Why You Need to Have a Cat Carrier

Here's why your homestead absolutely must have a cat carrier.

Do you have a cat carrier stuffed in a closet somewhere? Or is it something you've never really thought about?

Take my word for it, if you have a cat you need a cat carrier.

Maybe even if you don't have a cat. We'll get to that. And at the end of this post I'll give you a couple of inexpensive ideas too.

This post contains affiliate links; if you click on a link and make a purchase I might make a small commission but it doesn't affect the price you pay. Read my disclosure here.

Barn Cats

Here's why your homestead needs a pet carrier, even if you don't have a cat.

But you don't have a housecat, you say. You have barn cats.

I love my barn cats! They are worth their weight in gold for all the gophers, mice, baby rabbits and other rodents they eradicate, not to mention the baby snakes they've killed on occasion.

But barn cats do need to go to the vet occasionally, even if you give annual shots yourself. In the past fifteen years, we've had three occasions that stick out in my mind:

  • One of my barn cats had a large abscess on his neck that needed attention.
  • A young female cat had a nasty eye problem. It took me a few days to catch her and get her to the clinic, and the vet had to remove her eye.
  • Rosie, one of our very first barn cats, ran into a saw blade. Ugh, yes, it was as horrible as it sounds. It was an emergency trip - one of those where you call the vet when you're already on the road with the cat and are praying he can save her. Thankfully, he did.

You may or may not know that I work part-time at a veterinary clinic. Some cats come through the front door in carriers. Others are injured and might be in a cardboard box or in a towel-lined laundry basket. Some arrive wearing a collar and leash, or wrapped in a towel in the owner's arms.

Those last two options aren't recommended, by the way. Last week a woman carried her cat into the clinic wrapped in a towel. When he panicked, I had to pull his deeply-embedded claws out of his owner's arm while she cried from the pain. Just sayin'.

Cats and Cars

In fact, the cat's safety is only one of the reasons you need a cat carrier, the other is your safety. 

Apart from getting the cat from the car into your destination safely, consider the journey in the car. Most cats don't enjoy going for a drive. I've known a few who have taken refuge under the driver's feet - a dangerous place indeed. Not only is a loose cat a distraction, she could also cause an accident by interfering with the driver.

A cat-breeding friend of mine came to visit me years ago with her newest kitten. She left him in the car with the windows slightly open. When she was ready to leave, the kitten was nowhere to be seen.

We literally tore the car apart, and we finally found him inside the engine. He'd gone up under the dashboard and into the engine compartment.

He would have been much safer in a carrier, either left inside the car with the windows open or even better, brought inside my house while we visited.

Another friend took her cat to be spayed, and when she opened the car door back at home, the cat escaped and ran into the road, right in front of a car. Things happen, my friend. I prefer to be extra careful.

Why your homestead needs a cat carrier!


In my adult life, I've moved overseas three times with a cat in tow. We've moved many other times from state to state with at least one cat in the car.

You'll need a cat carrier or crate for each cat if you are moving from one home to another. Many hotels will allow cats but might require that they be kept in a crate while in the room.

Moving is traumatic for cats, who love routine and familiar surroundings. When you arrive in your new home, keep your cat in her carrier while the furniture is brought indoors.

Airlines require carriers that meet certain standards for pets that travel by air - such as our overseas moves. Check with your airline before the dates of your travel for their requirements.

If You Have to Evacuate

Recently in my quest to be more organized and better prepared for emergencies, I realized that my big fat housecat would never again fit in the little cat carrier in the mudroom - plus we had two cats and just that one carrier. So I acquired two larger carriers and gave the small one to our daughter who has a smaller cat.

Then we had a brush fire down the road. I grabbed the essentials and we were ready to evacuate in just a few minutes... but I could only find one of the cat carriers... and now we have three cats.

So I ran with PLAN B: all three cats in a dog crate in the back of the pickup. Thankfully I had that extra dog crate and a pickup! If your plan is to put all of your cats in a dog crate, that's a great plan. Just keep that crate empty, handy and ready to use - and make sure it will fit inside your vehicle.

While not all emergency shelters will accept pets, the ones that do will require that your pet be inside a carrier.

Because you never know... hurricanes and floods and fires happen.

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Have Your Carrier Ready to Go

In an emergency, whether it's an evacuation scenario or an injury, your carrier should be in an easy-to-grab location and should be empty. Don't store other items inside of it; sometimes seconds count.

