Best Cat Carriers

Cat in suitcase

Whether you need to travel by car, train, boat or plane, it’s essential to have a safe and secure, purpose-made carrier for your cat. But buying a cat carrier isn’t quite as simple as you think. As with most accessories for felines, there are so many to choose from which means it isn’t easy to make a decision.

Any cat carrier you buy should be safe, secure and the correct size for your cat. The rule of thumb is that your cat should be able to sit, stand and turn around. For journies further than your vet, there should be room for food and water bowls. Also, think like a cat when choosing a carrier. Is it comfortable, private, cozy, dark, enclosing? Will a cat feel safe and secure inside it?

After several days of research, here are three of the best.

My first choice

I’ve always been a fan of hard pet carriers and a firm favorite is The Petmate Two-door Top-loading kennel (available on Amazon.com).

  • Great for short and long journies
  • It has a top-loading door which is useful for cats who can’t be coaxed in through the front door on a carrier 
  • There’s plenty of ventilation and visibility
  • It is of sturdy construction and is secured with a durable wingnut-and-bolt design
  • The steel top-loading door is reinforced with durable plastic for your cat’s protection
  • It has a durable, ergonomic handle which is securely anchored in the steel top-loading door 
  • It meets most airline cargo specifications
  • There are two sizes to choose from and an array of colors.

If you have a feisty cat then a hard carrier is the wisest choice. It is also far easier to clean than a soft carrier. There is no liner but you can simply add your cat’s favorite cushion or pad, or even something reassuring like one of your old jumpers.

My second choice

Another hard carrier that gets great ratings is The Amazon Basics Two-door Top-loading kennel. It’s very similar to the one above but has the added advantage that the whole top section can be unclipped so you don’t have to maneuver your cat through the doors. If you don’t want this feature all the time, screws are provided to secure the two halves together.  The 23-inch size provides a spacious carrier, especially for large cats.

My third choice

I’m not a fan of taking cats on unnecessary journies, but for those of you who have to take a cat on an aircraft, I recommend The Sherpa original deluxe carrier (available on Amazon.com). 

Here are it’s key features:

  • Perfect for traveling by plane or car
  • Patented spring wire frame allows the rear end of the carrier to be pushed down several inches to conform to under-seat requirements
  • Mesh windows for ventilation
  • Top and side entry with locking zippers for safety
  • Padded adjustable, non-slip carrying strap
  • Seatbelt strap to secure your cat safely when traveling by car
  • Machine-washable faux lambskin liner
  • Rear storage pocket
  • Approved for use on most airlines 
  • 7 fabric colors to choose from and three sizes available: small, medium and large

Just to forewarn you, a few reviewers have stated that their feisty cats have somehow burst the zips open and a few have reported that their cats have clawed holes in the mesh. But out of 4544 reviewers,  4044 gave this 4 stars or above.

What I really like about this carrier is the fact that the manufacturer provides a comprehensive guide to selecting the best size for your cat, based on its measurements and weight, plus a guide to measuring your pet as follows:

  • Small Carrier: Fits pets up to 13″ in length x 7.5″ in height and up to 8 pounds
  • Medium Carrier: Fits pets up to 16″ in length x 10″ in height and up to 16 pounds
  • Large Carrier: Fits pets up to 18″ in length x 11″ in height and up to 22 pounds

How to Measure Your Pet:

  • Length, start at the front of the chest and measure to the end of the pet’s rear
  • For height, measure from the floor to the top of the back

Traveling with Cats

Cat’s generally don’t like traveling – it causes them a great deal of stress. My two meow pitifully all the way to the vets. I would never recommend anything except essential travel, such as to the vets.

When you have to travel with a cat, ensure you use a pet carrier that is the correct size. If it’s too big your cat will slide around too much during the journey. Allow room for your cat to sit, stand and turn around.

If your cat carrier has been crash-tested then you should secure it in a rear set with a seatbelt, otherwise, you should place the carrier in the footwell of the rear seats where it can’t slide about – hopefully you will be able to move the front seat forward enough to make enough room to do this. It’s not recommended to secure a pet carrier in the front passenger seat of a car with an airbag fitted unless you can switch it off for the journey.