All cat carriers should have a large top opening. Here’s why.

Getting your cat into the carrier is a major obstacle to taking your cat to the vet. It’s interesting that a survey found that 50% of cat owners struggle to get their cat into a cat carrier when taking them to a veterinarian. That figure unsurprising but what is surprising is that the difficulty of getting a cat into a cat carrier is a major barrier to taking a cat to a veterinary clinic. People just don’t want to struggle with their cat to get him into a carrier. The thought of it puts them off. So, they put back that inevitable day when they have to get their cat to a veterinary clinic. To which you add the whole process which is as stressful for the cat owner as it is for their cat.

Top loading cat carriers are more effective
Top loading cat carriers are more effective. Image: MikeB

Cat carrier difficulties is one reason why (it may be the major reason surprisingly) cats are taken to vets less often than dogs. Although in the same poll run by ICC, 41% of the participants stated that their “cats did not get sick or injured” and therefore there was no need to take them to a vet. Money can be an issue as 16% said that they did not have enough money to pay for a veterinary visit. Perhaps people are unaware that their cat is sick. It is distinctly possible. Money issues should not be a barrier. If I was being tough, I’d say that if you can’t afford to have a cat you shouldn’t have one.

It is the difficulty of getting cats into carriers which should attract the attention of entrepreneurial people. Perhaps the carriers are often unsuited. A lot of cat carriers are quite small with an opening at one end rather than on the upper side. It is much harder to “stuff” a cat into a small opening on the side of a carrier than it is to place (drop) a cat through large opening at the top of the carrier. Perhaps a cat owner should have two cat carriers, one for air travel and another for the vet visit?

If I am correct then all carriers should have an opening at the top, and it should be large. That means that the carrier itself should be larger than the typical carrier. Or it could be designed to have a large opening but the carrier itself might be reasonably compact. This is all possible. Why aren’t the pet carrier manufacturers listening to the public?

It may be possible to significantly increase the health and welfare of domestic cats by simply manufacturing a carrier which overcomes the difficulty of getting a cat into it! Of course, the size of the orifice through which you place your cat is only one issue.

Another major problem is that cats know what a carrier is: it’s a device which takes them to an unpleasant experience. They avoid it like the plague. That’s why I suggested in an earlier post that use the ambush technique as I call it.

Method

You leave the “top opening” carrier behind a door in a spare room. 15 minutes before you drive your cat to the veterinarian you pick him up, open the door to the spare room and then quickly place him in the carrier. The whole exercise takes about five seconds. Your cat is ambushed. He has no time to wriggle free. He has no time to resist. This certainly works for me and I’ve used this technique for a long time. The key is to work quickly so you might want to practice it without your cat!

The carrier is placed about 4 feet inside the door so that when you open it, it is there right in front of you. There should be no difficulty in picking up your cat and carrying him to the closed door. However, he will realise as soon as the door is opened that the carrier is there in front of him but he will only have about three seconds to take action which is not long enough to fully comprehend what is going on.

In my opinion there are two major issues with respect to not getting cats to the vet and they are spelled out above. It just seems very odd to me that something as fundamental or as simple as this can have a big impact on domestic cat health.

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