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Can You Reuse A Cat Carrier? (Can It Be Cleaned?)

If you have a new cat and hoping you can reuse an old carrier you may be wondering if this possible…

Can you reuse a cat carrier?

You can reuse a cat carrier. However, it must be fully cleaned out to get rid of the scent of the previous cat. Cat’s have a very strong sense of smell and will pick up on this and refuse to use it otherwise.

So, now you know that it is possible. But, how long does this scent usually last? How can you truly clean it out? Keep reading for these answers, and so much more…

What can happen if you reuse a cat carrier?

Can you reuse a cat carrier?

A cat next to its carrier.

How long does a cat’s scent last?

A cat can pick up the scent from a cat for up to 18 months or longer if it is not touched or cleaned. Their use of scent is one of their most prominent senses, hence the reason why it would need quite a deep clean to get rid of it.

For us humans to get rid of. a smell, a quick spray of air freshener may do the trick. But, for cats, this won’t cut it. Later on, I will explain what is needed to remove this scent.

How to get rid of other cats scent

Earlier I mentioned that a deep clean is required to get rid of the scent. Here are some suggestions of what is needed for a carrier as well as other areas in your home:

01. Shampoo

One technique that can be used is shampooing your carpets or upholstery. This can also be used on a carrier to get rid of the scent.

02. Steam-clean

For other items like carpet, you may need to consider steam-cleaning them to truly get rid of the scent.

Can you use a second-hand crate?

A second-hand crate is possible in the same way as a cat carrier. However, this crate is more suited for dogs. But, for cats it’s the same concept, you will need to completely clean it out before using it.

Can I use a box instead of a cat carrier?

You can use a box as a carrier. But, it is never a great idea as there is little or no ventilation and this poses a threat to your feline’s life. However, several features must be considered in the case that you really want to use a homemade cat carrier.

In the case where you don’t want to spend money on a decent carrier (Click here for the 5 best carriers for cats that hate carriers), there is always an option to produce a homemade cat carrier and this article teaches you how to make one.

However,  as much as you want to transport your cat to see the vet or take it on a trip, it is important to understand that your pet’s comfort and safety is paramount.

Considerations for using a box as a carrier

To begin with, her comfort, warmth, and coziness is of utmost consideration. The carrier is expected not to be too large, just big enough for the cat’s balance to avoid any agitation and violent outburst from your feline.

Though homemade cardboards are used as cat carriers by some pet owners, it should be noted that these boxes are specially made with ventilated features and graced with other cozy materials and to keep the cat comforted.

What is a homemade cat carrier?

These are cat carriers that are produced from scratch especially with homemade materials. Some pet owners may use pillows and baskets to transport their cats, but this is never really a safe method. Other homemade cat carriers are cardboard carriers, which are made from cardboard.

This homemade carrier however is not always as solid as you may expect it to be as it may wear out after several scratches (Click here to see why cats scratch around their food area) from a cat as well as from rainfall or even by urine (click here to see if you can clean cat urine with bleach) from the cat.

The soft-sided carriers made from nylon is much cozier for your cat, especially when if your cat is not too large.

Your cat may be tempted to tear the nylon and this could be a potential headache for you, as well as any fellow travelers. Hard-sided carriers made from plastics are sturdy and durable.

However, there may be difficult during transportation of pets especially in the case of air transport as it may pose a problem to fit it under the seat of the airplane.

How do you make a homemade cat carrier?

For most cat owners who are on a limited budget or don’t just feel like investing in a cat’s carrier, several tips can enable you to provide a comfortable carrier for your pet.

With this in mind, you’ve got to employ a little hard work and creativity, to provide your cat its most deserved comfort.

Usually, it is advisable to use cardboard, taking into consideration the size of the cat and ensuring that there will be ample space for your pet, just enough to keep the pet comforted.

Firstly, ensure that the structure is ventilated on the inside, made cozy especially with toys, and warmed up with blankets (Click here to see if cats like to be under your blankets) or other thick linen.

It’s no secret that cats are fascinated by a comfortable and homelike environment. Also, ensure that the outer portion of the carrier is secured to prevent your cat from going out unnoticed.

Do vets approve of cats without cat carriers?

In areas where vets and their staff do house calls, they can approve cats without carriers. This is quite convenient for the cat owners as it saves time and it is safe especially as they don’t have to take the cat out of the house.

These house calls however are not done in all areas of the cities. Also, there are several reasons why vets approve cats with carriers. Cat carriers are beneficial for the cat’s safety for a handful of reasons.

Pet owners can transport their cats in a car very conveniently, without any fear as there isn’t the possibility of the cat jumping out of the window or being a bother to other passengers especially in the case of public transport.

Using a cat carrier also saves the owner from unnecessary panic attacks when driving, as cats can get scared on the road and you can never tell what untold accidents they may provoke especially if your attention is divided between your pet and the wheel.

Why do some cat owners refuse to get a carrier?

Some cat owners consider investing in cat carriers as a waste of resources. This however is a wrong notion especially as it jeopardizes the cat’s security as well as the safety of its immediate environment. Cats usually don’t like carriers probably because of their confining nature.

It is quite challenging to get a cat to enter its carrier. This discouraging factor is perhaps the main reason why most cat owners would spare themselves the expenditure of purchasing a carrier.

