When shopping for a carrier for your cat, you may be tempted to think bigger is better. You might feel it would be far more comfortable for your cat to be able to stretch out during whatever journey she will be taking.
Larger Isn’t Necessarily Better
Actually, it’s not a comforting feeling for your cat to be placed in a carrier that is really too large for her. Cats prefer to feel their backs up against something and that creates a feeling of security. When you look at a frightened cat in a shelter or veterinary clinic cage, she will be in a corner with her back against the wall. There’s security in knowing that at least no one can ambush her from behind. That same feeling helps her when in the carrier. The fact that she can easily feel her back or side against one or two of the carrier sides provides some relief.
When the carrier is too big, it also becomes very uncomfortable when you’re carrying her because she’ll end up sliding from one side to the other. It’s also extremely awkward for you to balance the carrier when it’s too big. Have you ever tried to balance a large carrier when there’s about 12 pounds of cat sloshing around from one side to the other? It’s not good for kitty and it’s definitely not good for the health of your back!
Two Cats in One Carrier? Not a Good Idea
If you have a couple of cats and you’re planning to buy one big carrier so they can be together, it would be a better idea to buy two carriers that will ideally fit one cat in each one. First of all, there may be times when you’re only bringing one cat with you (for example, if only one cat needs to visit the veterinarian) and being in that big carrier will be awkward. Additionally, cats who are put in the carrier together could possibly show aggression toward each other if the travel becomes stressful. A trip to the veterinarian may result in a case of one cat showing aggression to the other on the ride back home.
On the other hand, a carrier that was a good fit your kitty when she was a kitten may be too small if she has grown into a large adult. Being stuffed into a carrier that causes her to feel cramped will only add to whatever anxiety she may be feeling about having to travel in the first place.
What Size is Best?
Generally, a carrier should be one and a half times the size of your cat. It should give her enough room to stand up and turn around. If you’re buying a carrier for a kitten, she’ll be growing pretty fast, so get a regular sized carrier that you think will be appropriate for when she reaches her adult size. During those kitten months, you can line the carrier with a thick towel so she doesn’t go sliding all over the place while in transit.
Need More Information?
For more specifics on which carrier is best and how to help your cat get used to travel, refer to any of Pam’s books, including the most recent release Think Like a Cat. If you’re having a cat behavior problem and would like a consultation with cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett, contact our office.
Pam Johnson-Bennett is the star of Psycho Kitty airing on Discovery UK. She is author of seven best-selling books on cat behavior including Think Like a Cat: how to raise a well-adjusted cat – not a sour puss. Think Like a Cat has become known as the cat bible. Pam is considered a pioneer in the field of cat behavior consulting. In addition to her television series and public speaking engagements, Pam owns Cat Behavior Associates, a private veterinarian-referred behavior company in Nashville, TN. Cat Behavior Associates offers private cat behavior appointments on a limited basis. Pam Johnson-Bennett is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant.