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The Importance of Cat Carriers
Have you ever found yourself in the following situation? There you sit, patiently waiting at the vet clinic for your cat’s name to be called. The door of the clinic opens and someone walks in carrying a cat in their arms. Your cat is safely inside her cat carrier tucked down at your feet. But this cat, he may be wrapped in a towel or a sweater, or perhaps they’ve placed him inside a cardboard box, either way, the cat has little protection. I always think; “This is an accident waiting to happen.” It only takes a second for a cat to decide he’s not digging the current program and flee. With formidable teeth and claws, anyone getting in the way of his escape is liable to be mighty sore later.
At one local clinic, I had been waiting for over an hour. I glanced out into the parking lot and noticed a woman carrying a rather large cat in her arms. Suddenly, the cat startled. He dug his claws into her neck and chest. She shrieked and lost her hold. He flew over her shoulder disappearing onto a busy street. I helped with the search, but he never appeared. The woman confided to me later in tears; “Her cat was scared of the cat carrier; therefore, she never used it.”
Her concern is valid and shared by fellow cat lovers. The fear that some cats exhibit at the very appearance of a cat carrier causes immediate strife for both cat and owner. Many cat owners will resort to alternate ways of restraining their cats. These methods can spell out a tragedy. The solution lies in preventing the stress in the first place.Forcing a stressed cat into a narrow opening of a cat carrier simply increases the anxiety for both cat and owner, and unfortunately this action is a lose-lose situation. So how do you turn a cat carrier into a friend instead of an enemy?
Making Cat Carriers Cat-Friendly:
Dr. Deb Eldridge DVM favors the hard carriers. “These are sturdy and a cat can't scratch, claw or chew her way out. Your cat is safer if another animal comes after her as well. Plus, with the hard carriers, if your cat does not want to come out of the carrier, you can simply undo the sides (usually screws or sometimes a turning mechanism). That way you can remove your cat by taking the top of the carrier off and not having to fight by pulling her out. I have done many exams and preventive care with a cat sitting in the bottom of her carrier after the top has been removed!
Always keep your cat confined in a car - for your safety and hers. If you are desperate a cardboard box or a pillow case can work for an emergency transport but they are not as good as a plastic carrier.
Dr. Susan Little DVM Diplomat, American Board of Veterinary Practice, specializing in Feline Practice, encourages her clients to invest in top-loading cat carriers. “In traditional carriers, cats have to be encouraged to walk through a narrow opening. This becomes difficult especially if the cat is already stressed or extremely ill.” She explains. “I even prefer the soft-sided carriers over the hard cases because it offers comfort to a stressed kitty”
Ellen Perry Berkeley, author and feral cat specialist maintains that weight is her guiding factor. “I want to be able to carry the carrier and the cat inside it. ...... Another thing, certainly, would be durability against possible clawing by the cat inside the carrier. I have a cardboard carrier (which I never use); I bought it because it seemed so lightweight, but that's obviously not the only criterion. ....... Large size is not a necessity. I think most cats can be comfortable in rather small carriers.”
Most carriers are designed for single-kitty occupancy. You can put several kittens inside a decent -sized carrier, depending on the age of the kittens.
Cat Carriers for Air Travel
For airline travel, cat carriers need to be airline approved. The reason is simple; airline approved cat carriers are designed for the comfort of the cat and the ease of the airline. Regulations vary per airline. The one standard for all the airlines whether kitty’s traveling in-cabin or as cargo; the cat carrier needs to be well-ventilated and waterproof.
For the soft-sided cat carriers, the most popular in the market today is made by Sturdi Products. They have set a standard for excellence and safety when it comes to the transportation and comfort of your cat. Sturdi Bag cat carriers can be found on almost every table of cat shows both National and International. The carriers are durable, light-weight, well-ventilated and water proof. As most airlines require, the cat has ample room to lie down or turn around in a Sturdi Bag. The handle is cushioned for an easy grip. The product that is airline approved and used the most in-cabin air travel is the Sturdi Bag by Sturdi Products.
On the hard side of this issue- Veri Kennel stands in the forefront. Petmate’s Veri Kennel was the very first hard carrier to win major airline approval. However, when it comes to air travel and your cat, you need to call ahead and talk to the reservation clerk. If your cat is traveling as cargo, then a hard carrier is required for most airlines, one that doesn’t have a top-loading door. In cabin, soft-sided carriers may be best for the comfort of your cat. Please be aware that not ALL carriers available today are airline approved EVEN IF THEY STATE THEY ARE. Your best bet is to call the airlines, ask them what carriers they approve of and then go shopping.
Regardless if your cat is on the way to the vet or on the way to the airport, for his comfort and security, keep him inside a cat carrier. A loose cat in a car or inside a vet clinic is just asking for trouble. Although some cats will thwart your attempts to acquaint them with a cat carrier, it is still imperative that you use the carrier when you are transporting your cat. Once they are safely tucked inside, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that because of your efforts, your cat is now fully protected.