world,” she says. If possible, get a travel cat carrier with relatively solid sides so your kitty feels sheltered.
- Can you wipe it down quickly? Carriers are nearly cat-proof, which means you don’t have to worry about your cat shredding or otherwise destroying your chosen cat carrier. But they often take a beating, especially with bodily fluids, says Dr. Mitchell. So how easy it is to clean is an important consideration.
- Can you carry it easily? If it’s heavy now, then it’ll be that much harder to lug once your cat is inside. “You want to be able to get out of a burning building quickly and safely with your cat in the carrier, so portability is important,” Dr. Mitchell notes.
Types of Cat Carriers
With those basics in mind, you’re ready to shop for the type of cat carrier that suits your needs as well as those of your furry family member.
Cat Carrier Bag
Hard-Sided Cat Kennel
Cat Carrier Backpack
Top-Loading Cat Carrier
- How to Travel With a Cat by Plane, Train and Automobile
- Pet Travel Feeding Tips: Everything You Need to Know About Feeding Your Pet on the Go
- Travel Quiz: Where Should I Go on Vacation With My Pet?
- Scratch This, Not That! Your Guide to the Best Cat Scratching Posts and Scratchers
- Pet Tech Watch 2021: Smart Devices Serve Up Benefits for You and Your Pets