Gray cat sitting in a cat backpack

Do cats like cat backpacks?

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Traveling with cats really opens your eyes to the diverse range of cat carriers available to buy.

We used to think that the only choice we had was between the more traditional hard or soft carriers: ones that looked like a box with a handle on the top.

But there are a lot of choices out there now and something for every cat and owner. 

Backpacks for carrying cats weren’t something we’d considered for our cat until we started reading more about them.  We’ve spoken to a few people who use them to take their pets hiking and RVing but we think they could also be useful for more mundane trips, too, like to the vet.

We were interested in asking do cats like cat backpacks? Or is it just another fad?

Are cat backpacks good for cats?

Cat backpack carriers are no better or worse than any other carrier you’ll see advertised. As always, it largely depends on the cat’s personality, the owner’s needs, and what the carrier is being used for.

Fabric cat backpacks won’t be suitable for all cats. We’d be nervous about putting an aggressive or difficult cat into a carrier  like that as teeth and claws can make light work of thin material. If your cat hates being put into a carrier, then a cat carrying backpack may not be the best option.

We think cat backpacks are good for calmer cats with a natural curiosity.  They’ll be able to see more things sitting higher up in a backpack than being in a carrier at the end of a handle. This can be a great option for indoor cats or cats recovering from an operation or illness. Owners who like to take their pets with them when they travel may find a cat carrying backpack useful. The pet might appreciate traveling with the family more than being left behind alone in the house or left at a boarding cattery.  There is an obvious element of risk in taking your cat out of their territory.  For example, if they were to get lost would they find their way home again?

Some cats won’t like being in a backpack at all.  They may be frightened of the things they’re seeing outside the window, and it’s far easier to cover over a cat carrier when traveling than it is to put a blanket or towel over a backpack.  Backpacks tend to have a smaller internal space for lying down, too.  This won’t bother some cats but it may be uncomfortable for others.  It means you have less space for treats, toys and bedding. Again, it’s not so much a criticism of cat backpacks but it does depend on how your pet responds to carriers and traveling.

One thing we will add is that when asking are cat backpacks good for cats? It’s also worth asking whether they’re good for the owners, too.  Traditional carriers can be heavy to carry and can put a lot of pressure on the wrists and shoulders. Backpacks may be more suitable for owners who prefer carrying the weight more evenly.  It’s also ideal for hands-free traveling which is not possible with other hard and soft cat carriers

Are cat backpacks safe?

Cat backpack carriers are as safe as any other carrier providing you’ve done your due diligence in your research.  There are a few things to consider before purchasing:

Our cat can be a little Houdini so it’s important to pick one that’s durable and secure (as you would with any other carrier).

One tip we’d give is to buy a cat harness or leash and attach that to the loop inside (most backpacks should have this).  It just means if the top comes open or they rip through the fabric they’re still attached to the carrier.

Cat backpacks will have ventilation but it’s worth seeing how that’s achieved.  Your cat must be able to breathe freely and safely inside especially if you have a snub-nosed breed.

Most cat carrying backpacks we’ve seen have a top-entry opening.  This helps reduce the risk of escape but top-opening carriers can also be useful for veterinarian visits or for cats who are difficult to put inside.

Some people use backpacks as a cat carrier for walks or hiking. This can be a great way to share the great outdoors with your pet but it can also lead to disaster.  Cats are territorial animals and they don’t always react well to being taken from their familiar space to somewhere new.  Some cats seem fine with this but it’s worth thinking about it from your cats POV before throwing them into a backpack and hitting the road. You should also think about how you’d feel if during a walk or hike your cat got out and ran off.  Most cats won’t travel very far when they’re lost at home but if you’re not at home and the environment is strange and unfamiliar – would they easily be able to find you again?

Cat backpacks aren’t unsafe but they tend to be used by people who want to travel with their cats.  Sometimes that’s a great idea and sometimes it’s not.  Only you know your cat well enough to decide which is best for you and them. 

Are cat backpacks cruel?

Cat backpacks aren’t cruel so long as the cat enjoys being inside one.

You might have to train your pet to be comfortable sitting in one but that’s true of all carriers. Cat backpacks are cruel, however, if you continue to force your cat into one when they’re obviously very distressed by it.

Cat backpacks aren’t designed to be used for prolonged periods. As with any carrier, it’s important to let your cat use the litter tray when they need to and to have sufficient food and water breaks.  This is where a leash or harness can come in useful if you’re hiking a trail.

Do cats prefer hard or soft carriers?

It depends on your cat and its personality.  We always recommend plastic or hard carriers for difficult cats.  Soft cat carriers can be more comfortable for cats who don’t mind getting inside one. 

Whichever carrier you choose you can personalize to your cat’s needs and comfort and give them a more pleasant experience when traveling: adding blankets or bedding, favorite toys, snacks, and items that smell of you or them. If you have a Maine Coon or a bigger cat, you may find some soft carriers sag in the middle. Plastic carriers can be slippery underneath a cat’s paws so it’s always worth setting them up correctly with a towel or fleece. One way to make sure you’re choosing the right pet carrier – cat backpack or otherwise – is to make sure you measure your cat and then compare the numbers to the manufacturer’s dimensions. If you’ve got a large cat, it’s also a good idea to weigh the pet, too, as some carriers have a maximum weight limit. 

How do I get my cat used to backpacking?

The first thing is to get your cat used to its backpack. This means leaving it out in the house for the cat to explore on its own terms and get used to. Your cat will want to sniff it if nothing else. You might put some treats or a toy inside.  Once the cat is comfortable try putting him or her inside the carrier and then letting them jump out when they’re ready.  If the backpack flattens down you could just let them sit on the base with the sides down before trying anything else.  If your cat is a little wary, you could spray cat calming spray inside.  Whilst it doesn’t work with every cat, many cat owners say it’s helped reduce anxiety in their pets.

You can then build up to putting them inside and zipping the carrier up.  Your first journey should be relatively short and followed by lots of positive encouragement and treats. You want the cat to associate getting into the backpack with happy memories so don’t only use the carrier for trips that may be unpleasant for your pet – to the veterinarian or boarding cattery, for example. 

Can you put a cat in a backpack?

You could put a cat in a backpack but you’d need to customize it for them so that they were comfortable and that they had enough ventilation to breathe, but we’d advise buying a rucksack that’s been designed specifically to carry cats.  They’re affordable and safe for your pet to use. 

Can you take a cat on a hike?

Owners buy cat backpacks for hiking and traveling.  It seems popular with people who have RVs and who may be traveling state-to-state for an extended period and don’t want to leave their cat behind.  You can take your cat on a hike but you should consider the cat first and foremost: not all felines will enjoy being out in unfamiliar territory. You should consider predators and how much additional work it could be for you: carrying the pet on your back, watching the trail for dangers, and ensuring that the cat’s needs are being met. There are several pros and cons of walking a cat to consider before you take your feline out with you on a leash, harness or in a backpack. 

If you’d like to take your cat outside but don’t want to carry it on your shoulders, you might like to consider using a stroller.  You can buy a cat stroller with a detachable carrier or double cat strollers if you have more than one pet to take with you.  Carrying a cat in a backpack is just one option you have for traveling with your cat.  It isn’t for every feline and it’s not for every owner, so we’d encourage everyone to have a good think about what’s best for everyone before heading out.

Do cats like backpacks?  Some felines love their backpack whether it’s for long walks or just for short trips, they’re happy with their window on the world and a room with a view.  Other cats will hate them. They’ll hate the jostling, the different scenery, and the small space.  Some cats can be convinced into loving their backpack and others never will.

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Last update on 2024-04-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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