Traveling with your fur baby can be enriching: you get the chance to strengthen your emotional bond while enjoying a different view outside your home. However, a lot of cat owners are doubtful about the safety of cat backpacks, as well as whether their furry companions will like being inside them.
Read on to find out whether a cat backpack is an ideal option for your active lifestyle, and whether or not cats actually do like them.
Are cat backpacks safe?
Yes, cat backpacks are generally safe. The main purpose of the design is to keep your furry friend safe inside as you go on your excursions. Other features that manufacturers consider are the owner’s convenience, as well as the cat’s comfort.
That said, there are some cat lovers who are doubtful about the safety of cat backpacks. Since these bags can be quite small, there are those who wonder whether the confined space allows enough air circulation inside for comfortable breathing. And, if you take your cat on a long trail, especially during summer, there is the question of whether the inside might become too hot for your cat. Let us clear up these questions, one by one.
First and foremost, you need to choose the right bag for it to be considered safe and comfortable for your cat. Not all cat backpacks are created equal, so you cannot expect all bags to be of the same quality. Your furry companion does not deserve cheap material, and neither do you.
Next up is size. So, you have just bought a nice backpack complete with all the fancy features – breathable holes, clear windows for viewing, high-quality material for maximum comfort, lots of pockets for treats and water bottles, sturdy clips to support your cat, and many others.
But then you found out it is too small for your chubby cat!
If your furry friend is too cramped inside the backpack, it can lead to significant discomfort. Moreover, your cat’s heavyweight can put great stress on the straps and the bottom of the bag, eventually wearing it down. We know what happens next: if you do not notice the tear in the bag, it could open up during one of your trips and allow your cat to escape.
The owner’s responsibility is also an important point to keep in mind. Yes, that’s right – you are liable for your cat’s safety. Although these bags are designed with sturdy materials, the protection they offer your pet is only limited. From time to time, you need to monitor your cat’s comfort and well-being while he is in the bag. For example, during long trips, you will need to let him out for bathroom or water breaks. Otherwise, the whole experience will be traumatic and stressful for your pet.
And lastly, consider your cat’s temperament. Some felines are naturally adventurous and will not mind being in a backpack while enjoying the scenic view from a tiny window. Other cats might find the experience frightening and would prefer their cozy bed at home. If your cat is a happy traveler, then the cat backpack experience will be a fun one. But never force a frightened cat to like his backpack and go on excursions with you.
Why cats love backpacks
We are often amazed to see our furballs cramping their entire bodies into small boxes. This silly feline behavior can leave us wondering – why do cats do that?
“If I fit, I sit” is probably the most well-known motto attributed to cats who love to squeeze their sleek, flexible bodies into tight spaces. The reasons behind this behavior vary – it could be psychological or environmental. Simply put, cats instinctively curl up in small spaces like shoeboxes because they feel safe and secure there. These small hiding spaces also provide warmth when they need to escape from the outside elements.
So, does this instinctive behavior make your feline-like his backpack? Most likely, yes. Since a backpack is a comfortable alternative to a shoebox, many cats will probably love it.
However, as mentioned above, not all cats may like being inside a backpack, especially if it has been associated with trauma. If your cat is generally anxious and has never been trained to travel with you, he may well hate the backpack forever. That is why it is crucial to gradually introduce the backpack to your cat before taking him on a road trip. Otherwise, the whole experience will just be chaotic for both of you.
Cat backpacks vs cat carrier
Cat backpacks are often the best choice for owners with an active lifestyle who do not want to leave their pets behind when they go on adventures. Traditional carriers, on the other hand, are ideal for mandatory trips like a visit to the vet or flying to another state. In other words, one is not necessarily better than the other; it depends entirely on your reason for using it.
For leisure trips, cat backpacks offer convenience since you can carry your companion hands-free. These bags are designed with pockets to store toys and treats, breathable holes, safety clips to secure your cat’s collar, and windows for viewing. Overall, cat backpacks are not only neat solutions for hiking adventures; they can also look stylish as they come in different designs.
Speaking of designs, some of these bags have mesh-type windows to make them more breathable, while others are designed like a bubble bag, with a huge, clear bubble so you can easily share the outside view with your pet. This also makes it easier for any passerby to see that you are carrying a cat inside.
