If you are planning on adopting a cat, one of the most important things that you need to invest in is a cat carrier. Even if you do not plan to travel with your cat, you can use a carrier at least to bring your pet to the veterinarian.
How much does a cat carrier cost?
The cheapest cat carriers cost around $10 while the most expensive ones can cost more than $200. The variance between $10 and $200 may seem like a big gap. However, that indicates that you have a few options to choose from, in terms of price and features.
If you are on the market for a carrier, you will discover that you have a few options to choose from at different price points.
A cat carrier may seem like an unnecessary expense especially if you do not plan to travel with your cat. However, you will soon discover that having a pet carrier can spell a world of difference when you are visiting the vet.
Types of cat carriers
Generally, pet carriers come in four styles: cardboard, soft carriers, rolling suitcase, and hard plastic. Here is a brief look at the types of cat carriers:
1. Cardboard carrier
Among all the types of pet carriers, the cardboard carrier is the cheapest. That is because it is fabricated for short term use only. In a pinch, a cardboard carrier will do. However, you will still need to invest in a different type of carrier sooner than later.
Cardboard carriers come in limited sizes and most likely, you will have a difficult time finding one that gives your pet ample room to move around inside.
Furthermore, cardboard carriers are the least sturdy of pet carriers. Some cats are capable of chewing their way out of this pet carrier.
Apart from being flimsy, a cardboard carrier can be difficult to secure. A willful adult cat can escape from it.
Finally, you will need to dispose of this carrier after a few uses. It can be quite difficult to clean if your pet poops or pees inside it.
Although a cardboard carrier may seem like a bad investment, it still has its uses. For example, if you have just adopted a kitten and you have not yet purchased a sturdier carrier, a cardboard carrier can do the job adequately.
2. Soft carriers
A soft carrier looks like a duffel bag made to transport a cat. Although it usually uses firm materials, these same materials offer a high degree of flexibility.
Compared to hard plastic carriers, a soft carrier is not as sturdy. Over time, its materials can degrade due to normal wear and tear, especially if your pet likes to scratch it.
Usually, a soft carrier has more than one opening which can be closed with a zipper. Be aware that a persistent cat can still escape from this carrier even if you zip it up.
3. Rolling suitcase carrier
As its name implies, a rolling suitcase carrier is pretty much like a rolling suitcase. But instead of using it for your clothes and stuff, you use it to transport your cat. Compared to the other types of carriers, the rolling suitcase provides ample room for a cat. Plus, the design of the carrier allows a cat to see his immediate surroundings.
The addition of wheels makes it easier to move this suitcase around. Instead of lifting a box, all you have to do is roll the carrier.
But it has a couple of drawbacks. For one, it can be a challenge to clean when your pet pees or poops inside. Second, your pet might get startled as the carrier moves over bumps.
4. Hard plastic carriers
In terms of available room, durability, security, and ease of cleaning, hard plastic carriers are superior to the other types of carriers. If you choose the right size for your pet, he will be able to turn around and relax inside a hard plastic carrier. And because this type of carrier is the sturdiest, you will get an excellent return for your investment over the long term.
Important features to consider in a cat carrier
Carriers come with a variety of features. But at the end of the day, the features you should look for are the ones that benefit your cat the most.
For example, some carriers come with a single door while others have more than one. The advantage of having multiple doors is that you have different options when it comes to getting your pet in and out of the carrier. In turn, this can help minimize stress on your cat’s part.
Should you choose a carrier with screws, slide snaps, plastic pegs, knobs, or sliding plastic locks? Each of these fasteners has its own advantages. While some make it easier to open the carrier, you should also consider the fact that some can be lost easily and be hard to replace.
Determining which cat carrier size to get
How big should the cat carrier be? When you are choosing the size of a cat carrier, you should follow the Goldilocks principle: the size should be just right for your pet.
Buy a carrier that is too big and your pet will slide from one side to the other as your car moves. Buy a carrier that is too small and your pet will be cramped and grumpy. The ideal carrier should overcome all these drawbacks.
For short term use, like a visit to the vet, you should buy a carrier that is one and half the size of your cat. However, for long drives, you need to factor in the need to place food and water bowls inside the carrier.
Buy a cat carrier for each cat
If you have two or more cats, it is never a good idea to have them share a single carrier. For starters, even the roomiest carrier can be cramped when you have two uncomfortable cats inside. Plus, it can be stressful for your pets, especially if one gets agitated and aggressive.
And even if both of your pets may be comfortable going to the vet inside the same carrier, one can end up more aggressive after finishing his treatment.
How to get your cat to go inside the carrier
You can buy the most expensive cat carrier and that will not be enough to coax your pet to go inside. Your cat may not want to get inside his carrier at first but with patience and practice, you can teach your pet to get into the carrier without much fuss.
To achieve this goal, you will need to make your feline familiar with his carrier. Put the carrier in one of your cat’s favorite spots in your home.
You can coax your cat to investigate or even come inside the carrier by putting his favorite towel as well as a few of his favorite treats inside. You can also use Feliway to keep your cat at ease.
Once your cat goes inside the carrier by himself, close the door but for a few seconds only. Later on, you can close the door longer by a few increments.
As much as possible, make the carrier a part of your cat’s living environment.
What to do if your cat will not go inside the carrier
Your cat will not go inside the carrier even after weeks of training. Or maybe your cat needs emergency treatment and he is not yet familiar with the carrier. What can you do if he does not want to get inside the carrier?
Start by orienting the carrier such that its main door faces the ceiling. Next, pick up your cat by holding his front legs with one hand while your other hand provides support to the hind legs.
After that, lower your cat into the carrier. Because your cat is looking at you while getting inside the carrier, he will be less spooked. Once inside, you can now close the carrier’s door. To make the experience less stressful for your cat, you can cover the carrier with a towel or blanket.
Why you need to invest in a carrier
Sooner or later, you will need to travel with your cat, be it for a vacation or a trip to the vet. And for that, you will need a cat carrier. Invest in one instead of making a makeshift container like a laundry basket. You only risk traumatizing your pet. Worse, you can put him in harm’s way. In short, use the right tool for the task.
Image: istockphoto.com / Nils Jacobi