If you own a cat you really should have a cat carrier or two. You’ll have a problem on your hands if you suddenly need to transport your kitty and you don’t have the appropriate container – nobody wants a cat loose in their car!
There are quite a few types of cat carrier available and it’s worth putting some thought into your purchase. We learned the hard way that they can tear through low quality ones and fancier models have neat features for improved safety and comfort for your pet.
Choosing the Right Carrier
Cat’s Size & Weight
A carrier that’s too small will stress your pet and he will claw at it to try and escape. There should be enough room for him to move into a comfortable position. Measure your cat’s length and height and compare with the manufacturer’s product dimensions. Also bear in mind the weight limit; soft fabric carriers will tear if your pet is too heavy.
Type of Travel
If you plan on using your carrier just for short trips like vet visits, a small, soft-sided design with a shoulder strap will do the job. For longer car trips your cat will need more space to stretch his legs. For adventures such as hikes, a backpack cat carrier will make things easier. For travel by air or train you will need a hard crate to protect your pet and to meet airline requirements.
Extra Requirements for Air Travel
Air travel with a cat is a complicated process. Each airline has its own requirements for the construction, features and dimensions of container they allow for pet travel. Requirements vary in the US compared to other countries so it’s hard to find a globally approved cat carrier design.
Even if a product advertises itself as approved for airline travel, do your own research. The last thing you want is to have your kitty turned away at the gate because the container is an inch too big or doesn’t have a feeding tray attached. Also note that airlines require one crate per animal.
Hard-Sided vs Soft-Sided Carrier
Hard carriers protect your cat from bumps and knocks. They usually provide more space for him to stretch his legs and often include water dispensers and food trays for longer trips. Airlines require a hard crate if your pet is traveling as cargo. On the downside, they’re heavy and cumbersome to carry.
Soft carriers take up less space, are easy to wash and are usually cheaper than hard carriers. Depending on quality, they can break more easily and they don’t offer any protection from the outside world. Soft carriers are best when you are going to be beside your pet for the duration of the trip.
Safety and Security
The carrier you settle on must be secure. If it seals with a zip, could your cat wiggle it open? You know your pet’s abilities best. If you’re looking at a hard crate for your pet, make sure the door locks, the material is tough and the hinges sturdy. There should be adequate ventilation but if it uses mesh make sure that it’s extremely strong as your cat will try to tear it.
Ease of Use
If your cat is really heavy or you have trouble lifting, a pet carrier on wheels might suit you best. If possible, get a carrier with multiple entrances; top loading is most common but sometimes it’s easier to get your cat to walk into a front opening.
Easy to Clean
If you’re taking longer trips, your cat will have to go to the toilet in the container. You can use a layer of newspaper or disposable cloth but you should be able to wash the carrier thoroughly to keep it smelling fresh. Soft models should be washing machine safe and hard ones should be smooth without crevices for easy wipe down.
***Best for long car journeys***
For car travel, Pet Gear’s soft carrier is the best design I’ve found. It’s roomy enough for even a large cat without taking up huge amounts of space in your car. It’s soft-sided and locks in place with a seat belt to make sure your pet stays safe and secure during long trips.
I really love the attached leash. You can clip your cat’s collar to this to be absolutely certain he won’t escape even if he manages to open the zipper. My pets are indoor-only, so one of them getting loose is a huge fear; this feature really gives peace of mind.
|Secures with seat belt||Not suitable for cats heavier than 12lbs (larger model available)|
|Leash for no escape||No long shoulder strap|
|Top and front doors||Soft carrier, no protection|
|Good for long car trips|
|Spacious (16″L x 13″W x 12″H)|
|Pad inside is washable|
***Best for heavy cats and short trips***
If you’re looking for an easy-to-transport wheeled option, the Tutto Medium Pet on Wheels Stroller is a good choice. This wheeled carrier has a strong fiberglass frame to protect your pet from bumps and knocks. It also has ample ventilation and a privacy screen which is helpful for nervous cats.
Carriers on wheels are not as popular as the carry kind as they can be a bit more cumbersome. But if lifting your heavy kitty isn’t possible, it’s certainly a great alternative.
|Fiberglass frame for protection||Not a smooth ride for the cat on bumpy surfaces
|Folds flat for storage||Wheels are not detachable, not good for long car trips|
|Weight up to 18lbs, can fit 2 cats|
|Spacious (17″L x 10″H)|
|Pad inside is washable|
|Privacy flap good for nervous cats|
***Best for airline cabin travel and nervous cats***
For airline travel with your pet in the cabin, this stylish option from Pet Magasin seems like a safe bet. It fits under under the airplane seat as required. It even has velcro on the bottom to stop it sliding to visit the person in front of you. It’s made of waterproof material so the cleaning staff won’t be cursing you afterwards when your little angel leaks pee onto the carpet. Please note that the above is only suitable for cabin travel, not cargo.
It’s also my choice for nervous cats. It has a soft, padded base, unlike cheaper models which are rigid and slippery. This means your pet is secure on his cfeet, even on a bumpy ride, which reduces stress levels. It also protects your cat from rain during the dash through the car park.
It’s light, compact and comes with a shoulder strap. There’s enough space for your cat to be comfortable during short trips but it still feels secure and cosy. The only downside is that there’s no way to attach this to your seat belt. This means it’s going to be very difficult to secure for longer car travel.
|Long shoulder strap||Not good for long car trips, does not attach to seat belt|
|Suitable for airline travel in cabin||Soft carrier, no protection|
|Spacious (18″ x 11″ x 10″)|
|Leash for no escape|
|Padded base, good for nervous cats|
***Best for airline cargo travel***
For cargo, you will need something like this crate from Pet Mate. Please check the exact requirements with your airline before purchasing a carrier for air travel. The size of the crate will depend on the size of the cat and a lot of other factors.
This is a heavy duty crate designed to keep your pet safe during long trips and cargo transport. It’s constructed from solid plastic and steel with secure locking door and ample ventilation.
|Solid construction, protects your cat||Heavy, hard to carry|
|Spacious (28″ L X 20.5″ W X 21.5″H)||Hard to secure for car travel
|Secure door latch|
|4 ventilation windows|
|Includes ID stickers and water trays|
|Weights up to 30 lbs, can fit 2 cats|
|Meets most airline requirements|
***Best for adventures & curious cats***
Cat carrier backpacks have taken off in recent years, with space age inspired designs going viral. This model from Pet Gear is particularly versatile – it can be used as a backpack, tote, carrier, car seat or airline cabin carrier. It has wheels and a telescoping handle for when you get tired of carrying your pet on your back.
This is a great option if you have an indoor cat but you’d like him to get some fresh air without risk of escape. The large mesh window lets him satisfy his curiosity about the outside world but may be a source of anxiety for more nervous cats.
|Multipurpose: Can be used as a backpack, tote, car seat or cabin carrier.||Bumpy ride, not great for nervous cats|
|Pad inside is washable||Soft carrier, no protection|
|Mesh “window” lets cat see outside||On the small side (14″L X 8″W X 15″H)|
|Backpack mode is hands free, great for hiking||Weight limit unclear|
|Leash for no escape|