The 9 Best Cat Carriers – for Every Kind of Cat – Reviewed for 2022

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Updated: November 3, 2022

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Key Points:
  • Cat carriers can provide you with a way to bring your cat on a road trip, on an airplane, or about town. They should allow enough space for your cat to stand without crouching and be able to turn around.
  • Proper ventilation is an important feature of a good pet carrier. Extra windows also boost your cat’s visibility.
  • There are multiple types of cat carriers including soft-sided ones, hard-sided ones, back-packs, and cat strollers. The best cat carrier for you depends on whether you’d be using it for short outings such as to the veterinarian, or for travel, which may require more room for your cat to move.

If you own a cat, you’ll want the best cat carrier available. After all, a reliable cat carrier is something you can’t go without. Whether you intend to brave cross-country travel with your cat, or you just need something to safely transport her to the vet, a good carrier is an absolute must-have. 

Of course, some cat carriers are a cut above the rest. But how do you know which one is the best cat carrier? 

Our team is here to help you sort through the flood of cat carriers available. We understand that every cat owner’s needs will look different, depending on personal travel habits and their pet’s size and temperament. 

To that end, we’ve rounded up the best cat carriers in several categories, touching on what makes each selection a stand-out choice. Our favorite models hit high marks for safety, comfort (for you and kitty!), durability, longevity, and affordability. 

A-Z Animal’s Top Picks for Cat Carriers

  1. Sherpa Deluxe Airline-Approved Cat Carrier
  2. Sherpa Deluxe Airline-Approved Cat Carrier
    • Mesh windows for maximum airflow and visibility
    • Removable, washable faux lambskin interior liner
    • Padded, no-slip shoulder strap for easy carrying


    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  3. Frisco Basic Cat Carrier Bag
  4. Frisco Basic Cat Carrier Bag
    • Easy-to-adjust shoulder straps for comfortable carrying
    • Removable, machine-washable sherpa interior liner
    • Easy to fold for discreet, compact storage when not in use
    • Locking zippers to prevent escapes
    • Affordable cost


    Check Chewy
  5. Amazon Basics Two-Door Hard-Sided Pet Carrier
  6. Amazon Basics Two-Door Hard-Sided Pet Carrier
    • Made of durable hard plastic
    • Transport cats between 12-20 lbs
    • Spring-loaded latch for secure closure
    • Plenty of ventilation for comfortable ride
    • Top-load and side-load doors
    Check Amazon
  7. Pet Magasin Collapsible Dog & Cat Carrier Bag
  8. Pet Magasin Collapsible Dog & Cat Carrier Bag
    • Hybrid carrier featuring hard base and soft sides
    • Side- and top-entry doors
    • Plenty of ventilation and visibility
    • Comes with a padded mat
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  9. Pet Gear Signature Cat Car Seat & Carrier
  10. Pet Gear Signature Cat Car Seat & Carrier
    • Easily fastens to car's seatbelts for secure ride
    • Interior tether ensure pet stays put
    • Safe for cats up to 20 lbs
    • Removable, machine-washable fleece pad included
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  11. Frisco Premium Cat Carrier Bag
  12. Frisco Premium Cat Carrier Bag
    • Fits securely under the seat in front of you on most major airlines
    • Comfortable strap makes for ease of transport
    • Well-ventilated mesh panels ensure maximum breathability and visibility
    • Removable, washable sherpa liner
    • Top and side entry options with auto-locking zipper closures
    Check Chewy
  13. PetAmi Deluxe Backpack Cat Carrier
  14. PetAmi Deluxe Backpack Cat Carrier
    • Firm, durable structure for safe and comfortable transport
    • Dual-entry points give cats options
    • Spacious, well-ventilated main compartment
    • Soft sherpa lining and mesh windows
    • ID tag included for easy identification
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  15. BestPet Cat Stroller/Carrier
  16. BestPet Cat Stroller/Carrier
    • Affordable price
    • Mesh windows for maximum ventilation and visibility
    • Large storage space underneath
    • Smooth-ride wheels with safety brakes
    • Waterproof and easy to collapse frame
    Check Amazon
  17. EliteField Soft-Sided Cat Carrier Bag
  18. EliteField Soft-Sided Cat Carrier Bag
    • Soft-sided carrier is highly affordable
    • Seatbelt loop and luggage strap ensure stay-put transportation
    • Approved by most major airlines
    • Available in six colors and includes removable, washable bedding
    Check Chewy Check Amazon

What should I look for in a cat carrier?

Not all cat carriers are created equal. But how do you know which models are sub-par and which ones are worth buying? Here are some boxes to tick during your search.

1. Size: How big should your cat carrier be? According to PetMD “a cat carrier should allow enough space for your cat to stand without crouching and be able to turn around.”

