Best Cat Carriers Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Maybe you already have the carrier ready, but after years of use, it simply doesn’t look comfortable for that furry purr fest to reside in, or the latches have worn down to where you simply need something better. No one wants to travel in a plastic case that smells like years of wet fur, and you don’t want to risk the door coming undone and having to chase Puss-in-boots around just to get from point A to point B. Take a gander at the list we have of the top ten best cat carriers and see if there is one to fit your needs and your wallet!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 24 hrs of research
Easy to put assemble
Top 10 Picks
1. Pet-Mate Top Load
Easy to put assemble
Plastic may have some sharp areas
Not one way to escape but two. Actually, we are kidding, this travel case has a lot of great things about it. If you have a larger cat or a smaller dog this might be what you’re looking for. Be sure to check into it before buying though.
Most pet carriers come with that single door on the front meaning you have to set it up on its backend and push to get the little devils into it. The fur babies of course resist, and the typical battle ensues. This one comes with a large top door as well, meaning it is that much easier to load you little bundle into it and you can even open the top and allow them to stay in for their examination. A nice option for those of us with slick pets on the run.
There are a lot of these types of wrappings that only come in the standard dull gray plastic. Happily, this is an exception. There are four color options and while that may not seem like much it can make a big difference for those of us that prefer a certain sense of style or just the ability to stand out among others. Hard to lose track of something that is a vibrant fuschia.
Cost and Value
While this is far from the most expensive on our list it is still a bit to put out. We liked the two-door option but found the other openings to be a bit sharp, so you may want to sand those if you find your model to be the same. Our furry children had no problem with the case itself, other than what it usually represents and once in it tended to calm nicely. Now we just need to keep them on that diet, so we can carry them without sweating.
2. Pet Magasin
Padded for comfort
Folds down for easy storage
Short leash to keep a pet from dashing when opened
Only comes in two sizes
Next, on your list, you will find what we found to be a softer option. Unlike others this carrier is soft-sided and padded with a waterproof covering much like you would find in a diaper bag. It seemed to be a nice choice, and some found it much more to their liking. Check out what we had to say below.
We found out that although most cats will fit in the smaller carriers that isn’t true of all of them. A couple of us own cats that are slightly bigger than average either due to breed or, ahem... dietary habits. That said this carrier has a larger and smaller option available. The price is almost the same for either and still manages to be cheaper than most of the crates we found out there.
Easy to store
Since this is a soft-sided carrier it is collapsible, so you can fit it on a shelf or into a closet or even under the bed without the worry of space. The zipper that open the large front facing door is also the one that opens the whole case, much like the soft suitcases you see available. It has two side windows of mesh and another on the front and it collapses almost completely flat which was very nice when we wanted to put it away in between uses.
Cost and Value
This one is one of the better values we found. It has the interior padding to make you little one comfortable but is still resilient. The handles seem sound and we like having the shoulder strap option to take the weight from our hands. There is an interior short leash that you can clip to snookums’ and make sure they don’t dash when you unzip the front. It has come exterior pockets to carry treats in and its waterproof material is easy to clean. Overall this is a great buy and with the major airline seal of approval, we think it would be hard to do better.
Easy to return
Easy access to the pet
Comfortable due to open construction
Top door not good for carrying
Another of the two-door models the AmazonBasics Kennel seems to be an option some would appreciate. We found some good and some "eh" things about it, but we aren’t here to tell you what to do just to let you know our opinion. Check out this version of a crate for your fur baby and see what else we found out.
When we looked at the various travel carriers in this style we noticed that most with a top door only open one way. This one goes in both directions, which is handy depending on where you have it secured for travel. It was nice to be able to open in the direction needed when you want to put something in or take something out while it is in the car especially. This did make the top handle a bit on the use at your own risk side, but we liked it anyway.
Many of the totes we found for our critters only came in one size. This one comes in two as it's not meant for the larger animals like larger dogs. I mean come on we let most dogs walk themselves in. Our feline companions, however, tend to want to do their own thing and this carrier allowed us to move them in relative comfort, even if they didn’t like the destination. We put a cushioned bed inside which allowed them to be fairly comfortable and often they could cuddle in to nap as long as we didn’t try to move it.
Cost and Value
If you want easy access to your pet and a solid build this is a good option. The top door leaves a little to be desired as far as using the handle but again it made the fur babies happy, so we liked it. Affordable and sturdy are definite positives when it comes to this travel case and as long as you don’t have an exotic breed with a lot of weight this should do the trick. The hard plastic can take quite the beating and putting in a small pad or a comfy shirt that smells like you will help with keeping your passengers happy and calm.
Waterproof removable mat
Zipper may need lock
If you are looking for a nice roomy way to transport your kitties this is a good choice. They even make a portable travel litter box to go with it although that is sold separately. The dimensions were easy to work with and we found the cats were purrrrfectly content to settle down in here once we got on the road.
