A cat backpack is the bread and butter of cat adventures. I highly recommend anyone with an adventure cat to bring a cat backpack with you at all times. Keep reading to learn more!
If you’re looking for cat backpack options, here is a list of backpack reviews
My personal recommendation is the Petsfit backpack, (available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca).
Why Do I Need a Cat Backpack?
The backpack provides an area that belongs solely to the cat. It is a familiar space that smells like them, and reminds them of home, wherever you take them. This is especially important if you are going on an overnight trip, as the backpack will provide a space that they can feel at home in.
The backpack also provides safety when the environment becomes too overwhelming. Your cat can choose to stay inside the backpack when they don’t want to interact with the environment. It also provides a space anywhere you go, if your cat is simply tired and wants to nap for a while.
Note: In order to enforce the idea of a safe space, never let anyone (or more importantly, dogs) touch your cat when they are inside the backpack. If your cat reaches out to interact with the person, that is fine, but never let people put their hands inside the backpack when your cat is inside.
Easy to Carry
The purpose of the backpack is similar to any carrier, except it is much easier to carry around. The weight is more distributed, instead of on one side like with a traditional carrier, and with heavier cats, this makes a big difference.
The backpack also allows you to have both hands free, and makes it much easier to walk longer distance while carrying your cat. This is important when you have a destination in mind for the day, and your cat isn’t being cooperative.
I always prefer backpacks with extra pockets for me to store my belongings, like my wallet and phone. This means I don’t need a separate bag or purse to carry around, and this makes our outings much easier.
Sometimes you don’t want all the attention that comes with having a cat with you. The cat backpack is obvious to someone who owns one, but to the general public, it is passable as a large backpack.
What to Look For in a Cat Backpack
The size of your cat will determine the size of backpack you will need. In general, an averaged sized cat (8-14 lbs) will fit most cat backpack options. If your cat is smaller, you may want to look at smaller backpacks so your cat isn’t sliding around as you’re walking. If your cat is larger, you may want to look into larger options so they can fit comfortably.
I also try to look for a backpack that fits the size restrictions on planes, so if I ever need to take my cat on a plane trip, I don’t have to bring a separate carrier for the plane portion. Most backpacks don’t seem to fit on planes, so I also look for backpacks that can be compressed to fit a smaller space.
How ventilated a backpack is will determine if your cat will overheat in the summer. I find the clear plastic “bubble” backpacks to be the worst, and the interior even heats up like a greenhouse in the summer. Most backpacks provide a decent amount of mesh and solid fabric used as shade. Being able to hide behind solid fabric will also make your cats feel more safe in a busy environment.
Having pockets on the backpack is essential to me so I don’t need to carry a separate bag. The things I may take to our walks include: wallet, phone, bottle of water, cat treats, cat jacket, my jacket, tripod. With one of my backpacks, there isn’t enough pocket space, so I tend to put the extra items into the main space where the cat is, but this isn’t ideal.
Comfort for Cat
I tend to prefer a more structured backpack, that holds it’s shape when you are carrying it, and not sagging. This will be more comfortable for the cat, so they are not falling towards the sagging side. I also prefer a backpack with a structured flat top, which provides a platform for the cat to sit on, if they don’t want to be inside the backpack.
Comfort for Human
Comfort while carrying is the most important factor, but one that is very hard to determine unless you own it and can try it out. A backpack with padded straps and back, chest strap, and hip strap, are usually more comfortable. I find most of the more structured backpacks are less comfortable on the back, while the more soft sided backpacks are more comfortable. Depending on your needs, you will have to compromise on comfort for your cat, or comfort for yourself.
I personally have two backpacks, one soft sided one for longer hikes, and a more structured one for more casual walks and other style of adventures.
How to Get a Cat Used to Their Backpack
Let Them Explore
When you first bring home a new backpack, your cat will probably be curious and want to sniff and explore it. Allow them to do this in their own time. Don’t be overly excited and try to encourage them to interact with this item. Sometimes, the more you want your cats to do something, the less they want to do it. So just be cool and pretend its not important. Reverse psychology! If you’re lucky, they may end up liking the backpack naturally, and end up falling asleep inside! Remember to always leave the backpack out, even after they’re familiar with it. It should become a favourite nap spot.
Encourage with Treats or Toys
After a few days of leaving the backpack out, if they’re not having much interest in it, you can start encouraging them by throwing some treats inside, or playing with toys inside it. They don’t have to fully go inside at this stage, its just the start of some positive experiences and getting familiar with this object. Continue to leave the backpack out at all times.
Another trick is to secretly leave a treat inside the backpack without your cat knowing. So they will walk past, and realize there’s a treat inside. They’ll start staying in the backpack at all times on the off chance a treat will magically appear.
Add a Blanket or Bed
To encourage your cats to nap inside the backpack, you can try adding a comfy blanket or bed inside it. A heated bed would work even better. And continue to leave the backpack out at all times.
A more advanced technique, is clicker training. It is possible to train a cat to do almost anything within their abilities. You will want to repeat training your cat to go inside the backpack when you ask, and over time they will start doing this action naturally without you even asking, in hopes that they will be rewarded.
To clicker train a cat, you will first need to establish the idea of clicker training with your cat. Once they understand what the clicker means, then you can use it to instruct them to go inside, then click and reward. You can train your cat to go in the backpack on command this way, and it works very well, as long as they are listening to you.
More Backpack Tips to Try
- Leave the backpack open and accessible at all times, when at home. The backpack is an inviting spot for them to nap in, and this is the best way to get your cat to like it.
- Using a treat, lure their front half inside the backpack, and then push their butt so they will step in. Then close the backpack for a few moments, and let them out.
- Get them inside, and carry them around a few times at home first, before trying outdoors.
- If your cat hates being confined, unzip the top, and let them poke their head out. Hold onto their harness to stop them jumping out. Never use the provided tether strap inside the backpack – I’ve had a scary experience when Teddy wrapped this around his neck and started choking.
- Wear the backpack in front, so you can see how your cat is doing, and also stop them from jumping out.
- If your cat really hates the backpack, try letting them sit on top of a closed backpack, like a shoulder cat position. They may prefer the freedom.
- If your cat is fine with the backpack, but just doesn’t want to be inside because they want to explore, then you can try bringing them to an environment that is slightly uncomfortable for them, such as snow, or crowded areas. They should choose the backpack by themselves in these situations.
- You may have to try several backpack designs before finding one that works for you and your cat.
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