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Can I Carry My Cat in a Purse? Vet-Approved Safety Tips

Written by: Crystal Uys

Last Updated on July 2, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

tabby maine coon kitten playing in gray felt bag

Can I Carry My Cat in a Purse? Vet-Approved Safety Tips


Dr. Maja Platisa Photo


Dr. Maja Platisa

DVM MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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green eyed cat sitting next to purse sunglasses and shoes

Getting your cat to and from the vet can be a difficult and dangerous task if you don’t have a cat carrier. Some people opt to wrap their cat in a blanket or towel to stop them from breaking free and running off, but this can intensify the cat’s anxiety and escalate the situation.

Of course, a cat carrier is the only appropriate, safe, and secure mode of transportation for a cat because it is well-ventilated and designed for comfort, but more importantly, it’s meant to keep your cat inside so that they cannot escape in an already stressful situation. But we understand when you’re faced with an emergency and don’t have a carrier, you may consider using your purse. 

In an emergency, you can consider carrying your cat in a purse as long as it is big enough to hold your cat comfortably and has a flat bottom, but this is far from safe. Be aware of the risk of your cat trying to escape the purse, which can lead to them running out in traffic and getting severely injured or lost. Get a family member to help you so that one person can ensure the cat stays in the purse while the other one drives.

Soft purses aren’t suitable for carrying a cat because they cannot be safely closed, and your cat may escape or injure you in the process. If you do opt for a purse, make sure they have holes in it for ventilation. A purse shouldn’t be used to carry a cat for daily outings because it is not designed for this purpose and can be uncomfortable, poorly ventilated, and easy to escape from. Invest in a secure cat carrier, as you will need it multiple times throughout your cat’s life.

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What Can I Use Instead of a Cat Carrier?

We’ve all been there—you’ve just lent your cat carrier to a friend, it just broke, or you simply cannot find it after a big move. This is often the moment emergency strikes and when you need the carrier most. Thankfully, there are a few cat carrier alternatives you can use in times like these that are suitable to rush your cat off to the vet.

A Cat Harness With a lead

Black tabby Maine Coon with harness
Image Credit: DenisNata, Shutterstock

If you’ve got a cat harness, you may need to pull it out for your trip to the vet. Although it’s not ideal because you have less control over your cat than with a cat carrier, it will keep your cat safely next to you. However, your cat may get scared due to traffic and other outside noises, when you arrive at the vets, or by the presence of various animals in the waiting room.

We recommend you stay in the car with your cat and ask the veterinary team to lend you a cat carrier that you can promptly return after your vet’s appointment. It will be safer for your cat to sit in the carrier that will give them a place to hide if they feel anxious, and many vets now use pheromone sprays on the carriers and on blankets used to cover them.

The good thing about a cat harness is that it is secure and familiar. If you walk your cat in it often, they will feel comfortable wearing it on their way to their appointment. However, if a carrier is not available at the vets, you will need to pick your cat up and hold them once you’re at the vet to keep them away from the other pets. You may also ask to wait in a private consulting room or a cat-friendly area to minimize stress for your cat.

If you need to take your cat to the vet in a vehicle, make sure to secure the harness by either attaching it to the seatbelt if it has such a design, or by holding it in your hand at all times. It shouldn’t be too tight or too loose. Although it isn’t nearly as safe as using a carrier, this is a much better option than allowing your cat to roam freely around your car because that is incredibly dangerous for the cat and everyone involved.

A Sports Bag

Cat in a carrier bag ready to board an airplane
Image Credit: MarinaTr, Shutterstock

If you have a sports bag with a flat base that is big enough to fit your cat in and no other cat carrier options, you can use it to carry your cat to their emergency appointment. Again, this is far from ideal and is not a safe solution. You need to make sure that the bag is well-ventilated so that your cat won’t overheat or struggle to breathe, as this may be fatal, particularly in the warmer parts of the year. Many sports bags have holes on the sides due to the design, so check to see if yours does, too.

Ensure the car is acclimatized and maintaining a suitable air temperature. Make your cat’s experience more comfortable by adding a blanket or towel to the floor of the bag if your cat feels cold to the touch or the outside temperatures are below freezing. This is not recommended in the warm months of the year, as it will contribute to overheating your cat. You can put an inco pad on the bottom to soak up any vomit, urine, or feces, so your cat does not sit in it.

