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Most cats aren’t great traveling buddies, and they rarely appreciate a car ride to the vet.
Since cats are also amazing escape artists, transporting them can be tricky, and if you want to make sure they’re safe then you need to look for the right carrier.
Usually, the best and safest carriers are made of hard plastic, or reinforced soft materials that can withstand sharp claws, and teeth.
Most of us rarely get to use these carriers, since most vet check-ups happen once or twice a year.
This would make some cat parents consider getting a disposable carrier instead, to possibly save the money and the space a normal carrier would cost and take up.
But are disposable cardboard cat carriers actually the best option, and can cardboard cat carriers offer the same safety?
More so, if you don’t have a regular carrier at your disposal can a cardboard cat carrier be used as an alternative for emergencies?
Let’s explore all these questions and look at the possible pros and cons our top cardboard cat carrier can offer you!
Our Top Cardboard Cat Carrier: Oasis Pet Carrier
While cardboard carriers can’t compete with hard and soft carriers, they can still be useful under certain circumstances.
For this reason, we chose the Oasis Pet Carrier brand that produces sturdy disposable carriers that can be used by shelters, or cat parents that don’t want to invest in a hard carrier while their cat is still a kitten.
After all, if you take a closer look at the carrier’s dimensions it’s clear that his cardboard carrier works best for kittens and small cats.
Even an average cat with 9.5 inches in height and 18 inches in length will barely feel comfortable in the Oasis carrier that’s 17.5 long and 12.25-15 inches tall.
The carrier itself offers plenty of ventilation through the air holes and the joints are glued together to keep it from falling apart. Which makes it the safest way to transport kittens and cats that you’ve found on the street, or during emergency evacuations.
The cardboard isn’t lined so if it gets wet it will get soggy and tear from a cat’s weight. So, you’ll need to make sure you line the bottom and sides with waterproof material.
What I Love About It: For a cardboard carrier it does the job and it can work great if you want it for limited use.
What I Wish It Had: This carrier is definitely not made for mature or large cats.
Are Cardboard Cat Carriers Safe?
Overall cardboard isn’t the most durable material and that’s why cardboard carriers are disposable.
Some shelters will offer a cardboard carrier to new parents so they can safely transport their new kitten or cat. But they aren’t reusable, and they can only be used to take your cat from one point to another that one time.
But what makes them unsafe? I think before we put our cats into the equation we need to take a closer look at the cardboard carrier itself.
These carriers are not airline approved and they are definitely unsuitable for long travels because they don’t have enough room for food or water.
Unlike mainstream carriers, cardboard carriers don’t have any safety features. There are no safety loops that you can use to attach the carrier to the car seat so it doesn’t move or fall over while you’re driving.
It’s also difficult to move a cardboard carrier because you can’t rely on the handle that could rip under the weight of your cat.
Now if you put your cat into an unreliable cardboard carrier then you’ll start noticing even more things that could go wrong.
Cats have sharp claws and teeth, and they can easily chew their way through the cardboard. The airway holes are actually the Achilles heel when it comes to their claws unless we’re talking about moving a kitten.
If you have an anxious kitty that hates traveling, they might soil themselves on the way to the vet or on the way back. Not only is it impossible to clean a cardboard carrier, but if this happens while you’re driving then you’ll have a loose and scared cat in the car that might distract you and cause an accident.
For cats that are much larger a cardboard box is definitely not a safe option because it can easily break apart under their weight. They could escape when you’re out in the street, in which case they will most likely fall out of the carrier and run away.
When Should You Use A Cardboard Cat Carrier?
While we definitely need to keep in mind that cardboard cat carriers are not the safest way to transport your cat, they can still be useful in certain situations.
If you work at a shelter, then cardboard boxes can be a really economical way to help new cat parents to take their cats back home.
For pet foster parents, having a twelve-pack of the Oasis cardboard carriers can be a great way to take kittens for veterinary appointments or to drive them to their new home.
Some people also live in areas where natural disasters like fire emergencies can be a common occurrence so having a few cardboard carriers can be useful if you need to quickly evacuate your cat or even stray animals in your area.
Similarly, if you’re taking care of stray cats in your neighborhood you can keep a pack of cardboard carriers at home in case you find a stray kitten or a cat that needs help. This way you won’t need to buy a carrier if you don’t have a cat or use your cat’s carrier for hygienic purposes.
This is something I’ve seen lots of people do in Greece, where we have many stray cats that need to be vaccinated and spayed/neutered.
Apart from emergencies, a cardboard carrier can actually be a good alternative for new cat parents that have adopted a kitten and they haven’t decided which carrier to buy for their fluffy overlord.
