How to Safely Carry Your Cat in a Backpack: A Step-by-Step Guide 

 August 18, 2023

By  Keith Terrell

As you plunge off the precipice into the great unknown of cat parenting, you may find yourself in a labyrinth akin to Alice in Wonderland's journey. One such riddle from this puzzle is: how can you safely transport your feline friend in a backpack?

Carrying your cat in a backpack can be a great way to take them on outdoor adventures. To do this safely, it's important to choose a backpack that is specifically designed for cats and has proper ventilation, padding, and safety measures. Allow your cat to become familiar with the carrier before putting them in it and start with short trips so as not to overwhelm them. Never force them into it as this can cause distress and harm. Enough water, food, space to stretch out, and observing the cat’s behavior during the trip are important aspects for a successful cat transport.

Imagine being as daring as Bilbo Baggins setting out on an unexpected journey with a nervous Mr. Whiskers in tow? Consider this your trusty map through the winding paths and daunting mountain ranges. With our detailed guide on how to safely carry your cat in your backpack, the journey with your feline companion will be as smooth as elven silk.

So buckle up (and strap them in too): it’s time for an adventure!

Selecting the Right Backpack for Your Cat

When choosing a cat backpack, it's important that it meets both your needs and those of your feline companion. The market is full of backpacks designed specifically for cats, but not all are created equal. Here are some factors to consider:


It's important to choose a backpack that fits your cat’s size. If it's too big or too small, your pet may feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Make sure the product has size options – most models are suitable for different weight classes: small backpacks can hold up to 8 lbs while larger ones support up to 20lbs.


Ventilation is crucial when it comes to keeping your pet comfortable while traveling. Make sure there’s enough air passing through the bag so your pet won’t have breathing problems. Also look for “mesh” frames as they offer good ventilation and are suitable for warm weather conditions.


There should be adequate paddling so that your cat is comfortable in the bag without suffering shocks (as injuries from shocks can cause damage). In particular, backpacks made of soft materials such as fleece lining are a good choice if you are looking for a comfortable backpack.

Safety Features

Safety features are paramount when choosing a backpack, especially if your cat tends to wander around or try to get away. Backpacks with straps will keep your pet safe while also preventing them from falling or jumping out of the backpack.

Additional Bonuses

The The design of the bag should have added bonuses, such as front pockets where you can stash items such as water bottles and snacks to save time when you need to grab a drink on the go, straps that are suitable for leashing cats when they need to go potty, and more—so both you and your furry friend get everything you need in one bag!

Now that we've discussed the factors you should look for when choosing the right backpack, let's take a look at some additional features to keep in mind when shopping.

Features to Consider When Shopping

Buying a cat backpack isn't an easy decision—there are many different models on the market that cater to different needs—but there are important factors you should consider before making the final purchase. Below are some features to look for before buying:


Backpacks made of high-quality materials offer more comfort in the long run. Choose backpacks made of durable nylon or polyester, which can withstand wear and tear without losing their shape and functionality.


Since accidents can happen when traveling with pets, it's important that cat backpacks are machine washable or have a surface that can be easily cleaned. This feature also helps to eliminate odors on the surface caused by fur or spilled food, even after the trip is over.

Security Measures

Making sure your cat is secured during transport will make him feel safe and protected. Secure zips, adjustable straps and clip hooks go a long way to keeping them safe inside the backpack.


When you’re always on the go, portability is important. There are cat backpacks that can be easily folded and stored to save space. There are also backpacks with pockets that you can use for easy access to items on the go, so they don’t just serve as a carrier backpack.


Some backpacks are tailored to specific breeds to not only fit your cat comfortably but also to show off their unique style and appearance.

Now that we've discussed the key features of a cat backpack, it's time to learn how to make your cat feel comfortable in it.

Key Takeaway

When buying a cat backpack, it is important to consider factors such as the material, washability, safety features, portability, and breed-specific design of the backpack. These features can enhance your cat's comfort, safety, and unique style. A cat backpack that meets these criteria will ensure a pleasant and stress-free travel experience for both the cat and its owner.

Making Your Cat Comfortable in the Backpack

As cat owners, we all want our feline friends to be as comfortable as possible during trips. That's why it's important to make sure your kitty is comfortable inside their backpack. 

To help your cat feel secure during transport, put your cat’s favorite blanket or toy in the backpack before the trip. This way, they'll have a familiar scent with them that can provide comfort during stressful situations.

You should also make sure that the backpack is the right size for your cat. It shouldn't be too tight or too spacious as this can cause discomfort or anxiety.

Some pet owners assume that a tight fit will prevent their animals from moving around in the backpack, which will keep them safer during transport. However, this is not recommended as it can restrict your pet's movement and lead to serious injury or muscle strain.

Imagine you are wearing shoes that are too small. Tight shoes restrict your movement and cause pain and discomfort—the same goes for constricting backpacks.

Now that you've made sure you have the right size and are familiar with the items, let's look at how you can make your kitten as comfortable as possible by showing them how to get used to their carrier.

Familiarization and Adjustments

It is important to familiarize your cat with their backpack before you set off on a long trip. Here are some steps you should follow to make sure they're comfortable:

Start by placing the backpack in a place where your cat spends most of their time at home. Open all the zippered sides of the backpack so they can go in and out without feeling trapped.

Once they feel comfortable in the backpack, close the zippers gradually and let them spend some time inside. This will help your cat get used to feeling confined in the backpack and become familiar with their surroundings.

