• Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Are Cat Backpacks Cruel? (Vet Answer)


Mar 14, 2023
cat in a backpack


cat in a backpack
Dr. Iulia Mihai Photo

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

Learn more »

Do you want to be able to walk your cat and take them anywhere without worrying that they might run away? Many cat owners feel that they are neglecting their cats because they have no way of taking them out of the house safely.

If you want to take your cat for a walk without a harness and unnecessary stress, a cat backpack might be the solution.

This accessory will keep your cat safe so they can admire the surroundings and not get stressed out. A cat backpack is a modern, reliable, and convenient accessory for both you and your cat, and you can travel over short or long distances knowing that your cat is safe. But are cat backpacks cruel? If used properly, Cat backpacks are not considered cruel.


Are Cat Backpacks Cruel?

Cat backpacks are not considered cruel if you use them properly. Once cats get used to this accessory, they might even like it. Of course, not all cats will love being taken for a walk, and that’s okay! Do not force your cat if they do not want to enter/stay in the backpack because you will only make them avoid the carrier even more. Each cat is different, and as an owner, you must know and respect their limits and comfort zones.

It might be considered cruel if your cat hates the backpack and you force them inside of it, anyway. This will stress and scare your cat. In the long run, stressed cats can become physically and emotionally ill and may develop various diseases and behavior disorders1.

Woman walking in nature with her lovely cat in backpack carrier
Image Credit: Creative Cat Studio, Shutterstock

Are Cat Backpacks Safe?

A cat backpack is considered safe as long as it’s used properly and meets several requirements, including:

  • It must be well-ventilated (have ventilation holes), especially if you want to take your cat for a walk in the summer.
  • It should not be completely transparent in order to give your cat a place to hide in case they feel in danger. That said, for short distances and quiet areas, completely transparent backpacks work fine.
  • It should be spacious enough that the cat won’t feel cramped. If your cat can turn around comfortably, the backpack is the perfect size.
  • It should have a steady base, as this will provide more comfort. Otherwise, your cat will have trouble sitting and standing.
  • It should be made of durable material so cats won’t be able to tear it when scratching the inside.
  • It should have multiple entryways, as it’s best if your cat has options. If they don’t like to enter through the side, you can use the top or vice versa.
  • It should have tether points where you can attach your cat’s harness. This way, you can leave the backpack half-open, knowing that your cat won’t jump out of it.

Don’t use the cat backpack over long distances or for too many hours. You will need to take a break once in a while to let your cat move and stretch their muscles, drink water, and use the litter box.

Also, if you have back problems, don’t choose a heavy backpack because its weight will add to your cat’s weight.

How to Backpack Train Your Cat

If you want to backpack train your cat, positive reinforcement and patience are essential2. Do not force your cat inside, and give them time to get used to the backpack.

Here are the steps that you need to follow in order for your cat to get used to this accessory:

  1. Leave the backpack open for your cat to explore.
  2. Add your cat’s favorite toys, your own clothes, or treats inside of it.
  3. If your cat is reluctant about the backpack and won’t even approach it, you can play with them and incorporate the backpack into the game. For example, play with a laser toy or a fishing pole toy next to and in the backpack. Make your cat jump in and out of it multiple times.
  4. Feed your cat treats or their usual food inside the backpack. Do not close it.
  5. When your cat shows signs of getting used to it, take them for a short walk around the house while they’re inside the backpack. Give your cat a treat when you take them out.
  6. Little by little, start taking longer walks with your cat in the backpack around the house. Don’t forget to reward them every time afterward.
  7. When the time comes for the first walk outside the house, take your cat somewhere quiet and nearby. If your cat gets too stressed, you can quickly return home. Increase the distance gradually every time you go outside with your cat.
cat inside the backpack looking outside
Image Credit: Photosite, Shutterstock

How Long Can a Cat Be in a Cat Backpack?

In general, a cat should not stay in the backpack for more than 4 hours without a break, but this time varies according to their personality, age, and health condition.

There are circumstances (such as international flights) in which cats have to stay inside their carriers for up to 10 hours. But if you have control over the situation, it is recommended not to leave your cat inside the backpack for more than 4 hours. Even though cats can hold their urine for up to 48 hours, they should still stretch their muscles and consume water and food.

To make sure your cat is comfortable, check on them regularly. If they are relaxed or sleeping, take a break later. If your cat becomes restless, it’s time for a break.

Here’s what you need to make sure your cat’s breaks are satisfying:

  • Traveling bowls for food and water
  • Traveling litter box
  • Medicines, if your cat is undergoing treatment
  • Toys and treats
  • Harness and leash

It is okay if your cat doesn’t do everything in one break (exercise, consume water and food, and use the litter box). What they didn’t do in one break, they might during the next one.

It’s most important for your cat to stay hydrated. So, ensure that your cat drinks water regularly, especially in summer when it’s hot.

Cat Backpack Pros and Cons

Compared to conventional hard plastic carriers, cat backpacks have a few advantages. But as with any accessory, there are also disadvantages.

  • It requires less storage space because it has a soft, foldable part, unlike a hard plastic carrier.
  • You will have your hands free.
  • Your cat will be above the ground, away from the eyes of curious dogs.
  • It’s more comfortable for walking long distances or transporting overweight cats.
  • It has a transparent window, and your cat can enjoy the scenery, making them less anxious.
  • It has greater stability due to the two straps.
  • It can be pricier than a conventional carrier.
  • Some cats may feel too exposed due to the large transparent window.
  • It’s not suited for people with back problems.
  • Overweight cats may feel cramped.



If you want to start taking your cat for a walk, a cat backpack can be a good idea. It is a safe mode of transportation, as it allows your cat to admire their surroundings without feeling stressed. Cat backpacks are not considered cruel as long as they meet certain requirements and are used properly. A cat must be taken out of the backpack once every 4 hours at most to move, eat and drink, and use the litter box.

Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *