The Best Cat Carriers (Soft & Hard) | Ratings and Reviews for 2021
Cat’s don’t like change, plain and simple. They’re creatures of habit.
So, it makes sense that many cats do not travel well.
Some may enjoy the sense of adventure that it brings, some may come to accept it, and some may hate it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
Whatever the personality of your cat, sometimes it is necessary to travel with them, whether they like it or not.
Whether you need to make an important one-way journey that requires your kitty to accompany you, you plan on making them into an adventure cat, or you simply need to get them to their next vet appointment, you need to find a cat carrier that makes your fur baby feel as comfortable and as at-home as possible.
Which is why we have extensively and exhaustively researched the BEST cat carriers out there, making a list of the top two, saving you precious hours of your life.
Why Get A Cat Carrier?
Even if your feline friend has a playful adventurous side, professionals tend to agree that significant changes to a cat’s routine can be a source of stress for them.
Therefore, when it comes to travelling in a car with them, a cat carrier is the perfect mode of transport: they are lightweight, making it easier for you, and small enough for your kitty to feel the comfort of confinement (because cats are strange animals who have no idea what it is to feel claustrophobic).
All you need to make sure is that the carrier is large enough so that they can stand up, sit up, and turn around in it – all the movement a cat needs to hit the sweet spot of ultimate comfort.
Making The Carrier A Safe Space To Avoid Struggles
Many cat parents only use the cat carrier before stressful events:
- Going to the vet
- Going for a car ride
- Leaving the house
So it’s no wonder why cats start to associate it with stress!
And if they’re stressed about it, it can be a nightmare to get them into the bloody thing.
The best thing you can do to make using the carrier easier on you and your cat is to get your kitty used to the idea of it being a safe, comfortable space…BEFORE you need to use it to leave the house.
Here’s how you can make it a safe space.
Cats are drawn to safe, familiar smells.
Have you ever purchased your fur baby a brand spanking new bed that is fancier than your own only for them to nestle down in their stinky, lumpy, old one? It’s frustrating!
It’s the same reason they jump into the dirty laundry basket given half a chance.
Knowing this, it is often useful to place a familiar, scented-like-home blanket or sheet in the base of their carrier.
Other ways to encourage your cat to have positive associations with their carrier:
- Keep the carrier in a place your kitty can easily access it during her day to day routine.
- Place favorite toys and blankets in the carrier to entice your kitty to come into regular contact with the carrier.
- Reward your cat with small treats or by petting them each time they interact with the carrier.
Car Safety With A Carrier
There are two main functions of a carrier when travelling with your cat: to keep your fur baby safe and contained, and to keep you safe while driving.
To keep you, as the driver, safe there are a couple of things you should make sure you’re doing:
Place the cat carrier in a secure part of the car.
If possible, fasten a seatbelt around the carrier to prevent your cat from being tossed around. A carrier that is not tightly secured during a collision heightens the risk to both of your lives.
Park before they can roam.
On longer journeys of more than three hours, give your cat the chance to use the bathroom and stretch their legs – just like we do. Make sure that the car is fully parked before you let them roam free. Kitties enjoy playing with moving objects such as your foot on the pedal or hand on the gear stick which is not the kind of distraction any driver needs.
And, if you do not own a harness and leash for your cat, make sure that all windows are closed before they wander around the car – cats are notorious escape artists.
Make sure kitty can see you.
Travelling can be stressful for your cat, meaning that they might yowl, scratch, and thrash around if they feel particularly unhappy about this break in their routine. As well as giving them familiar smells, it’s useful if your cat can see you. Knowing that you are present by being able to see you will offer a sense of comfort and calm in an otherwise unusual situation.
Keeping Kitty Safe
Now we’ve ensured that you can keep your eyes firmly on the road without major distraction, we need to make sure that your feline friend is as safe as possible by following these tips:
Avoid upset tummies.
Just like us, our pets can suffer from motion sickness, especially when they are not used to car travel. The best way to avoid an upset tummy is to withhold food the morning of travel.
Have an ID tag on your cat.
Whether you have a leash trained cat, or plan to only let them roam in the car, your cat should have an ID tag around their collar with all necessary details in case they manage to perform the great escape. Although it is an unlikely situation, cats can become super wriggly when they’re not happy with a situation.
