A woman travels with her cat in a pet carrier

Pet Carrier Criteria: Here’s How to Choose


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Having a pet carrier will more or less be an eventuality for your furkid. Whether it’s to sleep in during crate time, vet visits or jet-setting adventures, getting the right one is important. Most especially as your carrier will need to keep your pet safe.

When making an investment of this sort for the first time, the selection may be overwhelming. There literally are so many types and styles to choose from. Not to worry. Decisions like this are easy when you focus on practical use and what/who/how big your animal companion is.

Here’s how it’s done:

How to choose a pet carrier

As with most choices, a sensible way to begin decision-making is to look at what you want (initial concept) versus what you need (practical use). Where these two naturally come together is often where you’ll find the ideal solution.

To start the process, you can ask yourself some basic questions to set you on your course.

Here are some suggestions:

  • What will you be using the carrier for?
  • What size do you need?
  • Is it for a cat or dog (these can come with different considerations)?
  • Will it be for occasional use or regular use?
  • How well does your pet enjoy/not enjoy small enclosed spaces?

How extensively your pet will be in its carrier will help you decide how soft, hard, protective, etc., it needs to be. For example, walking in the park with your well-trained cat in your pet carrier bag will be different from air travel with a husky.

And if your pet’s going to be doing lots of on-road expeditions that’s going to have different requirements too.

Your pet criteria

And of course, this initial set of questions will allow you to think of other questions as you browse. Like what is an airline approved pet carrier (read flying with pets)? Or how to get a cat in a pet carrier? And can a dog sleep in a pet carrier?

Usually, when you’re googling for answers to questions like these, a selection of pet carriers will begin to pop up tailored to your specific needs. Ahhh, that Google algorithm. Always ready to help us.

A dog sits in a soft pet carrier

Pet carriers for dogs

Unlike cats, dogs can be enormous or wee-small. So an important consideration is what size carrier you’ll need. If you intend to get one that fits your puppy but can accommodate their growth, you may be wondering exactly how big they’ll turn out. Uncover how big your puppy’s probably going to be with our article on dog size.

Your dog’s size and weight both factor in. A pug won’t be too heavy in their crate. However, if you’ve a German Shepherd or Labrador Retriever you’ll need something sturdy that can withstand their full weight.

Another valuable consideration is whether your pup is crate trained. If not, your pet carrier may elicit some whining, scratching and ill-placed toileting. On the other hand, you might take this opportunity to get that training started.

Crate training can have numerous benefits, one of which is providing your dog with a den, and assisting with toilet training. The other big one is that your pooch will be at ease when they travel in their crate. Understand what’s involved via our ‘crate train a puppy‘ article and then read part two: crate training a puppy.

Dogs will usually prefer a pet carrier they can view the world through and feel the fresh breeze too. Wire crates, or plastic ones with ventilation are often the best choice. However, you might know your wowser would prefer a soft fabric type. (And isn’t going to chew a hole right through it).

In terms of size, your pup should always be able to stand up as well as turn around.

A kitten explores it's pet carrier

Pet carriers for cats

While cats and dogs are both humankinds’ best mates, they very often have varied criteria when it comes to fulfilling their needs. For starter, cats will more often than not require a smaller varietal of pet carrier.

Cats who use a litterbox may very well end up doing the same said activity in their carrier. As a result, you’ll want one that’s easy to clean or dismantle to get to those nooks and crannies. Your cat won’t want to return to their carrier if it has trace elements of their toileting action.

Some pet carriers come with ready-to-remove bedding you can toss in the wash. While others, like many plastic ones, can be easily disassembled for you to sterilise. And while on the topic of toilet duties, read how to train a kitten to use a litterbox.

If you’ve more than one feline friend you might be tempted to get an XL-sized carrier to keep them together. However, even when cats are friends it’s safer and more practical for each cat to have their own carrier. In terms of size, aim for 1.5 times the size of your cat so they can turn around without unbalancing their carrier.

Pet carrier shopping options

Now let’s do some online window shopping and you can take it from there!

Here are some pet carriers to peruse:

  • Sherpa pet carrier. This soft side carrier has mesh windows for your pet. The spring wire frame means you can adapt the carrier to fit under a seat for storage.
  • Rufus & Coco foldable pet carrier. Another soft side and foldable carrier, with adjustable shoulder strap, plenty of ventilation, and a window for pets to see out!
  • Petkit Breezy cat backpack. An ergonomically designed pet backpack (for your back) with a window to watch the world go by comes with a washable removable pad and inbuilt lamp.
  • Ibiyaya portico deluxe leather carrier. A great option for those who love leather, this foldable carry bag comes with large side windows for pets who want panoramic views.
  • Kazoo mobile home pet crate. A sturdy steel crate for crate training and travel that’s designed with no sharp edges. This hardy crate can be collapsed and folded for easy storage.
  • K9 pet carrier. This sturdy plastic crate comes with a steel door and a built-in feed bowl.

As you can see there’s a varied selection both in form and function to choose from. So you and your pet can view the world on travels, or just to the vet or grocery store.

Pet insurance for the softest landing

Regardless of whether your pet carrier will be for long or short trips, or a den at home, be sure to always give them a soft landing with pet insurance. Just like we two-legged members of the household need healthcare, so do our four-legged friends.

When your furkid visits the vet for a medical issue, has to check into the vet hospital or even has surgery, your dog insurance or cat insurance plan can help you cover the costs.

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