Best Cat Carriers For Air & Car Travel

Best Cat Carriers
Best Choice
  • Expandable four parts.
  • Come with a machine-washable fleece bed.
  • Nonslip bottom.
  • TSA airline-approved cat carrier bag.
  • Abundant space for up to a pet that weighs 20 pounds.
Premium Pack
  • Can hold a cat that weighs up to 17 pounds.
  • Incredibly lightweight.
  • Ventilated through mesh windows.
  • Comes in fun colors and patterns.
  • Budget-friendly.
Best Value
  • Available in many fun colors.
  • Perfect for any sort of travel.
  • Lightweight and ventilated.
  • Adjustable and comfortable straps.
  • Waterproof.

Why does one need a cat carrier? Other than simply being used as a mode of transport for your cat. That can also be conducted with a simple breathable bag, why else would one need to expend money on getting a cat carrier? Well, this might have been true years back when cat carriers were nothing but mesh bags made to look like they could house a cat comfortably.

However, This side of the market has been revolutionized, and now features cat carries diverse features that are suitable for everyone’s needs. And that is where a customer might need help to figure out which cat carrier will be best suited for what they and their cat wants.

Now, Buying a cat carrier may seem like an uncomplicated task but one needs to keep in mind whether their cat gets nervous in enclosed spaces and how to make a pet feel as comfortable and at home as possible when they are traveling. In addition, Specific airlines also have safety regulations when it comes to cat carriers. So if one plans on touring the world with their furry companion, an airline-approved cat carrier will be best suited for their needs which is incidentally also featured as one of our top picks.

Although, even if you do not intend to engage in any sort of air travel, a spacious cat carrier may still interest you. Some of them even come in handy backpack form so that you never have to worry about feeling the heft on one of your shoulders. And that is why we have performed extensive research on what sort of cat carrier may be best suited for all users with different requirements in mind.

Best Portable Cat Carriers: Unbiased Reviews

Each and every cat carrier offers features that target a specific user. Whether it’s for airline travel, road trips, or even general vet visits, one can choose whichever portable cat carrier best suits their needs. And we have kept that in mind while listing the best cat carriers currently available on the market.


This airline-approved cat carrier is top of the line when it comes to being comfortable and breathable for one’s cats. The expandable parts are made from mesh so that one’s pet should never feel claustrophobic and you can rest easy knowing that cats won’t be able to claw their way out. In addition to that, this cat carrier bag is made from sturdy material and features a soft fleece bed lining the bottom keeping your cat’s ease in mind.

It is no surprise that this cat carrier is one of the best-rated currently in the market and is sitting at pretty 4.5 stars reviewed by more than twenty-five hundred people. Furthermore, it also has a non-slip bottom which ensures the bag won’t topple over or fall from its seat keeping your cat safe and sound.


This is one of the best cat carriers around when it comes to how lightweight and affordable it is. While many top-of-the-line portable cat carriers have exorbitant prices with specifications that might seem useless for many, this cat carrier by Neco Ichi gets the job done perfectly and is budget-friendly as well. As clear by the Company’s name ‘Neco Ichi’ which means Cats First in English, they have created a cat carrier that is lightweight, breathable, and offers a unique tent-like shape.

Moreover, it is completely collapsable while also being quite easy to clean. One might get scared off by the fact that the reduced weight may not be able to comfortably hold a larger pet but it can easily hold a cat that weighs up to 17 pounds. This soft cat carrier is made from sturdy fabric while also offering mesh windows so that a cat never feels claustrophobic.


  • Can hold weighs up to 17 pounds
  • Incredibly lightweight
  • Ventilated through mesh windows
  • It comes in fun colors and patterns
  • Budget-friendly


  • Not approved by an airline
  • Maybe susceptible to damage by clawing or chewing

This top-loading cat carrier is perfect for those nervous cats that run at the first sight of a bag. This sturdy and hard carrier offers the support a person may need to get their cat in for a vet visit. Furthermore, because of the hardtop and bottom, there will be no fear of the carrier collapsing on your cat and making them uncomfortable. In addition to that, this feature-rich carrier also has small windows at the sides to keep it ventilated and breathable for your cat.

If making a choice between a soft-sided cat carrier and a hard cat carrier seems impossible, this gives you the collapsible nature of a soft-sided cat carrier while also giving your cat the protection that it would get from a hard carrier.


  • Breathable and ventilated
  • Top-loading cat carrier
  • Able to zip the bottom and top together for easy storage
  • Made from premium materials


  • Only good for cats on the smaller side
  • Not able to fit under an airline seat
  • Fragile zippers keep the top together

Here we have a soft-sided cat carrier from the same company which produces the top-loading cat carrier. However, this one is quite different because of the simple fact that it is airline-approved. So if you need a cat carrier specifically for air travel, this airline-approved cat carrier is one of the best currently being raved about by customers. In addition to being approved by TSA for air travel, it is also leakproof and fits perfectly under an airplane seat.

