The Best Cat Carriers For 2021

Are you looking for the best cat carriers for overnight family visits or occasional vacations? I know how difficult it is when shopping online. All of the products you see look similar and it is hard to compare their features because you can’t touch them. Don’t worry, though.

We are here to help!

As a pet parent myself, I understand how frustrating it is to spend your hard-earned money on something that will only disappoint you in a matter of minutes.

Our team spent hours reviewing popular cat carriers to identify the best of the best based on the materials used, design, comfort level, and user feedback, among others. Then shortlisted five of them.

So, without further ado, here are the best cat carriers to help keep Tom and Kitty safe, secure, and cozy when you are on the road — or up high in the sky!

Best Cat Carriers (Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Carriers)

Sherpa Pet Original Deluxe Carrier – Editor’s Pick

The Original Deluxe Airline-Approved Carrier by Sherpa Pet remains the go-to choice for many valid reasons.

Although this product resembles a lot the AmazonBasics Pet Travel Carrier, its top and bottom sidewalls are wider to provide the bag better structural rigidity. If you examine it closely, you may also notice that every inch of the bag features reinforced stitching. One side of the carrier is covered, while the rest comes with end-to-end mesh panels. As needed, you can fold the bag neatly for storage.

The most impressive aspects of the Sherpa Pet Original Deluxe are the fiberglass frame and polyester construction. The patented framework allows you to squeeze the rear end of the bag a few inches lower so that it fits underneath the airplane seat. There is also a black quilted option made of nylon.

The medium size, which measures 17 x 11 x 10.5 inches, should happily house a 16-pound cat and still offer plenty of legroom. Note that this product is approved for use in a majority of domestic airlines and is included in Sherpa’s Guaranteed on Board program.

Although the top entrance is ideal, you may also access your feline passenger through the side opening. The carrier includes a faux lambskin mat to keep Tom snug as a bug throughout the journey. You may remove the machine-washable mat anytime for cleaning.

Also, there is a rear pocket for the convenient storage of biscuits, poop bags, or anything else your VIP (very important pet) might need.

However, this carrier isn’t just about your pet’s comfort. The Sherpa Pet Original Deluxe carrier comes with thicker and sturdier shoulder straps and its construction manages to distribute weight evenly. Therefore, it makes carrying your pet a pleasure, rather than a burden.

The Bottom Line

The Sherpa Pet Original Deluxe is still one of the best cat carriers in the market, despite the swift arrival of new products. This carrier is comfortable to use for both pets and pet parents. Whether you will use this bag for quick trips to the vet and groomer, or for a cross-country move, it will be easy for you to get your feline passenger into the carrier. The bag offers plenty of room for Tom to shift around and switch positions.

Most importantly, this airline-approved carrier features rugged and secure construction, so it should last a long time.

Features a polyester construction, fiberglass supporting rods, and reinforced stitchingNone
Provides two entries and has three mesh panels
Has a sturdy bottom and a plush faux fleece bedding
Comes with reliable attachments and well-padded straps and handles

AmazonBasics Pet Travel Carrier – Best Value For Your Money

The AmazonBasics Travel soft-sided carrier is inarguably one of the best cat carriers in the market. This product comes in three sizes so that it caters to all domesticated feline breeds.

The medium size, which measures 16.5 x 9.4 x 9.8 inches, is a sound choice for felines weighing no more than 16 pounds. While you might have to sacrifice style, this soft-sided carrier offers affordable quality construction. The carrier also comes with two connecting loop handles for balanced carrying.

Likewise, you may put a seatbelt/luggage through the straps to make transport more secure. You may also use the adjustable shoulder strap for hands-free carrying. What’s more, this carrier features a spring wireframe that can be adjusted to meet the under-seat dimensions required by a majority of domestic airlines. That means Tom won’t have to stay in the cargo hold but in the cabin beside you.

Moreover, the AmazonBasics Pet Travel features front and top openings so that you can load your feline passenger effortlessly without the stress on Tom’s part. There is a zipper on the front entry, as well as double zippers on the top entry to keep them securely closed throughout the journey. With mesh ventilation on all four sides, your whiskered fellow can enjoy ample airflow and a generous view.

