What Are the Best Cat Carriers? - Cat Info Detective

What Are the Best Cat Carriers?

Skye Blake-updated, white background

Greetings cat lovers! Skye Blake here to help you find answers to that burning question… “What Are the Best Cat Carriers?”

Let’s see what your cat wants you to know…

paw prints coming in from a distance

The information here is for general knowledge… always see your vet with questions about your cat’s individual needs. 

Who Is Skye Blake?

Skye Blake-updated, white background

Skye Blake, Cat Info Detective, is a curious cat researcher (not a veterinarian) who sniffs out expert, reliable sources about cats, studies their information, then passes it on to you! 

Sometimes there’s not enough evidence for easy answers, so Skye gives you all sides, explains the situation as thoroughly and clearly as possible, and links you to experts on each page. 

Sources are given at the bottom of each page so you can do more snooping.

Choose a Carrier Your Cat Will Love

cat carrying luggage on back

Most people don’t think about picking the right carrier for their cat’s comfort and security.

They only think about how easy it is for them to carry and the price.

The smart thing is to find what’s best for both of you, with your cat’s comfort and safety being the first consideration.

vet writing and curious grey tabby coming out of carrier

Having the wrong carrier can be both unsafe and uncomfortable for your buddy. Would you want to travel that way?

Size, style, and what type of transportation you’re using are also considerations when looking for the best carrier for your cat.

There are many options available so you should be able to find something you both like.

Choose the Right Size Carrier for Each Cat

Size matters when finding the best cat carrier… I recommend using the Goldilocks approach…

Too Big

kittens in a carrier

Many cats don’t like carriers that are too big and prefer something cozy and secure.

A cat likes having his back against something solid so he knows he won’t be attacked from behind.

A frightened cat will back up away from you until they hit a wall or door.

backpack cat carrier open, cat peeking out

Cats also don’t like sliding around in a carrier so it’s important to have a towel or fleece blanket in the bottom.

You might think having a big carrier to handle more than one cat at a time is a good idea.

This depends on your ability to handle a bigger size and the temperaments of your cats.

kitten emerging from front of hard cat carrier

Putting multiple cats in the same carrier might be a problem for a few reasons…

  • It’s hard to carry and balance a big carrier with cats moving around in it.
  • You’ll probably have times when you’ll need to take only one cat and a large carrier will be too big.
  • Even if they’re best buds at home, the stress of travel might upset them.
cat yawning, angry or in pain

Their stress and fear could become redirected to the other cat and start a fight, especially with vet visits.

They don’t recognize one another’s scent afterwards. Their best buddy might smell like an alien intruder!

Generally it’s better to have one carrier for each cat that fits them comfortably, but you’re the best judge of your situation.

Too Small

cat in wire carrier

There are carriers made kitten-sized which is nice for those first months, but they grow quickly.

Once your kitten is grown, unless it’s a very small cat it’ll feel cramped and uncomfortable in a tiny carrier.

Cats like be able to stand up and turn around.

oriental cat in carrier

You might want to get a kitten sized carrier for the first few months (especially if you might use it again with another kitten), then buy an adult size later.

Make sure you know about what size your kitten will become based on the breed.

A Maine Coon will be a lot bigger than a Siamese. Males also tend to be bigger than females.

Many cat carriers are too small for larger breeds like the Maine Coon.

tabby cat in open hard carrier

You may want to use a small dog carrier for a very large cat.

If you prefer to buy only one carrier, get the one you think will fit her as an adult and put a thick towel in the bottom to keep your kitten from sliding around.

This is probably fine for short trips to the vet but not for long trips.

Juuuust Right

cat in carrier with door closed

Getting the right size carrier for your cat is actually quite simple.

The rule of thumb for sizing a carrier is that it should be 1-1/2 times the size of the cat (not including the tail).

She should have enough room to stand up and turn around while still being able to touch the sides for security.

person petting a tabby cat's head

The inside must be comfortable for your cat. Be sure to check the carrier for any rough or sharp edges inside.

File them down or find another carrier.

A nice padded bottom will make a comfy trip for your buddy.

If it doesn’t come with one, you can add a soft towel or blanket.

Carrier Safety (No Matter What Kind You Use)

safety first yellow road sign

Before every trip (even if it’s just to the vet’s office), check the carrier to be sure it’s in good condition and is sturdy enough to hold your cat securely.

Tighten all bolts on a plastic carrier and check a soft-sided one for holes, rips, tears, especially in seams.


Be sure any zippers work easily. If your cat might panic or is an escape artist the better carrier is the hard plastic type.

