The Best Cat Carriers for 2020: Which Are They?

 

best cat carrier

Need to go from one place to another with your pet but worried about how to do it safely and securely? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Every year, thousands of people all over the world travel from one location to another while bringing their pets with them.

Some people bring their cats with them because they want their fur buddies to share in their travel adventures. Others do it out of necessity because they have to move permanently. And several more need to bring theirs to the vet for a visit. Whatever your reason is for traveling with your cat, a carrier is the best way to go when transporting him.

But first, what is a cat carrier? And what are the best cat carriers in the market today?

According to definition, a carrier is any portable container that is used to transport cats. It may come in the form of a box, a cage, a bag, or a crate. Typically, there are two kinds of permanent carriers sold at stores: the soft-sided carrier and the hard-sided one. In this article, I’ll discuss both and provide examples of each to help you decide which are the best cat carrier for you.

You love what you see? Purrfect! Rest assured that I put these products on the list specifically due to their genuine quality and not for other reasons.

I would just like to be transparent with you and inform you that FelineLiving may obtain a share of sales or other monetary compensation from the links on this page. I hope your furry friends will love these reviewed products and that it will spark joy in each pair of feline eyes!

Mary Nielsen ♥

Best Seller for Soft Sided
AmazonBasics Large Soft-Sided Mesh Pet Transport...
PetLuv "Happy Cat Premium Cat Carrier Soft Sided...
Pet Magasin Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier (Airline...
Best Seller for Hard Sided
AmazonBasics Top-Load Pet Travel Kennel Carrier...
Petmate Two Door Top Load 19-Inch Pet Kennel,...
SportPet Designs Foldable Travel Cat Carrier -...
Name
AmazonBasics Large Soft-Sided Mesh Pet Transport...
PetLuv "Happy Cat Premium Cat Carrier Soft Sided...
Pet Magasin Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier (Airline...
AmazonBasics Top-Load Pet Travel Kennel Carrier...
Petmate Two Door Top Load 19-Inch Pet Kennel,...
SportPet Designs Foldable Travel Cat Carrier -...
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Prime Benefits
Best Seller for Soft Sided
AmazonBasics Large Soft-Sided Mesh Pet Transport...
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AmazonBasics Large Soft-Sided Mesh Pet Transport...
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Prime Benefits
More information
PetLuv "Happy Cat Premium Cat Carrier Soft Sided...
Name
PetLuv "Happy Cat Premium Cat Carrier Soft Sided...
Rating
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Prime Benefits
More information
Pet Magasin Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier (Airline...
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Pet Magasin Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier (Airline...
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Prime Benefits
More information
Best Seller for Hard Sided
AmazonBasics Top-Load Pet Travel Kennel Carrier...
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AmazonBasics Top-Load Pet Travel Kennel Carrier...
Rating
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Prime Benefits
More information
Petmate Two Door Top Load 19-Inch Pet Kennel,...
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Petmate Two Door Top Load 19-Inch Pet Kennel,...
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Prime Benefits
More information
SportPet Designs Foldable Travel Cat Carrier -...
Name
SportPet Designs Foldable Travel Cat Carrier -...
Rating
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Prime Benefits
More information

Last update on 2020-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Cat Carriers: Soft-Sided

Soft-sided carriers are usually made of nylon or ballistic fabrics. They are lightweight and easy to carry around. I searched the web for some of the most popular and best rated ones as examples below.

1. PetLuv Premium Cat Carrier

PetLuv "Happy Cat Premium Cat Carrier Soft Sided Foldable Top & Side Loading Pet Crate & Carrier...
  • Go-anywhere pet carrier makes transporting your pal easy with roomy design and built-in premium...
  • Optimum ventilation and maximum sightseeing with all-around windows, with tear-resistant heavy duty...
  • Great for car rides thanks to the adjustable seatbelt loops, and includes locking zippers and...
  • Easy reach and loading with four access panels and top opening so you can get your pal in and out...