Thanks to the multiple mesh panels, you can check on your pet easily, but you may also cover the carrier partially with a towel for privacy. Inside the carrier are a base insert and a fleece liner to provide Tom a firm and comfortable sleeping surface. You can attach the mat to the bottom board via Velcro, so it won’t slip around.

The Bottom Line

We highly recommend the AmazonBasics Pet Travel soft-sided carrier for your traveling cat. This carrier has both a front and top opening, so your feline passenger can hop in swiftly. Our favorite feature is the spring wireframe that can be conformed to meet the under-seat dimensions of airlines. Best of all, the product offers quality construction that fits every pet parent’s budget. The bag doesn’t collapse on your pet, unlike a lot of soft-sided carriers.

Features a polyester construction and spring wireframeThe included fleece mat may tear up quickly
Has four mesh panels and provides two entriesThe shoulder pad lacks sufficient padding
Easy on the pocket
A cinch to clean and store

Mr. Peanut’s Gold Series Tote Pet Carrier – Best Premium-Quality Carrier

Who says you can’t travel with your cat in style?

The Mr. Peanut’s Gold Series Tote pet carrier is the best fit for trendy pet parents. This pet carrier from the Gold Series offers an ingenious design that can easily pass as a luxurious traveling bag. The best part is that you don’t even have to compromise durability for its aesthetic appeal.

This carrier features a heavy-duty 600-Denier nylon construction, making it waterproof and wrinkle-free.

Additionally, a steel wireframe runs along the edges and sides of the tote to keep it rigid.

Aside from the breathable nylon fabric, it has multiple windows to ensure adequate airflow. The windows are Teslin Mesh, so unless you have an unruly cat from hell, that even Jackson Galaxy can’t tame, it will stay intact. Regardless, there is a leash tether inside the carrier to ensure your kitty can’t escape when stressed.

The carabiner of the tether is metal, so it doesn’t break. The plush bedding should also provide your whiskered fellow comfort and a sense of security.

Given the structure of the carrier, it should last a long time. The carrier also has a sturdy plywood base to give your cat sure footing. Flip the carrier, and you will find that the bottom panel is Vegan leatherette with four studs to protect it from friction. The handle, ID tag, and highlights are also leatherette. In addition, this carrier comes with a seatbelt and luggage attachment. The carrier should fit a 15-pound comfortably, as it measures 18 x 10.5 x 11 inches.

The only downsides we found about this carrier is that it emits a peculiar odor after unboxing due to the Teslin Mesh and leatherette. Nevertheless, the materials are non-toxic, so it should not arouse concern about your pet’s health. Carrying the bag using the top handles can also feel awkward unless your cat is positioned in the middle. Hence, it is best to use the shoulder strap in most cases. Besides, the shoulder strap is sturdy and reliable with a comfy pad to boot.

The Bottom Line

Our second-runner up for the best cat carriers seems to have it all, but some pet parents may frown upon its price. But if you are willing to go a little above your budget, the Mr. Peanut’s Gold Series Tote soft-sided carrier will not disappoint in terms of quality, comfort, and style.

This carrier is the way to go if you wish to fly sky-high with your kitty and make a statement.

Features 600-Denier nylon, Vegan leatherette, and Teslin meshAn expensive option for some consumers
Boasts of premium upgrades, such as self-locking zippers
Comes with plush bedding, reliable straps, well-padded handles and shoulder strap
Rugged but fashionable

Best Cat Carriers (Standard Hard-Sided Carriers)

Petmate Top Load Carrier – Best For Air Cargo

Petmate is one of the leading brands in the pet industry and so, their products are unsurprisingly as sturdy as they come, which includes this cat carrier. Although this carrier may not be the most stylish way to transport your pet, you can rest assured that Tom is safe and comfortable even in the event of a minor accident.

With other carriers, you may sometimes feel that your cat can bust the doors open because of how flimsy the hinges are. However, that isn’t the case with this carrier. This product is compliant with air and highway requirements, so you can guarantee the safety of your pet, particularly for long trips.