One exception: I keep an old, clean towel inside the carrier so I don't need to search for one in a hurry. When we come home from our excursion, the towel is washed, folded and put back inside the carrier.

Don't take your carrier apart for storage.

So You Don't Have a Cat

All right, maybe you don't need a carrier.

But if you're a homesteader or have other pets, a cat carrier will easily and safely hold a rabbit, chicken, or other small animal or pet. It can serve as a "sick pen" when you need to separate a rabbit or chicken from your other animals.

Need to take your bird to the vet? Or maybe you found an injured bird outdoors? A carrier would sure be handy.

If you've ever visited a friend and come home with a chicken or a barn kitten... well, a carrier would have been nice, right?

Small pet carriers such as those for cats are also handy to transport a puppy or small dog.

Why your homestead needs a cat carrier.

Carrier Basics

Size - A carrier should be large enough that the cat or other animal can stand up inside and turn around easily. There should be ventilation openings on all four sides. Some carriers will have a top opening as well as the door on the end, and others will include a food dish and water dish that attach to the door.

Durability - Chose a high-quality carrier with hard plastic sides for the best experience for your cat. A wire-sided crate won't be your cat's favorite place; cats prefer to hide away in small, dark places. (Throwing a blanket over a wire crate will make your cat more comfortable though, if that's all you have.)

A plastic carrier will have a wire door with a latch. Soft-sided carriers, which might be ideal for some cats, will use a zipper to hold the opening shut. Make sure this zipper is adequate for the job, and pass over a carrier that uses snaps or velcro instead. Cats are determined and once they get a paw through an opening, the game is over.

Handle - The weakest point in a carrier is, in my opinion, the handle. If you have a heavy cat (like my orange "Garfield" lookalike), be sure the carrier is rated for the weight of your cat and that the handle will support your cat's weight.

How is your carrier held together? Some carriers use simple screws to hold the two halves together, others have special plastic knobs that work very well but might be hard to replace if lost. Choose whichever will hold the two carrier halves together most securely; a missing screw can be replaced with a cable tie in a pinch.

Cost-Saving and Temporary Ideas

I know carriers can be expensive if your budget is already stretched. There are a few ways to save money though. Here are a few cost-saving ideas, although I recommend that these alternatives be temporary:

If you adopt a cat from a rescue or shelter, you might be given a special box with handles to use to take your kitty home. Don't throw away the box; keep it until you can get a real carrier. And, of course, it must be kept dry. Some cats can bite, tear and claw their way out of a cardboard box, so plan to replace yours with a dedicated carrier as soon as you can.

A cardboard box is better than nothing. Before you need to transport your cat, find a sturdy box that is appropriately-sized. Cut some small holes in all four sides for ventilation. Keep it in an easy-to-access place. (Again, some cats can claw their way out of a box, so save up for a carrier!)

Two laundry baskets, with one upside-down on top of the other, make a pretty secure carrier for a small animal in a pinch. Use zip ties (cable ties) to keep the baskets together, and take a few extra zip ties with you to the vet's office so you can reattach the baskets together for the trip home.

Keep an eye out for animal carriers at yard sales, thrift stores and flea markets. I see them for sale quite often.

This post and the images below contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure here.

If you are a cat owner, rabbit owner or chicken keeper, you need a cat carrier. Here's what I recommend:

  1. Buy the best quality pet carrier you can afford.
  2. Keep your cat carrier ready-to-use, in an easily-accessible place such as a closet shelf.
  3. Don't store other items inside the carrier.
  4. Use the carrier anytime you transport your pet outside your home or off your homestead.

Why you must have a pet carrier on your homestead, even if the only cat you have is a barn cat.

Why your homestead needs a cat carrier.

If you have a cat, you need to have a cat carrier. Maybe even if you don't have a cat...


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  1. What a great idea to keep a carrier on hand for small animals. We have two dog kennels, but they are big and bulky. It would be better to have a small carrier for some of the times we took a chicken off of somebody else's hands!

  2. I didn't realise you also worked at a vet clinic, Kathi! I totally agree, if you have a cat, or are in contact with cats, you need a cat carrier! We had two cat boys for 18 years and although it was a challenge to get them in the cat carriers, I was so grateful for them! Also, I'm so glad you and your vet saved the poor barn cat who had the saw accident! Thank you for sharing with the Hearth and Soul Link Party. Hope to see you again this week!


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