12 Best Cat Carriers of 2023

Traveling with your cat just got so much easier.

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May 23, 2023

Whether you're driving to the vet or flying across the country, the safest place for your cat is inside its carrier. The enclosure will provide some comfort and security in an unfamiliar setting, help settle their nerves and — most importantly protect them from injuries until the car stops or the plane lands.

But how do you know which cat carrier is right for your pet? Well, that's where we come in. We've done the research, read the reviews and found the 12 best cat carriers for every situation.

What to Look for in a Cat Carrier

SIZE: As a general rule, your cat should have enough space to turn around and lie down. If you're planning to fly with your cat, though, then you'll also need to look for a carrier that meets airline requirements. The maximum dimensions for most airlines are 17 inches long, 10 to 12 inches wide and 7.5 to 11 inches high.

CONSTRUCTION: Materials matter! Hard cat carriers are typically more durable and easier to clean, while soft cat carriers are more lightweight, comfortable and convenient to store. Consider your cat's temperament and needs before committing to one style.

EXTRAS: For longer road trips or flights, we highly recommend looking for a cat carrier with added design features. Think seatbelt straps, pads or cushions, built-in water dishes and even litter boxes. These amenities will keep your pet comfortable until you reach your destination.

Best Cat Carrier Overall

You and your cat will love the Frisco Two-Door Top-Loading Carrier. It's easy to assemble (and even easier to wipe down) and provides a smooth ride to the vet's office or Grandma's house. What really sets the hard-side carrier apart from the rest, though, is the top-loading metal door. You can slip your cat inside and offer them treats or toys throughout your journey. Meanwhile, holes on all sides allow your pet to view their surroundings.

Best Budget Cat Carrier

It's hard to beat a quality cat carrier for $15.99. The ZaneSun Soft-Sided Cat Carrier is cheaper than most, yet it still features all the bells and whistles: a durable Oxford cloth exterior, mesh panels for ventilation, an adjustable shoulder strap, zippered pockets for toys and a waterproof material construction. Plus, it comes in multiple sizes and colors.

Best Hard Cat Carrier

If you need a simple hard-side cat carrier to get from point A to point B, then snag the Amazon Basics Top-Load Hard-Sided Car Kennel. This carrier is made from durable plastic with steel wire doors, has both a top-loading and front door, and has plenty of air ventilation on all sides. Best of all? Thanks to the crate's hard plastic shell, you can quickly wipe down the interior and avoid any lingering odors.

Best Soft Cat Carrier

There's no doubt about it: The Sherpa Original Deluxe Cat Carrier is the best soft-sided option on the market. Pet parents love its top hatch and side doors, breathable mesh windows, padded shoulder strap and faux-lambskin liner (just to name a few details). The carrier is also equipped with a secret pocket for storage and a seatbelt strap for the car, and it's approved for use on most major airlines. It comes in two sizes as well.

Best Backpack Cat Carrier

Is there anything better than a cat in a bubble backpack? Bring your favorite feline on walks or trips to the farmers' market with the Henkelion Bubble Backpack Cat Carrier. The futuristic design features a transparent cover so your cat can take in all the scenery and large mesh pockets and nine holes for added breathability. The bestselling carrier also boasts adjustable shoulder straps and a safety belt for the car, and it comes in seven colors.

Best Cat Carrier for Kittens

The reviews don't lie: Rambunctious kittens love the Necoichi Ultralite Pop-Up Cat Carrier. (Probably because it reminds them of a play tent.) The carrier is made from soft, yet scratch-resistant fabric and features two top handles, mesh sides and large windows for ventilation. Best of all? This carrier folds completely flat for easy storage after a trip to the vet's office.

Best Cat Carrier for Cars

Fact: Car rides are so much easier with the Vceoa Soft-Sided Cat Carrier. This duffel is as sturdy as they come, with a steel frame to hold it upright and an adjustable shoulder strap that can be attached to seatbelts. (Not to mention a scuff- and scratch-resistant exterior.) You can load your cat in through the top or the sides and even clip them to the interior safety leash for extra peace of mind. The carrier also includes a removable pad and a cozy fleece bed for longer drives.

Best Cat Carrier for Planes

Looking for an airline-approved cat carrier? The Refrze Soft-Sided Cat Carrier is our top pick for a few reasons. First, it measures 17 inches long, 12 inches wide and 11 inches high, so it's virtually guaranteed to fit under the seat in front of you. The bag also features adjustable shoulder straps and a hidden "pocket," so you can carry it to your gate or slide it on top of your luggage. And finally, the cat carrier boasts four breathable mesh sides, an extra-soft (and washable) cushion and an attachable food dish for your furbaby.

Best Dual Cat Carrier

Unless you're traveling with kittens or a bonded pair, your cats should be placed in separate carriers. Enter the PawHut Soft-Sided Double Carrier. This dark gray enclosure is actually two crates in one, with zippered side panels giving each pet their own "zone." What's more, each unit includes its own top handle and a front-facing mesh screen to keep the cat inside stable and comfortable. The twin compartments are also detachable in case you need to transport one animal. All in all, it's a great value.

Best Expandable Cat Carrier

For cats who need a little more room, we highly recommend the Siivton Expandable Cat Carrier. At first glance, this carrier looks like a duffel bag with its Oxford cloth exterior and convenient shoulder straps. But inside, it's outfitted with an easy-to-wipe-down polyester liner and a soft suede cushion. Your cat can peek through the top window, or you can unzip all four sides and give them twice as much space to enjoy.

Best Cat Carrier for Long-Distance Travel

Your cat won't mind being in the car for hours on end when they're tucked inside the Necoichi Portable Cat Carrier. This soft-sided enclosure is as expansive as a crate, giving your cat plenty of room to stretch out in the backseat or cargo area. Meanwhile, the broad window flaps provide a detailed view of their favorite humans or surroundings. The Necoichi Carrier even includes a litter box and waterproof floor pad, so your cat can take care of business along the way.

Best Cat Carrier for Hiking

Some cats are surprisingly outdoorsy. Make your next hiking or camping trip a total breeze with the Texsens Backpack Cat Carrier. The innovative design features an easy-enter side door, three breathable mesh windows and a removable cozy mat. (Not to mention padded back and shoulder straps to keep you both comfortable.) The backpack also comes in six colors.

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