The Petmate Two-Door cat carrier measures 19 x 13 x 10 inches and supports pets weighing up to 15 pounds. This cat carrier is a breeze to assemble and keep clean. You only need to interlock the top and base using the provided wingnut bolts, which are large and ergonomic to boot.

Also, the carrier comes with five extra bolts and six extra plastic nuts. By the way, the top comes in four pearlescent colors, and both the top and base are made of thick, heavy-duty plastic. The assembly is straightforward; you won’t even need a screwdriver.

As the name suggests, this cat carrier provides two entries. You can load your kitty from the top or through the front door. Both doors are grated steel with strong hinges.

The latches on both doors are easy to work with, so they don’t hurt your hand. Likewise, the carrier comes with an ergonomic handle. The carrier also has many air vents to promote airflow. Some complained that some of the holes have sharp edges, but that’s no big deal! You can use a lighter or emery board for that, can’t you?

The Bottom Line

This carrier addresses many of our annoyances — flimsy hinges, corroding metal hardware, unreliable plastic construction, and lack of proper ventilation.

That is why we highly recommend this cat carrier because it ticks all the boxes, especially for a pudgy feline weighing 15 pounds. The only thing it lacks is a super fluffy mat to complete your kitty’s needs. Get that, and you are ready to go!

Thick, heavy-duty plastic and steel grate constructionAlready three pounds heavy without its passenger
Uses a screw format, not clips
Provides entry from the top and front
Compliant with air and highway travel requirements

SportPet Designs Bed & Cat Carrier – Best For Short Trips

The SportPet Designs Bed & Cat Carrier measures 15.2 x 18.5 x 14.2 inches. This carrier looks a lot like a doctor’s bag made of plastic, which makes it stinking cute and hilarious to boot. However, there is more to this carrier than its unique triangular design.

But first, why are we featuring this product as one of our best cat carriers when a cat can barely stand inside? Unless Tom is still a young kitten, he would have to sit and lay down throughout the trip. Regardless, the size of the carrier has its advantages. Since it isn’t as bulky as other hard-sided carriers, it fits on your car seat better. Besides, some cats, particularly anxious or ill ones, do better in small carriers. As long as your pet can lay down comfortably, there shouldn’t be a problem.

Made of ABS plastic and polypropylene, this lightweight carrier offers incredible resistance against impact, scratch, and heat. The top latches of the carrier are strong and secure, so it is unlikely for a cat to flip the carrier. Likewise, the triangular shape encourages your feline companion to remain in the center so that the weight is evenly distributed. When not in use, you may simply fold the carrier flat for storage or have your kitty use it as a bed.

This product also includes a cozy mat. We also like that this carrier is a cinch to wash and sanitize. When accidents do happen during a trip, you can wipe it off immediately using a damp towel and a disinfectant.

The Bottom Line

While we don’t suggest you use the SportPet Designs Bed & Carrier for long-distance trips, this product is practical for short visits to the vet and groomer. The carrier is lightweight, stable, and a breeze to clean. Best of all, it carries a very competitive price tag.

Made of ABS plastic and polypropyleneNot suitable for long trips
Includes a fleecy beddingMay not cater to large cats
Can be used as a cat bed
Affordable and easy to maintain

How To Pick The Best Cat Carrier For You And Your Kitty

Based on our list above, you probably have a good guess by now as to what makes these products the best cat carriers in the market. Whether you are eyeing on affordability, style, or a combination of both, you can always consider these five products. If you are still a bit baffled, our buyer’s guide should help you narrow down your options even more.


Soft carrier vs. hard carrier: which is the better option for cats? Actually, there is no right or wrong answer to this question because you should base your choice on your cat’s behavior, as well as your need to travel.

Soft-sided carriers, also known as fabric carriers, are the type of carriers that are a lot easier to bring on the airplane cabin. As long as it has a spring wireframe, you can always squeeze the bag underneath an airplane seat regardless of the original product dimensions. These carriers are also lightweight yet sturdy so that you can carry one around with ease. Three of our best cat carriers have convenient shoulder straps, so you are free to do other things.

