Cat travel cages can make that trip to the vet, groomer, or even across country a lot safer and easier for you and your pet. Learn what to look for in a cage and how to choose the model that works the best for your situation.
Traveling With Cats
It's best to say it right up front; traveling with a pet running loose in a vehicle simply isn't safe. There are just too many opportunities for a cat to obstruct a driver's vision, as well as prevent access to the brake, gas pedal or steering wheel. It would be wonderful to have your favorite feline snuggled up next to you as the miles pass by, but cats seldom do exactly what we want them to. Even if they did, what happens when you have to make a sudden stop, or, heaven forbid, you're involved in an accident? In cases like this, your pet becomes a projectile that's open to injury and death.
When you look at all the possibilities, it just makes good sense to use cat travel cages whenever you plan to transport your pet.
What to Look for in Cat Travel Cages
To be perfectly frank, any medium size dog carrier will work well for cats too, although it isn't the ideal accommodation.
- Look for top opening cages: A lot of cats simply aren't comfortable with traveling. If you've ever tried to reach into a standard carrier to pull out a nervous cat, you've probably got some scars to show for it. Top opening doors make your cat feel a bit less confined, and they are far easier to retrieve your cat from without being bitten or scratched.
- Don't forget about ventilation: You'll likely be traveling with your cat at different times of the year. Whether its warm or cold, your cat still needs adequate air flow to remain comfortable. Look for cat travel cages that provide mesh or metal grate windows on opposite sides of the carrier for cross ventilation.
- Water is a "must": Whether it's a snap on water bowl that attaches to the door grate, or a pocket to carry a small water bottle or bowl, you need a way to water your pet while you travel. This isn't as necessary for short cross town trips, but it's essential if you plan to travel long distances with your cat in tow. Having this feature in a travel cage is far more convenient than lugging things separately in another bag.
- Easy cleaning: This might not seem like an immediate concern, but any carrier is bound to collect loose fur. An especially nervous cat is also likely to soil or vomit in the carrier. In the event this happens, you'll want to make sure the travel cage surfaces are made from materials that are simple to wipe/wash and disinfect.
Shopping for a Carrier
There are quite a few feline travel cages on the market. Let's look at the two major types.
Soft-Sided Travel Cages
Soft-sided carriers come in styles that mimic large hand bags and box-type travel cages. Most carriers of this design feature removable floor inserts to make cleaning easier. They also have nylon mesh windows for ventilation. Additionally, these units have straps that allow you to hang the carrier over your shoulder for personal transportation.
Soft-sided travel cages are more suitable for short distance outings because they don't provide as much protection as a hard shell carrier for auto transportation. That said, there are a few soft-sided carriers that are approved as carry-ons by airlines so your cat can ride under your seat in the cabin.
Hard Shell Carriers
A hard shell travel cage for cats provides sturdier protection for your pet under all traveling circumstances. These units are typically made from high-impact plastic with heavy gauge steel mesh doors and windows. Equipped with a handle, you can pass a seat belt through it to help secure the cage to the car seat.
A word of caution about using open wire cages for travel; it's all too easy for a cat's legs to jut through the bars and be broken during an impact. Safer to stick with a high-impact plastic model.