Cats seldom love to share their personal space or belongings with other animals, especially their own kind. For example, they are often more content if you provide them with their own toys and litter box.
But what if you need to travel somewhere with more than one cat? Aside from a visit to the vet, you may need to relocate to a new city and you cannot simply leave your fur babies behind. You may opt to travel by plane, or take a road trip which entails a longer travel duration.
Transporting two cats in one carrier might seem a convenient option. However, there are several risks you need to consider before choosing this route.
The first factor is the stress of moving. Since cats prefer predictability and routine, traveling can be really stressful for them as it means they lose control over their routines and their territory. The small space in the carrier and the frequent moving during travel is often enough to trigger feline anxiety and irritability. Moreover, having them share a single carrier can trigger territorial competition between the two cats, resulting in aggression and cat fights.
That said, traveling peacefully with two cats in one carrier is sometimes possible. Keep reading to find out whether this option can work for your cats.
Can two cats share a carrier?
There seem to be many varying opinions when it comes to having two cats share the same carrier. Most veterinarians would advise cat owners to have separate carriers for their pets, while some owners who have tried this approach have never experienced any issues at all.
Although it is possible to have two cats travel in one carrier, there are several factors you need to consider to ensure peace inside while traveling. These include the duration of your trip, the current health and personality of your cats, the size of the carrier, and others. As a fur parent, you want to make sure that your cats are comfortable and civil with each other while you travel.
So, how do you ensure that your cats will temporarily coexist in a limited space without any problems? Let us find out!
Things to consider before placing two cats in a carrier
Transporting two cats together is not an easy task. Prior to deciding to use a single carrier for two cats, you need to consider the following factors:
1. Both cats must be comfortable with each other
When traveling with two cats in a single carrier, you need to make sure that both are comfortable. That includes choosing a good carrier that fits two cats without being cramped inside. You do not want either of them to feel discomfort or stress; this might lead to aggression and fights.
2. Both cats should be familiar with one another
Cats can be extremely defensive when they are placed together in a restricted space. If you are planning to travel with your cats using a single carrier or crate, make sure that they are not strangers to each other. Cats who grow up together in the same litter will likely feel more fond of each other, even if they are placed in such close proximity.
3. Both cats must be civil around each other
Cats are highly territorial, and even if both of your cats seem sweet and cuddly at home, they can become each other’s worst enemy when sharing their private space or toys. If one of your cats is aggressive, it can be even more problematic having two cats share a carrier.
4. Both cats must be familiar with the carrier
The only way to ensure peace inside the carrier is to have both cats accustomed to being inside it. Otherwise, the calmer cat will have to suffer the behavior of the other, less-trained cat. It can also be chaotic if both cats are untrained and not familiar with traveling. The best way is to introduce the carrier to your cats as early as possible. Let the carrier become a part of their lifestyle so that you do not have to force them inside.
5. Both cats must be trained to use the litter box
Cats are meticulously clean animals, and can easily become irritable or aggressive if they see another cat’s waste. For this reason, it is never a good idea to keep both cats in one crate or carrier if either of them is not potty-trained. In this case, you will need options such as pet diapers to temporarily keep your untrained cat from messing inside the carrier.
6. Choose a large, high-quality carrier
The size of your cat carrier matters, especially if you plan to have two cats inside. It should be big enough that both cats can comfortably stand, sit, or stretch along the way. Every carrier has certain specifications and weight limits, so be sure to check those out. Most carriers are designed to hold about 10-25 pounds of weight. For two cats, you need to choose a larger carrier that can accommodate at least twice the weight limit of a single carrier.
You may also find some carriers that can be divided into two separate cubicles, giving each cat his own space, such as the Portable 2-in-1 Double Travel Kennel Tube Carrier by Pet Limousine. It is designed as a large carrier but can be cleverly divided in two using an adjustable zip. If you are looking for a space-efficient carrier for your two cats, this modern and comfy carrier might be your best bet.
Another thing to consider is durability. As much as possible, avoid carriers that break easily and are not sturdy enough for two cats. Clever cats can easily break these open and escape at the most inopportune time, such as in the middle of the road – you do not want this to happen during your trip!
Also choose a carrier with multiple entry points or openings for convenience, and lastly, do not forget to consider comfort: at the end of the day, you want your furry companions to stay at ease and enjoy the trip.
