Off to the vet for vaccinations, to granny for the holidays or a new home town for a new life together? You’ll need a proper cat carrier to get your kitty safely and securely there. We looked at what’s on offer from local online stores. But first, a few tips:
Size counts – kitty needs to be able to turn around and stand inside without crouching down. Go for a carrier that is 1,5 times the size of your cat, and if s/he’s still a kitten, ask your vet for a size projection (or look at her parents, if you know them).
Strong enough – kittens are one thing, but a fully-grown Maine Coon-type male is a heavy beast. Make sure the carrier is strong enough to bear your fully grown feline by checking its specs, and also by placing something substantial inside to see if the floor remains firm. It’s worthwhile investing in ones with durable hinges, e.g. metal, which last longer than plastic though it can push the carrier price up.
Well-ventilated – a suitable carrier has openings on at least three sides, if not all. This ensures kitty can breathe easily, and that the temperature is regulated by moving air (but it’s still illegal to leave your cat untended in the car on the Garden Route!)
TIP: use a porous fabric like an old linen tablecloth over the carrier to partially block out sounds and lights that may alarm your kitty while she’s in the carrier, being moved around and bewildered. Remember they are aware that they’re in new territory and may feel vulnerable because they can’t scope it out properly. Reducing sensory stimulus can reduce anxiety.
Bonus but rare
Easy to clean – cats can vomit or pass urine and even defecate in the stress of transit (or because of motion sickness, or just because they need to go, now!). You’ll want to be able to clean that quickly and adequately. Carriers with fabric lining are hard to clean – avoid. Padded nylon bags are okay, but check that they’re waterproof, or you’ll have a problem.
Scratch-proof – a frightened cat is a frightening thing. Choose a carrier made of durable materials that won’t wear away detrimentally if kitty takes her claws to it.
Different doors – great for tricky kitties who don’t want to come out the way they came in or need a nudge. Two tricks for getting kitty in and out – to get her in, place her in front of the opening facing you (not it). Close your hand gently over her mouth, nose, and eyes, and she will automatically reverse away. To get her out, open the carrier and tip her out gently. Failing that, pick a carrier with a top that comes right off.
Petting openings – are great if your kitty is touch sensitive (most are) as you can stroke them while they’re inside. Just check they’re chilled enough before inserting your own precious paw, eh? Also, do not use for kittens, which are so small they might climb right out of a petting opening, past your wrist!)
Eco positive – upcycled materials like durable recycled plastic make that much difference to a planet under pressure. You can also buy second-hand to reduce the kitty carrier’s carbon footprint further (make sure you clean it thoroughly with a strong but non-toxic pet shampoo before introducing kitty to it; if it smells of another feline, it might upset yours.
Kitty carriers available online right now
*Hard Plastic carrier from ePetStore approved for air travel
Approved by pet carrier BidAir, has a handle on top and wheels for easier moving.
Foldable cat carrier from A Pet’s Life
Three doors, sturdy steel frame, can be flattened to 7cm for storage
Foldable, with different carry styles from The Real Pet Co
Suitable for short trips, lightweight material, mesh “windows” with proper ventilation.
R501 (on special, usually R587)
The super ventilated plastic carrier from Absolute Pets
Light but sturdy, whole top removable for easy “disembarking”, great for car and train travel.
One final tip – If you got this far, you clearly care very deeply about your cat’s wellbeing. Bear in mind that cats – with their super-keen sense of hearing and oddly accurate ‘sixth sense’ of knowing, seem to know precisely when the cat carrier is opened wherever they are, and they often run and hide or are very difficult to negotiate with, because they have had what they perceive to be negative experiences in it in the past. Help avoid this from the outset by regularly encouraging them to eat in it, sleep in it, or play in it, entirely unconnected for travel use. This creates positive associations with the carrier that will make loading and travelling more manageable and less stressful for both of you! You can also initiate this if you haven’t in the past but be patient with your pussy cat – she has every reason to be wary.