For short trips to the vet, a smaller carrier will suffice. Longer trips, naturally, will require a size upgrade to accommodate food and water bowls while allowing your cat to stretch her pretty paws. That said, be wary of going too big: an oversized carrier can have your cat sliding around, and it will be a chore to carry.

2. Entrance options: Some cat carriers come with two openings, others will have three. If your feisty cat resists using a kennel’s side doors, you’ll be happy to have a top-loading option. 

3. Long-lasting materials: Cat owners with clawed-up furniture should probably opt for plastic since fabric may not hold up to persistent scratching. Look for materials that are safe and will last the long haul. Many carriers include a soft liner for your pet’s comfort. If not, towels can make a fine substitute. 

4. Ventilation: Proper airflow is critical to keep your cat from overheating. Look for carriers with breathable fabric and multiple mesh windows. Extra windows also boost your cat’s visibility.

5. Washability: Most plastic carriers are a breeze to wash, making them a good match for cats with sensitive tummies. Fabric carriers are another story. Most come with a removable liner that you can toss in the laundry, but you’ll have to spot clean the rest.

6. Cost: Cat carriers have a wide price range, with cheaper models starting at 20 bucks and premium carriers going for several hundred dollars. While a safe and functional cat carrier is a worthwhile investment, you should have no trouble finding a quality model that fits your budget.

4 types of cat carriers–and which one could be best for you

With so many cat carriers out there, how do you find the one that’s right for you?

To narrow down your choices, consider first how you’ll be using the carrier. Will you be traveling long distances with your cat, or just taking her to the vet down the street? You also want something that won’t be a struggle to carry, so lightweight material and padded shoulder straps are valuable features to look for. 

Bearing these qualities in mind, here’s a basic rundown of the four main types of cat carriers you’ll come across in your search. 

1. Soft-sided cat carriers

Firm yet flexible, soft carriers are ideal for plane travel. The sides can be compressed to accommodate smaller spaces, and they’re lighter and easier to carry than hard plastic. On the downside, soft carriers are generally harder to keep clean—something to consider if your cat gets sick often.

2. Hard-sided cat carriers

Hard carriers are best for long-distance car travel. They’re safer and sturdier than nylon carriers, they stand up better to scratching, and they’re fairly easy to wipe down. Unfortunately, they can also be bulkier and heavier, making them difficult for some folks to carry. 

3. Backpack cat carriers

Maybe your cat is an intrepid explorer, in which case a cat-approved backpack could be a hit. This adorable trend is perfect for adventurous pet owners who want to give their cats an enriching change of scenery. 

Before purchasing, check the backpack’s dimensions and weight allowance to ensure your cat will have adequate space. You’ll also want to check for sufficient windows and comfortable straps that offer support while you tote your little friend around town.

4. Cat strollers

Cats get bored just like humans do. One solution is investing in a pet stroller that lets your curious kitty take in new sights, sounds, and smells. A stroll through the park can be mentally stimulating for your cat and promotes human-animal bonding. 

Keep in mind that no matter how much you dream of moseying around town with your pet in a pram, not all cats will take to a stroller. It’s smart to start small with an affordable model, rather than shelling out bookoo bucks for a fancy contraption that will sit in the closet collecting dust. 

Now that you’re familiar with the main categories of cat carriers, let’s see which ones made the cut for our top picks. Your cat’s new favorite carrier could be in the list below!

Our Criteria and Experience: How We Chose the Best

When making our recommendations for the best cat carriers, we researched many products to find ones with the following features present:

  • Functionality: Your cat will be comfortable and relaxed in the cat carrier with a way to see out; padding in the bottom for your cat’s comfort; we included an option for airline travel.
  • Durability: The carrier is sturdy to transport your cat safely; if soft-sided, the fabric is strong to withstand your cat’s scratching.
  • Safety: We looked for cat carriers that had proper ventilation so that your cat doesn’t overheat. We also considered ones with materials that were safe for your cat, and hypo-allergenic.
  • Versatility: The cat carriers on our list cover the gamut of options–hard-sided, soft-sided, cat backpack, and stroller.

#1 Best Overall: Sherpa Original Deluxe Cat Carrier

With a 96% approval rating on Chewy, the folks at Sherpa must be doing something right. Our choice for the best cat carrier, the Sherpa Original Deluxe Cat Carrier, is perfect for everyday use, but also suitable for travel.

We gotta say, there’s a lot to love about this “Deluxe” cat carrier. Designed by a former flight attendant, Sherpa artfully blends safety, comfort, and style for superior pet travel products. 