This cat carrier was large enough that those of us with two cats were able to fit them both in with room to spare. If you have a pair especially if they are bonded it is much nicer if you can put them in together. They tend to stay calmer and are less likely to try and break out. It was also large enough that when we set it out with the flaps up the cats seemed happy to just hang out in it, napping, playing, and hiding ensued.
Similar to one of the other soft carriers we have on our list, this one is able to be unzipped and folded down for storage. As it is significantly larger it is going to take up a bit more space even flattened out, however it will still slide under the bed or into a closet with less trouble than your standard issue carrier. When you want to use it again just pull it out and like a pop-up tend a few zips brings it right back into useful shape.
Cost and Value
This one is a tad higher on the cost scale than the previous listed, but it seems about right considering the size. The removeable and waterproof fleece mat and storage bag means you can add padding if you choose. We took a couple of our old shirts and stuffed them into the mat to make it smell nice. It’s large enough that the cats didn’t seem to feel trapped, but it still managed to keep them secure and safe for the journey. Overall this seems to be a good buy if you’re looking for a larger option that you can store without having to empty the closet.
5. SportPet Designs
Drop open side door
Includes bed insert
Fits easily in car
Not good for larger felines
This one seems to be the best of both worlds. A hard-plastic carrier that also collapses. We thought it was too good to be true but here it is in living color. Of course, this isn’t going to be for everyone and we can appreciate that, but it is certainly well worth a look or two.
Full Side Open Door
Unlike the majority of the carriers, we looked at this one had a side that drops down completely to create a door. No zippers or squeeze latches required just release the hooks and pull it open. It is almost impossible to open from the inside so even it kitty gets unhappy they should still be secure inside this crate.
Comes with Bed
This carrier comes with and without a bedding insert. We included the one with the bedding because the kitties told us to. When we put it in there was very little time before at least one decided to claim it for a nap or some alone time. Once they got in the habit it was easier to get them into it for travel, just open it and leave it out then once they are in shut it. We did find it a bit wobbly, but it seemed to hold up well and it didn’t collapse under use.
Cost and Value
Another original design for cat fanciers everywhere. Being made of hard plastic is a really important option for some folks but we appreciated the wide opening for the door. Having one whole side drop down eliminated the need to drop an uncooperative cat in almost head first. Leaving it out was the perfect way to get them curious and of course once they decided to keep it the rubbing fest began. The price is about average when it comes to the hard-plastic cases. It’s easy to clean just spray and wipe out and the insert is machine washable. We think this could be a nice addition if you own a smaller cat but if your living with a more husky or tall breed you might want to go for something a tad bigger.
Lots of Ventilation
Small animals can get stuck under internal bars
For those of us that prefer the softer carriers, this one is made with you in mind. We liked the fact that it folded down and although there are other size choices we went middle of the road for our pick. Our fur babies seemed to find this one comfortable although if you have a more active or panicked pet you may want to look into some of our other choices.
While most of us are only looking for something to get to and from the vet or the occasional road trip some of our fellow researchers wanted something that could handle air travel. We found this little beauty and we pleased to discover it is approved by most major airlines to be stowed under the seat. Apparently, for the hardcore pet carrier, this is a big deal, and the little ones seemed genuinely content to chill in this particular case.
As with most of the soft formed cases, this one comes with zippers to open and close it. It also has zipper sliders, basically, there are metal latches that you can hook through the zippers to keep your pets from working their way out. We found this to be nice a nice addition, although, if you don’t like the hooks and want something adjustable a set of wire ties works just as well.
Cost and Value
While this is one of the most thrifty options on our list, that shouldn’t be your only reason for buying a carrier. It is a nice size and airline approved but based on what we saw of the interior build this wouldn’t be a good choice for baby animals or ones that tend to panic. The soft cloth is more comfortable, and the rigid bottom cushion helps it keep its shape. There is plenty of ventilation and its lightweight with 3 size options. The price is right on this one and we liked it but as with anything look into it before making a definitive decision.
Easy to store
Comes with soft bed insert
Comes with travel bowl
Lots of ventilation
Lots of colors
Measurements may be off
Those of us that are pet parents understand some pets need to express themselves. It isn’t only the human half of the relationship that requires a certain uniqueness. Our fur babies also enjoy standing out and if they can’t do it with their wonderful personality why not let them do it through their carrier. After all, everyone wants you to focus on their good side.
While we found most carriers both great and small to have only a few if any color options, this one came with 15 different colors to choose from. Whether you are looking to match your luggage, your outfit, or your pet’s personality you should be able to find just the right charisma within the kaleidoscope of color choices PetAmi gives you here.
