GADGETS & ACCESSORIES

DIY Cat Carrier: Keeping Your Pets & Budget Safe

A cat sitting in a blue cat carrier
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

As pet owners, we know how hard it is to find accessories that our cat really loves. This is especially true if you own cats that are really picky about their “things.” Aside from picky animals, some equipment are also prone to breakage. Take cat carriers for example. Even the sturdiest carrier can suffer wear and tear due to your cat’s antics or their sharp claws. Constantly replacing cat carriers can be a serious drain on your finances, so cat owners sometimes resort to making their own DIY cat carrier to save money.

Knowing how to DIY a pet carrier is not only about savings. Knowing what to do in case your main carrier is out of commission can be helpful during an emergency. A carrier can also help him relax on the way to the clinic so that he is calm during treatment.

Two cats sitting in a blue cat carrier

Luckily, making a DIY cat carrier is not too hard. In fact, you can make different kinds of carriers from materials commonly found inside your home. Knowing how to make your own cat carrier will not only save you money, but it will also help save the environment since you will be recycling many of the materials you need.

This article will talk about five different ways you can DIY your cat carrier as well as the materials and procedures that you can follow. At the end of the article, you will find a section dedicated to general DIY tips that can be applied to most if not all projects, just in case you feel like getting creative.

5 DIY Cat Carrier Options

Making your own pet carrier is not too hard. All you need are some basic skills, enough patience, and materials you probably already have lying around unused at home. With those, you’re on your way to saving money and the environment.

DIY Cat Carrier #1: The Laundry Basket Carrier

The first DIY option is the laundry basket carrier. This is a very basic carrier that only needs two things: 2 different-sized plastic laundry baskets and several bungee cords. It’s pretty easy.

a cat in  the laundry basket

Here are the steps you need to follow:

  • Put your pet in the large laundry basket. You can opt to place old towels or a small pillow you no longer use to make your cat more comfortable inside. A toy or two could be a good idea to prevent boredom. If you don’t have any cat toys, you can make some as well by following the instructions in this article.

  • Place the second basket upside down on top of the first one to make a roof.

  • Secure the two baskets using bungee cords. Make sure that they are tight enough so that your cat does not escape before you’re prepared to let him out.

  • Tie several bungees cords lengthwise and crosswise for added security. Leave approximately 1-inch between your cords so that they can cover a large portion of your makeshift carrier.

Before proceeding with the laundry basket carrier, make sure that your cat can fit inside both baskets with room to spare. This option is a great idea if you don’t have a lot of time to make a carrier using more permanent materials and have bungee cords and several laundry baskets to spare.

DIY Cat Carrier #2: Old Purse or Backpack Upcycle

Many pet owners have old purses or backpacks lying around. Turning them into a cat carrier is a great way to upcycle. It gives new life to your unused belongings. This procedure requires more materials than the laundry basket project, but your carrier will be the talk of the town.

A cat sleeping in a DIY cat carrier

Materials:

  • An old backpack or purse (make sure your cat fits inside)

  • Chicken wire or mesh wire (can be metal or plastic)

  • Scissors

  • Wire cutters

  • Cable tie wires

  • A ruler

  • A measuring tape

  • Glue or a glue gun

  • A permanent marker

Here are the steps you need to follow:

  • Lay the backpack or the purse flat on the table and measure how big your window will be. The window is important because it will provide your pet with the air he needs and also so that you can monitor your pet without opening the bag.

  • Once you’ve figured out how big you want the window to be, transfer the measurement to your chicken wire or mesh wire.

  • Cut the same size on the backpack or purse.

  • Purses or backpacks generally have a lining between layers to protect the outside fabric from your things inside. Place the mesh or chicken wire in between the lining and the fabric of the bag so that the cut up wires won’t hurt your cat.

  • Glue the lining closed to prevent the wires from poking out. Do the same for the front.

  • You can decorate the window with old fabric so that the cut up portions won’t show up. You can use some old fabric or some decorative tape to frame your windows and make your purse or backpack look attractive and neat.

This type of pet carrier takes time to make. It also helps if you’re the creative kind so you can use your imagination to decorate the bag and make it look more amazing.

DIY Cat Carrier #3: Picnic Basket-Carrier

An old picnic basket can also be converted into a carrier. It makes a good pet carrier because most baskets already have a cover so you won’t have to DIY one. Turning a picnic basket into a carrier does not take a lot of work. If your basket is made from wicker or other similar materials, you won’t need to make air holes anymore since wicker baskets are breathable. However, you can still spruce it up.

Picture of a Picnic Basket-Carrier

Materials:

  • A drill with ¾ or ½-sized drill bit

  • Bedding materials

  • Scissors

  • A ruler or a measuring tape

  • Glue or a glue gun

  • Cable wire ties

Steps:

  • Poking holes is optional but advisable especially if the wicker of the picnic basket is tightly woven or if it’s all plastic. Using your drill, poke holes on the sides of your picnic basket to make air holes for your cat.

  • For plastic picnic baskets, you will need to make bedding at the bottom to make your cat feel comfortable inside. You can use old fabric or old towels. Measure the amount of material you have and then cut.

  • Lay the bedding inside the picnic basket floor and glue it down. If your picnic basket already has a padded lining, additional bedding is optional (unless it is really thin).

