A recent notice on pet vaccination clinics in Massachusetts included instructions for cat owners: bring cats only in hard-sided cat carriers. Don’t bring them in soft-sided or cardboard carriers.
This was an important note, and I’m glad they included it on their vaccinations notice. There are a number of reasons why your cat should be kept in his or her carrier until the veterinarian (or veterinarian assistant) takes the cat out, but the most important reason is your cat’s safety.
Cats can be skittish and difficult to hold on to in stressful environments, and a vet’s office or big open pet clinic is pretty stressful on a normal day. They’re surrounded by dogs of all sizes, other cats, and perhaps some unfamiliar animals like ferrets or birds. It’s often quite noisy.
A cat in this environment would like to do nothing more than hide and get away from the source of stress; a secure cat carrier is that hiding place. The stronger the sides, the more secure a cat usually feels.
Real protection is also afforded by a hard-sided cat carrier. If the carrier is dropped on the way to the clinic, if you’re involved in a car crash (a reason to also secure the carrier in place before driving), if a dog decides to attack through the carrier — a hard shell provides much better protection and greatly reduces the chance of your cat being injured.
So, keep the stylish, soft-sided cat carriers if you know your cat will be in a relatively safe place. They’re very lightweight and convenient on airplanes when you’re holding your pet on your lap, for example. But if you don’t have one already, invest in a durable, hard-sided version too, and use it for car trips and anytime your pet needs extra protection.