The padding that comes in this carrier is sure to make your pet happy. We had a hard time keeping ours out of it, which any cat owner knows is rare no matter what you're offering. Unless of course, it is a box or drawer you don’t want them to get into. The kitties in the room did not fight over it but we often saw them walking over to it with purposeful strides only to walk away dejected when they found it already occupied. The other nice thing about the padding is it attached with a Velcro strap, so you do not have to worry about your fur baby sliding around as you make that left.
Cost and Value
Overall this travel carrier seems to be a good deal. It is spacious, padded for comfort, comes in multiple sizes and colors and even comes with a foldable travel bowl. As long as you take the time to measure you animal and buy the correct size for it you should be very happy with this carrier. Yes, it is a soft carrier and not meant to handle bigger animals, but we were able to fit all the kitties in here individually and the bottom did flex a bit but didn’t even come close to giving up. All in all, a good buy.
8. Texsens Innovative
Easy to carry
May have factory smell at first unboxing
Taking the time to train your kitty about walking on a leash can be a true test of patience, both yours and the cats. We found this little gem that seems to take come of the ick out of it. If you were looking for a way to take your little bundle of fur along with you on shopping trips, hikes, or just a quick bite out this just may be the miracle worker you are looking for. Plus, it looks cool.
When it comes to getting your cat from point a to point b, there seems to be very few choices out there. Either you are one of the lucky few who gets a trainable cat that is willing to learn to walk on a leash or like most of us you get the pleasure of chasing after them for that nice quiet trip to the vet. This will not only potentially end all the stress, but it will also allow fluffy to watch in safety as you do your errands without having to leave them at home. This backpack has a padded insert to allow you furball more comfort and the padded straps allow you to carry them on your shoulders giving your hands a break.
All pet carriers come with a certain amount of visibility for your pet however usually this is only when they lay down calmly and how often does that happen. Texsens bubble backpack has a nifty little bubble window that allows your pet to sit up while looking at and being able to sniff and snarf at the world around them. It also had the mesh panels for them to see if they decide to lay down, but all the cool cats watch through the bubble window.
Cost and Value
If you want this type of carrier you’re going to have to pay for it. While there are far more expensive ones out there on our list this is one of the highest cost wise. We, of course, feel that the total cool factor not to mention the ease of carrying it was totally worth it but that was just our opinion. There are several colors to choose from and if you don’t think it is big enough there are larger options available.
Wide spaces for easy viewing
Easy to store
Comes with soft bedding insert
Life replacement guarantee
Not as durable as some
If you are looking for a mesh carrier with handles look no further. We are not even kidding the walls are mostly solid on the back and bottom but other than that this is a pet fanciers dream. We even managed a giggle or two at the expressions on our fur babies faces as they were able to see everything as it walked, crawled, flew or slithered by.
This bag managed to offer a widescreen view for your kitties’ pleasure. The majority of the front and sides is strictly a claw defense mesh that allows your cat to watch and see pretty much everything their little heart desires. This also makes sure your pet gets plenty of airflow so there is less concern about whether or not they are overheating. We especially appreciated that when traveling in the car.
100% Lifetime Replacement Guarantee
As always, we love pointing out when a company had faith in their product. PetTech offers you a great lifetime replacement guarantee stating if you have any issues with you carrier just contact them and they will rush you a replacement free for life. Not a bad offer, especially if you fur baby loves it as much as ours did.
Cost and Value
The cost of this carrier is a happy midline price compared to some of the other choices out there. It comes with a nice soft bed liner, adjustable straps, and cannot forget that lifetime guarantee. Keep in mind though that this is not meant for harsh use. For the occasional vet visit or a short trip this will hold up fine, but we don’t suggest using it on a flight or really long drive unless your pet tends to be very calm. Not a bad choice as carriers go but not all products work for every consumer.
Love the look
Multiple strap options
Sides may cave a bit
Last but not least is our lovely final find of the day. The EliteField soft sided pet carrier is a lovely looking bag that had some things we really loved about it. We give a more thorough explanation below, but there were also some things we took note of. As far as looks go we were so impressed we thought about looking for one we could stick the kids in or the husband, either way.
This lovely comes with a 3-year warranty from the manufacturer EliteField. They guarantee against defects in quality and offer a 100% Money back guarantee and customer satisfaction. We were happy enough with ours that we kept it, but the point is that if something does not quite jive with your purchase you have options. I mean what does a consumer appreciate more than a happy pet with options.
Normally when we make out little pro list we point out things about the general quality of the product. This time though we were so impressed with the look we had to bring it up. Now keeping in mind this is not leather but a manufactured material it is going to have a factory smell to it when it first arrives. Just let it air out then stand back in awe at how adorably cute it is. We got loads of compliments on it, so many in fact we caught Mitzi inside grooming a bit. No matter how you spin this it just looks nice.
