There is never a good time to introduce your cat to a carrier as they aren’t the best travelers but some products make the whole process of moving her to the vets or taking her to a new home easy. With so many designs, materials, shapes, and sizes to choose from, there is plenty of choices, but that can make buying the right cat carrier difficult.
This is why we have created the following list of the best available. Each one is made by a reputable brand, has tonnes of happy customers and is going to make your life a lot easier when it comes to taking a trip to the vet, on a flight, or anywhere else.
- Editor’s Choice
Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe Airline Approved Pet Carrier (Amazon) – Review
- Best For Car Travel
Pet Gear Carrier & Car Seat for Cats and Dogs (Amazon) – Review
- Best Affordable
Necoichi Portable Ultra Light Cat Carrier (Amazon) – Review
- Best For Ventilation
PetLuv Cat Carrier (Amazon) – Review
- Best Luxury
SLEEKO Luxury Pet Carrier Airline Approved (Amazon) – Review
- Best For Strength
Petmate Two Door Top Load (Amazon) – Review
Editor’s Choice: Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe Airline Approved Pet Carrier
This is the best cat carrier you will find not only because of the affordable price but because it is sturdy, airline approved, and very comfortable. Because of its spring wireframe it is easy to squeeze it into smaller spaces as it can be pushed down a few inches making it perfect for taking on a flight. Cats tend to feel more at ease in this cat carrier because of the mesh design that allows them to see what is going on outside and keeps them well ventilated.
Your cat can enter via the side or the top and the reliable zips keep her in place without the risk of accidental opening. This means they are safe even when in transit. The safety is enhanced by the nonslip carry strap that is comfortable to hold on your shoulder. For added comfort for your cat, there is a faux lambskin liner that is soft and gives them a layer of padding. Available in a few color options it is one of the roomiest cat carriers available.
- Airline approved
- Spring wire frame makes it easy to fit under a seat
- Meshed windows for ventilation
- Comfortable to carry
Best For Car Travel: Pet Gear Carrier & Car Seat for Cats and Dogs
This cat carrier doubles up as a car seat thanks to the conveniently shaped frame that allows it to fit comfortably in the front seat or in the back. It easily attaches to a seat belt to help keep it in place making it an excellent cat carrier for the car. With breathable mesh windows that are resistant to claws and teeth, there is also a storage pouch for when you want to keep snacks closeby.
You can access your cat via the top and side doors which also makes it easier to get a reluctant cat into the carrier. The fleece pad makes the whole experience more comfortable for your feline friend and for a reasonable price, it is a great option for a concerned pet owner with an upcoming trip.
- Breathable mesh windows
- Top and side access
- Perfect size and shape for a cat
- Has a scar seat loop for added security
- Not as sturdy as other options
Best Affordable: Necoichi Portable Ultra Light Cat Carrier
Although this is a reliable cat carrier, it doesn’t have all the features that some of the other products on our list offer. However, it is available at a fraction of the price of some of the other brands so anyone looking for a budget cat carrier should consider this product from Necoichi. It is incredibly light but is made from durable materials and with mesh windows you know your cat has enough ventilation for a comfortable journey.
It is fully collapsible so it is easy to store when not in use and has a zipper-lock that is known for being reliable. Sometimes referred to as a pop-up cat carrier because it packs down so small, it offers you a level of convenience that other carriers cannot at a fraction of the price.
- Great value
- Folds down to a small size
- Zipper lock
- Not as many features as other products but it is a good value option
Best For Ventilation: PetLuv Cat Carrier
With tear-resistant meshing there is plenty of ventilation in this comfortable cat carrier. Thee windows actually fold up so your cat can get used to it as a bed before they embark on a long journey. There are adjustable seat belt loops to make it extra comfortable and safe on a car ride and with reinforced seams for added comfort, it certainly has the feel of a premium cat carrier.
When empty it only weighs 8.8 lbs and measures 24″ (L) x 16″ (H) x 16″ (D). If your cat is a nervous traveler you can close the side and top windows to make them feel safer and doing so is both simple and fast. There is a large side pocket so if you want to keep water or treats at the ready you can do so without having to rummage and it comes with a double padded rest pillow to make sure it is one of the most comfortable carriers around.
- Windows fold up
- Lots of venitaltion
- Seat belt loops
- Windows can be folded down to make a cat feel safe
- Includes double padded pillow
- Can be a bit pricey for some
Best Luxury : SLEEKO Luxury Pet Carrier Airline Approved
Because it has the seal of approval for airlines, this is one of the most conveniently sized cat carriers. Not only this, but there is lots of ventilation from different sides. This neat product folds flat and comes with a carry case so you can take it anywhere with ease. When unfolded, it has a shoulder carrier with a comfortable, padded strap and has a convenient side pocket.
