Luging your cat to the vet isn't one of the most significant aspects of owning a cat. The screaming terror of your poor innocent kitty who doesn't know that they are just being taken care of can be scarring. Making the experience as comfortable as possible for your cat will make everyone's life easier.
Do cats prefer small or large carriers? That depends on the size of your cat. Rather than looking for something that is either small or large look for a carrier that fits your cat. They need to be big enough to accommodate movement by your cat, such as turning around and standing up. Cats should feel safe and cozy in their carrier.
Also, the carrier itself should have certain features that are necessary and will make your life easier. Read further to understand the exact size your transport needs to be, aspects of a great carrier, types of carriers, and additional accessories that will help.
What size should your cat carrier be?
It may sound like a bright idea to get the biggest carrier available to give them plenty of room to move around in a stressful situation, but an overly large carrier it hard to move around, and adds risks the cat could be jolted about inside.
The carrier needs to be big enough that if they want to stand up, turn around, and sit comfortably.
It's best to either know the size of your cat or bring them with you while purchasing to get a better gauge of how they will fit in the carrier instead of bringing something home that is too tight a fit.
If you need to get a carrier for a kitten, then try to choose one that will fit their adult size. If you know the size of their parents, then look for something that suits them if you see the breed look up the information online to get an estimate.
The distance of travel also plays into the size of the crate. If you are visiting a vet, then a common carrier will do. On longer trips, you will need more of a container that can accommodate a litter box, bed, and water and food trays.
A note. Do not get an extra-large carrier to carry multiple cats in the same one. Cats that have lived with each other for years peacefully will bear claws against one another while trapped in a carrier together.
While it might be awkward for you while lugging them to the vet, they need separate carriers.
Aspects of a great carrier
There are pros and cons of different types of carriers, but below are must-haves in whatever carrier you get.
The carrier should hold the cat up without sagging in the middle, as some fabric carriers do. Fabric soft-sided carriers like this one should have a plastic or metal insert for support at the bottom to avoid sagging. Plastic cat carriers tend to be more durable, but they are also heavy and take up more storage space. If you have a particularly feisty cat, you may consider a hard plastic carrier that opens from the top. It can be easier to get them into their crate if you can place them in and then put the top on.
Also, consider the handle. Something easy for you to grasp and safely carry your cat will make a stark difference, especially if you have a larger kitty. Multiple options, such as a shoulder and hand strap, can be helpful. Backpack cat carriers are also a great option.
Water and Food Bowls
Some hard-side carriers will come with a water and food bowl attachment that will fit on the door of the carrier. If it doesn't, readjust the overall size of the carrier to accommodate your cat and their bowls if you need to keep them inside for prolonged periods of time.
If you only need to use the carrier for short trips, you may not need to accommodate space for bowls inside the carrier, but be sure to check for pockets to be able to store things like a collapsable water bowl and treats.
Cats can stress out at anything and can freak out in their carrier even for a ten-minute ride. Make sure the crate is well-ventilated to get a lot of fresh air flowing into their cage. Avoid carriers that have non-breathable plastic, like the bubble backpack carriers.
In the car, before you leave, point your air vents at the carrier to help them cool down.
A well-ventilated carrier will give your cat plenty of options to look around at the car and what's going on out the window. If they are stressed, look below for tips to make the trip more stress-free, however, if they are acting calm, let them look around.
Seat Belt Loops
Some carriers come with seat belt loops, typically on the top of a plastic carrier, while a fabric one might have them on the sides. However, not all carriers have them. You can use just the handle if necessary, and run your seat belt through the loops or handle of the carrier to secure it to the backseat of your car.
What Type of Carrier?
There are three types of carriers. As to which is the best that depends on your cat and what your needs are. You can either get a plastic carrier, a soft carrier, or a crate.
There are pros and cons to all of these options and the best means the best for your situation.
