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Is a Cat Backpack Harmful? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Chris Dinesen Rogers

By Chris Dinesen Rogers

Backpack cat carrier

Vet approved

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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The humanization of the pet industry has taken several interesting and surprising turns. More people are treating their animal companions as family members. They’re spoiling them with toys, treats, and just about anything else that owners perceive as being loving toward their pets. Pet accessories are estimated to become a $41 billion industry by 2025.1 It has even reached the feline realm with cat backpacks.

No longer does your little feline have to stay home when you hit the trails. Your cat can join you on your hike. You may wonder whether a cat backpack is harmful. The short answer is no, with a few caveats.


The Cat Backpack

You’re undoubtedly familiar with pet carriers. That’s the thing your cat only sees when it’s time to go to the vet for its annual exam. Your cat likely runs away in terror once it figures out what’s going to happen next. The cat backpack offers an alternative to the soft or hard rectangular models. The problem with those products is their lack of comfort for both you and your pet.

Your poor cat gets jostled as you lug it along with you, and it’s awkward to hold and use. While some have handles or a shoulder strap, neither makes the task any easier.  The cat backpack alleviates some problems by making the pet’s ride more stable.

It doesn’t tip with the animal’s weight. That reason alone makes them worth a look. Instead of carrying your laptop in a pack, you have your cat with you.

two cats and a backpack
Photo Credit: Magui RF, Shutterstock

Features to Consider

We typically see two types of cat backpacks. One is like a regular one you might use to go hiking. The difference is more mesh openings. You’ll see hard or soft cases. The advantage of the former is the extra protection it provides. It’s a good choice for a pet that isn’t declawed and has the talons to prove it. You may find the latter more comfortable to wear. Your cat may also prefer the soft sides.

The other type you’ll see looks almost otherworldly. Instead of the mesh windows, it may have a bubble view window. Being able to see what’s going on around it can make some pets feel more secure. Others would probably rather not know. You’re sure to get some looks if you take your pet around the neighborhood in one of these models.

Other features to consider include the following:
  • Number of exterior pockets
  • Water resistance
  • Seat belt attachment
  • Airline-approved
  • Ergonomic design

You’ll likely pay more for a cat backpack versus a carrier with the added features. We can easily justify the cost if it makes our pets more comfortable and secure. We can’t say it’ll be less challenging to get your feline into a backpack, especially if it wants nothing to do with it. However, at least it’ll be more manageable to haul your pet around with your hands free.

  • Hands-free movement
  • Stable environment for the cat
  • Less cumbersome to use
  • More comfortable for you and your pet

  • Pricey
  • Not suitable for all pets

A Cat in a Backpack

No matter what kind of carrier you use, it’s essential to let your cat get used to it before you put it inside one during a sneak attack. Leave the open backpack on the floor and let your pet explore it on its terms. You may find that its hiding instinct will kick as it climbs inside the pack on its own. Don’t try to close it if your kitty wanders inside it. One bad experience is all it needs to make your cat never want to go near the carrier again.

You may find sprinkling some catnip inside and outside the pack may arouse your pet’s curiosity. A pheromone spray like Feliway is a godsend for calming nervous felines. If possible, we suggest keeping the backpack someplace where your cat can see it. It won’t seem as frightening to your cat if it’s part of the room.

Make a positive association with the backpack your goal. The beauty of this accessory is that it’s multifunctional. It’s not just something to use to take your animal to the vet. Use the backpack for what it’s for—to take on walks and hikes.


Final Thoughts

A cat backpack is an excellent way to keep your feline comfortable as you travel together. It provides more stability for your pet which can go a long way toward making trips to the vet less stressful for both of you. The best thing about a pack is doing more things with your cat. Who says only dogs can enjoy some quality time outdoors with their owners?

Featured Photo Credit: mkupiec, Pixabay

Chris Dinesen Rogers

Authored by

Chris is an experienced pet writer specializing in science topics, with a particular passion for health and the environment. She has been a writer for over 15 years and lives with her husband and three cats in Michigan. Beyond writing about cats and dogs, Chris loves to learn about wine. She has WSET 1 and 2 certifications and is currently pursuing her Certified Wine Specialist Award (CSW).

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