Buying the Right Cat Carrier

Attention cat owners of the world: If you have a cat, you need a cat carrier. Also known as a pet taxis, cat taxis, or cat crates, cat carriers (like cats) come in all shapes and sizes. They range in price and durability from collapsible cardboard carriers to pricey high-end designer (think Marc Jacobs) carriers. How will you find the right carrier for your cat? Read on.

Cat Travel

Transporting a cat may be a non-event for owners of docile cats or something resembling a Herculean feat for those with more strong-willed felines. Buying the right cat carrier will depend on how often and how far you travel with your cat, as well as what you can afford and what will ensure the most safety and comfort for your feline friend.

When will you use a cat carrier? Ideally you'll ensconce Fluffy in a cat crate anytime you leave the house, whether for a quick trip to the vet or groomers or a longer trip by car, train, or plane. Airlines have specific guidelines for pet carriers including size, weight and durability. Check to ensure your cat crate meets airline regulations.

You'll also want to have carriers on hand for emergency situations such as fire or tornadoes. Keep cat crates in an easily accessible place in the home in case you need to quickly gather and transport your cats.

The Cat Carrier Buying Guide

The most important considerations when buying a cat carrier are size, construction, and ease of use.

Size

Cats need to be able to turn around, stretch and -for longer trips- be able to stand up in their carriers. Also for longer trips you'll want your carrier to have room for food and water dishes that will attach to the side of the carrier without crowding your cat. Don't go overboard and invest in the Taj Mahal of cat crates - being transported is stressful for cats and smaller spaces can make them feel more secure. Aim for a carrier no more than twice your pet's size.

Be sure to check the dimensions and weight capacity on cat carriers. It's also economical to buy a good-sized, high-quality carrier that will last your cat for life.

More than one cat? Buy an extra-large carrier (assuming your cats get along) or, ideally, go with one carrier per cat.

Construction Of Cat Carriers

There are three standard types of cat carriers: cardboard, soft cat carriers and hard cat carriers.

Cardboard Carriers: Often used to transport your cat or kitten home from the shelter, these carriers are okay for a quick trip to the vet for smaller cats but are not designed for long-term wear and tear. Resourceful cats can nip and tear their way out and all bets are off if these cat carriers get wet.

Soft Cat Carriers: These carriers are made of a soft nylon fabric, often with a hard bottom that's removable for cleaning. They resemble large gym bags with mesh siding for ventilation and usually have zippered openings on the front and top. The top access panel makes it easy to reach in and pick up your pet versus attempting to pour them out of a front-door only carrier.

Hard Cat Carriers: As the name implies, hard cat carriers are made of sturdier stuff, usually a durable polypropylene and high-impact plastic. Like soft carriers, they are ventilated on all sides. Hard cat crates are ideal for larger cats and are also the easiest to clean, requiring only a quick spray or rinse after use.

Other Options: For longer distances, wheeled carriers are available. Sling-front carriers are another option but, while comfortable for you and your cat, these more open carriers make it much easier for a cat to escape. Safety, above all else, should be your consideration when selecting the right carrier for your cat.

Tips For Making Your Cat Comfortable

Too often cat owners haul out the cat crates for one purpose only: to take their cats to the vet. This may leave kitty feeling less than excited about seeing the carrier pulled out. Instead, have your cat make friends with the carrier. Drop it open on the floor and place a blanket with your scent and some favorite cat toys inside. Leave tasty treats at the back that your cat must crawl inside to reach. Once cats lose their fear of the carrier, you'll have a much easier time getting them inside when you do need to travel.