If you want to give your cat a bit more room, unfold the expandable side to create more room. There are a pet ID tag slot and everything from reinforced safety zippers to seat belt buckles for when you want to use it on a car journey. There are two sleeping pads that are removable but super comfy and this is a well thought out and considerate cat carrier that has seen it become one of the industry’s most popular.
- Airline approved
- Folds flat and can be put in a carry case
- Features an expandable side
- Has reinforced zippers
- Not as sturdy when using the shoulder strap
Best For Strength: Petmate Two Door Top Load
For a hard shell cat carrier, this is more affordable than you might think but has the stability to ensure it lasts a long time. It is fine for air travel and has plenty of ventilation and a sturdy metal grated door that keeps the whole unit secure. There is plenty of room inside and it can accommodate a blanket or padded cushion with ease. Available in 4 different colors and with a comfortable handle it is one of the most popular hardshell cat carriers.
There are two doors and a top-loading feature to make it easier to encourage a cat into their carrier. Because it is sturdily made it makes travel safe so if it encounters any bumps on the road or in transit, your pet will be well protected.
- Lots of room
- Comfortable carry handle
- Sturdy design
- Top load feature
- Closing the front door can be a little tricky
Although our feline friends aren’t known for being the best travelers, there are certain things we as pet owners can do to make the experience more comfortable. A large part of this is buying the best cat carrier we can find to make sure the journey isn’t as stressful. This is easier said than done, with a load of cheaply made products making the decision more difficult.
This is why we have created the following buyer’s guide. Not only does it help you find out what a reputable product should be capable of, but you will find that by the end of it, the decision is a lot easier.
Above all else, your cat needs to have the right amount of ventilation. Leaving them without sufficient breathing space can lead to a serious issue so it should be a top consideration. Not only does it make them more comfortable and less likely to overheat, but it helps to relax some cats. Being able to see more of the outside can help remind them that you are near.
Tear Free Meshing
This leads on from ventilation but will only be relevant if you purchase a cat carrier with meshed sides. The best products will still be made from durable materials so even when your cat puts a paw to the meshing, it won’t cause it to tear.
Air Line Approved
Not everyone will need this but if you are looking to fly with your cat then you will need to make sure the cat carrier you are looking at is airline approved. Not every product mentions this in their guidelines so don’t take it as a given unless they advise it is airline approved.
This won’t be for everyone as a folding cat carrier means you have to compromise on some of the other features such as sturdiness. However, some excellent products fold down to a convenient to carry size, one that makes them easy to store.
Seat Belt Loops
This is something your cast carrier should have as no matter where you are going, it usually involves traveling by car at some point. To keep your cat safe, find a cat carrier with belt loops that give you peace of mind on the road and keep the unit in place.
Lots of Room
You might think that every cat carrier has to adhere to a minimum size but sometimes the smaller products don’t seem roomy enough. Your cat needs to be able to stand and turn to ensure they are not too cramped and the longer the journey, the more important this will be.
Because their claws can dig into all corners, it is important to buy a cat carrier that is made from durable materials. Reinforced stitching is one you can tell if a cat carrier is going to be durable and well suited to multiple trips.
Comfortable Carry Strap
Because you will have to carry your cat at some point, a comfortable shoulder strap can help to relieve some of the weight. Any carry strap that comes included needs to be padded and have enough room to ensure you can adjust it to your size. This is important because otherwise, you might knock the carrier as you step.
It can be a nervous time for everyone, traveling, but your cat is going to be particularly frightened unless it is used to the process. There are a few things you can do to help alleviate some of the worries and ensure their comfort.
The easiest way to help them get used to the carrier is to buy it well in advance of your travel date. Leave it open and around the house so she can approach it, get used to the smell and even curl up inside if she feels comfortable enough. Closer to the time, give them some tempting treats or leave them inside.
On the day, if they do not want to get in, use the same tactic of putting a favorite treat of hers inside. Never hurry to hut the door or zip the sides in a rush as this will cause more alarm and distress for your cat.
A cat carrier might be comfortable, but there is only so long she can stay in there without needing to relieve herself. Cleaning up after your cat in such a confined space can be challenging but there are ways to make it easier.
The first is by leaving a washable blanket inside. This will soak up any spills and clean easily whilst protecting the sides of the cat carrier.
There are benefits to both and although a hard shell cat carrier might seem like the best option, there are not as flexible. They are also not well suited to car travel as they don’t always come with belt loops although the unit itself gives your cat a good level of protection.
The soft cat carriers are often best for air travel if you want to fit your cat under the seat in front as they can be squashed down a little smaller. As long as the carrier you choose has adequate ventilation and room then you are halfway towards getting a suitable carrier.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference as there are some excellent soft carriers and hard shell products available.