7. Consider your cats’ safety
Safety should be your top priority at all times, not just for you but also for your furry companions. Consider a carrier with safety tethers or straps to ensure that they are secured in place while you are on the road. Moreover, your carrier must have good ventilation for breathing and comfort. If one of your cats has respiratory problems or other illnesses, make sure to talk to your vet before taking him on a trip.
8. Consider shorter trips
Having two cats in one carrier might work fine for short trips, but not for longer journeys. No matter how comfortable they seem to be during the first few hours of the trip, you cannot expect the same behavior for extended periods. Long trips and prolonged periods in their carrier can be very stressful for both cats. Such conditions can easily trigger aggression and irritability, resulting in two cats venting their frustration at each other.
Hence, for longer trips, consider having a separate carrier for each cat. This will make it easier for you to manage your felines and attend to their needs separately.
Taking your cats on a road trip
Territorial instinct is ingrained in a cat’s DNA, so it is only normal for them to feel defensive when taken out of their comfort zone. As much as we want to share our life with our pets, unfortunately not all cats will enjoy new environments and outdoor adventures. Taking them on a road trip can be stressful, especially if they are kept in their crate or carrier for an extended period. And, if you are taking two cats together, it could be double trouble!
Some owners believe that if cats are raised in the same litter, they should be perfectly fine sharing the same carrier. Unfortunately, our furry friends are very unpredictable and a cat-fight is still highly possible, even between siblings. A cat can be well-behaved when he feels secure in his own territory, but can become aggressive when taken outside his home. Even adult cats who used to be littermates can turn against each other when feeling stressed or anxious during a long trip.
And the consequences could be bad if the inevitable happens – a cat-fight in the middle of your trip. If you have only brought one carrier, then you have no choice but to separate the two cats – one inside the carrier while the other roams freely inside your car. This can be dangerous for both you and your pets.
Thus, there are several risks to consider before deciding to put your cats in one carrier. While it does offer you some convenience and savings, know that this option also comes with several disadvantages.
Taking your cats on the plane
Most cat owners dread the day when they need to fly with their pets. Unlike on a road trip, you need to consider the standards set by your chosen airline when taking your cats on a flight.
The IATA LAR (Live Animal Regulations) clearly state that your cats must weigh less than 20 pounds each and be aged between eight weeks and six months to be allowed in a single enclosure. Moreover, the carrier must fit under the seat if you decide to take them with you in the cabin; otherwise, your cats will have to be placed in the cargo area.
Airlines such as Hawaiian Air, Alaska Air, Frontier, Delta, and JetBlue will only allow one adult cat in a single carrier, which should not exceed a total weight of 20 pounds. Hence, you need to call your chosen airline prior to booking a ticket to find out their pet policies and requirements.
Lastly, the airlines still have the right to deny your cats boarding, despite meeting the requirements discussed above. This could happen if your cats do not have enough space to move inside, or if the carrier is not sufficiently ventilated for two cats. That is why flying your cats in separate carriers is best, to ensure their safety and well-being.
Your vet’s recommendation
With so much conflicting information about placing two cats in one carrier, many owners might end up confused as to whether it is worth taking this risk. Yes, it can be more convenient to carry your pets in a single hand and save the cost of having another carrier – but we can never predict what might happen along the way. Even the most well-behaved cats can become irritable with another cat in their private space; all the more so with the added stress of moving.
If you are worried about your cats sharing the same carrier, the best approach would be to give your vet a call. A veterinary professional can give you the best advice for your cat’s safety. He can also recommend the ideal carrier or crate for your cats, especially if you are planning a long journey.
Trying to fit your cats into one carrier can be stressful, uncomfortable, and dangerous. While some cats can travel together in a single enclosure with no issues, others might easily redirect their irritability and frustration onto other cats within their space.
Traveling with two adult cats in one carrier does not work for all cats and owners. Even the most well-behaved and trained cats can be unpredictable sometimes, especially when they need to endure a long journey in a constrained space.
So before deciding to put your cats in one carrier, know that this option comes with several risks. You need to ensure that your pets are completely comfortable sharing the same space even on stressful days. Otherwise, having a single carrier for each cat would be the best option for their safety and well-being.
Image: istockphoto.com / Nils Jacobi