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Can You Have Two Cats In One Carrier When Traveling?

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Just like many cat parents out there I have not one but two wonderful kitties in my life, and while we happily coexist with each other our pack does face certain difficulties when it comes to traveling.

For single cat owners transporting multiple cats can be quite tricky and when that time comes I’m sure we’ve all have wondered:

Can you have two cats in one carrier when traveling?

While two kittens could travel together, adult cats should be kept in separate carriers. Some cats could share a large carrier during car travel, but it might lead to feline aggression, and most airlines won’t allow multiple cats flying in one carrier.

If you want to explore the ways you can travel with multiple cats, and why sharing one carrier isn’t for everyone then keep on reading!

Can You Transport Two Cats In One Carrier?

It’s no secret that our kitties are territorial animals in nature. These territorial behaviors come from a place of insecurity, and that’s why Dr. Cathy Lund calls them “control freaks.”

Most cats love predictability and a routine, and even the smallest changes, like changing the location of their litter box, can be enough to stress them out.

So, you can imagine that traveling can also have the same stressful effect, and transporting two cats often means that there’s going to be double the stress, because not only do they lose control of their routine but they also lose control of their territory.

Cats also like to claim things and they rarely love to share, take for example their cat trees and litter boxes. To keep them happy we usually have to have two sets of those things, otherwise, we risk triggering their competitiveness.

Similarly, sharing one carrier can bring out aggressive behaviors, and they can lash out at each other. Furthermore, the stress of moving, let alone being in a small space together, makes it easy to redirect their aggression onto each other. 

For some cats, this aggressive reaction can also happen because they need to reclaim part of this new territory, which to be honest is too restricting for two grown cats to share.

Aside from aggression caused by fear, or territorial competition, if one of your kitties is sick or has a medical condition, cats with health issues might show signs of aggression.

Jessica Vogelsang, DVM, states that “pain is the most sudden medical cause for sudden aggression, particularly in older cats or those who have always had a calm temperament.”

It’s clear that sharing one carrier between two cats is not always the safest option, partly because of the carrier itself.

You’ll need to find a carrier that is designed to hold the weight of two cats, otherwise, the handle, the zipper locks, or plastic snaps won’t be able to hold and will break under the pressure.

Two fighting cats are also a danger to each other, but also to the carrier. With a soft carrier they might tear the fabric, while in a hard carrier their claws might get stuck in the plastic, or the metal bars of the doors.

Of course, while it’s best that each kitty travels alone, not all traveling conditions are the same, so let’s take a closer look at the two most common means of transportation and whether you can have two cats in one carrier.

Can You Have Two Cats In One Carrier When Traveling By Car?

Most cat parents will tell you that when it comes to their feline companions there are no simple answers. All Cats are individuals and can react in unexpected ways especially in stressful situations like traveling by car.

But even during car rides things can vary depending on the kind of trip you and your two cats are taking so let’s take a closer look if sharing a carrier is possible.

Vet Visit

My cats rarely get the opportunity to travel, unless it’s a short trip to the vet, and even on those rare occasions, I make sure to keep both of them in separate carriers.

In my opinion, carrying two medium-sized carriers or loading each carrier one by one is far more comfortable. Since my cats will be getting an individual checkup, taking one cat out of their own carrier while the other second is securely locked is also more convenient for me, the cats, and of course their vet.

My oldest kitty is also quite shy, and he has a top-loading carrier, so the vet doesn’t always have to take him out. This arrangement would not have been possible if they were sharing the same carrier.

I understand that bonded cats can soothe each other during the ride to the vet’s office, but they might end up lashing out at each other on the way back home.

And if your cats have shown signs of aggression when traveling in the same carrier then on the next trip, they might repeat the same behavior, the aggression could escalate, or they’ll be reluctant to travel.

While I’m sure your vet will also be happier to handle each kitty individually, they might make an exception for kittens or a mother and her kittens. But I still think the best thing you can do is actually give them a call to see what they’d prefer.

If the short trip isn’t a vet visit, then keeping your cats in one carrier might be more feasible, but a short trip could be delayed if your cats begin to fight.

