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5 Cat Carriers for a Smooth Ride

It’s the journey, not the destination.

by Katherine Tolford | expert review by Cristin Tamburo, CFTBS, CAFTP
March 30, 2021
orange tabby cat in carrier

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Mason jars. Tea kettles. Tissue boxes. Cats love contorting themselves into impossibly small spaces, but present them with a carrier and, Oh hell no. Clearly the self-imposed claustrophobia is on their terms only. And can you blame them? A trip to the vet, especially if in a cab or on the subway, is a bumpy one, rife with strangers’ shrill coos and wet dog noses up close and personal.

“There are so many things coming at them and they can’t go anywhere,” explains Cristin Tamburo, a certified feline behavior consultant. “The experience leaves them feeling vulnerable, like a human swimming with sharks.” While you’re probably never going to convince your cat that curling up in a carrier will lead to good things, the least you can do is make them feel comfortable in one that’s the right size, well ventilated, sturdy, and safe. “I see people use the same carrier that they bought for their kitten. Your cat shouldn’t be squished into the carrier and unable to move. They should have room to twist themselves around from one side of the carrier to the other.” Below, the five safest cat carriers in various styles and materials.

Whichever carrier best suits your cat, Marilyn Krieger, a certified cat behaviorist consultant and author of Naughty No More!, recommends leaving it out in your home for at least a week before a vet appointment or travel plans to desensitize your cat to it: “Leave the door open and put a bed or towel inside. Play with your cat near it. Throw treats and toys inside. This will help take away their fear of it.

Btw, our editors (and their pets) picked out these products. They’re always in stock at the time we publish, but there’s a chance they’ll sell out. If you do buy through our links, we may earn a commission. (We’ve got a lot of toys to buy over here, you know?)

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Katherine Tolford

Katherine Tolford writes about the pet industry and veterinary medicine. Her work, which has appeared on PetMD, Chewy, and Floof, has helped pet parents better understand their pets’ health. She’s also a pet parent to Milo, a loud-mouthed tuxedo cat, who likes to attempt backwards somersaults on the couch.