Your cat may well be a free spirit at home but there are times when you need to be able to safely get him from A to B. Trips to the vets, moving home, long-distance road trips and even air travel all call for a safe and secure way to transport your pet without causing them too much stress. Cat carriers are designed specifically for your feline, with a host of features that not only keep him safe but calm, cool, comfortable and secure. And when not in use, they can also be used in the home as a day bed or somewhere for him to hide.
We take a look at some of the best cat carriers you can currently buy so you and your pet can travel in happy, safe and comfortable style.
The Best Cat Carrier
Our Best Choice is a smart-looking soft cat carrier bag that can take you from a trip to the vet to a journey overseas, while keeping your kit comfortable and secure. Sized to fit under seat on airplanes, it has a spring frame to enable it to conform to airline requirements yet is sturdy enough for carrying and using in the car. The whole carrier is well ventilated with plenty of mesh windows so your cat can see you for reassurance. You also get the option of top or side openings for easy access for you and your pet. Easy to carry, thanks to the non-slip shoulder strap and complete with a removable faux lambskin cushion pad, this is a well-made, easy to use and clean cat carrier at a good price.
Patented spring wire frame
Mesh side windows; top and side entry
Lockable zippers; washable liner
Padded, non-slip carry strap
- Weight3.2 pounds
For a lightweight, convenient soft cat carrier that is major airline approved, the Pet Magasin is sturdy enough and won’t break the bank. Ideal for most sized cats, and even small pups, it is made from durable, waterproof fabric that collapses nicely for easy storage. Inside there is sufficient padding to give the whole carrier a decent structure and while it does only have one side entrance, it zips down large enough for your cat to easily fit in. The zips are durable and there are three mesh panels although the side ones are on the smaller side – but this does give them plenty of privacy. Add a carry handle plus a padded shoulder strap and this well-priced cat carrier is great for casual use.
Lightweight and durable soft carrier
Side entry with mesh windows
Padded interior for comfort
Zip closure and carry handles
Approved by major airlines
- BrandPet Magasin
- Weight2.4 pounds
With its wide opening gate, the SportPet foldable travel cat carrier aims to make getting your kit into their carrier a breeze. The whole side of this lightweight yet durable carrier flips down so your cat can even walk themselves in. The wide opening also makes it easier to gently place a more nervous cat inside and there’s plenty of space for their favorite blanket to make them feel at home. This carrier can hold pets up to 25 pounds so a good all-round carrier for the animal-loving family. Made from impact resistant polypropylene with polycarbonate locks, the carrier can also withstand some wear and tear and there’s sufficient ventilation to keep your kit comfortable. And, while their view out may not be the clearest, this pet carrier does create a cozy, safe space.
Impact-resistant polypropylene carrier
Wide side opening door for easy access
Folds down for easy storage
Includes a machine-washable pet bed
Holds pet up to 25 pounds
- BrandSportPet Designs
- Weight5.2 pounds
With the looks of a smart over-night holdall, your kit will certainly look the part as he travels with you. But this cat carrier bag from Mr Peanut’s is not all about looks, it works well as a practical way to transport your pet. Particularly if you cat takes comfort from being private and secure, there is sufficient ventilation without leaving your pet feeling too exposed. Made from durable and waterproof fabric, with a plywood base for structure and a removable fleece bed, the bag is sized for airline travel but for pets up to 15 pounds there is plenty of space to move and lie down. Plus, you get both side and top lockable entry for flexibility, with a roll-back top flap so you can easily check on your pet.
Sized for airline travel
Waterproof fabric with mesh windows
Top and side lockable entries
Plywood platform and fleece bed
For pets up to 15 pounds
- BrandMr. Peanut’s
- Weight3 pounds
Lightweight and easy to carry, this airline approved soft cat carrier is a snug way to transport your pet. And made from waterproof fabric with coated mesh panels for extra durability, it has been built to last. Ideal for travel, this is also an easy to transport carrier for those trips to the vet and is available in two sizes – medium and large. Inside you get a hard board bottom for rigid support, topped with a removable fleece bed. You also get enough mesh windows on the sides, well as a full-length mesh panel on the top. Two entries – top and side – make popping your cat inside quick and hassle-free while the zippers are tough enough to keep your kit safe inside. There’s plenty of outer pockets for treats, toys and wipes and a built-in leash to keep your cat secure, as well as outer buckles for when you need to fix the carrier inside the car. Available in a choice of six colors, this pet carrier from EliteField is a good everyday buy.
