Even if you have an indoor cat, you’ll probably have to take him out of the house at some point. Whether you’re going to the vet or boarding him at the kennel, you’ll need a cat carrier to keep your beloved pet safe during travel.
Cat carriers come in all shapes and sizes, so how do you choose the best one?
When it comes to choosing the best cat carrier, there are many factors to consider. Safety is the number-one priority, of course, but you also have to think about things like size, materials, price, and added features. The cat carrier that is right for you and your cat might not be the same as what’s right for someone else.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about choosing a cat carrier and to see our top 10 picks for the best cat carriers!
#1 Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe Airline Approved Cat Carrier
If you’re looking for a high-quality cat carrier that can be used for all modes of travel, the Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe Airline Approved Cat Carrier is definitely the way to go. This soft-sided carrier is perfectly sized to keep your cat safe and comfortable in the car but it is also airline approved for flight travel. It comes in three different sizes and six color options, made from lightweight but durable materials to ensure long-lasting performance.
The Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe Airline Approved Cat Carrier features a patented spring wire frame that allows the end of the carrier to be pushed down, if needed, to fit under an airline seat. There are mesh windows for ventilation, both top and side entry with locking zippers, and a padded adjustable shoulder strap. You’ll also find additional features like a seat belt/luggage strap and a machine-washable faux lambskin liner for comfort.
Pros: Airline approved, patented spring wire frame, top and side entry, locking zippers for safety, padded carry strap, mesh windows for ventilation, washable liner
Cons: Somewhat expensive, may not be large enough for cats over 20 pounds
#2 PetLuv Soothing “Happy Cat” Premium Soft-Sided Cat Carrier
If you do a lot of travel, the PetLuv Soothing “Happy Cat” Premium Soft-Sided Cat Carrier is a great carrier to have. Not only does it keep your cat safe and comfortable while you’re on the road or in the air, but when you get to your destination you can roll up the windows and turn it into a comfy cat bed. This soft-sided carrier is spacious without being too big and it features a padded liner to keep your cat comfortable while you travel.
The PetLuv Soothing “Happy Cat” Premium Soft-Sided Cat Carrier features three mesh windows for ventilation which can also be unzipped and rolled up. The carrier itself has a sturdy steel frame but it is fully collapsible for storage. This carrier features a padded grip and adjustable straps with locking zippers for safety and it comes with a plush pillow as well.
Pros: Sturdy steel frame folds flat, three mesh windows for ventilation, windows unzip and roll up, comes with a pillow, locking zippers, carries up to 45 pounds, can hold two cats
Cons: Very expensive compared to other carriers, may be too large for a single small cat
#3 Pet Magasin Luxury Soft-Sided Cat Carrier
If you’re traveling by plane, the Pet Magasin Luxury Soft-Sided Cat Carrier is a great option to consider. This soft-sided carrier features a lightweight design made from heavy-duty waterproof materials and it is airline approved. Available in two bright colors, this cat carrier stands out in a crowd and it offers a wide variety of convenient features.
Designed for safety first, the Pet Magasin Luxury Soft-Sided Cat Carrier holds its shape when the ends are zipped, but it folds flat for storage. It weighs just 2.2 pounds but can carry a full-size cat. This carrier is padded for comfort and comes with mesh windows for ventilation, a carry handle, and an adjustable shoulder strap.
Pros: Lightweight and easy to carry, made from heavy-duty materials, holds its shape but folds flat, padded for comfort, mesh windows for ventilation, adjustable shoulder strap
Cons: Smaller than some models, may not be big enough for cats over 20 pounds
#4 OxGord Airline Approved Pet Carrier
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a cat carrier if you don’t want to. The OxGord Airline Approved Pet Carrier is affordably priced under $25 and it is airline approved. This cat carrier comes in several bright colors and it features a unique design that makes it especially comfortable to carry as a tote bag.
The OxGord Airline Approved Pet Carrier comes with a removable fleece travel bed fo your cat’s comfort and the carrier itself is made from durable breathable materials. There are mesh windows for ventilation and to allow your cat to see out but the screens are 100% washable and ultra-secure. This soft-sided carrier comes in several sizes and the doors make it easy to access your cat while minimizing the risk of accidental escape during travel.
Pros: Durable but breathable materials, mesh windows for ventilation, removable fleece travel bed, storage compartment, padded shoulder strap, very secure
Cons: Size may run a little small, mesh windows may not withstand scratching
#5 Petmate Two Door Top Load Kennel
If you prefer the security of a hard-sided carrier for your cat, the Petmate Two Door Top Load Kennel is a good option. This carrier offers the convenience of both front and top doors so you can easily get your cat into and out of the carrier. The durable plastic materials hold their shape under pressure and the doors are made from metal for security.
