The challenges of taking a cat on a trip are well-known to anybody who owns one. Getting a scared pet into a carrier can feel like an uphill battle. It’s not just that you have to make sure your pet doesn’t become anxious on the flight; you also need to make sure they don’t get hurt, all while adhering to airline laws.
There are a wide variety of cat carriers to choose from, but the best one is the one that makes your cat feel safe and secure. “If you can find a carrier that your cat is not terrified of, that’s it: That’s the gold standard,” says Kerrie McKeon, resident cat expert at animal welfare and adoption nonprofit Bideawee. The best you can say is “That’s it.” To help you reduce the options, we asked McKeon and nine other veterinarians, cat behavior specialists, and dedicated cat owners which carriers they recommend.
Cat owners can safely take their feline friends on walks or trips outside with the help of a cat stroller, which is a specifically built pet carriage. Cats can see and breathe easily via the stroller’s mesh window or canopy, and they may relax in comfort thanks to the stroller’s padded interior and safety straps. Extras like cup holders, storage space, and height-adjustable handlebars are available on some models of cat strollers. People who wish to take their cats for walks but are concerned about their safety often invest in a cat stroller.
Double Cat Stroller
Double cat strollers carry two cats. It resembles a pet stroller but has two cat compartments with zippered exits. Sturdy wheels, padded sitting, and safety belts are typical of strollers. The idea lets pet owners safely walk their cats outside. Some double cat strollers have storage, cup holders, and adjustable handles for convenience. Pet owners who want to take many cats on outings choose them.
Pet strollers transport cats and dogs. They typically have a mesh window or canopy, padded seating, and safety straps for the pet. Small pet strollers are lightweight and collapsible, whereas larger pet strollers are heavy-duty and all-terrain. They are great for pet owners who want to safeguard and comfort their pets when walking, running, or doing other outside activities. They can also help aged or disabled pets travel longer distances. Pet owners who want to incorporate their pets in their everyday activities choose pet strollers.
Heavy-Duty Pet Stroller
Heavy-duty pet strollers are suited for larger pets and tough terrain. Its sturdy aluminum or steel frame and wide, air-filled tires provide stability and traction. The stroller has cushioned seating and safety straps to keep pets safe and comfortable, and it can hold up to 100 pounds. Heavy-duty pet strollers are great for larger pets that wish to go hiking, jogging, or camping, or for pets with mobility concerns who need a comfortable ride. These strollers also have storage, cup holders, and adjustable handles for convenience.
Best Overall Cat Carrier
Kate Benjamin, who created the chic cat-gear website Hauspanther, called a Sleepypod carrier the “Cadillac of cat carriers,” and all four cat specialists we consulted agreed. (Note: It also comes with a Cadillac-level price tag.) Your cat will feel as relaxed and secure as possible in transit because to the fact that it serves as a carrier, a pet bed, and a car seat all in one convenient package. Professionals also advise acclimating your cat to the carrier well in advance of any transportation needs. It’s important for a cat to get used to its carrier before taking it on trips.
Having the cat spend time in the carrier at home will help minimize their anxiety, since the cat’s scent will become a part of the carrier. The Sleepypod can look like a cushy bed when unzipped, but it also has a mesh dome that zips on top to make it an enclosed carrier. Dr. Delgado claims that testing of the design has shown that it is effective in protecting pets while they are restrained in a car. The Center for Pet Safety has given their stamp of approval to both the standard and tiny versions, as well as a collapsible version that can be stored in the overhead bin on planes.
Best Budget Cat Carrier
This lightweight, compact cardboard carrier is ideal for transporting freshly adopted dogs from A to B. (think kitten-sized). Even though the perforations in the fabric allow for some airflow, this isn’t meant to be your permanent bag. However, until you can afford to upgrade to a better, more robust carrier, this one will do till the baby gets bigger. However, you should know that it won’t withstand any accidents, so you may want to line the bottom with a tiny towel to prevent your cat from sliding around.
Best Hard-Sided Cat Carrier
The Sleepypod and the Sherpa are both soft-sided carriers; if you want a hard-sided option, McKeon recommends this Petmate option. It may be loaded from the top or the front, making it convenient for owners with cats with trouble adjusting to carriers. According to Dr. Brian Evans, veterinarian and clinical director at Dutch, a round-the-clock online vet-care service, “the rigid sides mean the cat can interact with it and it won’t collapse.”