Cost and Value
We love the look. Love it, love it, love it. However, this is still a soft bag and really only mean for small pets. The soft sides tended to lose a bit of shape when using the handles, but the shoulder strap didn’t cause as much of an issue. It comes with the inner padding we like and even has seatbelt loops on the back to allow security during car trips. If you have a wheeled suitcase with a pull-up handle it has a strap for that as well allowing you to stack it, one top and maintain a stable seat for your pet. The cost isn’t high, and we can appreciate that. This would be just right for short trips and the occasional visit to grandmas.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When looking for a carrier for your beloved pet, you want to know that it can handle what you need it to, and so do we. Durability is a much-needed asset in any device used to carry anything, but especially when one it carries is alive. What we looked for was that the hinges, latches, and zippers don’t stop working correctly under normal intended use, as well as if it can sustain the weights needed to hold your pet safely without tearing or breaking apart. If the item worked as intended for longer we took it into consideration and those that worked best were kept for the list. The longer it worked without needing to be replaced, the more we trusted the products ability to serve you and your pet.
Cost and Value
This is always important for any merchandise we cover and place onto our lists. If you are paying money to have a working product, we want to make sure it meets and exceeds expectations. This includes how long the product remains usable, how much it can take, how often it’s intended use is compared to how long it actually does, and if it more than meets every need for its design. In the case of a cat carrier, if it not only offers the ability to get our darlings from A to B but can do so while putting less strain on both animal and owner, then we feel it has definitely met these criteria.
Storage & Size
Having room to store anything that is not constantly in use is important. With so many things in our lives as it is, especially when you have pets, clutter can build up easily. We may want something for our wonderful pet to be kenneled in temporarily, but we want to be able to easily store it in a place where access doesn’t mean digging it out form everything that needed to be put in or on it just to have room for it to sit. That being said we tried to look for carriers that were easily disassembled or simply folded and put up for this list. Some are still hard pieces but are small enough and have other attributes that make this particular part manageable.
Comfort & Size
While this may seem a given, having a carrier that is too large is just as uncomfortable for a cat as having one that is too small. Since our list was meant to help find the perfect carrier for our feline companions, we looked to be sure that the size was appropriate to give them a comfortable amount of room to move without having so much room that they would slide all over the bottom of the carrier as they are being moved. Some of these products offer even more than your typical purchase, where the cat has plenty of air and even added places to gaze out and see where they are going.
Along with size, an important part of having a travel spot for an animal is that said area is well ventilated. Unlike human’s cats are often covered in fur and can be overheated easily because of it without proper ventilation. We want to avoid suggesting anything that may bring harm to your beautiful pet and so, this was a major consideration for all of the carriers.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
While not all of us dream of taking our feline friend with us on vacation, we will all need a carrier at some point for vet visits, and some of us for moving. Because of this cat carriers are vital to the ownership of any cat and knowing how each work is also important.
Most of us grew up knowing the kennel, hard plastic, near litterbox style of carriers. They were bulky, heavy and not good for the kitty without buying the extra padding to place in the bottom (something we still recommend if you purchase a carrier with a hard-plastic bottom inside) so that kitty didn’t slide around while being carried to the car and elsewhere. These were not ideal for any real length of time that you might want to have your cat with you- especially vacations. Nowadays there are all sorts of bag, purse, backpack and smaller carriers so that your cat can travel in relative safety and comfort no matter where you go.
Some things you may want to consider are where you plan on taking your companion and how long they are going to need to be in their travel device. While an hour hike may sound like a small amount of time, you should consider it as being more like a three-hour trip in a car with no air conditioning and check just how much air you are permitting- because this is how it will likely feel to your cat.
Three major questions:
As cute as the dome is, on an hour hike, will what’s left for the vent actually be allowing your fur coat wearing buddy to get enough air?
Cat’s need water, is there a way to get water to the little traveler that is both safe and easy in the carrier?
Think like you have a toddler- they have much smaller bladders- when was the last time your fuzzy friend used the bathroom?
If your carrier provides what you need, and you have taken everything you need to into consideration for use, then your travel with your most precious companion should be safe and happy for all.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Is the backpack carrier safe?
We couldn’t find anything that seemed to say these new types of carriers aren’t safe. There are several sites out there which explain the interchangeable parts and as long as you are considering your kitty’s needs and not just the coolness factor, your cat should be safe.
q: Are the hard-plastic carriers better for long travel?
While some may say this is true, we have found that it is all a matter of opinion when looking at a carrier which is best. In the end, it is up to you and your cat what style of travel is best.
q: Are carriers a necessity when traveling? My cat seems happy free roaming.
That may sound great- but a toddler also enjoys free roaming in the back of a car or van as well, but you wouldn’t leave them unstrapped in a moving vehicle. Cats need the safety and a quick jerking stop which may not hurt you could cause broken bones for your wandering feline friend.