The Petmate Two Door Top Load Kennel comes in two different sizes and four color options. It features a comfort grip handle securely anchored in the steel top-loading door with easy-open latches for one-handed operation. This carrier is airline approved for most airlines and it offers plenty of ventilation to keep your cat comfortable during travel.
Pros: Heavy-duty plastic materials, holds its shape under pressure, front and top load, metal doors with easy-open latches, secure top grip handle, airline approved
Cons: Doesn’t come with a liner, frame isn’t flexible (may not fit under all seats), may not work for cats over 20 pounds
#6 Amazon Basics Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier
For a soft-sided cat carrier that won’t break the bank but still comes in different sizes, consider the Amazon Basics Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier. This carrier is affordably priced under $30 and it comes in three sizes. Made from lightweight materials, this carrier has two handles and a comfortable shoulder strap. It also comes with a machine-washable fleece pet bed.
The Amazon Basics Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier offers plenty of ventilation to keep your cat comfortable with the convenience of both front and top entry. The carrier holds its shape fairly well but can be folded down for storage. Unfortunately, this carrier is not airline approved.
Pros: Lightweight materials, three sizes to choose from, comes with a machine washable pet bed, front and top entry, holds shape fairly well, affordable price
Cons: Not airline approved, may not be as durable as other models
#7 Mr. Peanut’s Airline Approved Soft Sided Pet Carrier
If you don’t mind spending a little more for fashion, Mr. Peanut’s Airline Approved Soft Sided Pet Carrier is an attractive cat carrier that is also airline approved. This carrier comes in two color combinations with leather details and quality hardware. It features a zippered door on each end with an extra one on top, making it easy to access your cat at any time.
The Mr. Peanut’s Airline Approved Soft Sided Pet Carrier is made from heavy-duty waterproof materials with breathable mesh windows for ventilation. It comes with a padded shoulder strap, a storage compartment for treats and toys, and a removable fleece travel bed. It is also surprisingly lightweight, coming in at just 2.7 pounds.
Pros: Heavy-duty but lightweight, attractive design, three entry options, mesh windows for ventilation, leather accents, removable fleece bed
Cons: Only comes in one size, best for cats under 14 pounds
#8 Pet Magasin Pet Travel Kennel for Cats
Though the Pet Magasin Pet Travel Kennel for Cats has a strange shape, it is a high-quality hard-sided carrier. If you like the idea of a soft-sided carrier but you want some added security, this may be a good option. This carrier is shaped to give your cat extra room for comfort but it still has the hard top and base to provide sturdy protection and a firm surface for your cat to stand on.
The Pet Magasin Pet Travel Kennel for Cats is sturdy by design, but it also folds down so the whole thing can be stored easily. It features a padded mat for comfort and it has a reinforced top carry handle. There is a breathable mesh window in the front as well as holes in the sides for ventilation. Plus, all of the hardware is of the highest quality to ensure long-lasting durability.
Pros: Hard top and base for security, breathable mesh window for ventilation, folds down for storage, padded bottom for comfort, reinforced handle
Cons: May be awkward to carry, somewhat expensive, only comes in one size
#9 SportPet Designs Foldable Travel Cat Carrier
If you like the idea of a hard-sided carrier but you don’t like the traditional shape, the SportPet Designs Foldable Travel Cat Carrier might be a good option. This carrier features a triangular shape with a single, extra-wide opening on the front. It is made from heavy-duty materials for safety and offers plenty of ventilation for breathability. Though it may not look like your average hard-sided carrier, it offers all the same benefits and more.
The SportPet Designs Foldable Travel Cat Carrier is very easy to clean, and it folds flat for storage, making it a great option for quick trips to the vet. Unfortunately, it is not airline approved and it only comes in one size, but it is rated for cats up to 25 pounds. It also comes with a padded fleece bed to keep your cat comfy during travel.
Pros: Hard-sided for safety, excellent ventilation, heavy-duty materials for durability, comes with a fleece bed, cat-friendly large opening
Cons: Not airline approved, only comes in one size, not for shoulder strap carry
#10 PetAmi Deluxe Pet Carrier Backpack
If you want a cat carrier that leaves your hands free, the PetAmi Deluxe Pet Carrier Backpack might be for you. This backpack-style cat carrier looks sleek and modern but it keeps your cat safe and comfortable. It comes in a wide range of colors and it is perfectly sized for most cats. Made from durable 600D high grade polyester, it is designed for long-lasting performance.
The PetAmi Deluxe Pet Carrier Backpack is an attractive and functional cat carrier. Though it looks like a normal backpack, it has a firm structure for safety and provides plenty of room for your cat to move around. The straps have thick padding for comfort and it comes with both chest and waist buckles as well as a front storage pocket. It also comes with Sherpa-lined bedding.