Hard-sided carriers, on the other hand, require a considerable amount of space. Therefore, they are difficult to fit underneath an airline seat. Even if your cat carrier is airline-approved, your pet may still have to remain in the cargo hold. But should something fall against it, your feline passenger will be much more protected than a soft-sided carrier. That is why a hard-sided carrier is an indispensable tool when it comes to long-haul travels.


The size of the carrier matters a lot, regardless of the type you choose. The ideal carrier should grant Tom sufficient space to stand up, turn around, and lie down easily. But since airlines have certain size restrictions, you don’t want an oversized soft-sided carrier if you intend to travel by air.

A hard-sided carrier should also be sized accordingly for its feline occupant. A compact carrier, such as the SportPet Designs Bed & Cat Carrier, may benefit queasy cats. After all, cats love confined spaces. But if you are going farther than your local vet or groomer, you should allow room to accommodate a pad and your pet’s food and water bowls.

So, how do you prevent yourself from picking a cat carrier that is either too small or too large? To achieve the right size, you need to determine the precise measurements of your feline passenger.

Measure your kitty starting from the outermost edge of its chest to the outer edge of its bottom. Then add a four-inch allowance for the length, width, and height. The maximum weight capacity of the carrier is also a vital factor to consider.

Ease Of Cleaning

The ease of cleaning the carrier is an equally vital factor to consider. When it comes to cleaning, hard-sided carriers are the boss since you only need to wipe them with a damp cloth or hose them down outside your backyard.

Multiple Entrance

Having a cat carrier that opens from the top as well as the front or side is a priceless feature, especially if you have an uncooperative pet. If your grumpy cat becomes defiant, you may opt to lift and load Tom into the carrier via the top entry. Being able to do so is much better than coaxing a stubborn pet through the entrance in the front or side. Note that four of our best cat carriers have this feature. Also, hard-sided carriers with a removable top are handy during vet trips, as they allow your veterinarian to examine Tom and Kitty. At the same time, they remain seated in the bottom half of the carrier.


Cats can tear down a fabric-constructed carrier with minimal effort. That is why cat owners are often discouraged from using soft-sided carriers if their feline companions tend to get agitated fast.

However, this isn’t always the case. The ones we cherry-picked use either nylon and polyester as the principal material for their construction. These fabrics offer superior resistance against abrasion, among many others.

Even if you have a clever Houdini-incarnate, it will take a lot of scratching before he could escape successfully.

The zippers and stitching of these products are also commendable.

If you prefer a hard plastic crate for your cat, you want to make sure it is made of ABS plastic, polypropylene, or some other form of thick plastic that offers high resistance to impact.

As much as possible, get a hard-sided carrier with a steel door. Bear in mind that durability equates to security. If you want to guarantee the safety and security of your kitty inside its carrier, you want to pick a product comprised of high-grade materials. Locking mechanisms are also a welcome addition.


As with any pet carrier, adequate ventilation is crucial for the comfort of your pet. You want to look for a soft-sided carrier that has at least two mesh panels or a hard-sided carrier with multiple air vents on each side.


Some pet parents assume that a cat carrier isn’t necessary, but this type of carrier offers many advantages you may not find in Tom’s or Kitty’s favorite cat backpack.

A cat carrier is a better option when it comes to longer trips because it serves as a temporary shelter. We determined the Sherpa Pet Original Deluxe Cat Carrier as the best among the bunch because it offers exceptional comfort not only for your feline passenger but also for you.

The carrier comes with a wooden board to provide your kitty stable footing, as well as a machine-washable bed liner made of faux lambskin. Given that it is airline-approved with a Guaranteed on Board program, you can take your kitty anywhere with you.

Best of all, we admire how the manufacturer pays close attention to details. The carrier also comes in 8-, 16-, and 22-pound weight capacities and eye-friendly colors.

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Lara Jill Regencia-Baylosis

Lara's love for animals started at the age of 5 when she took care of a little injured chick. She's now the proud fur momma of a mischievous and highly energetic Chow Chow and a supporting patron of The Philippine Animal Welfare Society.

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