However, as we already mentioned, not all cats enjoy being in a backpack. In fact, some will not find a road trip a fun experience at all. Due to their territorial nature, many felines really just prefer to stay in a familiar environment where they feel safe and secure. Hence, cat backpacks are better suited to calmer cats who are accustomed to and enjoy, traveling. If your pet’s behavior suggests otherwise, it might be safer to use a cat carrier instead.
Traditional cat carriers are like portable crates or cages. They come with some features that a cat backpack may not have, which can make your trip to the vet or the airport less chaotic.
And, since these crates are more spacious than a backpack, you can easily fit a small bed, and sometimes even a litter box, inside. These carriers are also made from durable materials, some with extendable compartments, to make the trip less stressful for your cat.
Apart from the larger space for your cat to stand or stretch, some carriers are also designed with multiple doors to allow a variety of access points, which is helpful if you have a nervous cat. Another feature worth mentioning is the knobs, plastic pegs, sliding locks, or side snaps to easily latch or unlatch the carrier.
Perhaps the only downside of using a traditional cat carrier is that they can be bulky to carry. For longer trips, the heavyweight might also strain your wrist and back. Moreover, the plastic handle on top of the carrier may eventually break, especially if your cat is quite heavy. Hence, for longevity, you need to consider the quality and sturdiness of the carrier before buying one.
Are cat backpacks cruel?
Using a cat backpack should not be considered cruel for cats, as long as they are happy, comfortable, and protected inside. It only becomes cruel if you are forcing your cat inside even though he is obviously distressed.
Another time that cat backpacks could be considered cruel is when they are misused by irresponsible owners. Keep in mind that the protection offered by a backpack is limited, and no backpack is designed for prolonged use. So, if you are taking your cat on a long journey, make sure to let him out every once in a while, to stretch, use the litter tray, eat and rehydrate.
Safety tips before using a cat backpack
Here are a few safety tips to remember, that will make the trip enjoyable for you and your cat:
- Walk at your normal pace. Do not jump, run, or skip while carrying your furry pal on your back. Such intense movements might scare your kitty or make him very uncomfortable inside the backpack.
- Don’t leave your cat alone while he is inside the backpack. Always keep your eye on your pet while resting on the road.
- Provide a soft towel or cloth for your cat to sit on.
- Take a breather: remember to allow some short breaks for your cat. Staying inside the backpack for long periods can be too hot and stressful, even for well-trained cats.
- Use a leash and harness when taking your cat out of the backpack.
- If your cat is not trained to travel and generally does not like being in the backpack, do not force it.
How long can a cat be in a cat backpack?
Cats should be fine in a carrier for up to eight hours, with some short breaks in between, as long as they are provided with all their needs. Most owners suggest taking a breather every two to three hours.
How to choose a cat backpack
Choosing a backpack involves careful consideration, not just regarding the cost but also the quality and features, to make sure your kitty will love it. Some of the things you need to consider are:
- Backpacks should have plenty of air holes for proper ventilation.
- Consider backpacks with adjustable straps for convenience.
- Look for backpacks with safety straps to secure your cat inside and prevent him from jumping out.
- Choose a backpack of the appropriate size and weight restriction for your cat.
- Consider backpacks made from high-quality and durable fabric that are strong enough to sustain cat bites and scratches.
- Choose a backpack that offers maximum comfort for your furry friend.
With all these requirements in mind, you should have some idea of the type of backpack you want to purchase for your next trip. Some top-notch backpacks on the market include:
- PetAmi Deluxe Pet Carrier Backpack
- LOLLIMEOW Large Cat Backpack Carrier with Bubble
- BEIKOTT Cat Backpack
The bottom line
Cat backpacks are designed to ensure your cat’s comfort and safety while traveling. These bags are the ideal option for cat owners with active lifestyles who do not want to leave their furry companions behind when they go on adventures.
However, although we love to share our experiences with our four-legged friends, remember that not all cats will enjoy being in a backpack.
If you are planning on taking your cat on your next hike or road trip, consider purchasing a top-quality backpack to maximize his comfort and security. Remember to train him on his leash and in his carrier before your trip, to ensure that the trip is an enjoyable experience for both you and your cat.
Image: istockphoto.com / sofirinaja