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Should You Cover a Cat Carrier? (Why It Works)

Blocking an animal’s line of sight has always been an effective way to calm them down. You see it in horses with blinders and falcons with eye masks. But, can the same be said for a cat in its carrier?

Owners of nervous cats should cover their carriers. A blanket or towel that completely covers the carrier will provide the cat with a sense of security while obscuring sights that may scare them. Keeping the carrier covered until they’re back home is best practice.

In the rest of this article, I’ll detail why covering your cat’s carrier is an excellent method for keeping them calm. I’ll also explain what material is best used to cover the carrier and how long it is safe to keep it covered.

Why You Should Cover Your Cat’s Carrier

Most cats struggle with adjusting to new surroundings. Even less so when they’re put into a carrier and placed in the back of a noisy car.

Let’s go over why covering a carrier helps make traveling for your cat easier.

Cats Like Dark Spaces

While traveling in their carrier, your cat will be exposed to many sights and sounds they’re unfamiliar with. Understandably, this is likely to freak them out.

Cats, by nature, love dark and enclosed spaces, the exact opposite environment that a car’s backseat typically provides.

This environment plays against their predatory instinct – in other words, being out in the open in unfamiliar territory makes your cat feel vulnerable.

Covering the carrier entirely with a blanket or similar material encourages a calmer space for your cat to feel safe.

Your cat will also be protected from the sun’s heat and powerful UV rays. The UV rays can cause your cat to overheat or develop rashes if exposed for too long.

A Cover Blocks Sound and Sight

As I mentioned in the last section, your cat will likely be bombarded with lights and sounds that’ll spook them.

Depending on the material of your chosen cover, most if not all of the light will get blocked.

I recommend keeping the cover on for the trip, especially at a vet’s office. This way, seeing other larger pets like dogs won’t freak your cat out.

Familiar Smells Calm Cats

Have you ever been away from home, perhaps on vacation, and brought a shirt or hoodie that smells like home? The scent gives us a sense of calm and security.

Well, cats react the same way to familiar smells. By covering their carrier with a blanket that carries the scent of your home with it, you’re helping to induce a relaxation effect on your cat.

There are other ways to get the same effect, such as Feliway, but a cover is a better option if you don’t want to use pheromones on your cat.

What to Cover Your Cat’s Carrier With

You have plenty of options when it comes to what type of material to use as a cover.

  • Your cat’s favorite blanket
  • Extra-large hoodie
  • A spare towel
  • A pillowcase
  • A bedsheet

The K-Cliffs Travel Kennel Cover from is an excellent alternative if you’re looking for a more permanent solution. It provides all the benefits discussed above, is inexpensive (less than $10 at the time of writing), and is weather-proof.

When picking a cover, remember the time of year and what kind of material it’s made of. For example, you wouldn’t want to use a wool blanket in the summer or a thin bedsheet in the winter.

Most importantly, the material must be breathable if it covers the whole carrier. Here’s a list of fabrics that work well:

  • Silk
  • Linen
  • Nylon
  • Rayon
  • Cotton

If you had to pick one material, I’d suggest cotton for its humidity control properties. Since cats don’t sweat as humans do, cotton helps manage the internal temperature of the carrier and keeps them cool.

How Long Can You Cover a Cat Carrier?

Now that you’ve decided on a type of cover and its material, you may wonder how long you can reasonably cover a cat carrier.

Cats can stay in their carriers for up to 8 hours, with or without an appropriate carrier cover. A cover made of breathable material will allow your cat to stay comfortably in their carrier for more extended periods. The cat should be allowed a break from the carrier every 2-3 hours.

Whether the trip is 15 minutes or several hours, your cat will likely prefer the feeling of safety that a cover provides.

Also, take into consideration the mode of transportation. If traveling by car, it’s easy to let your cat out of the carrier every few hours. If traveling by train, it might not be possible. Think ahead!

Final Thoughts

The main benefits of covering your cat’s carrier are:

  • Your cat feels more secure
  • Blocks stressful sights and sounds
  • Protects them from the sun’s heat & UV rays
  • Induces a calming effect from familiar scents

As long as you keep in mind the mode of transportation, duration of the trip (to and from), and the destination, using a cover should pose no issues.

If you’re unsure about any aspect of transporting your cat, always call your vet. There is no such thing as a dumb question regarding your pet.

I know this was a long explanation for what is usually a yes or no answer, but it’s my hope that you found it helpful nonetheless.

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