Common Misconception: Cat Backpacks

In 2015, an adorable trend made its way into the world of pet travel carriers. Enter: the bubble backpack, a large, cat-sized pack with a small semi-sphere window placed in the front. Small pets, such as cats and small dogs, can sit inside the pack and peek out at the world around them through this bubble. Most of these packs come with additional strap padding for maximum owner comfort, ventilation holes, removable and washable inserts, and two separate points of entry. Plus, these things are pretty dang precious.

Unfortunately, the bubble backpack trend is not as safe and secure as we may have thought. Though animals are not likely to escape, the structure is inherently unsafe. Backpacks are known to jostle while in motion, and if an animal is standing up inside this unsecured structure, injury is likely to occur. There is no tethering device, no room for the animal to lie down, and the base of the pack is not sturdy enough to allow the animal to stand comfortably.

To that end, these backpacks are not airline approved, and you may encounter trouble while trying to board a train with an animal inside a bubble backpack. The carrier is not sturdy enough to ride safely within a car (there is no place to hook a seatbelt, and the pack may fall over while in transit), and the side holes may hinder its ability to be used on public transportation like buses and subways. It appears that recreation is the sole purpose of this type of container.

Now, for some pet owners, this is okay. Indoor cats may want to experience the outdoors, and this is a safe and effective way to bring him out of the house. Walking around with the pack on your front or back can be a fun experience for both you and your animal. However, this backpack should not be a substitute for a legitimate, transit-approved carrier—the mix-up may result in unsafe travel conditions or the inability to board your method of transit.

Common Misconception: Yarn as a Toy

We’ve all seen the cartoons—an animal, usually a cat, batting around a ball of yarn and having the time of his life. Yarn will catch the attention of most pets; it moves around, it’s easy to catch, and chewing on it can be a pleasurable experience. The material is also very cheap and easily accessible, making it a popular “do it yourself” toy option. However, yarn can pose an incredible danger to animals regardless of age.

Pets begin to chew on toys when they are teething. As with humans, this is a way to sooth the painful sensation of new, growing teeth. Many pets continue this behavior into adulthood when they are bored or anxious—think: a dog with a bone or a cat with a kickeroo. If possible, it is best to discourage chewing as an animal pastime. It can be destructive to your home and belongings but also dangerous if your pet ingests something sharp, large, or indigestible—such as yarn.

Cats, in particular, are drawn to string and long, flexible objects. Unfortunately, this material is among some of the most dangerous an animal can use as a toy. Ingesting yarn can lead to what veterinarians refer to as “linear foreign bodies,” which occurs when something like string gets wrapped in and around the digestive tract. Surgery is the only method for safely removing the material.

This danger is not limited to yarn—it incudes everything from long clothing fibers to dental floss. It is therefore essential to properly store these materials, as just a couple of inches of string is enough to cause significant damage. If you use string toys with your animals, read through customer reviews to ensure the object is sturdily-built. Store them safely and properly.

If your pet does ingest a piece of yarn, floss, or string, take them to the vet as soon as possible. To that end, never pull on or try to remove a string that is stuck in your pet’s throat or butt; it could very well be wrapped around their digestive tract, and your removal might cause serious internal damage.