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Choosing a Cat Backpack: A Quick Guide for Pet Parents
By: Brianna Gunter
People with indoor cats have long wished to share more of the world with their pets. But is there a way to bring your kitty away from the safety of home while ensuring he doesn’t get hurt or run away?
Enter the cat backpack.
This newer trend allows pet parents to bring curious felines on all kinds of adventures, from running daily errands to even hiking. The best ones securely keep your cat within the backpack so they feel comfortable and can’t run off at the slightest siren, barking dog, or other stimuli they don’t normally encounter at home.
Naturally, you’ll want to talk with your cat’s veterinarian first before deciding to take Whiskers along on your next jaunt. You’ll also want to do some research into different kinds of cat backpacks and which one may be best suitable for your pet’s comfort levels and safety.
Is a cat backpack right for you?
When used properly, cat backpacks are safe for their kitty cargo. However, that doesn’t mean that all cats do well in a backpack (or cat carriers in general). So, before getting too excited at the prospect of your pet joining you around town, it’s important to evaluate whether or not it is in their best interest.
What to look for in a cat backpack
There are a lot of different cat backpack models on the market today, complete with different features and functionality. While looking at options, it’s important to prioritize comfort and safety for your cat over things like color and style. To ensure you’re making the right choice, check off the following factors:
Your cat needs constant access to fresh air whenever they are inside the backpack. Some of these carriers have mesh windows, while others have plastic windows with air hole cutouts. Consider how comfortable your pet will be with each option, and select a pack with multiple holes on different sides for the best airflow.
Some designs, like the LEMONDA Portable Pet Travel Carrier, have a plastic bubble window that can be swapped out for a mesh one as needed.
The backpack should have plenty of support to carry your cat around and not have any loose strings he can paw at. The structure itself should be on the rigid side so your cat can sit, stand, and move around comfortably inside without it collapsing on him.
Even the most adventurous cats can become stressed out in new places and situations, so it’s important for extra security to be in place. Look for a cat backpack that comes with a harness and/or safety clips to prevent your buddy from slipping around or trying to force his way out.
Cat size requirements
Naturally, your cat backpack needs to be big enough for your furry friend but not so cavernous that he’ll bounce around and risk harm. Always take a close look at dimensions and weight ratings for selecting any carrier. While most cat backpacks are meant for average-sized felines between 8 and 10 lbs (3.6 to 4.5 kg), there are some larger options like the IREENUO Cat Backpack Carrier (rated for up to 17 lbs or 7.7 kg).*
In order to be successful, your cat backpack of choice will need to be comfortable for both you and your pet. The interior needs to be breathable and without sharp edges that can poke your cat. The straps and back design will meanwhile have to be supportive and comfortable for you to carry around. After all, you don’t want to have to keep adjusting and bumping the backpack while your cat is inside.
Can you bring a cat backpack on a plane?
Cat backpacks are currently permitted in the passenger cabins of aircraft, but they must meet size requirements for personal items (they cannot be placed in overhead baggage storage). Your cat may also need to come out of the backpack to pass through security, so they’ll need to be calm enough to do so. To be on the safe side, look for a cat backpack that has been airline approved, like this bubble backpack from LolliMeow Pet.*
That said, pet fees and flying rules vary depending on individual airlines. Call your airline ahead of time to learn their specific policy. You’ll also want to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure your cat is fit for air travel.
Getting your cat used to riding in a backpack
As with all forms of pet training, getting your cat used to a carrier of any type will take time, consistency, and patience. Introduce the backpack slowly to your pet, and don’t rush to get him inside. Place treats or catnip on the inside, and allow your cat to explore it on his own.
It’s a good idea to wait at least a few days before trying to bring your cat anywhere in it. When you do, start with short trips and gradually increase the duration.
Again, not all kitties are good candidates for cat backpacks. If your buddy still isn’t taking to it despite your efforts, it may be best to stick with traditional cat carriers.
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*Trupanion does not receive compensation for any products that are mentioned in this article. Linked products are for informative purposes only.
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