Transportation for Your Cat

Most cat owners will find it necessary to transport their fuzzy feline friend at some point. Whether it's a trip to the vet or a move to a foreign country, choosing the right cat carrier and taking the time to acclimatize the cat to it can reduce stress for both the owner and the pet.

Choosing the Right Cat Carrier

There are a lot of options out there for cat carriers. There are kennels, soft-sided carriers, cardboard carriers, carriers with toys attached and wheeled carriers โ€“ how do you choose which one is right for you? Well, first think about what you're going to use the carrier for.

Also consider how much you are willing to spend on the carrier, how often you will use it and how much the design of your cat carrier matters to you. Pet owners who rarely use their carrier and aren't picky about looks would probably be satisfied with a simple cardboard carrier, the most inexpensive option. Owners who anticipate transporting their pet frequently may want to look into a more expensive, but more comfortable and convenient soft-sided carrier or kennel. These come in a wide variety of colors and designs, so the fashion conscious don't have to worry. The truly fashion conscious, though, might want to look into designer cat carriers, which carry a heftier price tag, but will match your style and often have more features for the pet's comfort as well.

Whether you're looking at discount cat carriers or something snazzier, remember that the cat's safety and comfort is the first priority. Make sure that your carrier is well ventilated and large enough for your cat to turn around, stand up and lie down inside. Check for shoddy workmanship, such as fraying seams or flimsy material. A removable padded lining will make your cat more comfortable, and make any clean-up easier as well. And make sure that it is comfortable for you to carry โ€“ your cat's comfort isn't the only thing that counts!

Airline Regulations for Travel Cat Carriers

If you plan to take your cat on an airplane, you'll need to follow the airline's requirements. Taking your pet on the plane with you is complicated โ€“ check with your airline well ahead of time to be sure that everything is arranged. The regulations vary from airline to airline, but here are some general rules for airline approved cat carriers:

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Pets in the Cabin

  • The carrier should fit under the seat.
  • It should be leak proof and ventilated on at least two sides.
  • There will be a weight requirement, including both pet and carrier (e.g., 15 pounds for Northwest Airlines)

Pets Traveling as Cargo

  • The carrier must be solid, with ventilation on three sides (four sides for international travel) and a metal door.
  • It must be in good repair.
  • It must be unlocked.
  • There must be a spacer bar or rim on all ventilated sides.
  • Any wheels must be locked or removed.
  • The cat's head must not touch the top of the carrier, and it must be big enough for the cat to move comfortably.
  • It must have a food and water dish securely fastened to the carrier and accessible without opening the door.

This is a partial list, based on the regulations for Northwest Airlines. There may be more rules, or different rules, depending on what airline you use and where you are traveling, so be sure to check before you buy your carrier.

Helping Cats Adjust to Their Carriers

No one likes to be locked into an unfamiliar place, and your cat is no exception. Before you plan to use the carrier, let the cat get used to it by setting it out in your home. Let them investigate it at their own pace, and encourage them to investigate inside the carrier by placing cat treats in it. Once they are willing to enter the carrier, close the door for a short time to let them get used to that. Take the cat on a short drive in their carrier to help them adjust to being in it before a long journey.

When choosing your cat carrier, take your time and choose carefully. The more comfortable your cat is with their carrier, the less stressful a trip to the vet or a move will be.

By Muriah Summer