It’s a good thing we’re not asking cats for their opinions about the best cat carrier, firstly because they don’t speak English and that would be kinda crazy and secondly because cats are notorious for hating being carried like that.
Our poor little asthmatics will probably need to go to the vet frequently, which is a traumatic enough experience in itself, but getting the right carrier for your unique feline snowflake could make all the difference. There are heaps of different types to choose from and yes, you can even train your cat to
like tolerate being in a travel cage. Or a bag.
Why You Need a Cat Carrier
It’s in everyone’s best interests to always take your cat to the vet in a carrier, even if you have an argument getting him in there. Transporting your kitty in a carrier is mostly for his own safety. The car is not a pleasant experience for most cats and having a free range cat roaming around while you’re trying to drive is a very bad idea. Having him safe inside his little box will stop him from freaking out and running away on the way to the car and keep him out of harm’s way – and your way – while you drive.
Once you get to the vet, having your cat contained becomes even more important because…dogs. Need I say more? Cats will freak out and lash out if they’re scared and the bombardment of the car ride, all the smells and the sticky-nose dog may be too much. Even if you go to a cat only or registered cat-friendly clinic, cats are territorial and dangerous when scared. It’s nice to let them have their own little piece of territory out in the strange world.
Soft Sided vs. Hard Shell
There’s really no right or wrong answer here, it depends on what you and your cat likes and how your cat tolerates being deposited into said carrier. Where you’re going and the lengths of your road trips will play a part in which carrier you choose as well – your cat will have different needs on a four-hour journey to Grandma’s house than he will on a 10 minute trip to the vet.
Hard shell carriers have the advantage of being easier to clean, especially if you’re in a place where you can just take the thing outside and hose it out. These are usually bigger and sturdier, which has the disadvantage of making them more cumbersome to carry. But…if you’re on a long adventure, this is probably your best bet.
Soft-sided carriers usually have an over the shoulder type strap for easier carrying and I guess if your kitty is being jolted around in the car they’re a nicer thing to be smashing into. They’re generally smaller than traditional plastic carriers, which is great if your cat needs that kind of security but probably not the best for long trips. I prefer a soft-sided carrier, mostly because I get to say “the cat is out of the bag!” whenever I let the Sparrow out. There’s a reason our vet is sick of me.
What Size Do You Need?
What size is a cat? The size you choose will depend on the size of your cat and the size of your journey. For shorter trips around the neighbourhood, a smaller, soft-sided carrier is ideal – it’s easier to get in and out of the car and easier to carry. Your cat will probably (maybe) want to move around less on a short trip, so the spaciousness of the carrier shouldn’t be a great concern.
For longer journeys, size matters. As a general rule, your cat should be able to stand up without hunching and turn around easily in his carrier. The more a kitty can stretch out, the happier he will be. Maybe. The cat is in a carrier, so you probably shouldn’t expect too much in the enjoyment department.
Getting The Cat to Love The Carrier.
Getting your cat to not hate the carrier isn’t as hard as you think. It’s all about making positive associations with the carrier, the car and the journey. Keeping the carrier out in the open and making it part of the furniture is a great start. If you leave it out somewhere that your cat likes and keep it stocked with tasty treats, your kitty will love being in it. Maybe not, but at least he won’t go hiding under the bed when you bring it out.
If you’re really keen (which you should be, this is your precious fluffball we’re talking about) take your cat on short drives to get used to being in the car. Even five minutes around the block will help your cat to feel safe in the carrier and in the car, especially if you come home and praise the furr off your cat when you’re done. Do this on a semi-regular basis and your cat will never know if he’s going to the vet or for a short adventure with good things at the end, which (hopefully) will make him not completely dread the experience.
The right cat carrier for you and your cat will depend on where you’re going, what you’re doing and how big and feisty your feline is. The only wrong answer is not having one at all, for your own safety as well as your kitty’s.
What kind of cat carrier do you prefer? Ask your questions or share your advice below in the comments…