Carry all necessary documentation.
Carry all veterinary documents stating your cat’s vaccination and medical history in case anything crops up along the way and you need an emergency trip to the vet. It is so much easier for a vet to know what they can and cannot administer if they have information at their fingertips. To be prepared for every eventuality, it is also useful to carry multiple copies of this.
This means that you should be carrying everything necessary for your cat in the car with you: from litter trays, to medication, to favorite toys. You should also check your route and note down where veterinary surgeries and animal hospitals are along the way. Your fur baby is in your absolute care: it is your responsibility to take the necessary precautions.
Our Reviews Of The Best 2 Cat Carriers
In at the top spot is Sherpa’s Original Deluxe Carrier.
This is a carrier with many advantages, including the range of sizes and colors that the carrier comes in (meaning you and your cat can always be matching).
Here’s a rundown of the main benefits of this carrier:
- Lightweight yet durable
- Straps perfect for carrying your pet in between journeys
- Secure and comfortable for your pet
- Built-in seatbelt strap
- Suitable for airline travel
The big bonus here is that Sherpa products are approved by many leading airlines and boast being the first soft-sided pet carriers to be approved for air travel. These carriers are made of a spring wire frame which can be adjusted to fit under the airline seat.
The Sherpa carrier also comes with an impressive range of features intended to make travelling with your feline friend as comfortable and as easy as possible.
For roadtrips, there is a built-in seatbelt strap which makes it so much easier when it comes to keeping you and your kitty as safe as possible on the road.
For you, there’s either the padded hand carry straps or the adjustable, non-slip luggage strap to carry your kitty from vehicle to hotel room like royalty.
And, making the whole journey a lot easier is the mesh side panels for maximum ventilation for your fur baby, as well as giving them maximum viewing space.
Also, the carrier has both side and top entry and exit points which offers both easy access and a little choice for the more nervous traveler.
“But surely a material carrier will be a nightmare to clean?” we hear you cry.
Well, never fear, Sherpa have this covered as much as they possibly can.
Their carriers have leak-proof bottoms in case of any accidents. And, each carrier comes with a lambskin liner which is machine washable. Although it’s true that a soft-sided carrier is not as easy to clean as a hard-sided, plastic one, we think Sherpa go the extra mile by trying to make it as easy as possible.
And finally, for the Houdini cats amongst us, Sherpa have designed their zippers in a way that they cannot be opened or tampered with from the inside. So, you don’t need to worry too much about having an escape artist on your hands.
All in all, we think that the Sherpa Original Deluxe is the best carrier we have come across when it comes to various modes of transport, no matter the distance.
As far as plastic cat carriers go, we think that this is about as stylish as it gets with a range of pearlescent and metallic colors to choose from and a modern design. It’s certainly a far cry from the plastic cat carriers of yore.
Here’s a rundown of the main benefits of this carrier:
- Sturdy and durable
- Lightweight for a solid carrier
- Two-door entrance and exit points
- Easy to clean
The most noticeable element of the Petmate carrier is the two-door accessibility, with one being on the top and one at the front. We all know that cats can be unpredictable creatures. So, when it comes to enticing cats into spaces, they might not always cooperate with treats and encouragement.
This is where the top door comes in: when time is of the essence and they simply need to be placed inside the carrier!
The other major advantage that we noticed with this particular carrier is its sturdiness, being made from steel and plastic.
For those longer journeys where your kitty may be in a vehicle for hours on end, you may want something that feels more secure than a soft-sided carrier.
But the sturdiness of this carrier does not take away from how well-ventilated it is, keeping your feline friend at a nice temperature.
It goes without saying that this type of carrier is also much easier to clean in case of a toilet accident or an upset tummy – just make sure you are carrying pet-friendly cleaning supplies for on-the-go use.
It is also worth noting that while the Petmate carrier complies with many airline requirements, it is a rigid structure so you will always need to check airline requirements before flying with your furry friend with this carrier.
All in all, we would recommend this product if you are planning to make a longer journey and will not spend much time carrying your cat from place to place.
Looking For More Safety and Mobility Products?
You may want to check out our reviews of the best cat strollers if you want to get out and about but don’t want to carry your kitty with you.
Or, for a more at-home or freedom-in-the-outdoors approach, check out our top rated cat cages.