If your cat is like most, they are happiest when they are safe in their own home, where everything is familiar and all is right with the world. And the last place they want to be is in the car, or worse, a plane, where all the smells and sounds are foreign and scary.
One way to reduce your cat’s stress during travel is to find the right carrier. Which one will be exactly right for your cat depends on their personality, size, and how you’re traveling.
In this article, we’ll talk about some easy ways to help your kitty feel safe during travel and how to pick the right carrier. Then we’ll review our top 5 choices of the best cat carriers so you can spend less time shopping and more time getting your feline ready for your next big trip.
The Best Cat Carriers
Reviews of The Best Cat Carriers
#1. Pet Magasin Cat Carrier
Our first product is one of the best cat carriers for car travel and in-cabin plane travel. The Pet Magasin cat carrier has a compact design that makes it easy to use and a ton of great features designed to keep your cat happy.
This duffel style carrier is lightweight and it’s unique shape means its smaller than most carriers but still allows space for your cat to move around. It is also fully collapsible and easy to store when not in use.
It features a large zip door at one end that can easily be left open for your cat to explore on their own terms. The entire top and sides of the carrier also zip open, exposing the full inside of the carrier.
This feature is not only great for nervous cats who don’t want to leave their carrier, but also for easy cleaning in case of a mess. The entire duffel is made of water-resistant material to make clean up easy and fast.
Your cat will love this carrier for the limited mesh screens set toward the front end, allowing them the ability to see out or the ability to hide in the back if they prefer.
For the human, this bag comes in four fun colors and is airline approved to be easily stored under the seat in front of you, making this the best airline-approved cat carrier on our list for cabin travel.
Another feature you’ll love is the price. This carrier is easily the least expensive on our list and is sure to fit into most budgets.
#2. Petyella Expandable Carrier
Next on our list is the best cat carrier for long-distance travel. The Petyella pet carrier is an airline approved duffel style carrier with a unique feature to allow your cat plenty of space to stretch out between flights.
This duffel style carrier is set up similar to other cat carriers with a zip door and mesh screening on the end and on the top. This limited mesh area allows your cat the ability to see out but still plenty of space to stay hidden if they are nervous.
But what truly sets this carrier apart is the expandable sides. Both long sides of this carrier zip open and fold down, basically tripling the interior space of the duffel and allowing plenty of airflow.
This feature makes this the best cat carrier for long car trips. Secure the carrier to the seatbelt through the back seatbelt loop and then fold down the outer side to allow plenty of room for your cat.
This carrier also comes with a bonus collapsible water bowl and blanket and a 1-year warranty. It is available in three stylish colors and is moderately priced given the great features.
#3. Blitzwolf Space Capsule Backpack
Third on our list, is a truly unique product and the best cat carrier backpack we’ve found. The Blitzwolf pet carrier allows your cat to travel in style with optional features to fit their personality.
Like all backpack style carriers, this one allows for easy, hands-free travel and is perfect for bringing your pet along on hikes or road trips. But what makes this carrier so unique is the semi-hard shell design.
The back of the pack is made of soft, breathable material for your comfort. While the front is made from durable polycarbonate to keep your pet safe and secure.
This carrier features small air holes along the bottom and each side and a half-round plastic bubble so your cat can look around. This ingenious design makes this carrier one of the best cat carriers for nervous cats as they have plenty of room to hide and fewer mesh openings mean less noise and stress.
If your cat is more of an extrovert and enjoys checking out what’s going on, this carrier also comes in a design that features a fully transparent plastic back so your cat can see everything while remaining safely contained.
This pack is available in small, medium, and large for optimal pet comfort. The price varies with each size and style but ranges from mid to higher end.
#4. AmazonBasics Top Load Carrier
If you’re looking for the best cat carrier for plane cargo hold travel, this is it. The AmazonBasics plastic crate is a simple, easy to use carrier that will keep your cat safe on their journey.