Last update on 2020-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

PetLuv’s carrier offers premium comfort and a roomy design.

Features:

  • Heavy-duty rubber mesh windows that are tear-resistant with closable flaps for privacy
  • Comes with seatbelt loops that can be adjusted, and a washable plushy bed
  • Weighs 6.7 pounds for small and 8 pounds for large
  • Comes in small (L20”, Height 13”, and W13”) and medium-large (L24”, H16”, and W16”) sizes
  • Features adjustable shoulder straps for easy carry
  • Has side pockets to store cat accessories or treats
  • With four access panels and a top opening
  • Available in red and navy blue colors

What I like about it:

This carrier offers a luxurious space for cats but maintains that cozy feel inside. The plush cat pillow included in the package brings a comfortable feel that makes cats feel like home, so they’re not stressed by traveling at all.

The four access panels let in loads of fresh air, but the addition of the privacy panels is a great idea. In case your cat just wants to snooze or rest, you can pull the shades down and let him feel disconnected from all the activity around him. What’s more, the zipper locks, so your cats can’t easily open that up just by pushing.

This travel carrier can best fit two medium-sized cats or one large-sized one.

What needs a bit of improvement:

The mesh is built sturdily, but if you have a cat that’s absolutely bent on escaping, they will be able to rip it or poke a hole in it after a few tries.

2. AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Mesh Cat Carrier

AmazonBasics Large Soft-Sided Mesh Pet Transport Carrier Bag - 20 x 10 x 11 Inches, Black
  • Before purchasing please measure your pet - LENGTH: neck to base of tail; HEIGHT: floor to top of...
  • Large soft-sided carrier measures approximately 19.7x10.2x11.2 inches (LxWxH)
  • Carrying handles and adjustable shoulder strap
  • Conforms to under-seat dimensions of most airlines

Last update on 2020-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This carrier by AmazonBasics offers ample airflow and an easy viewing feature.

Features:

  • Airline approved and conforms to under-seat dimensions
  • Comes with a luggage strap that doubles as a seatbelt strap
  • Includes a washable pet bed that’s made of fleece
  • For pets weighing a max of 8 pounds (small), 16 pounds (medium), and 22 pounds (large).
  • Comes in small (L14”, H9”, and W9”), medium (L16.5”, H9.4”, and W9.8”), and large (L19.7”, H10.2”, and W11.2”) sizes
  • The shoulder strap is adjustable
  • Has a base insert to keep the middle from collapsing
  • With mesh panels on all four sides for ventilation
  • Only available in black

What I like about it:

This cat carrier from AmazonBasics is simply-designed but works well. The mesh windows on all four sides allow your curious cat to look at all the goings-on around him and will enable you to check up on him as well. There aren’t many frills to this carrier, but it does what it’s designed to do — transport your cat.

The shoulder straps allow for hands-free carrying, and the base insert keeps the middle from sagging. I also like the fleece bed that comes with it since it’s washable and extremely comfy.

This type of carrier is best used for placid cats who are used to traveling.

What needs a bit of improvement:

This cat carrier is best for short trips. As it’s made from mostly mesh, it’s not the best choice for trips that will take hours. A bored cat will easily rip a hole through the fabric if it’s stressed enough.

There are also pointed “feet” (five of them) attached to the bottom of the carrier to help it adhere to the ground or whatever surface it is on. These feet can make indentations on your car seat, particularly if your cat is on the heavy side.

3. Pet Magasin Collapsible Cat Carrier

Sale
Pet Magasin Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier (Airline Approved) for Cats, Small Dogs, Puppies and Other...
  • MAJOR AIRLINE CARRY-ON APPROVED: Product dimensions: 18" x 11" x 10", a perfect size for most cats,...
  • SAFETY FIRST: Constructed to keep your pet safe; holds its shape when end panels are zipped up
  • LIGHT WEIGHT & FASHIONABLE DESIGN: Only 2.2 Pounds; and made with durable & luxurious material....
  • EASY TO STORE & CLEAN: Folds flat for storage, and made from waterproof material so it's easy to...

