cat laying in a red cat carrier

These Are the 12 Best Cat Carriers for Travel, Leisure, and Everything In Between

Create a cozy space for your cat, whether at home or on-the-go.
By Yvonne Villasenor
August 24, 2021
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Whether you and your cat are exploring new places together, making a trip to the vet, or lounging at home, a cat carrier can make all the difference in your feline friend's experience. You'll want to get one that's best suited for your cat's individual needs so she can stay comfortable, secure, and safe—no matter the destination.

A high-quality carrier prioritizes durability, safety, portability, ventilation, and comfort. With so many types of carriers out there (soft-sided, hard-sided, backpacks), it can be daunting thinking where to even begin and how your cat might like—or worse, dislike—it. 

Rest assured, there's a carrier out there for every cat, whether adventurous, shy, big, small—you name it! To help you find what you're looking for, we've rounded up the best cat carriers to accommodate you and your cat's lifestyle, your feline friend's size and personality, and your budget.

The Best Cat Carriers

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1 Best Overall: Sherpa Original Deluxe Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier Bag

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Jonathan Roberts, BVSC for ExcitedCats, recommends this as the best cat carrier. He tells Daily Paws that "it provides plenty of fresh air, there are multiple zips on the top and sides in order to get your kitty into the carrier, and the bottom has a removable and washable sheepskin for extra comfort." An additional bonus? It has a zippered side pocket to store your kitty's toys and treats!

Shop now: Sherpa Original Deluxe Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier Bag, $36; chewy.com

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2 Best Budget: X-ZONE PET Foldable Soft Airline Approved Pet Travel Carrier

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Made of oxford fabric, this carrier is just as durable as it is comfortable thanks to its removable fleece mat and mesh ventilation on its sides and top. The carrier comes with both a top and side entrance, so your cat can keep comfy during veterinarian visits. Designed with auto-lock zipper sliders and a tether, your furry friend is sure to stay secured.

Shop now: X-ZONE PET Foldable Soft Airline Approved Pet Travel Carrier, $20; amazon.com

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3 Best Splurge: PetsHome Pet Carrier

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Go out in style with this fashionable and functional carrier! Made with polyurethane leather and gold hardware details, this pet carrier is high in quality and provides a luxurious experience for your four-legged pal. It's designed with a breathable mesh, fixed leash, two removable soft pads, and full zip opening roof to maximize comfort and safety. 

Shop now: PetsHome Pet Carrier, $78; amazon.com

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4 Best Soft-Sided: Henkelion Cat Carriers Dog Carrier Pet Carrier

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Sturdy and lightweight at an affordable price, this carrier is recommended by Michelle Burch, DVM at Safe Hounds Pet Insurance. She says she prefers to see cats in these carriers at the veterinary hospital because of their multiple entry points that allow cats to remain relaxed in the carrier while exams and treatment are performed.

Shop now: Henkelion Pet Carrier, $24; amazon.com

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5 Best Hard-Sided: Petmate Two Door Top Load 24-Inch Pet Kennel

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Another recommendation by Burch, she enjoys this sturdy carrier "due to the protective nature of the hard case for a car ride while providing plenty of room." She also adds that similar to the soft-sided Henkelion above, this carrier "offers multiple points of entry to place or remove a cat." Place a bed and water dish inside and watch this become your feline's new space to hang out!

Shop now: Petmate Two Door Top Load 24-Inch Pet Kennel, $40; walmart.com

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6 Best Travel: Sleepypod Air in-Cabin Pet Carrier

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This innovative carrier comes via high recommendation by Nicole Ellis, a certified professional trainer and pet lifestyle expert with Rover. She says the Sleepypod Air is "crash-tested and my favorite solution for both air and car travel. It's removable and washable super-plush inside provides incredible comfort while your cat is away from home." What makes this carrier stand out in particular is its ability to fit under a plane seat. Ellis adds that it's a favorite among her clients for at-home use and travel, making car rides, flights, and vet visits less stressful.

Shop now: Sleepypod Air in-Cabin Pet Carrier, $184; amazon.com

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7 Best Cat Carrier Backpack: Texsens Innovative Traveler Bubble Backpack

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Want to bring your kitty along for fun outdoor adventures? Ellis says this cat carrier backpack is a good option because of both its comfort and safety. "The transparent bubble allows pets to look out and see their surroundings with room to lay down as well. The semi-sphere window can also be switched to a mesh panel for added breathability and air flow. This backpack is also airline-approved, making travel with your cat easier." 

Shop now: Texsens Innovative Traveler Bubble Backpack, $40; amazon.com

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8 Best Durable: petisfam Pet Carrier

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This carrier was designed to be strong, sturdy, and safe for your cat. It has a top opening and two side doors to make it easy for you to place your feline friend in and out of. It's equipped with anti-escape zippers and a leash hook on the inside to ensure your cat doesn't break free. Reviewers say the luggage attachment and car seat belt straps also make traveling a breeze for you and your feline.

Shop now: petisfam Pet Carrier, $32; amazon.com

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9 Best Expandable: Siivton 4 Sides Expandable Pet Carrier

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This unique cat carrier helps maximize space and comfort for your cat through four sections that expand to create more room for your feline, helping to reduce some of the anxiety she may have of being confined. This carrier also has several openings for maximum air circulation. This airline-approved carrier is an excellent option for travel.

Shop now: Siivton 4 Sides Expandable Pet Carrier, $42; amazon.com

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10 Best with Litter Box: NECOICHI Portable Stress Free Series

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This Necoichi (translation: "cats first" in Japanese) carrier creates a stress-free environment for your cat—and saves you from a potentially messy situation. The carrier itself acts as a secure escape with its mesh panel sides for breathability and visibility, while the added litter box keeps your cat comfortable and at ease while away from home. It can also serve as an additional indoor hangout and bathroom spot.

Shop now: NECOICHI Portable Stress Free Series, $44; amazon.com

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11 Best for Large Cats: PetLuv Happy Cat Premium Cat Carrier

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If you've got a chonky cat, this carrier is best suited for bigger cats or two cats with a combined weight of 45 pounds. Robers recommends this cat carrier bag because it has multiple windows for easy access to your feline and is large enough for them to have lots of room to move around! It has four times the space of traditional carriers, uses locking zippers and reinforced seams, and comes with a soft pillow so they can get some rest on the road, too.

Shop now: PetLuv Happy Cat Premium Cat Carrier, $72; amazon.com

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12 Best for Multiple Cats: One for Pets Portable 2-in-1 Double Pet Kennel

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Have a clowder of kitties? This comfy, modern carrier can carry 3–4 cats and be used as one open space, a divided space, or detached into two single spaces. It has multiple entrances, a pad cover, and a zippered mesh door to create a relaxing experience for your felines while at home or on the go.

Shop now: One for Pets Portable 2-in-1 Double Pet Kennel, $175; amazon.com