Some cat owners may believe that familiarization is unnecessary as their pets will soon adjust to the new environment. However, abrupt environmental changes can trigger the "fight or flight" instinct in cats, causing them to behave inappropriately and possibly injure themselves or others.

It's like throwing someone who can't swim into the deep end of a pool; you're setting them up for failure and potential danger.

If you start with short trips in the city, your kitten can gradually get used to the surroundings, the smell, and the noise in the backpack. Increase the duration of your trips over time.

When you notice that your cat is getting restless or uncomfortable, take breaks to let them stretch their legs and eat or drink water as needed.

Some people may think it's best not to stop until you’ve reached your destination and to ignore signs of discomfort in pets. After all, we wouldn't want to stop every few minutes when we’re out and about. But it's important to remember that unlike humans, pets need frequent breaks. Refusing to take them could lead to anxiety or even more serious health complications.

It would be like going without food or toilet breaks on a long cross-country journey. It's detrimental not only physically but also mentally.

By following these steps outlined above, we hope that taking your cat with you when you travel will not only be safe but comfortable for you and your feline friend. With these measures, your kitty will soon be ready to accompany you on your adventures!

Safety Measures When Carrying Your Cat

If you're going to carry your cat in a backpack, safety should always come first. To ensure that you take all necessary measures to transport your furry friend safely and comfortably, follow these guidelines.

First and foremost, you should always use a backpack that is specifically designed for transporting pets. These backpacks are well ventilated and padded and often come with safety straps to keep your cat securely strapped in. With all other backpacks, there is a risk of your cat getting injured or suffocating.

Also, make sure that the backpack zippers are sturdy and cannot be opened accidentally from the inside. One pet owner reported that his curious cat managed to unzip the backpack during a hike, and he had to chase them through the woods before he could catch it safely.

Some people suggest using a crate instead of a backpack because it is a safer option. However, cats can easily become stressed and uncomfortable in confined spaces like crates. Backpacks are typically more spacious and allow your cat to stretch out comfortably while being secured.

Look at it this way: would you rather travel in a small crate or in a roomy first-class seat? Your cat deserves the same consideration for comfort and space during transport.

Now that we've discussed some safety measures you can take when transporting your cat in a backpack, let's look at how you can monitor their behavior during transit.

Monitoring Your Cat's Behavior

Cats show various signs of being uncomfortable or anxious. Therefore, it is important to keep an eye on your cat's behavior during transport.

A common sign of stress in cats is excessive meowing or yawning. If you notice your cat meowing more often than usual or yawning excessively, it may be a sign that they're uncomfortable.

Another behavior to watch out for during transport is panting, which can be a sign of overheating or anxiety. If you notice your cat panting excessively, stop, and let them rest and cool down before continuing your journey.

Some cats are naturally louder than others, so it can be difficult to tell if the meowing is due to discomfort or simply their personality. In these cases, look for other body language signals, such as flattened ears or dilated pupils.

This can be compared to how people show signs of stress through body language cues like muscle tension or fidgeting, even if they don't vocalize their discomfort.

Finally, pay attention to your cat's eating and drinking habits during transit. Make sure you offer them water regularly and monitor their food intake. If your cat refuses food or water during transport, it could be a sign that the journey is causing them undue stress or anxiety.

Now that we know how to monitor your cat's behavior, let's move on to the last section where we'll give you some tips for traveling long distances with your feline friend.

Tips for Long Distance Travel with Your Cat

Cats can be great travel companions, but long distance travel can be particularly stressful and overwhelming for them. In this section, we will give you tips on how to make your long-distance tro[ as pleasant and stress-free as possible for your furry friend.

First and foremost, it's important to consider what mode of transport you'll be using. If you're flying, check with the airline to see if cats are allowed in the cabin. For example, some airlines require certain means of transport or charge extra for pets on board. You should also check the necessary documents and health certificates required by your destination country or state.

To avoid stressing your cat out on long trips, try to maintain a regular routine of feeding times and potty breaks if possible. Bring enough food, water, medication (if needed), leashes, towels to clean up, or other items your cat may need during the trip.

If you are driving, place the carrier where your cat can see outside. Placing a towel or blanket over it will allow them to rest without being overwhelmed by the new sights and sounds.

One thing that many cat owners debate is whether or not it's a good idea to sedate their cat during long car journeys. While a sedative injection can help keep the cat calm during the drive, experts generally advise against it because it can cause negative side effects such as loss of balance and breathing problems. Some vets only prescribe sedatives if the first measures fail or if a cat suffers from severe anxiety during the journey..

Think of it this way, while we may be comfortable with sleeping pills to help us rest on long flights, cats have different biological and physiological systems. We don't want to risk harming them just to make our journey more convenient or easy.

Another tip to keep in mind is to get your cat used to their carrier before traveling. You can do this by placing the carrier in your home and getting your cat used to it over time. Put a towel or a piece of clothing with your scent in the carrier to make him feel more comfortable.

In summary, a safe and comfortable journey for your cat requires good planning, preparation, and following the correct procedures. If you follow these tips, long journeys with your cat need not be stressful for you or your furry companion. As a final reminder, observe their behavior carefully during the trip. If you notice any signs of stress, such as drooling, pacing, extreme restlessness or heavy breathing, you should take a break immediately and consult a qualified veterinarian.

About the author

Keith is a one bag traveler and the owner of Backpacks Global. His go to backpack is the Osprey FarPoint 40.

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