Nonetheless, the more comfortable and homelike the carrier is, the more fascinated the cat will be and will not be scared whenever it is confronted with one.

Taking pets out of the home during every errand could be such a huge responsibility; hence, cat owners will rather prefer that their pets stay behind while they sort out their daily routines.

This may lead to reluctance in the purchase of cat carriers. For cat owners who receive house calls from vets, there is usually no need to purchase a cat carrier as vets usually approve only cats with carriers during vaccination sessions.

As a compromise, some owners prefer cozy cat grooming bags that double-up as carriers (Click here to see why I rate this one best).

Transitioning Your Cat

When it comes to the transportation of a cat, the safety of your feline is a top priority and so in the case where a cat carrier is farfetched, other mediums can serve as temporary substitutes like baskets, harnesses, or sports bags.

Make it a duty to introduce your cat to traveling in a car. This may be quite challenging at first but get the cat to become familiar with car rides and endeavor to begin with slow rides to avoid aggression from your pet.

What size carrier for a 12-pound cat?

To work out the size of a carrier for a 12-pound cat take your cat and measure its length from the root of its tail all the way to the tip of its nose. Then, take what you’ve got and multiply that result by 1.5 times.

The answer that is produced is the approximate cat carrier size you should aim at acquiring. Some cat owners use the rule of thumb in this situation is, simply taking a look at their cat to tell.

What other considerations are there for the carrier?

However, there’re a few other things you’ll need to consider. For starters, if you’re planning on traveling internationally with your cat, you’ll have to check whether your cat carrier of choice is airline approved and whether it meets the pet policy guidelines of the particular airline you’ve chosen to use.

Most airlines have very strict rules and guidelines when it comes to this. For a long journey by road, aim for a cat carrier that will offer your cat enough room to move around in. They must be able to exist comfortably and freely while inside the cat carrier.

How can you tell if the carrier fits your cat well?

A cat carrier is a right size when your cat can comfortably turn around as well as stand-up without having to crouch. This is ideal for those short trips, such as a visit to your vet’s office.

Like we mentioned earlier, the general rule when it comes to picking a cat carrier that is the right size for your cat is, the size of the cat carrier is usually determined by how big your cat is.

What about if the journey is long distance?

However, if you intend to travel a long distance with your cat, then you’ll have to consider a few other things when choosing the right size cat carrier.

The first thing you’ll have to do is to ensure that there’s enough space to accommodate a water bowl, food bowl, and litter tray. These days most cat carriers have those items pre-packaged already.

So, it’ll be great for you as well as your cat if you can get one of those carriers that have those items already pre-packaged in it. But. if that happens to be way out of your price range, you can get one that has enough room for all those things and your cat as well.

Is Bigger Always Better?

By the way, don’t always think that the larger the cat carrier the better it is. Hopefully, the above discussion hasn’t given you the impression that the bigger the size of the cat carrier the better it will perform. If that’s the school of thought you’ve chosen to take, unfortunately, you’re wrong!

Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to cat crates. Here, let’s explain that a little bit. Cats generally don’t like traveling. So, if you get a very big one, your cat, when/if it gets scared, might decide to hide in the corner of the said cat carrier.

An appropriately sized carrier will give your cat a sense of security. And if you’re wondering what an appropriately sized cat carrier is, in this scenario, then it’s one that allows your cat’s back to feeling the cat carrier’s wall at all times.

It shouldn’t have so much room where it gives the cat the option of restricting itself to one corner of the carrier. Such carriers could prove to do more harm than good.

What is Regarded as Too Small, for a carrier?

A carrier is considered too small if it can’t turn around inside, or can’t fit inside easily. If you follow the advice of gauging based on your cat’s weight, then this should not happen.

If you’ve been using cat carriers on your cat since it was a kitten, it doesn’t mean that you should use the same cat carrier all the way up until your cat’s adult life.

A cat carrier that you used to use on your kitten may be considered too small for an adult cat. Once it has grown into a full adult, it will obviously need a little more room and space if you want the cat to be comfortable while inside the cat carrier.

Stuffing your cat into a small cat carrier, or the one you used to use when your cat was a kitten, will make your cat more anxious than it already is because traveling is already something most cats aren’t very fond of.

If you carefully follow the guidelines set out above, you’ll get to know what size of the carrier is perfect for your cat.

What if You Have Two or More Cats?

If you have more than one cat and you are considering one big carrier to accommodate all of them, then you might have to think again.

The best idea would be to get separate cat carriers for each of your individual feline companions. For starters, there will probably be those times your only traveling with one of your cats, for instance, the occasional visits to the vet doctor.

Forcing one cat to occupy a large cat carrier will be quite awkward for the cat. Additionally, in the event, the traveling becomes too stressful for the cats, if you had forced them to travel in one big cat carrier together, they may start showing some aggression towards one another, even though they may happen to know each other pretty well.

This may not be of any fault of their own but may be caused due to the additional anxiety.


All in all, traveling with your cat doesn’t have to be such a difficult thing to do. How easy of an experience it will be for both you and your cat largely depends on the kind of cat carrier your thinking of getting.

Hopefully, this article has shed some light on how to make your way around choosing the right size carrier (Click here to see if you can have two cats in one carrier) for the particular cat you have. Oh, and sharing is caring, if you’ve learned something new today, let others get enlightened as well. Hit that share button.

Lindsey Browlingdon