Waterproof soft cat carrier
Removable fleece cushion
Inner hard support board
Built in leash and outer buckles
Available in two sizes
- Weight2.1 pounds
The ultimate in transporting convenience, this pet carrier backpack from PetAmi sits comfortably on your back and can securely carry and support the weight of your cat, whether you are hiking, travelling or simply popping him down to the vets. The design is cleverly spacious, with room for your cat to sit back and relax on the soft bed liner, plus it comes with a collapsible bowl for hydration on the go. Made from 600D polyester and with ample ventilation thanks to the side and top mesh windows, the carrier is accessed via large top opening for easy entry for your cat. And the zip lid is also secured with a safety strap to prevent any escapes.
Rucksack-style soft cat carrier
Durable 600D polyester
Top entry and side mesh windows
Inner pet bed and collapsible bowl
Available in nine colors
- Weight2 pounds
If you are looking for an everyday hard cat carrier and are on a budget, then check out this top and side loader from AmazonBasics. Made from durable plastic with a steel-wire front door, this straightforward crate has plenty of ventilation but creates a quiet space if your cat likes his privacy. We particularly like the top loading lid door, which can open to the left or right for fuss-free access. Plus, you get a spring-loaded latch for easy opening and to make the whole experience quick and easy for your cat. A decent size for most adult cats, the top handle is also comfortable for one-handed carrying.
Plastic hard cat carrier
Steel-wire front door
Spring-loaded top entry
Top handle for easy carrying
- Weight4.9 pounds
An excellent choice if you are on a budget, this airline-approved lightweight soft cat carrier is a good carrier to always have in the house or trunk of the car. Sized for pets up to 15 pounds, it has plenty of mesh windows so plenty of light is allowed into the carrier. And, with top as well as access on three sides, you have a choice of entry which is really handy, especially if you have a nervous pet. Open all access points, and your cat doesn’t even need to leave the safety of the carrier, as you or the vet can reach them easily for checking.
The mesh is durable so can withstand the rough and tough of life with a cat and the whole bag is collapsible for convenient storage. And the included fleece bed is fully removable and can be popped into the washing machine for easy cleaning.
Waterproof soft cat carrier
Four zipped access points
Adjustable shoulder strap
Machine-washable fleece bed
- ModelMost Wished for Pet Carrier
- Weight2.3 pounds
With a cool look of a sports bag, but with plenty of lux space for your kit, this soft cat carrier is a great buy for everyday use. Designed for cats up to 22 pounds, it can also be used for puppies as well as smaller pets such as rabbits. There’s a padded bottom plate for a solid support and stability which also helps the bag to retain its shape in transit. The fabric outer is waterproof and there is plenty of mesh windows for all that essential ventilation, with the mesh a nice black out to give your cat some extra shade. Although it is a side-loader only, the zip-out door is full height, giving your cat plenty of open space to get in and out. Plus, the zippers are smooth and fit securely, to keep your cat secure and where they are meant to be. And the whole bag is easy to wipe down and clean. Airline-approved too.
Waterproof and durable outer
Hard bottom plate with padding
Full-height side door
Mesh panels for ventilation
Suitcase style carry handle
- Weight2.1 pounds
If you have a little feline escape artist, then it is worth checking out this top loading soft carrier from Petisfam. Designed with ‘anti-escape’ zips and inner leash hook, this smart-looking cat carrier keeps your pet safe, with the added peace of mind that they are totally secure.
With three sides of the carrier made from durable nylon mesh, there’s ample ventilation and viewing points. And, as well as the main top loader, you can also zip down the front side for choice of entry points, depending on your cat’s mood or preferences. Airline approved, you can fly with this carrier, or secure in the back of your car. Or, thanks to the easy carry strap and handles, simply use it for everyday transport when it comes to those all-important vet checks.
Durable nylon mesh windows
Top or side loading
Maximum load 16 pounds
- Weight2.4 pounds
Distinct and almost space-age in looks, the Lollimeow pet carrier backpack puts your cat on show, thanks to the bubble-like window which perfect for the curious kit. Building on a traditional backpack design, the Lollimeow enables you to keep your cat close, by carrying it on the front of your body to comfort and reassure. Designed for cats up to 13 pounds, there is space for your cat to sit comfortably and side air vents as well as easy-access side mesh panels allow for easy ventilation. These mesh panels also mean you can reach in to comfort a nervous cat or pass them a well-earned treat. Made from pet-safe, durable and waterproof materials that’s easy to clean, you can choose to use the shoulder straps or carry with the top handle. For hiking, out about town or even flying, this is a cat carrier to turn heads but with the clear back, you’ll want to keep it out of direct sunlight.
