Cat carriers (and how to save a cat’s life)

26 October, 2006

When my kittens left for their new homes, their owners collected them with a variety of cat carriers.

Most of the kitten owners had splashed out on new cat carriers, and I was most impressed by the effort that everyone had made into selecting a cat carrier.

So what’s in a cat carrier?

For me, a good cat carrier is robust and comfortable. It provides a space that makes the cat secure. It makes it easy to put the cat in and take it out of the carrier. And it should be easy to handle and carry.


At cat shows the cat carrier of choice is usually a top-opening one made out of wire mesh. It would win no prizes in a beauty competition but judges like it because cats can simply be lifted out and lowered back in the carrier. With a side-opening carrier you have to pull the cat towards you and if a cat doesn’t want to come out, you’re in trouble. Ditto, putting a cat back in a side-opening carrier can be like difficult if it’s scared and doesn’t want to go back in.

What I don’t like about these wire mesh carriers is that they’re not very private and don’t provide that cave-like environment that a cat needs to feel secure. So a blanket or other cover is necessary to give the cat privacy with mesh carriers.

Then there are the carriers which are made of plastic, with two plastic-cat-carrier.jpeghalves that snap together with hasps. These are good because they’re lightweight and easy to clean. They’re also more private than the mesh-type carriers. Some plastic carriers also come with little trolley wheels attached – very handy if your cat is a large Maine Coon! However, I don’t know how robust these plastic carriers are – undoing and doing-up the hasps isn’t easy when you’re in a hurry and there’s a lot of wear-and-tear on those hasps.

CatCarriers2 The latest in cat carriers are bags which can be slung over the shoulder – they incorporate nylon mesh panels for air circulation. They’re not as rigid or robust as say, the plastic or wire mesh carriers, but are strong enough to stop a cat trying to scratch its way through. These are increasing in popularity, partly because they don’t look like cat carriers per se, they look like fashionable luggage bags. Plus, they’re lighter in weight than both the mesh and plastic carriers. One of the companies that makes these bag-type carriers has branched out and makes shelters which are used in place of cages at TICA shows.

Which brings me to the real reason for this post.

If ever you’re in an emergency (e.g. disaster evacuation, fire etc.) and can’t find a cat carrier, there are cheap and ready temporary alternatives.  This was brought to my attention by Jan, a wonderful person with a big heart who has helped many rescue cats and who despaired what was happening to cats in New Orleans during Katrina’s visit.  She says it best:

“I was beside myself over the New Orleans disaster, what with all those folks having to leave their pets. Both you and I know that most of the felines had panicked and hunkered down somethere, never to be rescued. PLEASE TELL ALL THAT YOU CAN put a cat in a pillowcase (easy to find!) and take all critters with you, one in each pillowcase. Many people probably don’t have or cannot afford cat carriers or are older and find it difficult to maneuver to damned carriers. The pillowcase carrier is a simple solution, not heavy (except for the size of the cat); it provides them with a secure rescue without the horror of the cat seeing what the cat is going through; only the sound of your loving voice to calm it.”

Thank you, Jan!



  1. I’ve used the pillowcase on many occasions myself, and try to inform any cat owners that aren’t aware of this trick! It’s almost like hooding a falcon. I can also vouch for how much it can help to talk to your cat! They will be much more comfortable if they can hear your voice.

    Also some cats that I’ve seen actually like crawling into pillow cases (even while still on a pillow) once they are transported in one once or twice. Nothing is quite as amusing as watching a pillow dash through the house.


  2. Hi David,

    Thank you for your great tips. It’s good to know that this method works – I always worried that cats might suffocate in the pillowcases, or tear their way through (my Bengal Maya has nails like shredders and hates being cooped up).

    My Maine Coon girl loves it when I’m making the bed, and she rushes under the sheet before I fit it to the bed, so there’s a lump underneath, and I think she thinks that as long as she can’t see my, I can’t see her!

    Best wishes,

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