Last update on 2020-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

An airline approved carrier, this product by Pet Magasin will be loved by parents who are frequent travelers.

Features:

  • Resistant to animal bites
  • Features rigid, no-sag but well-padded floors
  • Weighs 2.2 pounds only
  • Comes in large size only (L18”, W10”, and H10”)
  • Has an adjustable, removable, and padded shoulder strap as well as one short suitcase handle for easy carry
  • Is waterproof and leakproof
  • Lightweight and foldable for easy storage
  • Available in blue, orange, pink, and yellow colors

What I like about it:

This cheerfully-colored soft-sided cat carrier by Pet Magasin is a well-made product that’s easy to use. As an airline approved carrier, you can rest easy that you will be able to bring your jet setting kitty wherever you go. The shoulder strap and handles offer an effortless and ergonomic way to transport your cat. At the same time, the sturdy, bite-resistant material that covers the carrier provides an efficient method of keeping him secure.

I also like how the travel carrier folds flat when not in use and how easy it is clean. The waterproof feature is also a great bonus. Plus, there’s enough mesh material to give ample ventilation, but not so much as to lessen the cat’s privacy. Your feline buddy will still feel cozy and calm inside.

This type of  airline approved carrier is best for kitties who love to feel snug and who are of medium weight.

What needs a bit of improvement:

The zipper of this cat carrier does not hold very well, so if you want to make sure that your cat doesn’t escape, I suggest adding another locking mechanism to keep it closed.

Best Cat Carriers: Hard-Sided

These types of cat carriers for cats are typically made of hard plastic and are built sturdily. Below are some of the best rated and popular ones available in the market today.

1. AmazonBasics Two Door Top Load Cat Carrier

AmazonBasics Top-Load Pet Travel Kennel Carrier Crate For Cats Or Dogs - 13 x 15 x 23 Inches
  • Two-door, top-load model allows for easy loading of your cat or dog
  • Measures 23 * 15 * 13in
  • Top door can open to the left or right for easy access and convenience
  • Included screws can be used to further secure the top and bottom of kennel for added reinforcement

Last update on 2020-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This travel cat carrier by AmazonBasics offers easy loading for your cat.

Features:

  • Top load door opens from the left or right
  • Has a two-door design for easy access to your pet
  • Offered in two lengths: 19” (19 * 12.5 * 10in) and 23” (23 * 15 * 13in)
  • Made of durable plastic for strength and security
  • Features a steel-wire front door
  • Built with 4 latches and comes with additional screws for added reinforcement
  • Comes in one color only: grey blue

What I like about it:

This travel cat carrier is an extremely efficient way of transporting your cats safely. It is very sturdy and a breeze to assemble. You don’t really need instructions to put it together.

The package comes with extra bolts and nuts if you want to make the assembly a permanent one. Otherwise, you should be okay with the four latches. Just don’t forget to make sure that you secure the pins in their proper places. If not, the top door will open, especially if your cat is on the heavy side. But as long as you’ve properly attached everything, there should be no problem.

The 19” model is probably best for cats that weigh up to 10 pounds, while the 23” is best for those that weigh upwards of 10.

What needs a bit of improvement:

The handle of the carrier isn’t the most ergonomic. It can hurt your hand when lifting the carrier for a long time, especially when your cat happens to be a chonky fellow.

2. Petmate Two-Door Top Load Cat Carrier

Petmate Two Door Top Load 19-Inch Pet Kennel, Metallic Pearl White and Coffee Ground Bottom
  • PET CRATE FOR SMALL DOGS: This small dog kennel has a top entry door so you can access your cat or...
  • AIR TRAVEL APPROVED: This pet carrier meets most airline cargo specifications. The air travel kennel...
  • KENNELS & HOUSES: Crate & kennel training is vital for dog safety & comfort. We provide traditional...
  • Petmate: For over 50 years, we at Petmate are passionate about our dogs, cats & furry friends in...