This kennel is a traditional airplane-style plastic carrier with a unique front and top door system that makes it easier to get your cat in and out. The front and top doors are fully removable which means this crate can double as a bed at home to help your cat get used to being in it.
Like all the best hard cat carriers, this one includes reinforced snap-lock connections to hold the top and bottom shells together. These can be easily taken apart and stacked for quick storage.
This carrier is easier to clean than even the best soft-sided cat carriers and is the best choice for cats who are likely to have an accident or throw up during travel.
This crate comes in two sizes, giving you the ability to size up and include a little box with your cat during the flight if needed. It is also practically escape-proof and damage resistant.
Your budget will appreciate this carrier choice as well. Depending on the size it is low to moderately priced.
#5. One for Pets Cat Show House
Last on our list is the best cat carrier for large cats and the best cat carrier for two cats. The One for Pets Cat Show House was made for cats who frequently travel in the car and want to do so in style.
This double-wide, extra-tall cat carrier is designed to be strapped into the back seat of your car, but can easily be carried short distances using the top handles.
Each section features a comfy bottom pad and a suspended hammock pad so your cat can get comfy. The panel between the sections can be zipped down, allowing an extra-wide space for one pampered cat or allowing your two cats can commingle.
The front panel of each section is made of mesh to allow your cat a view of the world and it fully opens and rolls up, allowing this kennel to double as a sleeping area at home. Each end of the carrier also zips open allowing multiple access points for you.
While this kennel is probably too large and cumbersome for the average owner, it is perfect for anyone whose cat frequently accompanies them on road trips or those that compete in cat shows.
This carrier is available in three colors. The price varies with your color choice but all are priced on the higher end of the spectrum.
What is the Best Cat Carrier?
After reviewing the best soft cat carriers, hardshell carries, and backpack carriers, we have chosen Pet Magasin’s Cat Carrier as the ultimate carrier for cat owners. This duffel style carrier was made with both you and your cat’s comfort in mind.
We chose this as the best cat carrier for its unique tunnel-shaped design that makes it easy to haul around and the cat forward features like limited mesh windows and a fully opening top flap. Your cat may not always enjoy traveling, but in this carrier, they are sure to feel less stressed and more secure.
If you are looking for a carrier better suited to cargo hold travel or transporting multiple cats, we’ve included choices for those on our list as well.
How to Keep Your Cat Calm and Happy During Travel
Cats are naturally skittish creatures who like to explore the world on their terms. So, locking them in a crate and dragging them out into a big scary new place is unlikely to be something they’ll enjoy.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help your cat feel more comfortable on your next trip.
Petmd.com recommends trying a pheromone spray such as Feliway to help calm your cat’s nerves naturally. If you think your cat is going to be stressed to the point of hurting themselves or having an accident in the carrier, getting a sedative from your vet may be your best option.
Preparing for your trip weeks or months in advance can also help keep your cat calmer. Purchase your carrier before your trip and allow your cat to use it on their own terms before traveling.
Place the carrier with the door(s) open in your cat’s favorite lounging spot. Put their favorite blanket or bed inside and let them choose to sleep in it on their own. Cats love small spaces and will naturally be attracted to the carrier so long as they have the choice to get in and out of it as they please.
Over time, your cat will come to see the carrier as a safe, happy place. By the time you leave for your trip, your cat will feel comfortable in their carrier which will help offset the stress caused by leaving the house.
How to Choose the Right Carrier
Allowing your cat to get used to their carrier before the trip won’t be enough to calm them down if the carrier itself makes them uncomfortable.
Before purchasing a new carrier, ask yourself these questions:
- Does your cat like to hide or do they prefer to observe?
- Does your cat tend to freeze when stressed or try to escape?
- Does your cat tend to get overheated or do they prefer to be warm and snuggly?
- Will you need to transport more than one cat in the carrier at a time?
- Will your cat be flying in the cargo hold?
- How much space will your cat need in their carrier?
The answers to these questions will determine what features your new carrier needs to have to keep your cat calm and happy. Keep your answers in mind as you read through our reviews of the best-rated cat carriers.