The 9 Best Cat Carriers of 2023

Take you pet with you in the Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier

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TripSavvy's Pick

A compressible frame, locking zippers, and multiple carrying options grant the Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier our top pick. Your kitty will have plenty of room in this carrier which fits most airlines' regulations to be stowed under the seat. The Frisco Basic Pet Carrier is another great option at an accessible price point.

When traveling with your cat, you want to make sure they are comfortable and safe, whether you're going for a quick car ride or flying in an airplane. The best cat carrier is roomy, easy to clean, and will secure them in place in case turbulence happens along the way. To help you narrow your search, we researched top options so you can easily carry your cat on the go. We considered sizes, hard and soft carriers, and extra features.

The Rundown

Best Overall: Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier at Amazon

This carrier offers many strap options to help you get through a long travel day.

Best Budget: Frisco Basic Pet Carrier at Chewy

This budget-friendly carrier features an attached ID tag as a bonus.

Best for Long Distance: PetLuv Premium Foldable Carrier at Chewy

Your cat can stretch out in it since it's four times the size of other carriers.

Best Soft-Sided: Amazon Basics Black Soft-Sided Pet Carrier at Amazon

This bag features an interior hook for securing your cat while traveling.

Best Hard Sided: Pet Magasin Collapsible Carrier at Amazon

It has the benefits of a hard-cover cat carrier, but it's actually collapsible, too.

Best Lightweight: Necoichi Portable Ultra-Light Carrier at Amazon

Though it weighs just under one pound, this case holds up to 17 pounds.

Best for Two Cats: Necoichi Portable Cat Cage and Litter Box at Walmart

It's large enough to secure two cats without feeling trapped or caged.

Best Expandable: Pet Peppy Premium Expandable Carrier at Pet Peppy

It expands into a pet condo when you get to your destination.

Best Collapsible: SportPet Designs Foldable Travel Carrier at Amazon

The whole thing measures just 4 inches high in a totally flat configuration.

Best Backpack: PetAmi Pet Carrier Backpack at Amazon

This carrier is excellent for hiking due to its chest and waist straps.

Best Overall: Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier

Sherpa Carrier

 Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Adjustable frame

  • Allowed on most major airlines

What We Don't Like
  • May be tight for active pets

At 17 x 11 x 10.5 inches, this Sherpa carrier remains roomy enough for your pet while conforming to most airlines’ under-seat requirements by a spring-wire frame near the back, which can be compressed several inches to fit. It has mesh windows to let air in, and locking zippers prevent any daring mid-air escapes. This one offers many strap options for getting through a long travel day with your pet: a padded adjustable shoulder strap, handles, and a seatbelt or luggage strap. Additionally, there’s a pocket for storing treats, toys, or other small items to further soothe your cat during the flight.

Price at time of publication: $34

Best Budget: Frisco Basic Pet Carrier

Frisco Basic Pet Carrier

 Courtesy of Frisco

What We Like
  • Inexpensive

  • Lots of visibility

What We Don't Like
  • Collapses in easily

  • Some reviews mention small size being too small

This Frisco option offers a lot of versatility and value for a cat carrier that's very budget-friendly. Its soft sides are collapsible, so its malleable dimensions (17 x 8 x 11.5 inches) comply with most airlines' under-seat requirements, and they can fold flat for easy storage. It has mesh side panels for visibility, while the handles and shoulder straps provide carrying options. Your pet can enter the carrier effortlessly using the side entrance, and a window allows you to pet and comfort your cat while in transit. This bag also features an attached ID tag as a bonus. It comes with pink, teal, or gray detailing, giving this budget carrier an extra pop of style.

Price at time of publication: $16

Best for Long Distance: PetLuv Premium Foldable Carrier

PetLuv Premium Foldable Carrier

Courtesy of Chewy

What We Like
  • Plenty of room

  • Easy to carry

  • 3 privacy settings

What We Don't Like
  • Sturdy restricts a bit of airflow

If you're planning on transporting your pet long distances, you will want something roomy and comfortable. So while this PetLuv carrier is pricier, it has features to take your cat the extra mile. Most importantly, it's large enough for your cat to stretch out at 24 x 16 x 16 inches; it's about four times the size of other traditional carriers. It can hold up to 45 pounds, making this carrier a good option if you have multiple cats. Mesh windows on all sides provide good visibility, and the flaps can be rolled down to provide privacy.

Reviewers said their cats loved taking long road trips in this carrier, and the crate includes adjustable seatbelt straps to secure it safely to your car seats. This bag also has adjustable shoulder straps and a padded handle to help you get it out of the car easily.

Price at time of publication: $80

Best Soft-Sided: Amazon Basics Black Soft-Sided Pet Carrier

What We Like
  • Easy loading from top

  • Sides and top maintain shape

What We Don't Like
  • Runs small

  • Bottom may buckle under heavier pets

This soft-sided cat carrier from AmazonBasics has it all: the handles and an adjustable shoulder strap offer varied carrying options—allowing you to readjust if your pet gets nervous or if your arms get tired—and it fits most airlines' under-seat requirements. This carrier works especially well for reluctant cats because it has two openings on the front and top. The fleece-lined base provides comfort for your pet and is removable and machine washable. To transport your pet safely, this bag features an interior hook for securing your cat while traveling. It's available in three different sizes: small (14 x 9 x 9 inches), medium (16.5 x 4 x 9.8 inches), and large (19.7 x 10.2 x 11.2 inches).

