Cat travel carrier buying guide

Cat travel carrier buying guide

Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds

Guide written by:

Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds

122 guides

If you're planning on taking a trip with your cat, or just need to take your feline friend to the vet, you'll need a transport carrier. Any plane carrier will need to conform to IATA standards while a soft carrier needs to be the right size for your pet. Read on to find the perfect cat bag or carrier to keep your kitty safe!

Important features

  • Size
  • Quality of openings
  • Practicality
  • IATA approved
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Soft cat carriers have the advantage of being relatively flexible. This makes them easier to slot into spaces and much lighter than hard crates or carriers. As they are usually made of nylon or other soft materials they also make less noise which is great if your cat is noise-sensitive.

Soft cat carrier features

These carriers will always feature at least one mesh component to allow your cat to see outside. This part is usually on one or both of the ends of the carrier and surrounded by a zip. These carriers may also open at the top so you can give your cat a reassuring scratch while on the move!

Some soft cat carriers feature two openings and can be folded down completely when not in use. It's also possible to find carriers with backpack straps which is particularly handy for navigating your way around an airport or train station.

IATA-approved cat carriers 

Please note that that soft carriers do not conform to the standards set out by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and can therefore not be used in the cargo hold of a plane.

Soft cat carriers: advantages and disadvantages

Pros

Cons

Lightweight and foldable

More likely to move around

Comfortable for cats (insulated against the cold)

Need to keep an eye on fastenings

Different sizes and carrying methods

 Not IATA approved

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Hard cat carriers are the sturdier way to transport your pet. These carriers are composed of a hard shell with ventilation on the sides and a metal grid door. They are equipped with a handle on top but it's also possible to hold them in your arms if the carrier is small enough. Hard cat carriers need to be checked on a regular basis to ensure that all parts are properly fixed in place (base, top, door, etc.). The size of the carrier will depend on the type of cat you have. If buying for a kitten, be sure to purchase a carrier that is big enough for them to grow into.

Quick tip for anxious cats: leave your cat carrier set up in the house prior to travel and while you're on holiday. This way, the cat will get used to its presence and the carrier can double up as a place for them to hide if necessary.

Hard cat carrier features

Not all cat carriers are created equal! Some low-end models don't feature the strongest fixings which can lead to disaster if you're not careful! Before purchase, you need to test the strength of all components designed to hold the carrier together. The same goes for the screws holding the door in place. It is also highly recommended to inspect the entire carrier before every outing. For greater security, you can always apply some tape along the connections or add your own hardware. It's important that your cat is able to stand up, sit down and turn around easily.

IATA-approved cat carriers 

If you're travelling by plane, you need to ensure that your cat carrier is IATA-approved and has its own water and food dish.

Hard cat carriers: advantages and disadvantages

Pros

Cons

Can be dismantled

Noisy if bumped into objects

Stable  

Not very robust (if low quality)

Comes in different sizes

Handle can be uncomfortable to use

Easy to clean

Can be IATA-approved 

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Whether you go for a hard or soft cat carrier, bear the following points in mind:

  • Ensure the carrier is quick to open and close for stress-free transitions.
  • A carrier that opens from the top will be safer.
  • Ensure the carrier is easy to clean if you have an older, anxious or unwell cat.
  • Ensure the carrier is big enough to place a cushion or blanket inside along with a bowl of water.

In order to find the perfect cat carrier, it's a good idea to test as many cat carriers as you can. If possible, it can be really helpful to ask fellow cat lovers to let you try out their carriers before you make your final choice!

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Guide written by:

Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds, 122 guides

Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds

With a handyman-father, I grew up with the soft sound of the sander and hammer on weekends. I am both manual and cerebral (yes, it is possible.), I learned the basics of DIY and the customization of furniture because I was passionate. The salvage mentality is a true way of life that allowed me to know how to use all the tools and products needed to give something a second life, from sander to varnish. I have two favorite activities: the transformation of old furniture and decoration tips. I am always ready to lend a helping hand to revamp a table or to restore a mirror that was intended for the trash that will become a friend’s centerpiece. I’m convinced that it’s possible to reinvent an interior by small, regular modifications, I constantly research low-cost, test ideas.