Never place the bag down unattended with the zip open because your cat will likely try to get out and may wander off. It’s best to keep it in your lap so you can watch your cat constantly and make sure that they cannot get out, but also so that they have plenty of fresh air and you can ensure they are comfortable and settled.

A Cardboard Box

grey cat with yellow eyes peeking out of cardboard box
Image Credit: Glr0115, Unsplash

In emergencies, even a cardboard box may do. It may sound too simple, but a cardboard box is another alternative to a cat carrier because it is sturdy, large, and has a flat base. You will need to cut holes into the box for good ventilation and keep the flaps down to make it secure, but it should get your cat to the vet safely. However, some boxes are not strong enough, so always support the base when carrying it, as otherwise, your cat may fall out through the broken base.

Once again, you can place a blanket or old towel in the box to make it more comfortable for your cat and to add some warmth, if required. This is not necessary in the summer months and may contribute to overheating. Instead place an inco pad in case your cat goes to the toilet in the box. If you need to travel to the vet in your car, place the box on the floor of your car to prevent the box from sliding around on the seat.

A Laundry Basket

Image Credit: MarkGusev, Shutterstock

Most people have at least one laundry basket in their home, which can end up being a lifesaver in an emergency. If you only have one large-sized laundry basket, you can place your cat inside and cover the opening with a blanket. However, be aware this is the least safe solution, and you will need to have your hands on the top of your cat at all times, as the risk of them escaping is very high. Again, ask your vets for a cat carrier as soon as you arrive at the clinic.

However, if you have two laundry baskets that are smaller in size, you can secure the two open sides together with cable ties or strings to create a bigger “crate” for your cat. You’ll need to place a blanket inside for them to sit on, but the holes in the basket offer excellent ventilation.

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Why You Should Invest in a Cat Carrier

The cat carrier alternatives listed above should be used only in emergencies, but they are makeshift carriers and shouldn’t be used every time you need to take your cat somewhere. They cannot be fully secured and pose a significant risk of your cat escaping and getting seriously injured, killed in traffic, or lost. The reason for this is that they are not designed nor meant to transport your cat.

A cat carrier will cost a little bit more than a DIY cat carrier, but it is specifically designed to carry your cat and keep them safe during the whole journey. That peace of mind is certainly worth the investment. Therefore, it will be more comfortable, protective, secure, durable, ventilated, and easier to carry. A more positive experience for your cat will result in less stress and an easier vet appointment for both you and your cat, with no risk of something going wrong as long as the carrier is properly closed.

If you don’t like the hard plastic cat carriers, you can choose between a cat backpack, a rolling carrier, or a soft-sided carrier.

A cat in a travel carrier
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

How to Choose the Right Cat Carrier for Your Cat

When purchasing a cat carrier, have your cat in mind and buy a carrier with features that will best work for them and keep them stress-free.


The cat carrier you choose must be big enough for your cat to turn around and stand up. It should also be long enough for them to lie down in and stretch out. However, it shouldn’t be so big that they slip and slide from one end to the other when driving in the car or being carried by you.

Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock


If your cat has no problem getting in and out of a cat carrier, you can get one with one opening. However, if your cat puts up a fight when getting in and out, you may want to consider one with an opening on the top, too. This will allow you to place them into the carrier and lift them out without a struggle.


Your cat needs to feel comfortable in their carrier, but if it isn’t well-ventilated, they may overheat or struggle to breathe. Make sure the carrier you pick has vents on all of the sides and that the car temperature is suitable, depending on the outside environment. Never leave your cat unattended while they are in the box or in the car, as even a few minutes in a hot car can cause fatal heat stroke in the summer months.

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You can carry your cat in a purse if you do not have a cat carrier or a safer alternative. However, you must make sure the purse is big enough to fit your cat comfortably, has holes for airflow, and has a flat bottom. A purse should only be used temporarily as it is not designed to carry a cat. There is a risk your cat may escape the purse, leading to serious injuries or them getting lost or even killed. We cannot stress how important it is to invest in a safe and appropriate cat carrier.

A cat carrier is required for transporting a cat from one place to another because it is secure, durable, comfortable, and well-ventilated. If you do not have a cat carrier or a purse with a flat base, try and borrow one from your vet, or you could consider using a cat harness, a cardboard box, a laundry basket, or a sports bag as an absolute last resort.

Please be extremely careful and always supervise your cat, as due to the stress and pain of their illness, accompanied by the traffic noises and other animals, carrying them in anything other than a secure cat carrier may lead to a very dangerous situation for your cat.

Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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