For anxious cats, a cardboard carrier could be a short-term solution since it offers limited visibility, and your cat will feel like they’re sitting inside a box, but it should be replaced with a proper carrier as soon as possible.
What Kind Of Cat Carriers Should You Use Instead?
If you’re looking to purchase a carrier for your new feline friend, you’ll soon realize that there are a lot of things you need to consider, like the size of the carrier, the portability, whether a top-loading option is for you, and so forth.
But since we’re talking about cardboard carriers, I want to focus on the best carrier material.
Hard Plastic Carriers
Hard carriers must be the most popular choice when it comes to carriers, and it makes complete sense since they are durable, and they will keep your kitty safe no matter how active and rebellious they are.
Aside from cat parents Dr. Marty Becker, DVM, also states that most veterinarians prefer hard-sided carriers, especially those that have a top opening and that can be latched securely into place.
This is because with a top-loading carrier you can examine a cat without necessarily removing them out of the carrier, and they also make it super easy to put the kitty back inside.
Unlike cardboard carriers, hard carriers won’t suffer if your kitty has a toilet accident during transportation, and high-quality plastic won’t absorb any bad smells.
Not only is it easy to clean them, but they’re 100% more sturdy since they can withstand your cat’s claws.
Of course, to make a hard plastic carrier cozier, especially during the winter you’ll need to add some padding, using their favorite towel, just like you would with a cardboard carrier.
I think the only actual downside to a hard carrier is the fact that you can’t store them away easily. In this case, you can use it as a bed, which in turn will reduce your cat’s carrier stress.
While I do love plastic carriers, I must admit that I’m a big fan of soft carriers, but admittedly they’re not suitable for every cat.
When it comes to soft carriers your kitty might be smart enough to get through the zipper enclosure, as stated by the ASPCA. This is especially true if your cat hates traveling and they’re restless throughout the whole journey.
Of course, soft carriers are not as flimsy as cardboard carriers, and over the last years, manufacturers have improved soft carriers by reinforcing them with locking zippers and steel support.
This carrier is also airline approved and unlike hard carriers, most soft carriers make traveling especially air travel more comfortable for cats and they can easily fit under the seat in the cabin.
If you take a look at our list of best cat carriers for car travel you’ll also notice how much more versatile soft carriers are when it comes to size, and additional features like blinds for more privacy, pockets for documents and they are a lightweight alternative that’s easy to store in small spaces when they’re not being used.
Of course, just like the cardboard carriers, soft carriers are not easy to clean, they can absorb bad smells and the material can get damaged over time and your cat may find a way to push themselves off the carrier.
This doesn’t mean that soft carriers are like cardboard carriers, and they’re definitely a much better alternative that will keep your kitty safe.
Can I Use A Cardboard Box As A Cat Carrier?
Just like a cardboard cat carrier isn’t the safest way to transport your cat, cardboard boxes, shoeboxes, and DIY carriers are even more so.
Unless it’s your last resort during an emergency, using cardboard boxes, is an accident waiting to happen.
Most cardboard cat carriers, use cardboard that can handle the weight of an average cat. They’re usually reinforced with glue, and they have airways that offer proper ventilation.
However, a regular cardboard box doesn’t have proper closure, and your cat could easily escape. The cardboard might also be flimsy and your cat won’t have any issues clawing their way out of it.
Similarly, laundry baskets, pillowcases, sports bags, and baby carriers are not suitable methods of transportation.
Your cat could suffocate, or simply escape these makeshift carriers and even if they don’t the whole traveling experience will be far more stressful which can affect your cat’s mental state in the long run.
You don’t need carrier alternatives to travel with your cat, but I also understand that an emergency could occur, or your current carrier has been suddenly damaged.
If that’s the case, make sure the cardboard box has breathing holes on the top and the sides. You should also line the bottom with a plastic bag and blanket to protect it from getting wet, in case your cat has an accident.
As cat parents we need to remember that at the end of the day, it’s best to keep cardboard boxes as cat entertainment centers, as this kitty can confidently show you:
Under certain circumstances, you, your vet, or the shelter might offer you a cardboard carrier.
I also understand that the process of selecting the perfect carrier might take some time. An online order can take a few days, weeks, or even a month to arrive.
In this case, a cardboard cat carrier could also be used instead, but it shouldn’t be something permanent.
After all, we want to make our cat’s traveling experience as safe and calm as possible!
Have you ever used a cardboard cat carrier and how long did it take you to replace it with a proper carrier?