Cat rucksacks are great for going on adventures and taking your furry friend along for the journey, or if they really don’t like conventional carriers and you need an alternative way to get them to the vets.
They are also easier for humans to carry. With weight spread across your shoulders and back, there’s no heavy lifting and awkward carrying. They are an ideal option for anyone who lives in a city and needs to take their cat to the vet on public transport, too.
Your cat may be inquisitive, meaning it is quite an easy job getting them to check out the bag and jump in for the ride using a few treats. Or they may be scared of new things, or have bad memories of carriers, being lifted up and being in confined spaces.
Either way, if you want them to try a backpack as it is easier for you both to manage, there are key approaches.
How to get a cat used to a cat backpack
As soon as the package arrives, open it up and leave it out somewhere that the cat can find it. If you leave it open and ignore it, the cat will likely explore it of its own accord – even the shy cats are naturally nosy.
Leave it in a place you know the cat frequently visits, but not anywhere where they feel at their absolute safest such as on their bed or in their favourite corner. You don’t want them to be threatened by it.
You can treat it like a toy, popping treats or their favourite blanket inside, to make sure they know it is safe. If you see them going into the bag to retrieve the food or even just timidly approaching, vocal support is also a good idea.
Something which smells like you may also help, such as a towel or jumper. This way, they know it is safe.
Once they are used to it and safely go inside, ensure their first trip is a good one; no scary vet visits or very long, stressful car journeys. Perhaps take a walk around your home, to places they know by looking at them.
When they are in the rucksack, it doesn’t mean that the job is done. Their experience within the rucksack needs to be a good one.
Take somebody they know along with you on the first trip and have them walk within view of the cat, so there is a friendly face for reassurance.
Most have a clip which can fasten to your cat’s harness or collar. If this is safely attached and you are somewhere you know that the cat is familiar with, you could allow them to pop their head out of the bag for a comforting look around.
Pause to give them treats, toys and a bit of attention every so often. When you get home, if they want to have a bit of time to themselves to readjust, let them have some space.
Tips for using a cat backpack
No running, sudden movements or jumping. They will need to feel safe inside, and you also don’t want to risk injury. Try wearing a front backpack if you want to reduce the likelihood of motion
Let your cat see
Most cats like to feel slightly covered up and hidden away, but they also need to be able to see what is going on to keep them calm. Most have clear windows which allow them to look out, and some may even have small holes they can pop their head through (as long as they are fastened in of course). As mentioned above, it is a good way of making them feel comfortable
Have rest times
If going on a long trip, they will need to stretch their legs after being in a bag for all that time. Time in toilet trips, feeding time and playtime, and purchase an extendable bag if you don’t feel confident letting the cat fully out of the bag
One bag = One cat
They are usually for a single cat, so don’t force more than one into a rucksack. If you are taking a few kittens on a trip, a crate or stroller may be better
My cat won’t use their cat backpack. What do I do?
Never force a cat to do anything they don’t want to. If they don’t want to go in it, or you know they don’t enjoy being in there, then leave them be and find an alternative if they have to be taken to the cattery or vets.
If they do need a bit help, always lower them into the bag bottom end first as opposed to head first. This will be a lot less stressful.
Also, some cats just don’t like going on adventures, being on a harness or exploring new places. If yours doesn’t then there is nothing to be done about it. Leave them at home to sleep when you go, and ensure you pay them the attention they want when you are at home.
But do remember that it could just take time, and some will adjust faster than others.