You might have to stop and see if calming them down is possible, or you’ll have to choose whether to go back home or continue the short trip but risk your cat’s long-term relationship.

Long-Distance Travel

Now while the vet visits and the occasional short trips pose their own set of difficulties if you want to transport both of your cats in one carrier, long-distance travel is quite different.

Most cats can handle staying in their own carrier for a long period of time if their needs are met. But to transport two cats together you’ll need a much larger carrier or crate regardless of the longevity of the trip.

Both of your cats should have enough space to move around, stretch and lay down. So, during a longer trip, they won’t feel completely confined.

Litter-mates and cats that have been raised together and cats that have been conditioned to enjoy or tolerate peacefully traveling could possibly travel together.

But the issue with long trips, even with a larger carrier, is that your cats might have more opportunities to fight each other, or the frustration will build up with time resulting in one of them attacking the other.

Long-distance travel can also lead to motion sickness and your kitty could vomit or have a litter box accident which can also lead to further frustration and then fighting. But even with no fighting, cleaning two cats will be far more difficult.

Just like you shouldn’t let your cats loose in your car, letting them share one carrier will increase the chance of your kitties misbehaving, and most importantly they can be distracting for you as a driver.

I get anxious when I hear my cats swatting or hissing at each other when we’re home, so I can’t imagine my stress levels if that happened in the car.

You’ll have to take multiple breaks to calm the two cats, and if the fighting is intense, you’ll have to separate them.

This means that one cat will have to be loose in the car, something that is very dangerous and, in some places, even illegal.

Can You Put Two Cats In One Carrier When Traveling By Air?

The biggest perk of traveling by car with your cats is flexibility. You can take breaks whenever you and your cats need it for food, water, and bathroom time.

You can also place the carrier in a way that suits your cats and keeps them safe. And while keeping two cats in one carrier is not the best choice, doing it inside a car could work.

With airplanes on the other hand you don’t have the same flexibility and you need to follow certain regulations.

Each airline company has clear guidelines on whether pets can travel in the same carrier while they’re on the plane.

The IAT LAR (Live Animal Regulations) that represents 83% of total air traffic states that “no more than two live puppies or kittens, 8 weeks to 6 months of age, that are of comparable size and weighing 20 lb. (9 kg) or less each, may be transported in the same primary enclosure via air carrier.”

More so, your cat’s carrier has to be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, and that is impossible to happen with a carrier that can fit two grown cats.

Otherwise, your cats will have to travel in the cargo of the plane, which is something you don’t want to do. Not only is it dangerous but you also won’t be able to regulate their behavior and a possible fight.

Different airlines might have different rules, the American Airline guidelines state that “carry-on pets are limited to cats and dogs that meet the size, age, and destination requirements.”

That’s why my advice is to call the airline you’re planning to fly with and discuss these regulations before even purchasing the tickets.

You will most likely have to reconsider your initial plan to keep both your cats in one carrier, but you might also need to see if the individual carriers you’re planning on buying fit the airplane regulations.

Jackson Galaxy, the famous cat expert has plenty of useful tips for flying with your kitty that you can check in this video:

How To Choose A Carrier For Two Cats?

The best and safest option when traveling with two cats is to keep them in two separate carriers.

Each cat processes traveling differently, some turn into a tiny furball and stay quiet until you reach your destination, while others start pacing and crying.

There are also plenty of in-between reactions, and when two cats are together in this stressful environment they can act out, and even hurt each other.

If of course you do feel confident about your cats’ relationship, or at least you want to try a double carrier before traveling there are a few things to consider.

First, you need to measure your cats. According to ASPCA, a cat carrier should be a comfortable space for your kitty to be able to stand, sit, lie and turn around. This means that both your cats should have this kind of mobility while being in the same carrier.

You’ll also need to look for a carrier that’s strong enough to hold both cats. Your own strength should also be considered since carrying one large carrier with two cats is no easy task, especially if you have back problems.

Ventilation is also important since both cats will be sharing the same air supply. There should also be enough space for their food and water bowls, as well as a litter box.

Finally, you’ll have to make sure the carrier can be safely placed and secured in your car, and if you’re flying you’ll need to make sure the airline company approves of having two cats in one carrier, and a carrier of that size.

If you’re willing to look for a carrier that encompasses all these characteristics and you want to test your cats’ willingness to travel together without necessarily investing in one large carrier that you might not end up using then there’s another option.

The One For Pets Portable 2-in1 Carrier that is available on Amazon is the perfect middle ground!

This is a sturdy soft carrier, that can be used in three different ways:

  1. As two single carriers for each of your cats.
  2. As two carriers attached two each other with a divider in the middle.
  3. As one single carrier for both cats to share.

During your first test drives, you can keep the two carriers attached to each other but with the divide. Once you feel that your cats are relaxed, there’s no hissing or agitated mewing you could open the divide and let them roam.

If you hear any hissing or fighting you can always put the divider back up and enjoy the rest of your drive.

How To Travel Long Distance With Multiple Cats By Car?

It’s not always easy to imagine traveling with our housecats as a stress-free adventure, but Tammy Hunter, DVM, reassures as by saying that “cats can be very lively travel companions if we take the time to create a positive experience for them.”

So, how do you create a positive experience for your cat, let alone two individual kitties?

Choosing A Carrier For Multiple Cats

First you need to pick the right carrier. If you want your cats to travel together, the One For Pets I mentioned above is a great pick, especially if you’ll find mid-travel that keeping your cats separate is best.

But even if you’re determined to look for different carrier options for car travel you still need to consider the size of your cats, and the additional space needed for their food and water bowls, and for a longer trip a litter box.

VCA hospitals also suggest that it’s best to “get the right size cat carrier. If your cat dreads going into the small confines of a carrier, consider getting an oversized, top-loading cat carrier so your cat doesn’t need to squeeze through a narrow door.”

Of course, their hunger, thirst, and bathroom breaks are a priority during long-distance travel, and not so much for short trips. So, the longevity of the trip is definitely something you need to keep in mind when it comes to the carrier and your cats’ comfort.

Carrier Training

Another crucial part of a happy trip is conditioning your cats to accept their carrier or carriers as a safe space.

One way of doing that is by using positive reinforcement and it should start way before your day of travel.

You can motivate your cats with treats and toys to enter their carriers but first, you need to make the carrier an appealing place.

I turned their carriers into beds, by placing soft blankets inside. Aside from being comfy beds where my cats can sleep they’re also a great hiding spot for when they need some alone time.

Once you feel that your cats aren’t afraid of their carrier, you can close the door with them inside and see how they react.

Use treats to calm them down and once you notice that they’re not hissing or mewing you can carry the carrier around the house.

The next step would be to take them to the car. You don’t have to drive, just secure them to the back seat so they get used to the process.

When you feel that your cats are relaxed enough inside your car you can take them for a few rides so they can get used to this part of the traveling experience

During these test drives, you’ll discover whether your cats can travel in the same carrier. If you notice them fighting, then you’ll know that keeping them separate is the best option.  

Finding the right traveling conditions will help your cats feel less stressed during the upcoming trip.

Make The Trip Comfortable

Cats love to hang out in cozy places so you need to make the carrier a comfy space by adding their favorite blankets and toys that they can snuggle with during the flight or ride.

I usually give them catnip-infused toys that they can rub against and forget about the fact that they’re away from home.

If you’re driving then make sure you take enough breaks to check on your cats, their need for water, a bathroom break, or your attention. This is especially important if your cats will stay in their carrier overnight.

As I already mentioned traveling by car offers certain perks, like choosing the right temperature and putting cat soothing music. It also makes it easy to keep an eye on your cats.

Closing Thoughts

Traveling with our feline companions is a tricky situation to navigate and figuring out what carriers work best is part of that.

Trying to fit two cats in one carrier can be uncomfortable, stressful, and simply dangerous.

Just like us, some cats can find comfort in each other’s company, while others take their stress and frustration onto others.

So, you need to be 100% sure that your cats can share a carrier, that they can handle each other’s company even on stressful days.

Now tell us do your cats share their carrier during your road trips or do you keep them in their separate safe spaces?