4 Ways to Protect Your Cat From the Escaped-Carrier Crisis

Defective carriers are creating a wave of lost cats. From cat guardians on the way to the veterinarian to travelers bringing their cat through the airport, families who have been grappling with the aftermath of a feline escape are eager to warn others.

Rudy was reunited with family after 5 days in a busy international airport.

Rudy was reunited with family after five days in a busy international airport.

Please help us find Rudy,” Tamsin Dayment of Florida said in June when her hairless cat went missing in Atlanta, Georgia. “Our kitten was placed in the trusting hands of Delta Airline employees to get him home safely. Somehow his ‘cage broke open’ and the kitten ran out in the cargo loading area. According to Delta representatives, this was around 7 am yesterday. It has been 24 hours and he has still not been found. The longer he goes without food and water, the more dangerous the situation…. Where’s Rudy?”

Five days later, after posting a $2,000 cash reward and bringing in a search dog, Rudy was found. But sadly, he’s not the first to go through this ordeal. There are numerous cases of cats flying into the United States through international adoption programs, only to be lost due to carrier malfunctions that suddenly caused the carriers to break apart or open up. Yet often, it’s the ordinary trips that pose the most danger.

I had just arrived outside my vet’s office when my hard sided plastic carrier completely came apart, dumping my little cat out onto the sidewalk in a shopping area,” Lynne Usack Larson of Florida said. “I was frantic – but she was too confused to run and I was able to quickly grab her. I borrowed a carrier from the vet for the ride home – will NEVER buy that kind of carrier again!”

“I was transporting a rescue cat in a top zipper soft bag (which I don’t ususally use) and kitty was able to force the zipper open with her feet and head while I was driving and she got out into the car and was frantic,” rescue volunteer Lynn Richardson of Petaluma, California said. “I will never use a soft carrier again.”

Four Easy Ways To Protect Your Cat:

Because many of the carriers on the market are neither durable or escape-proof, it’s wise to take some additional measures to shore up the safety of your cat.

ThinkstockPhotos-995266581. Zip Ties:

Very inexpensive and easy-to-find, zip ties offer a reasonable way to stabilize your carrier. Simply feed the zip tie in through the clasps that hold the top and bottom of the carrier together. Sometimes, there won’t be a good way to do this without drilling your own holes, but a very small drill bit will provide ample room for the ties to be put into place, sealing the carrier as one solid unit.


ThinkstockPhotos-1783670142. Bungee Cords:

In a pinch, bungee cords also offer a cost-effective and tool-free way to stabilize your carrier. Simply use a pair of two cords wrapped tightly around the front and rear of the carrier. It’s a good idea to then use a second set of cords wrapped lengthwise around the carrier to prevent the door from accidentally unlatching.


ThinkstockPhotos-712623503. Duct Tape:

It may not be pretty, but a simple roll of duct tape can do amazing things. Some people will even use it to secure a fender back on their car or to mold a one-of-a-kind prom dress. Duct tape comes in a variety of decorative designs and is an effortless way to hold the carrier housing in place.


ThinkstockPhotos-4652922814. Support the Bottom of the Carrier & Double Check Your Door Latch

Always support the bottom of your carrier and double check the door to make sure the holding pins are correctly in place. Often escapes happen when pet guardians think they’ve shut the door of the carrier, but it’s not locked in place.


For more everyday tips on how to keep your pets safe & healthy, visit the Harmony Fund’s Facebook page here.


Lorraine A
Lorraine Andersenabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing. Once thought the security check I always zip tie the cats carrier closed...just in case!!

Danuta W
Danuta Wabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing

Danuta W
Danuta Wabout a year ago

thanks for sharing

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

Gerald L.
Gerald L3 years ago

If you pet suffers car sickness, Gate's the fan belt company makes an very sturdy Static Strap that you can either bolt under your vehicle or your trailer hitch if you have one. It works for us. It's better than having to clean up vomit, urine and fece's, OR having to look for Houdini the cat who's gone in hiding.

O'Reilly Auto Parts sells Gate's, otherwise check online for dealers of gate's products.

william Miller
william Miller3 years ago

thanks i would never fly with a pet and prefer not to fly myself

Marsha McCroden
Marsha McCroden3 years ago

Thanks for the suggestions. I have sent them on to my husband; one of our cats needs a kidney transplant and the only US hospital that does stem cell treatment so the cat doesn't reject the new kidney. That place is in Georgia!! We're in Ohio. So again -- many thanks for the article.

mrs m.
Linda M3 years ago

The current (new) carriers are junk compared to the older ones we own.

I would never, ever hand my pet to an airline. PERIOD.

Joseph Belisle
Joseph Belisle3 years ago

Excellent article. Thanks.

Muriel Servaege
Muriel Servaege3 years ago

Noted, thanks.