Cat expert issues warning against putting your pet in a trendy celeb-approved backpack

Cat back packs are becoming increasingly fashionable – thanks in no small part to their appearance in some current pop culture moments.

The bags are backpacks with a transparent ‘window’ that can be used to tote around animals – normally cats, but also sometimes small dogs.

And they split opinions, with some people thinking they are useful for carrying their pets around with them. However, many believe they are cruel. 

They are just one of the bizarre trends that are garnering support from the public – many of whom have seen celebs using them – but not all of these pet trends are popular with vets.

Here, FEMAIL looks at some of the trends more and more people are using for their pets including leads for cats, prams for dogs, and slings for dogs…

Cat backpacks  

Taylor Swift is seen carrying her cat in the Miss Americana Netflix documentary, which will stream in the UK from January 31

Claudia Schiffer is seen donning a model of 'Chip the cat' who is a motif from upcoming major motion picture Argylle

Claudia Schiffer is seen donning a model of ‘Chip the cat’ who is a motif from upcoming major motion picture Argylle

A range of celebrities, who have been seen using the back carrying cat bags. For example, megastar Taylor Swift was seen toting her feline in one in Miss Americana.

In addition, the cat in a back pack has become the motif for what has already become 2024’s most talked about movie – retro spy film Argylle, which stars Dua Lipa and Henry Cavill.

Due to the cat motif, celebrities were seen toting a model of the animal from the film in a back pack. German model Claudia Schiffer looked typically glam as she attended the world premiere of spy model Argylle in London earlier this month, with a model of the film’s ‘Chip the cat’ in a bag on her back.

In addition, other celebrities have been see out and about toting their cats around in the carriers, including Queen’s Gambit star Anya Taylor-Joy, and actor Kate Beckinsale is another famous fan of the carriers, and shared Instagram images of herself carrying beloved moggies Clive and Willow back in 2021. 

But while all this promotion of the bags means more and more people may be tempted to buy into the trend, this is not necessarily a good thing, according to an RSPCA spokesperson.

In fact, they told FEMAIL that they would not recommend that the backpack are used to transport felines.

This, they explained, is because ‘cats naturally hide or try to run away when they feel stressed or scared – but this instinct could be restricted when they are contained inside these clear bags’.

The spokesperson added that they ‘know that loving cat owners may have the best of intentions by wanting to have their cats close to them’.

Actor Kate Beckinsdale shared images of herself carried her beloved cats Clive and Willow back in 2021 on Instagram

Actor Kate Beckinsdale shared images of herself carried her beloved cats Clive and Willow back in 2021 on Instagram

Meanwhile, actor Anya Taylor-Joy was seen striding through the streets in 2022 with her furry companions in one of the carriers

Meanwhile, actor Anya Taylor-Joy was seen striding through the streets in 2022 with her furry companions in one of the carriers

They added: ‘Although cats love to explore and are naturally inquisitive they are also inherently territorial which means they are homely creatures who often feel most secure in their own home and local area.’

Finally, the expert pointed out, these backpacks are ‘often small, very restrictive and can interfere with temperature regulation’. 

‘We also advise owners to monitor their cats for any signs of stress when introducing them to new or different experiences but this becomes very difficult when cats are travelling on their owners’ backs,’ they concluded.

Cats on leads

Another trend has seen people put their cats on leads to take them out for walks – usually in urban environments. 

It’s often clear to see that the animals are in discomfort (although some seem to enjoy it).

Speaking previously, vet Emma Milne has argued that having cats on leads could be harmful to their wellbeing as it can cause the animal to become stressed. 

She said: ‘The animals are very misunderstand by cat lovers and this new trend is a big issue as cats are very subtle communicators. Sometimes you can’t tell if they are stressed or not.

‘Cats are very territorial and like situations and places that they know. They are also prey animals and need to have the choice to be able to flee and escape.

‘None of these needs are being met when they are on a lead , for me it’s madness.’

Emma added: ‘You can train cats to have a harness and a lead but I would still have issues with the stress that they’re under, which perhaps isn’t being understood by their owners – they are coping with the situation rather than enjoying it.’

When talking about having a pet in London and not letting them outside on their own the vet said: ‘It’s a privilege to have a pet and if you can’t meet their psychological and behavioural needs then that’s not fair.

Dogs in prams 

There are various reasons for people using prams for their dogs, many of which are cultural.

For example, in Taiwan, dogs in prams are a common sight, a phenomenon some have linked with falling birth rates – notably, because Taiwan’s birthrate is among the lowest in Asia.

For others, it’s changing view around how they see their pets, with many seeing them as ‘furry babies’ – which again some link to the declining birthrate. 

Some put their dogs in strollers as a fashion statement.

For others, they are used for dogs whose health is declining, which is something that is supported by a number of vets.

Veterinarian Dr. Julie Buzby has previously spoken about positive reasons for using a stroller for your dog.

She says: ‘As dogs get older, exploration becomes more challenging, and walks must be shorter. For some paralyzed dogs, disabled dogs, or dogs with other mobility issues, it may seem like walks are destined to be a thing of the past. However, this is where dog wagons or dog strollers come to the rescue!’

The vet notes that prams can promote your dog’s cognitive function as well as act as their legs.

She notes: ‘As you prepare to keep your geriatric pet active, keep in mind that wagon rides can be a source of fun for your aging canine friends. But it is also important to realize that the experience is new. And for some dogs, it may be a bit scary in the beginning. Start out slow, and keep your first few walks short.’

However, for dogs without these health issues, using a stroller is likely to be unnecessary – and could deny them the exercise they require.

Dogs in slings

Known as ‘pooch pouches’, these slings which are similar to the ones used for babies are becoming increasing popular for small dogs.

They are a major trend in the US, and many animal advocates are hoping the trend doesn’t cross the pond. 

The Dogs Trust’s veterinary director Paula Boyden told the Mirror: ‘Its horrifying

‘Bewildered dogs are uncomfortably suspended in handbag-style harnesses, swinging by their owner’s side in the name of vanity. 

‘Dogs are not babies and should never be carried in slings in this way. Such contraptions prevent a dog from socialising and exercising as a dog should.’