Without any built-in cushioning, this carrier can be made more comfortable by adding a liner “to collect any liquid that may get produced during these trips and make sure any padding is machine washable,” as recommended by Dr. Evans. For single cat owners, a hard-sided carrier may be preferable since “you can prop it up against a wall and [put the cat inside by yourself],” as McKeon puts it. A cat can easily escape from a soft carrier since the zipper goes all the way around. It’s tough to handle on your own. Therefore, a plastic carrier is the best option for a single traveler because it provides its unique form.
Best Expandable Cat Carrier
We recommend this Petsfit carrier for long-distance flights because it is one of the few that meets airline requirements. The expanded mesh side panels may be zipped up to meet airport security requirements; once you’re in the air, they can be unzipped to give your cat some extra space to roam. It has a soft, machine-washable fleece mat and a lightweight, bendable wire frame that folds up to fit beneath a seat. There are three sizes of carrier to choose from; the small and medium sizes should fit on most airlines, but if your pet needs the large one, you should verify the dimensions with your airline in advance.
Jen Trolio, the senior editor at The Strategist, has two of these carriers; she used them when she moved across the country a few years ago with her two cats. It is true that “squish the carrier down a bit to fit them under some airline seats,” but the author assures us that “the frame, while flexible, is really strong.” She adds, “You also have to give up some legroom to actually expand the carrier on a flight,” but that’s a small price to pay if your cat really needs the extra room. Her cats utilize the carriers “as a safe space when they want to hide or go to sleep in a very secure-feeling spot,” as Benjamin suggested, so she now keeps them beneath her bed, unzipped and enlarged.
Most Stylish Cat Carrier
The Passenger, made by high-end pet-goods manufacturer Diggs, is a modern and elegant nylon carrier that can hold cats and small dogs up to 18 pounds. It comes in a variety of classy colors (navy, slate, charcoal, and blush), and at first glance it looks like a regular weekender, the kind of thing you’d see any JPMorgan lackey carrying on a trip upstate; however, upon closer inspection, you’ll find that it’s been thoughtfully designed to be a safe and secure temporary residence for your pet. A removable cross-body strap and front pocket provide convenient storage space while the inside collar-tether clip and external clips link to a seatbelt in the event of automobile travel.
My roommate’s cat, Harry, came over to check what all the commotion was about when Diggs sent me the Passenger to test, and within 30 seconds of unwrapping it, he was cuddled up inside and purring peacefully. No bribery, threats, or cajoling were required. I think he’s so eager because the carrier has a cushy, springy cushion at the bottom that can be outfitted with a pee pad in case of mishaps. (you can buy the pads on the Diggs website.) In addition to being approved by airlines, the carrier is also CPS-certified like the SleepyPod.
Best Backpack-Style Cat Carrier
It just so happens that self-proclaimed cat woman Taylor Swift is a fan of the Sherpa Cat Backpack, which we listed on our list of the top presents for cat lovers. McKeon recommends it because the backpack’s sturdy zippers and straps make it comfy to wear and tough for your cat to escape. After trying it out with her kitties, Vulture’s former senior Snapchat editor Devon Sherer said it was “as life-changing as it looks.
” Sherer’s two cats reportedly “glared at me through the bubble window” and “prefer[ed] it to the more standard, duffel-esque bag since they are up higher and can see things better,” she claims. Backpack carriers are convenient for day trips (like Sherer’s visit to Fire Island) but are not recommended for extended travel because to their limited storage space and visibility. Dr. Delgado recommends that owners “support the bottom as much as possible” and avoid “swinging it around or carrying it by the handle” when transporting their cats in backpacks.
Best Multi-Cat Carrier
Multi-cat carriers safely carry multiple cats. Padded interiors, ventilation systems, and safe locking mechanisms are common in these carriers, which can hold many cats. Multi-cat carriers are ideal for multi-cat families and cat fosterers. When picking a multi-cat carrier, consider size, weight capacity, convenience of use, and any other features needed to keep your cats safe and comfortable.
Cat Carrier Backpack
A cat carrier backpack lets you carry your cat like a backpack. A mesh window or canopy, cushioned seating, and safety straps make these carriers comfortable for cats. They are easy to use and ideal for hiking, cycling, and other outdoor activities with your cat. Cat carrier backpacks with pockets and collapsible styles are also available. Cat owners who want to transport their pets hands-free choose them.