Otherwise they’ll probably rip, tear, open zippers, and generally shred any fabric or soft carrier.

Find the Best Type of Cat Carrier

cat sitting near picnic table

There are many different types of cat carriers, so you’ll need to decide about more than just size.

Where you’re going and how you’re getting there affect the style and material of your carrier.

You may decide more than one type are needed for different activities.

cat lounging on pier by water

For example, your cat may be happiest in a hard carrier to go to the vet, while a backpack works best for hiking together.

These pages can help you decide… “What Is Your Travel Destination?” and “What Mode of Transportation Are You Using?

To discover more about different carriers (hard plastic, soft-sided, backpacks, etc.), go to “Cat Carriers… Take Your Cat In Style!

Best Cat Carrier For…

Sherpa backpack carrier
Sherpa® Backpack Carrier

Products and brands mentioned on this page are for your information and convenience only… I make no money from them.

You might be asking… “What’s the best cat carrier for a car or airplane trip?”

Here are some different modes of transportation and tips for what carrier works best for them.

Airplane Travel

airplane climbing into clouds-travel

If the airline you’re using allows cats, you must use a carrier that they approve of or your cat won’t be going.

Airlines have specific safety requirements for cat carriers both for cargo and in cabin travel.

Many carriers for cats are advertised as airline approved but you’ll want to double check the latest requirements of your specific airline.

Find out more about taking your cat on an airplane at “Air Travel With a Cat” and check out this video.

“DON’T STRESS about what pet carrier to use for your next flight. Use THESE top TSA approved options”, PurplePup LLC, January 24, 2023

Car, Truck & RV Travel

black car interior

Car, truck and recreational vehicles are the most flexible travel methods for carriers.

You can use anything in which your cat will feel comfortable and safe.

The most popular type of carrier is the familiar hard plastic kind with a front (and sometimes top) opening and door.

Soft-sided carriers and backpacks are other popular options.

Bicycle & Motorcycle Travel

cat standing on bike

If you’re planning to take a bicycle or motorcycle trip with your feline friend, there are a few things to know to be sure you have the best cat carrier for biking.

Find out more at “Biking With Your Cat“.

Related Pages of Interest

Once you have a carrier, it’s important for your cat to feel safe in it. Discover how at “How to Train a Cat“.

Wondering what’s the best cat carrier or harness/leash for your cat? Check out “Supplies for Cats“.

If you’re moving or taking your cat on an adventure, there are things you should know before you go… “Traveling With a Cat


Sources used on this website are either primary or secondary.

Primary sources are always preferable and have the most reliable information because they’re original and directly referenced.

Scientific abstracts and data are good examples of primary sources.

Secondary sources are weaker because they usually consist of opinions or articles that give no sources of their own.

So, sometimes they refer to primary sources.

When I use secondary sources, most are those with some authority, such as veterinarian or cat behaviorist books and articles.

List of Sources

Car Travel With Cats – Road Trips & Moving“, by Jason Nicholas, BVetMed, Preventive Vet, Published: August 4, 2018, Updated: May 10, 2021

Cat Backpacks for Adventuring with Your Cat“, Cat/Explorer.com

“CatWise”, by Pam Johnson-Bennett, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, Penguin Books, Penguin Random House, LLC, New York, NY, 2016, pp. 206, 283-286, 290

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting & Owning a Cat, by Sheila Webster Boneham, Ph.D., Alpha Books, Penguin Group (USA), Inc., New York, NY, 2005, pp. 46, 171, 207-8

“Decoding Your Cat”, by American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, editors: Meghan E. Herron, DVM, DACVB, Debra F. Horwitz DVM, DACVB, Carlo Siracusa DVM, PhD, DACVB, DECAWBM, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, NY, 2020, pp. 47

“How to Take Your Cat on a Bike Ride”, Cat Explorer.com

Motorcycle Pet Traveling Guide, by Vivien Bullen, How Stuff Works

“Pet Carrier For Motorcycle- 5 Best Dog And Cat Carrier For Motorcycle”, Pet Levin

“Products That Allow You To Bike With Your Cat”, Travel With Kitties.com

“Think Like a Cat, How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat – Not a Sour Puss”, by Pam Johnson-Bennett, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, Penguin Books, Penguin Group (USA) Inc, New York, NY, 2000, 2011, pp. 257-60, 263-4, 266-7, 306-7,

“Top 5 Motorcycle Pet Carrier for The Budget”, by Editor Team, Caring Cat Guide, January 23, 2021

Updated April 14, 2024

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