This carrier is a solid go-to for everyday use, and it’s equally suitable for travel. Sherpa prioritizes your cat’s safety by including a strap to anchor the carrier in your car. Cunning escape artists are no match for the carrier’s locking zippers that only open from the outside. 

To maximize airflow, the carrier has ample mesh panels. You can remove the cozy liner to toss in the wash, but you’ll have to spot-clean the rest of the carrier if it gets dirty. 

Key Features:

Best Overall
Sherpa Deluxe Airline-Approved Cat Carrier
  • Mesh windows for maximum airflow and visibility
  • Removable, washable faux lambskin interior liner
  • Padded, no-slip shoulder strap for easy carrying


Check Chewy Check Amazon

#2 Best Soft-Sided Cat Carrier: Frisco Everyday Cat Carrier

This quality bag from Frisco proves that you don’t need to break the bank to find a functional cat carrier. 

This bag was designed with the buyer’s convenience in mind. We love the adjustable shoulder straps, rear storage compartment, and machine-washable sherpa liner. Plus, it folds up easily, solving your storage problems.

The carrier’s flexible sides can be compressed slightly, giving you a little wiggle room for plane travel. Like the Sherpa Deluxe, locking zippers can only be opened from the outside. The one flaw (as we see it) is that this bag isn’t top-loading. If your cat doesn’t have trouble with a side door, however, this could be the carrier for you.

Key Features:

  • Affordable price
  • Folds flat for easy storage
  • Roomy interior
  • Meets the dimension requirements of most major airlines
  • Choice of 3 trim accent colors: gray, pink, or teal
Best Soft-Sided Carrier
Frisco Basic Cat Carrier Bag
  • Easy-to-adjust shoulder straps for comfortable carrying
  • Removable, machine-washable sherpa interior liner
  • Easy to fold for discreet, compact storage when not in use
  • Locking zippers to prevent escapes
  • Affordable cost


Check Chewy

#3 Best Hard-Sided Cat Carrier: AmazonBasics Two-Door Pet Carrier

For a durable plastic cat carrier, Amazon has you covered. At 23 inches, this kennel-style carrier can accommodate cats between 12 and 20 pounds. The top-load door is useful for challenging feline travelers who refuse to use side openings. 

Key Features:

  • Spring-loaded latch allows for opening with one hand
  • Ample ventilation holes on the side, top, and back 
  • Includes extra screws for additional security
#1 Hard-Sided Carrier
Amazon Basics Two-Door Hard-Sided Pet Carrier
  • Made of durable hard plastic
  • Transport cats between 12-20 lbs
  • Spring-loaded latch for secure closure
  • Plenty of ventilation for comfortable ride
  • Top-load and side-load doors
Check Amazon

#4 Best Top-Loading Cat Carrier: Pet Magasin Hard Cover Collapsible Carrier

Can’t decide between a soft or hard carrier? Blend the best of both worlds with this hybrid model by Pet Magasin. Featuring a protective hard base and soft sides that fold down, this unique carrier offers a convenient solution to your space issues. And if your strong-willed kitty refuses to exit through the traditional side door, you can access her through the top. 

Key Features:

  • Top-load option makes it well-suited for more challenging travelers
  • Offers good visibility for curious cats
  • Padded mat included 
  • Rigid, solid bottom makes your pet feel stable while in motion
Best Top-Loading
Pet Magasin Collapsible Dog & Cat Carrier Bag
  • Hybrid carrier featuring hard base and soft sides
  • Side- and top-entry doors
  • Plenty of ventilation and visibility
  • Comes with a padded mat
Check Chewy Check Amazon

#5 Best Cat Carrier for Car Travel: PetGear Signature Car Seat Carrier

If you plan to travel with your cat by car, a specially designed carrier will keep her extra safe. PetGear’s Signature Car Seat Carrier can be fastened to your car’s seatbelts, securing your pet safely in place. There’s also a tether inside the carrier to keep your pet from being tossed around. It’s safe for cats up to 20 pounds. 

Key Features:

  • Reduces driver distraction
  • Top and side doors
  • Machine-washable fleece pad included
  • Attractive aqua color
Best for Car Travel
Pet Gear Signature Cat Car Seat & Carrier
  • Easily fastens to car's seatbelts for secure ride
  • Interior tether ensure pet stays put
  • Safe for cats up to 20 lbs
  • Removable, machine-washable fleece pad included
Check Chewy Check Amazon

#6 Best Cat Carrier for Plane Travel: Frisco Premium Travel Cat Carrier

Is plane travel in your future? While guidelines on acceptable pet carriers vary from one airline to the next, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintains that cat carriers must be “small enough to fit underneath the seat without blocking any person’s path to the main aisle of the airplane.” 

