Cat in carrier
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Cat Carriers: Which Kind Is Right For Your Cat?

If there’s one purchase every cat family needs to make, even before bringing home their adopted cat, it’s a cat carrier.

These portable kennels make it easy to transport your cat safely, whether that’s for a trip to the vet, a move, or a vacation.

Let’s break down everything you need to know about cat carriers.

What Types Of Cat Carriers Are Out There?

Cat in carrier
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The least expensive type of cat carrier is the cardboard carrier, which is basically a cardboard box with air holes and a handle. They’re inexpensive and useful for bringing home a new kitten, but eventually you’ll want to upgrade to something sturdier.

The most popular types of cat carriers are made of either hard or soft material, like plastic or fabric.

Cat in carrier
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“The main deciding factor for which pet carrier to use will depend on what type of activity or transportation the pet parent is planning,” says Keri Baynes, assistant product manager for Petmate, a company that makes both hard and soft carriers.

“Plastic kennels are used when traveling in motor vehicles,” she explains. “They are meant to be secured in your vehicle with a seat belt to help to protect you and your pet in the event of an accident.

“Soft-sided carriers are more often used when a pet parent is transporting a pet by walking, therefore holding the carrier,” she says. “The soft-sided kennels have shoulder straps to give the pet parent more options for comfort while carrying.”

The Pros And Cons Of Hard Versus Soft Cat Carriers

Cat in carrier
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A hard-sided cat carrier has the advantage of being extremely sturdy and easy to clean. You can attach specially designed water cups to the wire doors of many models, which makes them handy for travel or emergency evacuations.

Soft-sided carriers are generally more expensive than hard-sided carriers. These provide a good option for those with limited storage space, since many soft-sided carriers can fold up when not in use.

Often the preferred pick for pet lovers who travel with their cats, soft carriers can be a good choice for those seeking comfort for both themselves and their cats.

According to Diane Dellefave, creator of the Mommy Bus, a stylish soft pet carrier, “Sometimes a trip to the vet can be a stressful experience for your cat — a softer carrier can provide them with a level of comfort and safety that might be missing from a hard crate.”

Hybrid Cat Carriers

Cat in carrier
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Products like the Sleepypod line combine the rigidity of the hard-sided carrier with the comfort of a soft carrier, and can also double as a cat bed.

This type of carrier can appeal to your cat since they’ll identify it with comfort and home, rather than just a trip to the vet’s office.

The Sleepypod Air, specially designed for beneath-the-seat air travel, includes a special pocket for a warming pad. If you plan to travel with your cat on a plane, this carrier might suit your needs better than others.

Whichever type of cat carrier you select, be sure to add a small toy, treat, or even a spritz of catnip spray. That can help show your cat that this is their new home away from home.

What’s your favorite cat carrier? How did you decide which one would be right for your cat? Tell us all about it in the comments below!


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