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Choosing a Cat Carrier for Travel with Cat

Updated on January 26, 2011

You could bring the kitten home in a cardboard box, but, as you are likely to need a carrier through the cat's life for trips to the veterinarian or the cattery, it is worth getting one from the very start, when picking the kitten up. There are lots of carriers available for you to choose from; their materials range from cardboard to plastic and wicker. Cardboard may be fine for a short emergency, but it is not strong and will go soggy if the cat urinates in the box, which it is quite likely to do. Plastic flat-pack ones are fine for an emergency but will have only a short life. It is better to invest in a sturdy carrier right from the start. You need something that is strong, easily washed, and simple to open and shut so that you can get the cat in and out smoothly. Front-opening wicker baskets look very pretty, but trying to extract a frightened cat through the small front entrance when it has its feet secured in the wicker walls and jammed against the door surround is not much fun. It is also difficult to clean. Choose something that opens at the top, or at the top and side, so you can easily get to a frightened cat and lift it out rather than trying to pull it out. Lift the carrier without the cat in it and see how heavy it is. If you are using one that you have had for many years for previous cats, make sure the lid fits properly, as kittens can squeeze through small spaces.

When you pick up the kitten, line the carrier with something absorbent such as newspaper, or bedding material that is warm and cozy but easily washable. Ask the owner or breeder not to feed the kitten just before you travel or to give it only a small amount of food.

Pop the kitten in the carrier and either strap it into the car with the seatbelt (to avoid catapulting it across the car if you have to brake sharply), put it safely into the footwell behind a seat, or set it in the back if you have a sport utility vehicle. Do not put it into the trunk. Place something waterproof under the carrier in case of large accidents that are not entirely absorbed by the lining of the carrier. If you are traveling a long distance, take some baby wipes or old towels in case you have to clean up the kitten - a frightened kitten may urinate or defecate and get itself in a mess. Most kittens will never have been outside the house where they were born, so this could be a rather frightening experience. The kitten may cry or meow on the way to your home. Try not to worry - if it is warm and secure, it can come to no harm. Talk to it quietly and concentrate on getting home safely. The kitten may feel more secure if you place a blanket over the carrier to darken the interior. However, if it is a very hot day make sure there is plenty of ventilation so that the kitten does not overheat. If the weather is at all warm do not leave the kitten in the car while you have a coffee to break the journey - temperatures in vehicles can rise very, very quickly and kittens are very vulnerable to heatstroke. Take a thermos and keep the windows open when you stop to make sure the car is kept cool. It goes without saying that if you open the kitten's carrier make sure all windows and doors are shut. If you are traveling for a couple of hours, you will need to offer the kitten the use of a litter box and some water during the journey.


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