Frisco’s Premium Cat Carrier certainly fits the bill. The bag’s luggage strap makes it easy to maneuver around a busy airport, and plenty of mesh panels means your cat will stay well-ventilated during your trip. Spacious accommodations and a sherpa lining offer comfort during what can be a stressful time for pets. 

If you end up needing slightly more room on the plane, the soft sides will bend to accommodate the space. 

Key Features:

  • Collapsible design allows for easy storage
  • Top and side entry
  • Auto-locking zippers that only open from the outside
  • Available in small, medium, and large
Best For Plane Travel
Frisco Premium Cat Carrier Bag
  • Fits securely under the seat in front of you on most major airlines
  • Comfortable strap makes for ease of transport
  • Well-ventilated mesh panels ensure maximum breathability and visibility
  • Removable, washable sherpa liner
  • Top and side entry options with auto-locking zipper closures
Check Chewy

#7 Best Backpack Carrier: PetAmi Deluxe Backpack Cat Carrier

A cat backpack? Yes, we’re serious. For the keen explorer, a reliable “cat-pack” can be a real treat. 

Featuring a safety buckle and leash, PetAmi’s Deluxe Backpack Carrier is designed to keep your precious pet safe. The pack’s firm structure prevents passengers from being squashed and gives them enough room to stay comfortable during your excursion. 

There are two entrance points to choose from. Your cat will be able to enjoy the sights and take in some fresh air through the pack’s mesh window. It even includes a collapsible bowl—perfect for serving kitty-approved refreshments mid-hike. 

As long as your back can handle it, this backpack can safely transport cats up to 18 pounds. For extra support, it also comes with chest and waist straps.

Key Features:

  • Available in 12 colors
  • Bottom is lined with cozy sherpa
  • Includes a name tag I.D. for your pet
  • Includes functional storage
Best Backpack Carrier
PetAmi Deluxe Backpack Cat Carrier
  • Firm, durable structure for safe and comfortable transport
  • Dual-entry points give cats options
  • Spacious, well-ventilated main compartment
  • Soft sherpa lining and mesh windows
  • ID tag included for easy identification
Check Chewy Check Amazon

#8 Best Cat Stroller: BestPet Folding Cat Stroller

It’s not a sight you see every day, but some cats actually like going for walks–and most can benefit from the experience. Cat-friendly strollers make giving your indoor kitty a taste of the outdoors a feasible (and safe!) activity. 

This all-purpose pet stroller from BestPet is a good choice if you’re unsure about your cat enjoying a walk in the park. With its affordable price, you won’t be quite as devastated if the whole walking-with-my-cat thing doesn’t work out. 

This pet stroller features mesh windows, perfect for birdwatching and cloud-gazing. The generous storage bin underneath gives pet owners a place to stow keys, treats, water, and toys. When your walk is over, simply fold up and stash this lightweight stroller away. 

Key Features:

  • Wheels have safety brakes
  • Comes with a cupholder and large storage compartment
  • Waterproof fabric
  • Collapsible and lightweight design
  • For pets up to 25 pounds
Best Cat Stroller
BestPet Cat Stroller/Carrier
  • Affordable price
  • Mesh windows for maximum ventilation and visibility
  • Large storage space underneath
  • Smooth-ride wheels with safety brakes
  • Waterproof and easy to collapse frame
Check Amazon

#9 Best Budget Option: EliteField Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Carrier

If you’re looking to spend less, but don’t want to compromise on quality, this EliteField soft carrier is a solid choice. It shares many of the sought-after features offered by other pricier brands—without the steep price tag attached. 

The bag’s seatbelt loop and luggage strap simplify airport navigation. One snag we found, though, is this carrier’s lack of a top door. 

Key Features:

  • Approved by most major airlines
  • Constructed with durable, lightweight material
  • Includes cozy plush bedding
  • 6 attractive color options
Best Budget-Friendly
EliteField Soft-Sided Cat Carrier Bag
  • Soft-sided carrier is highly affordable
  • Seatbelt loop and luggage strap ensure stay-put transportation
  • Approved by most major airlines
  • Available in six colors and includes removable, washable bedding
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Summary of the 9 Best Cat Carriers

RankBest ForProduct
1OverallSherpa Original Deluxe Cat Carrier
2Soft-SidedFrisco Everyday Cat Carrier
3Hard-SidedAmazonBasics Two-Door Pet Carrier
4Top-LoadingPet Magasin Hard Cover Collapsible Carrier
5Car TravelPetGear Signature Car Seat Carrier
6Plane TravelFrisco Premium Travel Cat Carrier
7BackpackPetAmi Deluxe Backpack Cat Carrier
8StrollerBestPet Folding Cat Stroller
9BudgetEliteField Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Carrier

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About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

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