Pros: Made from durable 600D polyester, comes in a wide range of color options, padded straps for comfort, reinforced structure, chest and waist buckles, storage pocket
Cons: Only comes in one size, not for cats larger than 18 pounds
You love your cat and would probably take him everywhere with you if you could. While it may not be practical to tote your cat to work with you, you should have a quality cat carrier on hand for those times when you need to take him out of the house.
Because there are so may different cat carriers out there, it can be difficult to make a choice.
Fortunately, we’ve gathered a collection of the 10 best cat carriers and have reviewed the pros and cons of each. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of cat carriers, what to look for when shopping for a cat carrier, and to receive some handy travel tips.
What Are the Different Types of Cat Carrier?
If you do a search for cat carriers online, you’ll find hundreds of different options, so how do you make a choice? First, you need to know what the different options are.
Here is an overview of the most common types of cat carrier:
Cardboard Carrier – This is the type of carrier you’ll find at pet stores and adoption facilities – it is designed to be an inexpensive, temporary solution. Cardboard cat carriers may keep your cat contained, but it won’t provide any actual protection in an accident and it won’t hold up against scratches or spills, and it certainly won’t fair well in the rain.
Soft-Sided Carrier – A soft-sided carrier is typically made of nylon or another lightweight but durable material. These carriers are easy to tote, and they are generally easier to use for some people. They offer good ventilation (depending on the design) and they can be fit into tighter spaces than a hard carrier, though they may not stand up against sharp claws.
Hard-Sided Carrier – Usually made from plastic, hard-sided carriers offer the best protection against impact during an accident. Hard-sided carriers are also easy to clean, and they are more durable than soft carriers. Keep in mind that you can’t compress a hard-sided carrier to fit in a small space, however, and the door to the carrier should be metal.
Tote Bag Carrier – While many hard- and soft-sided carriers can be carried as a tote bag, there are also cat carriers designed specifically for toting your cat around. These come in a variety of designs such as shoulder bags and backpacks and can be made from different materials, just keep in mind that they are generally for carrying and not for car safety.
Don’t be tempted to make your own cat carrier out of items you have at home. Some cat owners use things like cardboard boxes, laundry baskets, or even pillow cases but these options are very unsafe for your cat – not to mention uncomfortable! It is well worth it to invest in a quality cat carrier that you can use for the duration of your cat’s life.
What to Look for When Buying a Cat Carrier
Now that you have a better idea what kind of options are out there, you can start shopping for a cat carrier. Here are some things to think about when you start shopping:
Cats like small spaces – that is how they feel the most secure. When shopping for a cat carrier, look for one large enough to accommodate your cat but not so big that there’s too much space.
Think about how you intend to use the carrier in deciding which type to get – for air travel you’ll definitely need a hard-sided carrier but for car travel and temporary confinement, a soft-sided carrier might work.
Consider the materials from which the carrier is made – you want it to be durable but lightweight enough that it is easy to carry. And make sure the add-ons are sturdy as well, things like the carry handle, the door, and any extra zippers or pockets.
Look for a cat carrier that offers adequate ventilation – it will help prevent your cat from overheating and ventilation panels will give you a view into the carrier to make sure he’s okay.
You’ll definitely want to consider price when shopping for a cat carrier but don’t buy a cheap carrier just for the sake of saving money – your cat’s safety is on the line and you’ll be using the carrier for a long time.
Think about additional features that offer convenience – some soft-sided carriers, for example, have two doors and some hard-sided carriers have a top opening that makes it easier to get your cat in and out.
Remember, the cat carrier that is best for you and your cat is a personal choice. You definitely need to consider the factors listed above but, in the end, choose the one that you think is best.
Tips for Keeping Your Cat Safe and Calm During Travel
Having a high-quality cat carrier is the first step to safe travel with your cat, but what else should you do to keep your cat safe and calm?
Here are some tips for traveling with your cat:
1. Get your cat used to the carrier at home before you try to use it in the car – toss treats and toys into the carrier so he forms a positive association and place him in it for a few minutes here and there.
2. Line the carrier with something comfy that makes your cat feel at home – maybe it’s a blanket that smells like you or the bed that he uses at home.
3. Make sure you give your cat time out of the carrier when you take a rest stop – he’ll want to stretch his legs and, if it’s a long trip, use the litter box.
4. Secure the carrier in your car so it won’t go flying if you stop suddenly or get into an accident.
5. Make sure you don’t place the carrier in direct sunlight or anywhere that he might overheat – if traveling in the summer, make sure he’s near an air conditioning vent so he stays comfortable.
Whether you are making a quick trip to the vet or going on an extended trip together, travel safety is important for both you and your cat.
Safety starts with a quality cat carrier, so take what you’ve learned here and put it to use when shopping for a new cat carrier. If you’re still not sure where to start, choose one of the best cat carriers reviewed above!