When it comes to the world’s greatest inventions I rank soft cat carriers right up there with the computer. Plastic carriers have their place, but I didn’t enjoy the sore neck and arms that came with them. And working in a vet hospital, I was hauling a lot more cats around in them then just my own. They are just awkward to carry. While I do still have some hard carriers for when we have to evacuate or to carry the rabbit or ferret (I worry they could chew through soft ones), soft carriers get the most use for the cats.
When it comes to soft carriers, there is one name many pet owners recognize- Sherpa. Sherpa Pet Group has been a leader in soft pet carriers for over 20 years. Their product lines include the Sherpa Original Deluxe line of carriers as well as exclusive Delta and American Airlines lines. They’ve partnered with airlines to develop a Guaranteed On Board® program to insure you get a carrier that meets your airlines regulations.
The Sherpa Park Tote is their newest carrier. This sleek looking carrier is convertible going from a carrier to sleep mat with just the unzipping of a few zippers. It comes in 2 sizes, small for pets up to 6 lbs and medium for pets up to 12 lbs. It also comes in 2 patterns- black with zebra print and brown with leopard print. One side has a window with roll-up cover and a mesh top making it easy for you to see your pet and your pet to see you. The side without the window has a zippered pocket for keeping pet related items or maybe a wallet for the quick run in for a vet appointment. Each corner has a zipper and the top zips along each side and then closes at the front using strong Velcro and a clasp. The bottom has a removal faux sheepskin to make it comfy for your pet. And it’s all machine washable.
My cats and I were given the chance to try the Sherpa Park Tote. I chose the brown with the leopard print interior to review. It arrives collapsed flat. Setting it up wasn’t hard. I started with zipping up the corners. This was relatively easy, though for 2 of the corners it did take a minute or two to get the teeth on each side aligned so they would zip. I did get a little confused by the excess part of the corners that stuck out on the inside of the carrier. That certainly didn’t seem right, but I couldn’t figure out what to do with them. It wasn’t until later when I was collapsing the carrier that I realized each end of the carrier had material that was open on each side where you tucked the flaps under.
Minuit was the first one to try the carrier when we went to the vet. She can get kind of snotty and my hands usually suffer for it, so I decided to put her in through the end rather than the top. Luckily she was pleasantly cooperative and I was able to put her right in, zip up the corners, then latch the top. Minuit is 9 lbs and she fit perfectly in the Park Tote. It was comfortable to carry. It didn’t have the saggy bottom like some soft carriers I’ve had which I’m sure made it better for Minuit.
Once we were in the exam room, I unzipped the top to take her out. We all survived her appointment and she needed to go back into the carrier. Minuit went in easily through the top, but I had a little trouble getting the top zipped. Because the carrier opens up, each side of the top’s zippers aren’t connected so you have to get the ends lined up so you can zip them shut. I had a little problem trying to do that. Like most cats, Minuit was happy to be back in her carrier after seeing the vet. But I could see this being a problem if you are trying to get a cat into the carrier at home when they don’t want to go in. Speed can count in those cases and fighting with a zipper takes time. Another issue I worried about (but luckily Minuit was well behaved), was the top corners where the zippers ended. They were zipped tight but some cats absolutely hate being in their carriers and I could see a determined cat trying to get out of there. It’s something to keep in mind.
Poughkeepsie also got a chance to try out the Park Tote when he went to the vet to get his eye checked. He weighs in at 11lbs, but looks a little bigger because of his fur. He’s a good cat in the carrier so we had no problems.
When you unzip all the zippers on the Park Tote you have a mat for your pet to lay on. This could come in handy if your dog or cat travels with you. They can have their own little spot to nap on. Omar was more than happy to try out that feature.
Probably the best thing about the Park Tote is how easy it is to clean. Spot cleaning is recommended but it’s machine washable if more cleaning is needed. I wanted to see how the Park Tote survived the washer so I unzipped it removed the sheepskin mat and threw them into the washer. When they were done, I hung them to air dry (the dryer isn’t recommended). Once they were all dry, I put it all back together. I wondered if washing it would affect the shape of the tote but it looked as good as new.
The nice thing is being able to unzip the tote completely and store the carrier flat. With 6 cats I have a few carriers and try to keep them handy but my other soft carriers have to be stored as they are and take up a lot of room in my closet. The Sherpa Park Tote will store flat just by unzipping all the zippers. Much better than having a tower of cat carriers around.
Sherpa Park Tote Review Wrap-up
+ Attractive looking- while I’m not a big animal print fan I actually like it in this carrier.
+Sturdy- Held up to the weight of each of my cats.
+Easily cleaned- The fabric makes it easy to wipe off any messes. For more in depth cleaning just throw in the washer. One of the best parts is the fabric is smooth enough that hair won’t stick to it like the canvas carriers. Considering how much a stressed cat sheds this is a big plus.
+Easy to store. How much of your closet is taken up by carriers? With the Sherpa Park Tote just unzip all the corners and the top and you can store the carrier flat.
– A little confusing when putting it together- It took me some time to realize the flaps that are made by zipping the corners can be hidden behind the extra layer of material on each end. Minuit didn’t hold my confusion against me.
–Zippers take a little work- I had a little problem getting the zipper ends to line up so I could get the zipper started. If you have a cat that will do anything to stay out of the carrier, you have limited time to secure him in, so struggling with zippers could be a problem.
– Would prefer some protection in the upper corners to prevent a cat from trying to get out- I’m a worry wart when it comes to using carriers especially with cats. I would love to have something reinforcing the top corners to keep a determined cat from trying to get out. A flap using the same Velcro as the front of the carrier I think would do the trick. It’s something to keep in mind if you have a cat who likes to be Houdini. Since none of my current kitties try to escape, I felt comfortable transporting them in the Sherpa Park Tote.
If you are looking for an attractive looking, easy to store, easy to clean carrier for your cat or little dog, I can recommend the Sherpa Park Tote carrier. None of my dogs are small enough to fit in the Tote, but I wish one did because I love the fact that it unzips into a mat especially for when we travel. Maybe someday I’ll have a little pup to use it with, but until then the cats will get to enjoy it.