Carriers for Cats

Certain styles make life easier for all involved.

Does putting your cat into a carrier fill you with anxiety and guilt? Put aside the feelings that you are caging your cat against his will. The opposite is probably true.

Cats prefer to travel in carriers and theyre definitely safer in carriers, says James Richards, DVM, director of the Feline Health Center at Cornell Universitys College of Veterinary Medicine and editor of CatWatch.

Cats feel secure in a carrier, much less threatened. Being in a carrier is calming for them. In fact, its really tough to think of taking the cat out of the house without a carrier. You then face the problem of the cat becoming scared, escaping and getting away, says Dr. Richards.

Convenience is Key
There are three essential standards in selecting a carrier: It should be convenient for the cat, convenient for the owner and convenient for the veterinarian who will be trying to get the cat out of the carrier.

The most readily available cat carriers on the market are made of plastic and have a clamshell top that screws off for ease of cleaning, as cats can have accidents in their carriers.

But Dr. Richards says that there are is another carrier design thats harder to find, but is much preferred. Its a box-like structure, sometimes made of fiberboard, with a door that opens from the side.

This makes it easy for the cat to get out or for us to remove the kitty. In a veterinarians office, often they can be treated in the carrier. The veterinarian has easy access to the cat and can even administer vaccines.

A similar design has a door on the top that opens up so the owner or the veterinarian can reach the cat inside. This is much less stressful to the cat than upending the carrier or reaching in to grab it, says Dr. Richards.

The most common carrier now available has a screen on one end – and convincing the cat to come out can be a problem. If the owner or the veterinarian tries to reach in and drag the animal out, more than likely the cat will resist and dig in his claws.

The best way to get the cat out of one of these carriers, according to Dr. Richards, is to open the door and to gradually tilt up the carrier. Sliding the carrier off the cat is a lot easier than trying to grab Felix inside the carrier.

Certain Considerations
Carrier size is important for air travel. If an airline permits a cat carrier under the owners seat, its important to know ahead of time what size carrier will fit (according to airline regulations) so that you can keep your cat with you in the cabin.

And is placing two cats in the same carrier looking for trouble? Not at all – if theres room for two, says, Dr. Richards, and if theyre buddies.