The Best Cat Carriers and Crates For Pet Travel
It’s important to get a carrier that is designed specifically for transporting pets. Making use of a laundry basket or pillow case is not safe and may injure or traumatize your cat.
A cat carrier with multiple access doors works best. Look for a cat carrier that can be opened from the top, side and front – these are specially designed to reduce stress for pet and owner when traveling. A carrier with multiple openings also makes it much easier to get your cat into the carrier and out once you have arrived at your destination.
NOTE: Cats that are not used to being confined, might panic and be able to tear the mesh, in extreme circumstances. Cats should not be left unattended to scratch or sharpen their claws on the mesh panels, as this can cause damage to the carrier.
Cat Carrier Tips
There are numerous cat carriers on the market and it can be difficult to know which type is best. Here are some considerations when choosing a carrier:
- The ideal carrier is strong, lightweight, secure and easy to clean. Cardboard carriers are not suitable as they can easily get damp and are no match for a determined escape artist.
- Choose carrier that suits the size of your cat; you want it to be large enough for your cat to sit or lie comfortably but not too large that it falls about in it.
- Any carrier with multiple openings is preferred as it offers more options when loading or retrieving your pet if there is any degree of resistance.
- Once you have chosen your carrier, add a familiar towel or washable blanket to deal with any toilet mishaps while traveling. This will draw any fluid away from your cat and help ensure that your cat doesn’t have to endure a wet and unpleasant environment.
TIP: Carriers with zipper openings can easily be secured by using a paperclip
Introduce the Carrier To Your Cat
Cats are creatures of habit and they don’t like to be exposed to new and uncomfortable environments.
Many cats see the arrival of the cat carrier as a bad sign, so storing it in a cupboard or garage will only heighten your cat’s observation that the carrier is something to fear as it only comes out just before a trip to the veterinary practice or the cattery. This can be easily avoided by keeping the carrier out in the open where your cat can use it as a bed and associate it with something pleasant. Making the carrier a familiar, secure and a enjoyable place where your cat feels comfortable and safe is well worth the effort.
Before a planned trip, place the carrier in an area where your cat can explore it. Cats are naturally curious, and often love small spaces such as boxes. Add a delicious treat inside to create a positive association. This is all best when done well in advance.
Here are some tips for familiarizing your cat with the carrier:
- Keep the transport carrier out and accessible in the home, not just when you’re planning a trip
- Place the carrier in one of your cat’s favorite spots.
- Put a familiar blanket or soft, absorbent towel in the bottom.
- Add a treat or some of your cat’s food in the carrier.
- Use a pheromone spray or wipe to help calm your cat.
- Leave the doors open and let your cat get comfortable going in and out.
- When your cat intentionally chooses the carrier as a preferred sleeping or hiding place, you can close the door for small periods of time – just a few seconds at first.
- Make the carrier a comfortable resting, feeding or play location.
Steps to Get Your Cat in a Carrier Safely
If your cat has not adapted to the carrier and he or she will not willingly go in, use the following procedure to safely place your cat into the carrier:
- Put a towel, preferably one that your cat has slept on, in the bottom so if your cat urinates, the towel will absorb the wetness and keep your cat as dry as possible.
- Place the carrier with the largest open door facing towards you.
- Pick your cat up under his front legs, with your other hand supporting his bottom – or warp your cat in a towel
- Place him in backwards so he can’t see where he is going.
- Close the door and secure the zips with a paperclip or small lock
- Cover the carrier with a light towel or blanket, unless it’s a very hot day.
Checklist For Traveling With Your Cat
A trip to the veterinary surgery, moving to a new house or travelling anywhere with your cat can be a stressful experience.
A few simple measures can make the whole process more tolerable for cats and owners alike.
- Don’t let your cat ride in the passenger seat with you, a free roaming cat in a vehicle is dangerous. Your cat can get in between your feet and brake pedal, or end up ripping your back to shreds. Use a carrier that’s tailored to cats and gives your pet enough space and ventilation to be comfortable.
- Safety is extremely important when transporting your cat; the carrier must be secure (to prevent escape) and it needs to be placed within the vehicle in a position that prevents too much movement should the car brake suddenly – on the floor or behind a seat.
- Plan scheduled vet trips at a time when the journey will not coincide with rush hour, to reduce the time traveling.
- Spray the inside of the cat carrier with pheromone spray 15 minutes before introducing your cat – this synthetic analogue of naturally occurring cat pheromones secreted from glands in the cheeks and face will provide a message of security and familiarity
- Place a lining of plastic sheeting, newspaper and then a towel or washable blanket to deal with any toilet mishaps.
- In addition to the bedding inside the carrier, take a towel or blanket with you on the journey that smells reassuringly of home. This can be used to drape over the carrier in the car. If your destination is for surgery or to the cattery, it can be used to surround your cat with the security of home during the stay.
- If your cat panics at the sight of the carrier, have the carrier close by but out of sight and try to get it in safely and gently at the first attempt. Wrap your cat in a thick towel (preferably one that smells familiar) and place the cat and the towel into the carrier quickly
- Once you are in the car and before you start the engine, place the carrier in an upright position and not tilted to one side.
- Turn the car radio off or reduce the volume and use a gentle, calm voice to occasionally reassure your cat
- Ensure that any heating or air-con vents are not directed at your cat
- Drive as smoothly as possible with minimal harsh braking or acceleration
- When you arrive, transport the carrier in an upright position and try not to swing it or bang it against doorways or your legs
- Try to avoid placing your cat carrier on the ground when there are dogs around.
Where to Buy Your Cat Carrier
Cosmic Pets is a wholesale distribution pet accessories company and exclusively supply pet shops, vet clinics and pet care professionals such as groomers, pet sitters, boarding kennels and breeders.
Our range of portable cat carriers are available through our extensive partner network across South Africa, ensuring that you get the best service and advice on selecting the proper size collapsible crate for your pet.