The “Purrfect” Carrier

Cat carriers are an essential item for any cat owner. They are mandatory when transporting your cat to the vet, on an airplane, or any other location where travel is restricted for the cat’s safety. It is best to select a carrier that is durable, safe, appropriately sized, and easy to clean.Look for a carrier that is sturdy and comfortable. Carriers should be placed on the floor of the backseat rather than belted into the backseat unless they have been specifically crashed tested. The Center for Pet Safety evaluates carrier and restraint safety in a crash.

You want to find one with both a front opening and a top opening so you can easily reach in and take the cat in and out. It’s helpful to have a carrier that can be taken apart quickly, either with snaps or easily removable screws. This way the cat can remain in the bottom of the carrier during an exam at the veterinarian’s office. Many times this helps to reduce the cat’s anxiety and they feel more secure. Your kitty should also be easily able to walk in and out of the carrier.

The carrier should be made of sturdy plastic or similar material that is easy to clean and leakproof in case of accidents. A towel or other soft material should be able to be placed on the bottom. Cats enjoy privacy so look for a carrier that offers a visual shield, making it less likely for your cat to experience motion-induced anxiety or nausea. You can also place a towel over the carrier that has been sprayed with a synthetic feline pheromone (Feliway). Hold the carrier in your arms rather than by the handle so that the cat doesn’t swing. The carrier should be equipped with a good ventilation system.

The carrier should be visually attractive as well so that you feel comfortable leaving it out at your house. When the carrier is left out, it allows the cat to become comfortable with it and see it as part of his or her space. Select a location that your cat likes and where you are comfortable leaving it out. Other things that you can do to help your cat accept the carrier include placing familiar soft bedding in the carrier that has your scent on it, as well as catnip, treats or toys.

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Written by Dr. Celeste Forgeron DVM