Plastic cat carriers are the typical carriers that you will see at your local pet store. Typically bi-colored with a steel door and a removable top. The plastic carriers are great if you want a sturdy structure with proper ventilation.
Sometimes these come with a clip that will attach to the door with the food and water bowls. If it is not available, buy an attachment or something that can lay on the bottom of the carrier.
These carriers are not extremely comfortable though, so if it doesn't come with a bed, grab a towel to place at the bottom of the cage.
With the sturdiness comes cumbersomeness, especially if you are on the shorter side, and the carrier is large.
However, if your cat gets car sick or has accidents, then just get the plastic carrier because it will be so much easier to clean.
Plastic crates do have a lot of options such as screw type, multiple doors, and shape. The same standards apply to all kinds of synthetic carriers.
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These tend to be a lot more comfortable for the animal than the plastic carrier would be. Typically these are made of fabric with either cardboard, metal, or plastic backing on the bottom, and they usually use mesh to provide ventilation.
Usually, there will be a top zipper or a zippable flap.
The main issue with the soft carrier is stability. If your cat is heavy, then these may be too flimsy. Check the weight recommendations of each carrier. If your cat is too heavy, they will turn your carrier into a sack, and your cat will do everything to get out.
These are also not great for a cat that tends to be anxiety-ridden. This cat will do better in a more structural unit like the plastic carrier above.
Due to the plastic backing and textile nature of the carrier, soft carriers are not easy to clean. If your cat does have an accident then use some soap and water to wipe it down. Some carriers may be washable; review the manufacturer's instructions.
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The type of carrier that you get depends on the length of the drive. The above carriers are for short trips, not for long distances. If you are going a long distance, moving, or traveling, you need a crate.
Crates are bigger and typically made for dogs, giving your cat more room to move about during a long trip. They also have the room to place a bed and a litter box along with their food and water bowls.
Just put something like towels on the bottom of the cage to prevent anything from getting on the interior of your car and will make it comfier for their feet.
Of course, the drawback to the crate is room in your car. Since they are on the larger side, they do better with a medium-sized car. If you have a little two-door, there will be work ahead in your future to make the crate fit.
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What to bring to make it an enjoyable trip.
You might have the perfect crate; however, there are small things that you can do to make the trip even better for them.
If your carrier has a rigid plastic bottom, grab a towel to use as bedding. It will help them feel comfortable in an unfamiliar environment.
Taking my big cat anywhere leads to yowling the entire time to only act like a perfect gentleman before the vet, then more yowling on the way back.
Placing another towel on top of their carrier will give them that dark hidey-hole. You can also bring your favorite toy or treats to make the experience more enjoyable. It helps if you keep the carrier out for a while so that they can get a sniff of it and acclimate to its existence.
No matter how calm your kitty seems at home, you have no idea what their traveling temperament will be.
Traveling is new and strange to them. Even while calm at the beginning of the ride, your feline might see something out the window that wrecks their composure into a shrieking ball of scratches and nerves.
While in this state if uncaged, they will do anything it takes to find safety, so they will get anywhere in the car that they will feel protected, even under the peddles. To keep them safe, keep them in their carrier or crate while they are in the car.
Do cats prefer hard or soft carriers? That depends on your cat, size, and temperament. The bigger cats will not be able to use soft carriers because when you pick up the bag, it will bend in the middle. Assess your cat and the types of trips that you mean to take with your cat before choosing a carrier.
Can two cats travel in one carrier? No matter how large the carrier it is not advised to put multiple cats in one unit. Even if they do fit due to the stress, they might start to attack each other. The only time it's advisable to multi-cat a carrier is for kittens, still, make sure they are not overcrowded.
How long can a cat stay in a carrier? If they are in a regular carrier with food and water bowls, they can remain for up to 6 hours. The time, of course, will depend on the cat and their temperament. If you have a nervous cat, think about getting a leash to take them out for bursts of time. For longer trips, get a crate with a bed, a litter box, and food and water bowls.