They look cute to us humans, but what about from the cat’s perspective? How do our feline friends feel about traveling in the season’s must-have pet travel accessory? The cat backpacks: Good/bad? At Pet Comments we take a measured look at the pros, cons, and any potential health risk, so that your fur-friend enjoys their day out rather than stresses in a cramped “space capsule.”
Feline Pawsitive about Cat Backpacks
For those that haven’t yet seen a cat backpack, these are worn like a rucksack and designed to transport feline friends below a certain weight (depending on the product.) From the cat’s point of view, what are the pawsitives to cat backpacks?
We all know cats love to climb trees. Why is this?
The answer is cats love being high off the ground because they feel safe from predators and like to watch what’s going on. Being transported in a backpack high on their human’s shoulders, gives the cat a feeling of safety.
Contrast this with a traditional cat carrier that swings around at human knee-level. This places the cat nose-to-nose with any passing inquisitive dog, which is hugely stressful for the cat. And with a common reason for carrier travel being to visit the vet, the chances of this meeting with a dog are high.
Another bug-bear of the traditional cat carrier is the bumpy ride. A cat inside a regular carrier gets swung and bumped around as their owner struggles to negotiate doorways and the like.
With a cat backpack, this isn’t a problem. The weight is distributed over the human’s shoulders, meaning the cat can relax and enjoy a reassuringly smooth ride to arrive without the ruffled fur.
Good/bad? In this case, good.
Easy Clean Carriers
Many of the pod-type cat backpacks are made from plastics. This makes them easy to wipe clean (or even disinfect for the nervous traveler!) This is a vast improvement on wicker, which is all but impossible to get hygienically clean.
We all know how cats like hiding in cardboard boxes. A cat backpack provides a similar snuggly sanctuary. When the cat is happy to go inside of their own free will, this makes for a contented traveler.
Also most cat backpacks are designed to open wide, making it easier to put the cat in and take out at their destination.
Pawtential Backpack Problems
A cat backpack may sound a problem solver for some feline passengers, but this isn’t the case for all cats. Here’s why.
No Rest Room
A truly relaxed cat likes to lie down or curl up.
Think about the shape of a cat backpack. They are designed to be carried on a human back and are therefore taller than they are wide or deep. This means an average-sized cat fits inside best when they sit up.
Sitting up to look out is fine, so far as this goes. But on a long trip, a chilled cat will want to lie down and snooze, which isn’t easy to do in a cat backpack. On long trips, the cat may not be comfortable.
Good/bad? In this instance, not so good
Hot and Stuffy
Cat backpacks made from pressed plastic tend to trap the heat. Does this pose a health risk?
Bear in mind that the cat radiates heat whilst sitting inside. Plastic is an insulator, meaning it keeps heat in, so on a warm day the cat could quickly become very uncomfortable inside a non-mesh, plastic cat backpack.
Cats don’t sweat, so breeze or moving air helps them keep cool. But for some cat backpack designs, the ventilation holes leave a lot to be desired. A combination of heat and stuffiness could make for a heat-stressed kitty, which is definitely something to avoid.
Plastic is smooth and therefore slippery. A cat sitting on the bare plastic is going to slip and slide around. Placing a blanket in the bottom doesn’t necessarily solve the problem since with the cat’s weight on top, it may also move around. This could prove distressing for the older cat with sore joints. Rattling around like a sock in a tumble-dryer will hurt already painful arthritic hips and elbows, causing unnecessary distress and potential health risk.
Then add in the nervous traveler prone to fecal or urinary accidents, and things are bound to get messy! Say no more.
A cat backpack is best suited to a small to medium-sized cat. Our bigger boned or weighty fur-friends will be cramped and uncomfortable.
No Fast Food
The rucksack design makes it difficult for a cat on the move about, or drink or snack. Put a water bowl in a cat backpack and kitty will end up wet. Likewise, any snacks will be sat on before they have a chance to get eaten.
The take-home message for a cat backpack is to plan ahead and weigh up the good/bad points for your individual cat. A cat backpack is best suited to light, smaller cats going on short trips in cool weather. Also, it’s essential to be prepared to spend time getting kitty used to their new space capsule, rather than shoving her straight inside. Force a cat inside an unfamiliar plastic tub and they’re likely to panic.
And keep the trips short. A cat backpack doesn’t allow the passenger to rest properly, eat, drink, or relieve themselves. So, they are should be kept for short trips or journeys such as to the vet or cattery, and definitely not used for air travel or long road trips.
Cat backpacks: Cute gimmick or great idea? Perhaps a bit of both, so choose wisely and make sure the carrier matches all the welfare needs of your cat in transit so that it doesn’t pose a health risk to your fur-friend.