Pet Magasin has made this soft-sided cat carrier to be incredibly comfortable for cats to spend hours in while also constructing it in such a way that it is remarkably lightweight and easily foldable for safe storage.


  • Available in many fun colors
  • Perfect for any sort of travel
  • Lightweight and ventilated
  • Comfortable shoulder straps
  • Waterproof


  • Only comes in two sizes
  • Not comfortable for cats over the 17 pounds limit

This soft-sided cat carrier may not be recommended for any sort of long travel but is perfect for general vet visits. Not only is it affordable but it also offers a slew of basic features for those who do not want or need anything extra. Most of this cat carrier is made from sturdy mesh so ventilation is definitely not a problem and it comes with a fleece bed that can easily be taken out and washed in a machine.

In addition to that, this cat carrier bag has two zipper openings, one on the side and one on the top. To summarize, your cat will feel comfortable and be able to view the world while going for a quick ride.


  • Mesh sides facilitate ventilation
  • Lighter than most hard carriers
  • Comes with a soft fleece bed
  • Quality construction
  • Affordable


  • Only recommended for small cats
  • Narrow top-loading compartment

Part of the populace prefers hard shell cat carriers and it is clear what the reason is. Ultimately, there is a very low chance that it will get damaged by chewing or clawing which can be the one downside to even the best soft-sided cat carriers. This is usually because of the mesh fabric that is essential for ventilation so that your cat does not get sick because of heatstroke.

However, this hard-sided cat carrier by Petmate approaches this problem in a different way by constructing the cat carrier in such a way that it has several windows along the sides and the front. It also offers a much higher level of security as there is no worry that your cat will ever be able to get out without your help.


  • Made from sturdy plastic
  • Latch system that is secure
  • Straightforward design
  • Phenomenal ventilation


  • Not approved by airlines
  • Does not accommodate cats over 20 pounds
  • No slip protection on the bottom

This is one of the best collapsible cat carriers when it comes to what you get for what you spend. Not only does one get a sturdy and comfortable soft-sided cat carrier but there are also toys and a collapsible water bowl included in the package. In addition, it is incredibly budget-friendly as well considering the premium quality material that is used in its construction. Furthermore, because of the abundant space, it can hold up to two cats so it is perfect for those who do not want to haul around two carriers all the time.

Rather than just calling it a cat carrier, it might be best described as a ‘cat tent’ since it also offers a line litter box and a soft velour bed pad. And its fun blue polka design is loved by many reviewers as well.


  • Made from sturdy material
  • Can hold up to two cats
  • Comes with extras
  • Budget-friendly


  • Not approved for air travel
  • The bottom has no support for heavier cats
  • The door is on only one side

The one issue with hard-sided cat carriers is that they cannot collapse as the best soft-sided cat carriers can which makes it harder for people to store them easily. However, Sport Pet has found a way to resolve this simple problem and because of that, we have this cat carrier that is not only sturdy but can also be folded to store it without difficulty. Moreover, it is remarkably lightweight as well which should make carrying around your cat easier.

Since the door locks from the outside, one can rest easy knowing their cat is safe and sound while they travel. And since it can support a cat that weighs up to 25 pounds, this cat carrier has become a staple in many pet-loving homes.


  • Foldable and easy to store
  • Lightweight
  • Open with a convenient push-button
  • Recommended by veterinarians


  • Flimsy clasps that close the door
  • Cats are able to escape

This cat backpack carrier by Pet gear has all that a person who loves to travel can need. Not only is it much easier to keep your cat close by in this backpack but it is also comfortable enough on the back of the pet owner. Furthermore, it also comes equipped with wheels so that one does not need to worry about hauling their heavier cats around. In addition to keeping your cat safe and sound, it also keeps your hands free while you deal with the hassle of travel.

The telescoping handle is constructed from sturdy material but is light enough so it does not add to the weight when you use it as a backpack. Besides one can also unzip the sides to expand them even more so that your cat is always comfortable.


  • Expandable from the sides
  • Comes in many sizes
  • Telescoping handle
  • Mesh panels on both sides
  • Durable and high-quality materials


  • No padding.
  • Only been approved by a few airlines
  • Not suitable for heavier cats

We have already reviewed a hard shell cat carrier by Pet Mate above but this one has one massive difference that might make this the best cat carrier around for those people who have nervous cats. It not only features the normal front door but also offers a top-loading door that may make it easier for you to easily insert your cat. And since it is approved by most airlines, you can take this sturdy cat carrier around wherever you go without worrying about any harm coming to your furry pet.

In addition, it comes in many proportions and its largest size can house up to two cats.


  • Uncomplicated assembling
  • Airline approved
  • Top loading door


  • The holes for ventilation are very sharp
  • Insecure clasp for the door

This is one of the best cat carriers for travel as evidenced by more than eleven thousand reviews on Amazon. And the hype is not for nothing as it is constructed with a wireframe around the whole carrier so it always sits upright and does not collapse on your cat. Moreover, it guarantees that it will meet every airline’s rules and regulations regarding cat carriers so that you can remain stress-free during your air travel plans.

