A cat carrier is a very useful thing for transporting cats and other small animals in a secure space. Allowing animals to be loose while being moved can result in greater stress for both animals and people, and may allow the animal to escape as well. There are several things to consider when buying a cat carrier including the type of animal and how the cat carrier will be used. Thinking about your needs ahead of time will allow you to purchase a cat carrier suited to them, and will prevent you from having to purchase another one at a later date.
The first thing to think about when purchasing a cat carrier is what kind of animal is being transported. Cat carriers work well for cats, of course, but they are also used for other small mammals like rabbits, or avians like ducks and chickens. Obviously, if the carrier is being purchased for a very small mammal like a squirrel or a hedgehog, the carrier does not need to be as large. Bigger cats and some large birds such as geese will need larger carriers to accommodate their size.
Weigh the animal being transported so that you know what kind of load the cat carrier needs to be able to bear. Some cat carriers are cheaply constructed and may fail at a crucial moment. If the cat carrier does not have a weight limit listed, approximate the weight of the animal in the store with bags of food or litter to see if the cat carrier will hold up. Check for other signs of sturdy construction as well: look at how the door of the carrier is closed, and if it locks. Wiggle the carrier to see if it gives or seems easy to break out of, as well.
It is also important to think about how the cat carrier will be used. If you intend to take it on aircraft, contact the airline to find out their size restrictions. Measurements for taking carriers on the cabin are usually very precise, and you want to avoid flying your animal with the cargo. Airlines may have additional restrictions on cat carrier designs that you should take into consideration as well. Most airlines, for example, required hard carriers rather than soft bags.
If the cat carrier is just being used in the car and for short trips, a soft carrier might be more comfortable. Soft carriers usually resemble netted bags, and are designed to allow the animal to breathe in comfort and see the outside world. Most have a compartment below where you can store accessories like toys or a leash, and sturdy shoulder straps along with handles. If the cat carrier is being used for longer trips, you want the animal to have more room, or you are concerned that the animal will claw or chew its way out, a sturdy hard cat carrier may be a better choice.