Price at time of publication: $33

Best Hard Sided: Pet Magasin Collapsible Carrier

What We Like
  • Sturdy base and top

  • Easy to store

  • Top load option

What We Don't Like
  • Some reviews mention zipper failures

The best of both worlds, Pet Magasin makes an excellent pick because it has the benefits of a hard-cover cat carrier, but it’s actually collapsible, too. It features both a hard top and base. The base gives your cat a firm foundation while traveling and features a padded mat and non-slip surface so your cat can feel secure and comfortable. The rugged hard top protects your animal from outside elements. At 17 x 13 x 14 inches, this carrier is relatively compact (especially compared to other hard-sided cases) and weighs just over 2 pounds. The open mesh sides offer good visibility and excellent airflow to boot.

Price at time of publication: $56

Best Lightweight: Necoichi Portable Ultra-Light Carrier

Necoichi Collapsible Carrier

 Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Quick, pop-up design

  • Easy to carry

What We Don't Like
  • Not secure enough for escape artists

Not only is this Necoichi pet carrier lightweight, but it also scores high marks for its style and budget-friendly price point. This carrier measures 15 x 13 x 19 inches and completely collapses for convenient packing and storage. This bag only weighs 1 pound, but it can support up to 17-pound pets! The case has ventilated mesh windows so your cat can look outside, and the side flap zips open entirely, making it easy for your cat to enter. Color options include a neutral beige or a more fashion-forward, black-and-white checked pattern with a cat-shaped cutout.

Price at time of publication: $27

Best for Two Cats: Necoichi Portable Cat Cage

Necoichi Pet Carrier

 Courtesy of Chewy

What We Like
  • Large viewing window

  • Versatile

What We Don't Like
  • Not designed to be carried with pets inside

Think of this Necoichi option as a playpen that's large enough to secure two cats in a new environment. The expansive 20 x 20 x 32-inch area can also fit a portable cat litter box (sold separately), so two cats will have everything they need for a longer stay. Large mesh panels roll up for breathability, but zipper locks keep pets securely inside. This case is foldable and includes a carrying bag.

Price at time of publication: $43

Best Collapsible: SportPet Designs Foldable Travel Carrier

What We Like
  • Easy to wipe clean

  • Wide opening for easy loading

What We Don't Like
  • Not airplane-approved

SportPet Designs’ popular carrier is large enough for pets up to 25 pounds and has a wide top-down opening door that allows cats to walk right in without feeling unduly cramped. The unusual triangle-shaped case measures 15.2 x 18.5 x 14.2 inches. But when it collapses, the whole thing measures just 4 inches high in a totally flat configuration with a handle, making it ideal for easy storage without awkward folding. Although this carrier weighs under 4 pounds, the frame is substantially made of impact-resistant polypropylene, so you can feel confident that your cat is protected during travel. The rigid material is also easy to clean and wipe down for any messes.

Price at time of publication: $31

Best Backpack: PetAmi Pet Carrier Backpack

What We Like
  • Several entrances

  • Designed for longer outings

What We Don't Like
  • Bulky

Backpacks have become a convenient way to transport your pet because of their even weight distribution and hands-free carrying. And the PetAmi Pet Carrier Backpack is no exception. This bag features four different entry points, a sherpa-lined bed, and multiple mesh windows to ensure your pet will have a pleasant trip. Plus, it has added safety features such as a clip-on strap that can attach to your dog's leash and five safety buckles. This carrier is also great for hiking due to its chest and waist straps. It's available in seven vibrant colors, including turquoise, purple, navy, and heather grey.

Price at time of publication: $40

What to Look for in a Cat Carrier


Size is important when selecting a cat carrier. As a general rule of thumb, it should at least be one and a half times larger than your cat, so your cat has room to stretch out. If you are traveling for long periods, make sure it can also fit food and drink bowls. Also, note if it complies with airline restrictions if you're traveling by plane.

Hard vs. Soft Carriers

Generally, cat carriers are made of a soft shell or hard shell. Soft carriers are usually made of durable fabrics, come with multiple openings, and are easier to pack than their hardshell counterparts since they are not a fixed shape. However, they can be hard to clean if your cat has an accident. Alternatively, hard carriers are easier to clean and offer more security and stability for a cat when traveling.


Cat carriers come with many features to ensure you and your cat will be comfortable and stress-free while traveling. Look for carriers with padded straps, lockable zippers, and mesh openings that can be covered to provide visibility and privacy for your cat. Also, consider finding one with extra pockets for storing toys, treats, and other items to help calm your cat.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Are cat carriers safe?

    Cat carriers might not be the best option for every cat. It's important to consider your cat's personality and in what settings you'll use the carrier. A cat carrier may not be a safe or comfortable option for aggressive, fearful, or anxious cats. If your cat is calm and curious, though, they may enjoy being carried along city streets. Ultimately, you should prioritize your cat's well-being and never force it to sit in a carrier if it's clear they don't like it.

  • Do cats prefer hard or soft carriers?

    Consider your cat's personality when deciding between a hard or soft carrier. Soft carriers are ideal for cats who are easygoing and well-behaved. But make sure your soft carrier is appropriate for your cat's weight so that the bottom doesn't sag and cause your cat any discomfort. If your cat is more difficult to travel with or prone to scratching, a hard carrier might be better as it's more durable. A bonus of hard carriers? They're easier to clean.

  • Can I bring a cat carrier in a rideshare, airplane or on public transport?

    You can typically bring a cat carrier on an airplane or public transport. Some ride shares allow you to request a pet-friendly car or give each driver the autonomy to decide.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Alesandra Dubin is a frequent-traveler mom to two rescue cats, who are particularly reluctant about getting in their carriers—so she's well aware of features that sound great but don't work in reality. Since she lives in an area prone to earthquakes and fires, it's important for her to have safe cases that are practical in case of emergency.

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