Last update on 2020-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Convenient for the pet owner, Petmate’s carrier features an ergonomic handle. This is also airline approved.

Features:

  • Approved for air travel and meets most air cargo specifications
  • Has a two-door design which includes a top-load entry
  • Offered in two lengths: 19” (19 * 13 * 10in) and 24” (24 * 17 * 14.5in)
  • Made of heavy-duty plastic with steel doors
  • Features a comfortable carry handle and water cup
  • Door latches are easy to squeeze for better access
  • The 19” model is available in hot pink/black and pearl white/coffee ground colors, while the 24” is offered in pearl ash blue/coffee ground and pearl tan/coffee ground shades

What I like about it:

This handy carrier offers pets a sturdy and cozy place to stay in for any trip. You’re sure to have one happy cat with the product’s luxurious space that allows ample room to turn around or stand up in.

The two-door entry keeps it even more accessible for owners to put in or retrieve their cats. It also allows in more light and air as well as keep it from feeling too cramped. The top door is secure and will stay closed as long as you secure it properly.

The 19” model is probably best for cats up to 10 pounds, while the 24” might be best for cats that weigh upwards of 10 pounds.

What needs a bit of improvement:

The instructions on setting up the door aren’t very clear. It should specify that the vertical bar for the front door should go in the rectangular slots next to the round holes. Otherwise, the door won’t close and will seem to be the wrong fit for the carrier.

3. SportPet Designs Front Door Collapsible Carrier

SportPet Designs Foldable Travel Cat Carrier - Front Door Plastic Collapsible Carrier
  • Patented. Original design-wide side-opening door that opens easily and cats feel comfortable walking...
  • Easy to clean. Folds down easily and compactly
  • Carrier measures: 15. 2” L x 18. 5” W x 14. 2” H. Color: Gray with tan door
  • Perfect for traveling in style and comfort by car, for an adventure or just a trip to the vet

Last update on 2020-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This unique offering by SportPet Designs offers an efficient and comfortable way for cats to get in.

Features:

  • Has a unique side-opening that is wide and easy to get into
  • Features a secure one-way door design
  • Offered in three options: Regular (15.2 * 18.5 * 14.2in), regular with cat bed (same dimensions as regular but w/ one washable bed), and XL (23.12 * 18.75 * 17.25in)
  • Made with rugged, molded plastic
  • For the option with a cat bed included, the bed size is 18 L * 13.75 W in
  • Is collapsible for storage
  • Latch and door are made of premium polycarbonate material
  • Comes in grey/tan color

What I like about it:

It’s pretty spacious for a kitty and will allow your pet enough room to move and turn. The side-door is an excellent idea and one that doesn’t feel cramped to a kitty, particularly one that’s new to using a carrier.

The single door lock is very secure and won’t let your cat escape. And because it’s collapsible — a rare feature with hard-sided carriers — it’s so easy to store away when not in use.

This carrier is probably best for small to medium-sized cats.

What needs a bit of improvement:

It’s not going to fit under a plane seat because it’s too tall. Also, it can seem flimsy when your cat is a large breed type.

Soft-Sided Cat Carriers vs. Hard-Sided Cat Carriers

cat in pet carrier

With the abundance of cat carriers in the market, you may be having a hard time deciding which one is the best cat carrier. And then you find out that there are two kinds and you may be confused even more. I’m going to list down the characteristics of each and their pros and cons. Hopefully, after reading this, you will be able to choose with confidence the best cat carrier for you and your feline companion.

1. Soft-sided cat carriers

A soft carrier is named so because it’s made out of a soft and flexible material. This is usually nylon. What’s great about a soft cat carrier is that it provides a level of comfort that a cat may be looking for that can’t be found in a hard-sided model. Comfort is, of course, a must, especially if the carrier will be used for a trip to the vet. A soft carrier will also save you some space because it folds flat when not in use.

