Whether you’re taking your pet on a travel adventure or just visiting the vet, a sturdy carrier is a must. And while it may take time for kitties to adjust to any carrier, the best cat carriers are secure and comfortable for your cat and easy for you to tote.
When choosing the best carrier for your cat, consider what style, material, and size are best-suited to your feline friend. If your kitty tends to scratch and claw a lot when placed inside a carrier, a durable hard-sided carrier with secure latches is a good choice. And if you want a more flexible carrier that fits under airplane seats, consider a sturdy soft-sided carrier that also folds down when it’s not in use.
Whichever material you prefer, you’ll want to make sure the carrier can support your cat’s weight — if you have a bigger cat, I’ve included a pet carrier backpack that holds cats up to 25 pounds and makes it easier for you to tote your pet around, too.
To make it easier to get your cat inside the carrier (and avoid getting scratched in the process), many of these picks features multiple openings on the front, top, and sides. And if your cat is generally averse to all carriers, to help them get more comfortable, try placing their favorite blanket or one of your sweatshirts inside, and reward them with a treat once they settle in.
Keep in mind: If you plan on flying with your cat, pet travel restrictions vary by airline, so be sure to check with your airline before traveling.
Hitting the road with your pet can sometimes feel stressful, but with one of these cat carriers, the two of you can feel secure, comfortable, and ready for adventure.
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1. The Overall Best
When flying with your cat, a flexible soft-sided pet carrier is great for placing under the seat in front of you — and it works equally well for car rides, vet trips, and other outings, too. This durable and lightweight carrier is made from waterproof fabric, and there are three breathable mesh panels for ventilation. The carrier unzips in multiple places, and to keep your cat comfy, there’s a removable and machine-washable fleece pad, as well as a safety harness. It can be carried using the adjustable shoulder strap or handles, and there’s a built-in strap on the back to secure it to car seats or suitcase handles. There’s also a side pocket to store treats and other essentials.
The medium-sized carrier measures 15 by 9 by 9 inches and holds cats up to 15 pounds. There's also a larger version that measures 18 by 12 by 12 inches and holds cats up to 25 pounds, but it's too large for air travel. Choose from five colors, including gray, black, and pink.
According to cat owners: “Perfect for plane travel. My cat seemed safe and secure. Fit [comfortably] under the plane seat.”
2. The Best Hard-Sided Carrier For Cats That Love To Scratch
If your cat tends to scratch, bite, and claw at carriers, this hard-sided pet carrier with secure latches is a good choice. You can place your cat in the carrier via the steel wire front door or the top door, which opens on both sides for easy access. There’s a carry handle on top of the carrier. However's it's not the most comfortable to use if your cat is heavy.
The durable plastic carrier is available in two sizes: — 19 by 13 by 10 inches and 25 by 15 by 13 inches, and reviewers report that it comfortably holds cats up to about 16 pounds or 20 pounds, respectively. If you're flying with your cat, this option is too large to work for in-cabin travel, but in most cases, it will be suitable for the cargo hold. (Please note: You'll want to carefully evaluate pros and cons if you transport your pet by cargo hold.)
According to cat owners: “I got this for my first cat, and so far it's been great. The top loading feature is a real plus, and prevents me from getting scratched whenever we put the cat in the crate.”
3. The Best Budget Carrier
This lightweight cat carrier is sturdy and wallet-friendly. Made from waterproof and easy-to-clean fabric, it features carrying handles and breathable mesh panels. However, the fabric and mesh design may not be good for long trips if your cat claws a lot while in carriers. Also, note that this option does not include any storage pockets and the cat can only be placed in the carrier via the side flap. Suitable for cats up to 17 pounds, it measures 20 by 16 by 13 inches and folds up flat for easy storage, which is great if you’re short on space.
This carrier may work for air travel depending on your airline’s restrictions, but it might be best for smaller cats. It’s available in beige or a black-and-white plaid.
According to cat owners: “My kittens love it & they feel very relaxed because they can see everything through the mesh. I also love that it folds up & can be stored in a drawer!!”
4. A Cat Backpack That’s Ideal For Large Cats & Comfortable For You
This sturdy cat backpack holds kitties up to 25 pounds and is a great way to comfortably carry heavier cats. The waterproof backpack comes with two front window options: a bubble cover that gives your cat a view of the outside world (and makes them look like a cute kitty astronaut), or a flat honeycomb cover that provides more airflow. Ventilation is also provided with mesh panels on each side and air holes on the front. You can place your cat inside by unzipping the front or side panels, and in the interior, there’s a removable and hand-washable pad, as well as a safety clip for harnesses. The adjustable shoulder straps are padded for comfort, and there’s a chest buckle for extra support. Plus, you can store treats and other essentials in the convenient side pockets.
Measuring 12 by 13 by 17 inches, this option may be too bulky for many airplanes cabins, so be sure to check your airline's pet travel restrictions. Choose from gray and blue color options.
According to cat owners: “Nice and lightweight yet large enough for my cat to lie down and enjoy his ride!”
5. An Expandable Carrier That’s Great For Long Trips
With this expandable pet carrier, your cat has more room to stretch out on longer trips. The soft-sided carrier holds cats up to 15 pounds and measures 17.5 by 11 by 11 inches zipped up, but expands to a width of 30 inches. The carrier is also available in a larger, non-expandable size that measures 20 by 12 by 12 inches and holds pets up to 18 pounds. Conveniently, the carrier folds flat for easy storage. Cats can be placed in the carrier through the front, top, or side openings, all of which feature sturdy zippered closures. The carrier has both shoulder straps and handles, and there’s a built-in seatbelt or luggage strap on the back for extra security. There’s a removable and hand-washable mat and safety harness hook inside, as well as storage pockets on the exterior.
The smaller-sized carrier is airline-approved, but be sure to check your airline’s pet travel restrictions before flying. Choose between blue, brown, and gray.
According to cat owners: “This carrier is amazing for cats. I have a long haired 8.5 lb cat who needs to have room to stand and turn around and this carrier is perfect for her.”