Clear front backpack design
Durable, pet-safe and waterproof
Side vent holes for airflow
Two zipped side mesh pockets
- Weight2.6 pounds
Despite its serious, hardcore looks, this large cat carrier from Frieq is a spacious space for your pet, which promises him a super-comfortable ride. Made from durable and waterproof material, the whole hard carrier is also collapsible for storage, thanks to its clever foldable design. The inside is spacious and comes complete with a soft padded cushion, and there are plenty of ventilation holes for airflow and peeping. For a better view out, the front has a mesh window that can be zipped open. But this is primarily a top loader, designed for a wide, open access for a stress-free travel experience for your pet.
Suitable for pets up to 26 pounds
Hard case with top loading entry
Collapsible design for storage
Side vents and front mesh zip window
Double zipper for extra security
- Weight4.4 pounds
Sometimes you just need a quick and safe way to transport your pet, and this is where this foldable travel cat carrier comes in. And for less than $12, this is one of the best cat carriers for pets up to 15 pounds, when it comes to great value. Its foldable design means it can be assembled or stowed in seconds and the lightweight construction makes it easy to transport and carry. It has a triangular tent look to its design and its pop-up shape is maintained by inner wires which can be removed when the carrier needs washing. There’s also two side mesh windows, O-ring secured zippers, a padded bed and top carry handles.
It is not the most robust soft carrier in this review and may not hold up to more arduous or long-haul travel, but for trips to the vet or around town or even as a hideaway in your home, this cat carrier does what it says on the tin.
For cats up to 15 pounds
Pop-up design for easy storage
Inner bed and removable wire frame
Lightweight and easy to carry
Zippers secured with O-rings
- BrandSportPet Designs
- Weight9.6 ounces
For high end travel and luxury for your cat, the Sleepypod is the ultimate soft pet carrier and our review’s premium pick. A pet bed, air travel carrier and cat car seat all in one, with the Sleepypod, your pampered cat will travel in style. Designed for cats up to 18 pounds, there is plenty of internal space, with a washable plush bed for lux-comfort as they travel. A top loader, the ‘roof’ of the carrier is tear-resistant dark mesh which zips and rolls back for easy entry and exit for your pet. The outer of this carrier has the look of high-end luggage, made from high grade nylon which can compress in length to comply with airline requirements. Padded handles and shoulder straps make it an easy cat carrier to move around and for the final word in feline luxury, comes with an optional electrical warmer pad.
Pet bed, carrier and car seat
Sized for larger cats
Durable mesh panels for ventilation
Removable and washable bed
- Weight4.9 pounds
If carrying your cat can become a bit of a chore, then this carrier/stroller from Bonnio is the perfect solution. A large carrier designed for cats up to 22 pounds (or multiple cats), you get the traditional handles and shoulder straps. But for when you need a little break, there’s also suitcase style wheels and a handle, allowing you to push your cat in style. Remove the stroller handle and wheels by detaching the base, and you have a conventional soft cat carrier.
The soft bag is made from durable fabric, with large end and side reinforced mesh panels for viewing and ventilation and a roll-back door on the top for easy entry. Inside, you get a nice fleecy mat that’s washable for travelling comfort. A ‘Cadillac’ cat carrier that is as kind on his human as it is on your cat!
Large capacity – holds pets up to 22 pounds
Handle and wheels stroller system
Adjustable shoulder strap
Large, reinforced mesh panels
- Weight7.2 pounds
Best Cat Carrier Buying Guide & FAQ
How To Choose the Best Cat Carrier
When picking the right pet carrier for your kit, there are some essential things to consider so you can ensure they have a safe and happy ride:
Size: The carrier needs to be a sufficient size for your cat, and that means they have enough room to lie down, stand up and turnaround. However, you also need it to be lightweight and portable and so extra bulk is to be avoided. Plus, if you are planning to use your pet carrier for air travel, it must fit within the airline’s maximum sizings and specifications. As a general rule of thumb, your carrier needs to be around 1.5 times the size of your cat.
Materials and durability: Your new pet carrier will need to be up to a lot of travel and wear so go for a carrier that is made from quality materials and has sturdy locks or zips. For more arduous journeys a hard carrier may be the best option, while a soft carrier or cat carrier bag can be a good choice for shorter or less frequent runs. Good materials to look for include durable plastic for hard carriers and polyester or canvas for soft cat carriers. And always ensure seams, joints and hinges are well made and built to last.