Some things to consider: This type of carrier is best for short-distance traveling and for cats that are generally calm travelers. While usually sturdy, a soft-sided cat carrier can be ripped by claws, especially if the little feline is determined to escape. And if ever your cat gets travel sick, this type of carrier is much harder to clean off.

2. Hard-sided cat carriers

cat flight

Because a hard carrier is made of durable and thick plastic, it lasts much longer than a soft one. It’s extremely handy for long-distance travel because you can attach water cups to the doors of most models, and they make cleanups a breeze. Since most models also feature steel doors, this makes it harder for your daring cat to escape.

Some things to consider: This is typically the best choice for long-distance trips since it’s hard to get out of, and you don’t need to keep checking up on your cat every few minutes or so. However, a hard-sided cat carrier may be difficult to fit under the seat of an airplane and will certainly weigh more than the soft-sided kind.

Features to Check When Choosing the Best Cat Carrier for Your Pet

Now that you’ve probably settled on the type of carrier you’d like to purchase for your cat, it’s time to look this list over to see what features you should be checking out and why they’re essential to picking out the best carrier.

1. Ventilation – You want your cat to be safe, but you should also consider that he needs something that will allow enough air in. The best cat carriers will allow your buddy to breathe well and help cool him down in case the weather gets too hot.

2. Easy Access – It would be best if the cat carrier has an opening at the top as well as the front for more effortless loading and unloading of your feline buddy. This is particularly important during vet visits where the cat may not want to go out. The veterinarian will still have access to your cat even if he can’t be coaxed out because the top opening allows the cat to be examined while remaining inside the carrier.

If it’s a hard-sided cat carrier, multiple doors may be best. Again, like with the top opening, it allows more access to the cat who may be hesitant to go in or out of the carrier.cat on flight

3. Locking Mechanism – Check if the locking mechanism on the carrier is secure. A cat carrier that relies singly on velcros, zippers, or snaps will not be terribly secure, particularly if you have a cat who will simply push its way through the opening.

4. Latches – The cat carrier should be easy to latch and unlatch for the pet owner, but difficult for the pet to escape. Carefully examine the side snaps, plastic pegs, and locks for sturdiness and ease of use.

5. Easy to clean – Even if your cat is used to traveling and won’t get carsick, this is still an important feature to consider when buying a cat carrier since a trip to the vet is a possibility. Your cat could get sick and may not be able to help himself from going to the toilet inside the carrier. It’s best to choose one that is easy enough to clean up, so your cat won’t have to go home on top of his vomit or waste.

Do cats prefer hard or soft carriers?

Depends on your cat, really. Soft carriers: They are not as bulky as hard plastic carriers. Some are not as sturdy or supportive as hard plastic carriers. Many soft carriers have more than one opening. Hard Plastic Carriers: An appropriate sized hard carrier gives more room for the cat to turn around and stretch while still allowing for the feeling of security.

How long can a cat stay in a carrier?

The short answer is that a healthy adult cat will be fine in a carrier on a trip that is under 6 hours. If your trip is longer, you'll want to let your cat out periodically to drink water and use the bathroom.

How big should a cat carrier be?

Your cat should be able to lie down, stand up and turn around easily in the carrier. If not, then the carrier is too small. For example, if your cat is 10 inches (25 cm) tall and weighs 10 pounds (4.5 kg), then choose a 25-inch (65-cm) tall carrier that can hold 25 to 30 pounds (11.3 to 13.6 kg).

Can 2 cats share a carrier?

carrier. Small kittens can also go inside a regular-size carrier. You should not do this for more than a few hours, as your cats will need to move around and stretch.

  • February 4, 2020
Mary Nielson
 

A huge animal lover, born and raised around dogs, cats, chickens... Self-educated pet care nerd. Currently parent of three adopted cats and one small mutt. Animal adoption advocate. Loves a good book (about animals) and playing the piano.

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