How To Pick The Very Best Cat Carrier

Vets share their own favorites 😽👀

cat in a cat backpack

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Carriers are a must-have as a cat parent.

Your cat might disagree if he really hates carriers, but he’s gotta have one since they’re so important for his safety.

With so many options out there — like this adorably wacky bubble backpack trend — you might feel a little lost when it comes to picking the best carrier for your cat.

So, how do you know which cat carrier to choose?

The Dodo spoke with Dr. Vanessa Spano, a veterinarian at Behavior Vets in New York City, Dr. Tom Elston, cat specialist and owner of T.H.E. Cat Hospital in California, and Dr. Zach Marteney, a veterinarian and medical director at Meadowlands Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey, who gave their seal of approval to some quality carriers.

Types of cat carriers

“Carriers generally fall into two categories — soft-sided and hard-sided varieties,” Dr. Marteney told The Dodo.

Within those two categories, there are so many different styles of cat carriers to choose from.

“Some are shaped like backpacks, some have transparent bubbles for your cat to see out of, some are made of mesh and some are nearly fully enclosed hard plastic,” Dr. Marteney said. “They come in many different shapes and sizes.”

How to find the best cat carrier

When it comes to picking a cat carrier, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • Size: It should be 1.5 times as long as the length from your cat’s nose to his tail so he can stand up and turn around.
  • Ventilation: It should have air holes so he can breathe.
  • Security: Your cat shouldn’t be able to escape easily.

“Most general carriers will be fine for traveling with your cat,” Dr. Elson told The Dodo. “But if you travel often, you may want to invest in a carrier or special enclosure designed specifically for travel.”

When choosing between a hard and soft carrier, that decision comes down to your travel needs as well as your — and your cat’s — personal preferences.

“Hard carriers give more rigid structure so they don’t collapse in on your cat, but they are often less comfortable,” Dr. Marteney said. “Soft carriers usually have a more plush interior but are made of mesh and may make your cat feel more exposed, and therefore anxious, during travel.”

You should also consider getting a carrier with more than one opening since your cat might prefer going into his carrier from a certain side (or even the top).

“It is also helpful to have carriers with multiple points of entry,” Dr. Spano told The Dodo.

And if your cat can’t stand going in his carrier at all, multiple openings could help get him in there quicker — before he has the chance to claw up your arms.

The best cat carriers, according to vets

When it comes to the best cat carriers, these vets have a few recommendations.

According to Dr. Spano, there are some great options from Sherpa and Petmate that have the features above.

Dr. Elston recommends carriers made by Sleepypod or Sturdi Products. (They’re a bit on the splurgey side, but your cat’s comfort and safety is totally worth it!)

“[Sleepypod uses] special materials and padding, [includes] loops to allow you to buckle the carrier into a seat belt, and some of their carriers have zip-off tops so they can transform into a high-quality bed between trips,” Dr. Elston explained. “Sturdi Products has a great line of pet carriers and pop-up enclosures. They offer a variety of sizes, which can be great if you travel with more than one cat or need a larger enclosure for use at your destination.”

Check out some of the best, vet-approved cat carriers around!

Sherpa Original Cat Carrier Bag

The shoulder strap on this soft carrier makes traveling with your cat super easy.

Petmate Two-Door Top Load Kennel

There's a top and side entrance, which is great for fickle cats who love to keep their options open.

Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier

It's definitely a splurge, but this Sleepypod carrier includes a seatbelt strap for safe car travel and is great for flying with your cat, too.

Sturdi Products SturdiBag Pet Carrier

Between the privacy flaps and the fleece mat, your cat will feel so cozy.

SturdiBag Divided Multi-Pet Carrier

This SturdiBag carrier is divided so you can travel with two cats at once.

Sleepypod Medium Mobile Pet Bed

This carrier is made with luggage-grade materials, so it's great for all types of travel.