Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products and services; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Best Overall: Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier at Amazon
"This carrier offers a bunch of strap options to help get through a long travel day."
Best Budget: Frisco Basic Pet Carrier at Chewy
"This budget-friendly carrier features an attached ID tag as an added 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 great for hiking due to its chest and waist straps."
When you are 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 down your search, we researched top options so you can easily carry your cat on the go.
Here are the best cat carriers available.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier
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 way of a spring-wire frame near the back, which can be compressed several inches to fit. It has mesh windows to let air in and help soothe your anxious pet on the plane, and locking zippers prevent any daring mid-air escapes. This one offers a bunch of 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.
Best Budget: Frisco Basic Pet Carrier
For a cat carrier that’s very budget-friendly, this Frisco option offers a lot of versatility and value. 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 storing. 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 an added bonus. It comes with pink, teal, or gray detailing, giving this budget carrier an extra pop of style.
Best for Long Distance: PetLuv Premium Foldable Carrier
If you’re planning on transporting your pet long distances, you’re going to want something roomy and comfortable. So while this PetLuv carrier is on the pricier side, it comes with features to take your cat the extra mile. Most importantly, it’s large enough for your cat to stretch out in: 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.
Best Soft-Sided: Amazon Basics Black Soft-Sided Pet Carrier
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 adds a level of comfort for your pet, and it's 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).
Best Hard Sided: Pet Magasin Collapsible Carrier
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 it 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 when compared to other hard-sided cases), and weighs just over 2 pounds. The open mesh sides offer good visibility and excellent airflow to boot.
Best Lightweight: Necoichi Portable Ultra-Light Carrier
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 it completely collapses for convenient packing and storage. This bag only weighs 1 pound, but it can support up to 17-pound pets! The teepee-shaped case has ventilated mesh windows so your cat can look outside, and the side flap zips open completely 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.
Best for Two Cats: Necoichi Portable Cat Cage
Think of this Necoichi option as a playpen that’s large enough to secure two cats in a new environment, without feeling trapped or caged. The expansive 20 x 20 x 32-inch area can also fit a portable cat litter box (that's 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, making it easy to travel with or get out quickly in case of emergencies.
Best Expandable: Pet Peppy Premium Expandable Carrier
This Pet Peppy carrier is small enough to meet many airlines’ under-seat requirements, with dimensions of 18 x 11 x 1.5 inches. But it expands into a pet condo when you get to your destination: a thick wire frame supports areas that unzip on two sides to jut out for spacious lounging areas. Four clips release on a third side to expand an additional 16-inch tunnel, giving your cat even more room to walk around in. This carrier is made for pets weighing up to 14 pounds and features a shoulder strap, fleece flooring, and a side pocket for storing small items during travel. It also comes with a pet bowl so your furry friend can stay hydrated during their journey.
Best Collapsible: SportPet Designs Foldable Travel Carrier
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.
Best Backpack: PetAmi Pet Carrier Backpack
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 different vibrant colors including turquoise, purple, navy, and heather grey.
If you're looking for a versatile, and comfortable cat carrier that also meets airline requirements, we recommend the Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier (view at Amazon). It's mesh windows, lockable zippers, customizable strap options, and extra storage space for toys, treats, or other small accessories make it a perfect choice for long days of travel. Searching for something extra durable? Try the Pet Magasin Collapsible Carrier (view at Chewy). It provides a sturdy foundation while traveling and it even collapses making it easy to store.
Why Trust TripSavvy?
Alesandra Dubin is a frequent-traveler mom to two rescue cats, who are particularly reluctant when it comes to 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 to her to have safe cases at the ready that are actually practical for anxious cats in case of emergency.
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 half times larger than your cat so your cat has room to stretch out. If you'll be traveling for long periods of time, make sure it can fit food and drink bowls as well. Also, make sure to note if it complies with airline restrictions if you'll be traveling by plane.
Hard vs. Soft Carriers
Generally, cat carriers are made of a soft shell or hard shell. Soft carriers are usually made out of durable fabrics, come with multiple openings, and are easier to pack than their hard shell 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 different features to ensure you and your cat will be comfortable and stress-free while you travel. Look for carriers that come 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.