Contained Yet Comfy
Offer kennels, crates and carriers with features that make pets feel cozy and secure.
BY AUDRE Y PAVIA
Dog and cat crate and carrier designers are increasingly focusing on the aesthetics of these products, according to manufacturers, who say pet owners want options that are both functional and attractive
in the home.
“There seems to be a focus on safety and functionality, as well as creating
designs that fit more seamlessly into the home,” said Jason Savitt, president
of Prevue Pet Products in Chicago. “This is fantastic because it means more
options for pet parents aesthetically as well as better providing for the spe-
cific needs of the pet.”
According to Julie Huthmaker, CEO of Clearly Loved Pets in West Palm
Beach, Fla., some pet owners want to get away from traditional pens and
crates. This trend is especially strong with millennials, she said.
Huthmaker noted that owners who need to keep their pets contained,
such as at night or while they are away at work, want their animals to feel
comfortable, not caged.
“They feel guilty about it and want their pets to have more room to move
around and feel less caged in,” she said.
Huthmaker also pointed out that people spend a lot of time and money
making their homes beautiful and want a crate that will look good.
“So often the dog crate is stuck somewhere out of sight, like a laundry
room or bedroom, away from the people the dog wants to be with,” she said.
CARRIERS THAT OFFER COMFORT
Last year, Petmate introduced two cat carriers designed
and developed with feline behaviorist Jackson Galaxy: the
Two Door Top Load Carrier and the Double Extend Carrier.
The carriers are designed to reduce stress and create a
comfortable space for cats when traveling, said Courtney
Landry, director of the hard goods division for Petmate in
The Two Door Top Load Carrier is a classic carrier with
two points of entry that make it easier for a cat to enter and
exit. The carrier is also easy to clean for pet owners, and
it comes in two colors: berried glitter and blue glitter. The
Double Extend Carrier has multiple entry and exit points.
The five points of entry and double expanding sides provide
more room for cats to lounge and feel safe when traveling,
In the past couple of years, Prevue Pet Products in
Chicago has been focused on growing the company’s cat
home and furniture lines, said Jason Savitt, president.
Prevue recently released two different size cat homes:
deluxe and premium.
“The cages are designed with no gaps or pinch
points, and they are safe and comfortable for cats and
kittens recovering from an injury or illness, needing extra
protection from other family pets or having issues being left
alone,” Savitt said. “These homes allow cats to sit up high
and survey the room, all while making them feel safe and
protected. These cages have also helped cats that like to
hide to be more social because they feel safe.”
Gen7Pets in Elverson, Pa., recently unveiled the Carry-
Me Sleeper, a two-in-one bed and carrier designed for
pets weighing 20 pounds or less, said Nancy Shadlow, vice
president of marketing.
“As more people are traveling with their pets, there’s a
need for a comfortable, familiar place for the pet to sleep
as well,” she said. “The default is having the pet sleeping
with the parents, but that can disrupt sleep. Rather than
bringing a separate bed, the Carry-Me Sleeper serves as
the bed and carrier. Multifunction means one less thing to
Educating and guiding pet owners in the crate and carrier category is essential,
according to manufacturers and retailers.
“Being able to listen to the needs of your customer and provide the proper advice
and product recommendations is the major advantage brick-and-mortar retailers have
over online stores,” said Jason Savitt, president of Prevue Pet Products in Chicago.
Pet owner education is important in this category, in particular, because of the
functional nature of the products and the need for pets to be trained to properly use
them, according to retailers.
“We offer crate training tips for those looking for a crate,” said Sherry Redwine, co-
owner of Odyssey Pets in Dallas. “Some customers also don’t know how big of a crate
to get, so we recommend proper sizing. You don’t want it too big because the pet is
more inclined to make a mess in it. You also don’t want it too small, especially if the pet
is going to be in it for several hours.”
For customers looking for a crate they can take on a plane, Redwine recommends
they go to the airline’s website to get specifications.
“Even if a product says it’s airline approved, you’ll want to make sure with each
airline, because their standards vary,” she said.
Janene Zakrajsek, co-owner of Pussy & Pooch Pethouse and Pawbar, which has
stores in Southern California, agreed that training is vital.
“It’s important that clients are made aware of tips and tricks to get their dogs and
cats acclimated to a new crate or carrier,” she said. “It’s never a good idea to purchase
a carrier and travel immediately. The pet needs time to feel relaxed and comfortable
being confined in a new carrier to create a positive travel experience.”
According to Cyndi Wells, owner of Pet Pangaea in Los Alamos, N.M., consumer
education is key for success when selling crates or carriers.
“In addition to demonstrating the features of the particular product, we are obliged
to talk about the training involved with crates, for the health and safety of their pet,”
“Unfortunately, clients do not often realize how easy it can be for a pet to chew
its way out of a crate,” Wells added. “In certain situations, we may even discourage
the purchase of a crate because it is not the right fit for their situation. Instead of
purchasing a crate, for example, in the case of severe separation anxiety, we may
encourage our client to pursue professional behavior modification training and
provide a list of local resources. Or, if they mention the reason for the crate is sudden
incontinence, we may check to see if they sought veterinary care for their pet to check
for medical issues.”
Wells added that sometimes, the perfect purchase is no purchase.
“If we have helped that client with their pet and situation, we have done our duty,
and our relationship will be strengthened for the future,” she said.
CALLING ATTENTION TO
CRATES AND CARRIERS
When it comes to marketing crates
and carriers, tapping into people’s
lifestyles and values is critical,
said Nancy Shadlow, vice president
of marketing for Gen7Pets in
“For example, when it comes
to travel, people still prioritize
themselves first,” she said. “It’s why
so many purchases around travel
with pets still happen on the way to
the airport or at the beginning of the
car trip. Ask pet families to consider
what lifestyle decisions mean for
their furry family member. Market
yourself as the voice of the pet.”
Courtney Landry, director of the
hard goods division for Petmate
in Arlington, Texas, recommended
integrating videos onto product
detail pages online, in email
newsletters or through social media
“This helps consumers make
informed purchase decisions when
researching a specific product
or looking for information for an
upcoming trip that includes their
pets,” she said.
Landry also recommended more
traditional tactics, such as in-store
signage and retail training literature
“These also help the employees
who are directly interacting with
consumers feel well educated on
these products so they can assist
them in-store,” she said.
When it comes to crates and
carriers, pet owners are focused
on safety and functionality.