Access and ventilation: You want life to be as simple and stress-free as possible for you and your kit so look for a carrier that has easy access, ideally top or side loading – or both. Cats also like privacy so carriers will a visual shield – such as a roll down panel – are also a good idea. And make sure air can easily flow into and out of the carrier so look for plenty of ventilation – typically in the form of mesh panel to the top and side.
Comfort: The carrier needs to be welcoming and supportive for your feline, who may be reluctant or nervous about being carried inside. Added extras such as cushions and padding can make the whole experience a much more comfortable affair – although opt for removable upholstery for easy cleaning.
Easy to clean: Talking about cleaning, you will need to be able to regularly and thoroughly clean your cat carrier so as well as removable and washable cushions, look for leak-proof bottoms and a removable tray if you can.
Find the Right Size Cat Carrier for Your Cat
If your feline can stand up in the carrier without needing to crouch or stoop and can also easily turn around as well as lie down, then chances are it is a good size for your pet. But it is always a good idea to measure your cat for the right fit, especially if they are going to be traveling in the carrier. To get the best cat carrier for your pet, you need to:
- Measure your cat’s length, from its chest to tail base
- Measure their height, from the floor to the highest point on your cat’s back
- Now add 2-4 inches to each measurement for extra allowance and you have the minimum sized carrier for your pet.
Tips For Calming a Nervous Cat in a Carrier
Not all kitties will immediately take to their new carrier, but you can calm them down and make the whole experience a lot less stressful with a few simple steps:
- Gradually introduce the carrier to them before even taking them out in it. Place it in a safe space in your home and leave the door or entry flap open. Pop in their favorite blanket, or a few treats and leave them to explore and make it their own
- Once they are comfortable in the company of their new carrier, move it to different places in your home so they are happy to get in it and explore, wherever it is
- Make positive associations with the carrier – have some playtime with your kit near to the carrier and then slowly bring the carrier into the fun session. Praise and reward your cat and give them plenty of attention
- When taking your cat out for the first few times in the carrier, don’t make it long journeys and add their favorite blanket or toy inside for comfort and familiarity
- For really nervous cats, you could also consider spraying around the inside of the carrier with a natural cat calmer – chat to your vet for the best options to use
- When carrying your cat in the carrier, let them know you are close and regularly reassure using your voice, stroking them when you can and don’t leave them in the carrier for any longer than you need to.
Best Cat Carrier FAQ:
Q: Do cats prefer hard or soft carriers?
A: It really depends on your cat. Cats like to feel safe and secure, and also have some privacy so whether you choose a hard or soft carrier, it needs to provide for these basic needs.
A hard carrier is a rigid carrier that gives a real sense of support for your kit and will give them sufficient space to move around. They are also more durable than a soft cat carrier and easy to clean. However, they are bulkier than a softer cat carrier bag and can be less personal experience when it comes to you reassuring them in transit.
A soft carrier is made from a more flexible material and can be carried quite close to you, meaning you can reassure, and your cat will be able to sense your presence more. They are also more lightweight to carry and are great for short outings and journeys. However, the softer frame offers less support for your cat and they are not as sturdy or durable as a hard cat carrier.
Q: How do you clean a soft cat carrier?
A: Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning your soft cat carrier. However, as a quick guide, we recommend first removing any soiled blankets, removable pads or cushions (to be washed separately) as well as any toys or food. A vacuum cleaner can be used to quickly remove any pet hair and crumbs from the interior of the carrier before using a damp, clean cloth to thoroughly wipe the inside walls, floor, and doors. Dry off with a dry cloth and then use a pet-safe disinfectant spray to spray the whole carrier, inside and out before leaving to thoroughly dry.
Q: How long can a cat stay in a carrier?
A: You really don’t want to leave your cat in a carrier for any longer than you need to but if it unavoidable – for example, a long road trip or flight – then a healthy adult cat can remain in its carrier for no more than six hours at a time. However, you need to ensure that during that time, he has everything he needs to be comfortable – food, water, litter, and cushions or blankets and it really needs to be in hard carrier or crate.
Our Top Pick
Designed for travel, the Sherpa Pet Carrier is a versatile soft cat carrier that is just as happy doing the short run to the vets as it is for a long-haul trip. Airline approved, it is easy to carry, thanks to the non-slip strap and your cat has all the comfort he needs to feel safe and secure. Mesh windows, top and side entry, lockable zips, faux lambskin pad, this is a well-made cat carrier at a decent price.