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Expert Shopper Pets

Which pet carrier is best for cats?

Best cat carriers

It's likely that neither you nor your cat is a big fan of pet carriers — most cats hate the sight of them, while most cat caregivers hate trying to wrangle their cat inside. The best pet carrier for cats, however, has features to make the process at least slightly less of an ordeal. 

Armed with the right cat carrier, it's easier to transport your feline friend, whether you're taking them on vacation with you or to the veterinarian's office for their inoculations. 

When do you need a cat carrier? 

More often than not, you'll find yourself using a cat carrier for quick trips to the vet. Of course, you'll also need a cat carrier for longer journeys, such as road trips with your pet, air travel and rail travel. Some people even hike with their cats, but not all cats enjoy it.

Pet carrier features

Consider these features and you'll find it easier to find the best carrier. 

  • Soft-sided vs. hard-sided: Soft-sided carriers are lighter and easier to carry, while hard-sided carriers are more durable and easier to wipe clean. 
  • Ventilation: All pet carriers must be well-ventilated so enough fresh air gets inside. Carriers should have large areas of ventilation (either mesh, in soft carriers, or ventilation holes in hard carriers) on at least two sides for short journeys, and on at least three sides for long journeys. 
  • Top-loading: Many people find it easier to get their cats in through the top of a carrier, rather than through a door in the front, so it's nice to have a top-loading option.
  • Airline approved: If you're traveling by air, choose a carrier that's airline approved for either cabin or hold use, depending on where your cat will be traveling. 
  • Foldability: Foldable cat carriers take up less space when not in use and are easier to store. 

Best soft-sided pet carriers for cats

Top soft-sided pet carrier

Sherpa Original Deluxe Airline-Approved Pet Carrier

What you need to know: Perfect for both long and short trips, it has a spring wire frame that can be compressed for storage or to fit under airline seats.

What you’ll love: It's comfortable, with a soft fleece lining, and well-ventilated. It has top- and front-loading options to get your cat inside as easily as possible. 

What you should consider: It's a little tricky to clean thoroughly and remove odors from. 

Where to buy: Sold by Chewy and Amazon

Top soft-sided pet carrier for the money

Frisco Basic Dog and Cat Carrier

What you need to know: This carrier is well-ventilated and has a comfy fleece lining. 

What you’ll love: It features both a handle and shoulder strap for easy carrying. There's a small mesh window for easy access and the front opens up completely to get your cat inside. 

What you should consider: You can't load your cat through the top of it.

Where to buy: Sold by Chewy

Best hard-sided pet carriers for cats

Top hard-sided pet carrier

Petmate Vari Kennel

What you need to know: This carrier is great for times you need something sturdier than a soft-sided model.

What you’ll love: Tie-down straps help secure it in the car or for air travel. The carry handle makes it easy to lift. It has ventilation on four sides. 

What you should consider: The larger sizes are better suited to dogs than cats.

Where to buy: Sold by Chewy and Amazon

Top hard-sided pet carrier for the money

SportPet Cat Carrier

What you need to know: Since it's foldable, it's perfect for people who want a hard carrier but don't have much storage space. 

What you’ll love: Thanks to the extra-large size, it's perfect for big cats or two small to average-sized cats who'd prefer to travel together. It's easy to set up and pack down. 

What you should consider: It can be slightly tricky to get cats inside.

Where to buy: Sold by Chewy and Amazon

Best backpack cat carriers

Top backpack cat carrier

Kurgo K9 Pet Carrier Backpack

What you need to know: It's a great option for taking your cat to the vet on foot or for traveling with. 

What you’ll love: This backpack is extremely sturdy and well-made. It has a waterproof bottom in case your cat has an accident and a comfortable cushion inside that's removable and washable. 

What you should consider: Although it's airline approved, it could do with more ventilation for long journeys. 

Where to buy: Sold by Chewy and Amazon

Top backpack cat carrier for the money

Jespet Pet Carrier Backpack

What you need to know: This roomy pet-carrier backpack comes at an affordable price. 

What you’ll love: It has front and top loading options, so you can get your cat inside however it's easiest. There's plenty of mesh ventilation for reliable airflow.

What you should consider: Some tall wearers find the straps too short for comfortable use.

Where to buy: Sold by Chewy and Amazon

Best rolling cat carriers

Top rolling cat carrier

Snoozer Roll-Around Pet Carrier

What you need to know: If you struggle to lift a cat carrier, this rolling version is ideal. 

What you’ll love: In addition to rolling it around on wheels, you can also use it as a backpack, car seat or pet bed. The telescoping handle is comfortable for people of varying heights. 

What you should consider: It could do with a handle on the top. 

Where to buy: Sold by Chewy and Amazon

Top rolling cat carrier for the money

Pet Gear I-GO2 Sport Rolling Carrier

What you need to know: This affordable rolling carrier doubles as a backpack.

What you’ll love: It's well-ventilated and comfortable for cats. The two zippered external pockets let you store pet essentials. 

What you should consider: It feels slightly flimsy. 

Where to buy: Sold by Chewy


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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