  • If your picnic basket does not have a clap to lock the covers, you can thread a cable wire tie between the weave to secure it. You can drill a hole on the cover so that the wire can go through. Be sure to carry extra cable tie wires since this type of locking mechanism is single-use.

Picnic baskets are easy to convert into carriers and a good option if you’re in a rush.

DIY Cat Carrier #4: Storage Bin Carrier

Just like the picnic basket, storage bins can be easily converted into a cat carrier. It is easy and does not take a lot of time. Storage bins are a good idea if you have a big cat that does not fit into conventional cat carriers. This option is quick to make and does not require you to spend a lot of money.

A cat getting out of a storage bin

Materials:

  • A storage bin—preferably with cover and locking mechanism

  • A drill with ¾ or ½-sized drill bit

  • Bedding materials

  • Scissors

  • A ruler or a measuring tape

  • Glue or a glue gun

Steps:

  • Open the storage bin and set aside the cover.

  • Measure the inside of the bin for the bedding.

  • Cut the bedding material and glue it to the bottom of the storage bin.

  • Use the drill to poke holes on the sides of the bin.

Storage bins are great options during an emergency. You can even forgo the bedding if you’re really in a hurry. This option is also very affordable especially if you already have a spare bin at home.

DIY Cat Carrier #5: Moving Box Carrier

Many pet owners do not like to utilize moving boxes because they are flimsy and disposable. However, it’s still a good option during an emergency or if you don’t have space to store a carrier.

Cat relaxing on a Moving Box

Moving boxes are foldable and an ideal option when you live in a small apartment. You can make this ahead of time so that you can use it immediately whenever you need to.

  • A moving box

  • A drill with ¾ or ½-sized drill bit

  • A pillow that’s roughly the same size as your box (can be disposable)

  • Scissors

  • Packaging or duct tape

  • Glue or a glue gun

Steps:

  • Close the bottom portion of the box and seal it with packaging or some duct tape.

  • Making a bedding is optional for a moving box carrier because it is disposable. Once your cat has soiled the box, you can toss it in the trash.

  • However, if you want to provide a bedding, a pillow will do since you can wash it and transfer it easily to your next box.

  • Glue the pillow to the bottom of the box.

  • Use the drill to poke holes around the box.

This option is ideal for well-behaved cats. Pets that do not like being inside a carrier or naughty cats can destroy the box carrier in minutes, so it’s best to find other options for them. If your cat absolutely despises the carrier and no amount of coaxing can get him to touch it with a ten-foot pole, you should take a look at this article on how to get a cat into a carrier.

Cat Carrier DIY Tips

DIY-ing a cat carrier is easy enough especially after the first few times. Once you’ve figured out the steps and gathered the necessary materials, your DIY project can go smoothly without a hitch.

Image of a pink cat carrier on the floor

In case you don’t have time to go through all those trials and errors, here are some tips you can use to get started.

  • Cats come in all sizes, so it’s prudent to measure your cat first before making a carrier. They should be able to fit comfortably inside with room to stand up or move around a bit in. However, the carrier should not be so big that the cat gets knocked around inside when traveling.

  • Make sure that your cat gets ample air supply inside the carrier. Some materials like boxes, storage bins, or plastic picnic baskets are thoroughly sealed. Better be safe than sorry; when in doubt, always use your drill to poke some more air holes.

  • Before placing your cat in your DIY carrier, feel around for any sharp wires, fabric, or materials that might have gotten embedded or is poking out of the lining or bedding. A stray wire or a needle can cause injury to your beloved pet.

  • Bedding materials can be made from different materials like old sweatshirts, blankets, and pillows. You can sew together as many layers as you want to make it thicker and more comfortable or you can add stuffing or some lightweight foam to make a mattress. If you’re feeling lazy, a pillow will do.

  • Always make sure that you have a means of securing the cover. In case you use boxes, the top can be closed and secured using some duct tape. Bungee cords are also good in a pinch; plus they are reusable. Other great options include cable tie wires and a nylon rope.

  • Their favorite bedding or toy can make your cat less anxious when he’s inside the carrier.

  • A DIY cat carrier might not be able to pass air travel regulations if you need to travel via airplane. In this case, perhaps a TSA or an airline-approved carrier is your best option.

Wrap Up

Your cat will probably struggle, scratch, and screech when you’re putting him inside the carrier. It could be because he doesn’t like the vet or maybe because he just wants to stay at home. However, cat carriers are necessary for the safety of your cat. It will make transporting him to different locations easier and prevent him from hurting himself during the trip.

Cat carriers are expensive and making your own can help you save money. For people who already have materials lying around at home, it’s a great way to recycle or upcycle old or unused belongings so that they may have a new purpose.

A cat sitting in a laundry carrier

Aside from serving as a form of transportation, a cat carrier can help you keep your cat indoors especially if he keeps escaping from your home. It can also provide older cats with a place to escape from younger pets that are way too energetic and playful for them. Whatever the reason, knowing how to make your own cat carrier can give you an extra level of security so that you won’t be too stressed when the time comes to transport your cat.

What do you think about our DIY pet carrier options? Do you think you will be trying any of them for your cat? Tell us what you think by leaving your comments below. If you have other great ideas on how to make a DIY cat carrier, we’d love to exchange recipes with you!

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.

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