In addition to that, the wireframe can be compressed several inches to fit under any sort of seat imaginable when it comes to airplanes. It features plenty of mesh sides for ventilation while offering fleece padding for maximum comfort for your cat.


  • Comes in several sizes and designs
  • Approved by every airline
  • Patented wire frame that can be compressed
  • Numerous mesh panels


  • Bulky and much larger cats may not be comfortable
  • Stiffer than most airline cat carriers

Best Cat Carriers Buying Guide & FAQs

Types of Cat Carriers:

Below are some types of carriers which you may consider while choosing the product for your cat.

Soft-Sided Cat Carriers:

These lightweight cat carriers are usually made from fabric and mesh to allow ample room and ventilation for your cat.

Hard Shell Cat Carriers:

Hardshell cat carriers are much sturdier and usually made from plastic and steel which can make them much heavier in comparison.

Collapsible Cat Carriers:

Cat Carriers are usually soft-sided and offer some sort of way to collapse them in a smaller size and make them easier to store.

Expandable Cat Carriers:

These cat carriers usually have several pockets that can be opened to make extra space for a larger pet or even more than one.

Cat carriers for different-sized cats:

  • Large Cats:

While most cat carriers have different options in sizes and one can take a look at their sizing chart, it is not always the most accurate way. That is why most people prefer soft-sided expandable cat carriers so that your cat may remain comfortable and not feel squished while you are going for a vet visit. Hard-shelled cat carriers are not a bad choice either but you would have to get the largest size which can mean that t may be much heavier than expected.

  • Small Cats:

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the best cat carrier for a smaller furry pet. At the end of the day, it would depend on what specifications you are looking for in your cat carrier. However, most people do prefer soft-sided cat carriers as they can be more comfortable and spacious, especially for nervous cats who despise the sight of any carrier.

What type of carrier is best for cats?

The market is filled with cat carriers that offer everything from collapsible sides to examinable pockets but that does not mean every cat carrier is made equal. So it is best to do some research before you commit to buying a cat carrier. Following are some things that you should keep in mind when buying a cat carrier.

  • Safe Closure:
    The closing mechanism should be on the outside so your cat remains safe.
  • Material Quality:
    A cat carrier should be made from sturdy material regardless of whether it is a hard shell or a soft-sided cat carrier.
  • Number Of Openings:
    The best cat carriers have more than one opening, preferably top-loading cat carriers are recommended.
  • Easy Maintenance:
    Check to see if the cat carrier is easy to clean and whether the padding is machine washable.


Can two cats share a carrier?

It depends upon the size of the cat carrier and your cat. If you have two large Maine coons, it might be a tight squeeze in even the most massive of cat carriers. However, there are many spacious cat carriers that are perfect for housing two cats provided your cats are not aggressive and won’t hurt each other just because they feel nervous.

How to get an aggressive cat into a carrier?

Simply making them more comfortable around the cat carrier so they can adjust to it is the only surefire way to get a nervous cat into a cat carrier. Many people wrap their cats in a towel before putting them so they don’t get scared by the prospect of being stuck in a crate. The following ways might help some people as well.

1-Using a laser pointer
2-Putting treats in the carrier
3-Using cat toys
4-Catnip can help the truly nervous cats

How to get a cat into a carrier?

While some cats will happily walk into a carrier without much issue, others can make the right fuss when it comes to taking them to the vet or even boarding them onto a plane. That is why the best cat carrier for nervous cats is one that has a top-loading option as it makes sure you won’t come away with several scratches when you put your cat in.

Another way is that you get your cat used to the carrier by putting them in while at home so they don’t feel as nervous when the time comes for a ride.

How big should a cat carrier be?

Most cat carriers offer many options and sizes and you can take a look at the sizing chart for yourself to find out which will best suit your cat. However, keep in mind that is it always better to get a size too big rather than a small one so your cat can have abundant space and feel comfortable in the cat carrier.

How long can a cat stay in a carrier?

A cat can technically stay in a carrier indefinitely as long as you let it out for when it needs to use the bathroom or when it is time to feed. However, cats are free-roaming creatures and experts don’t recommend forcing a cat to stay in a cat carrier for more than 10 hours which is pushing it but some pet owners have no choice but to do just that.

What is the best cat carrier for car travel?

Airlines have strict rules and regulations when it comes to bringing along your pet aboard. However, you can easily find out whether your specific cat carrier is airline approved by checking the company’s website.

Although, you will see that hard shell carriers are not usually approved for air travel as they cannot fit under an airline seat unless they are very small. Moreover, we have also featured some of the best airline-approved cat carriers above as well.

Do you have any of these cat carriers in your home? If so what are your thoughts on them? Voice your thoughts in the comments below!

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