While our felines are most comfortable in their royal palaces, at home, some cats can adapt to travel rather well. And those of us who own felines — or, more appropriately, are owned by them — must ensure that our companions are well-supported and happy while on a road trip.
Apart from this, we need to ensure our pets have the best carrier for cats for car travel, daytime adventures, or airline trips.
It becomes serious business when you’re trying to choose the best cat carriers for car travel. Whether you’re sending your cat to a cattery or to the vet, ensuring your fur baby is in a pleasant, peaceful, and stress-free environment is essential. For both of you.
So, let’s dive into the top cat carriers for car travel for our beloved little pawtners.
Tip: Before you hit the road you’ll enjoy reading how to have a great road trip with a cat.
Best Cat Carrier for Car Travel – 5 Formats
Cat carriers come in an assortment of styles, from hard-shelled kennels to soft-sided shoulder bags and backpacks. The best one to choose for your kitty will depend on how you plan on using it.
A good carrier for a quick trip to the vet, going to the cattery or catio, or a day excursion may differ from the one that needs to protect your kitty on a pressurized, temperature-controlled cargo plane or long distance trip.
So, before we dive into finding the best carrier for your kitty, take a look at some of the most common cat carriers you’ll find.
1. Rolling Carriers
One of the biggest upsides to these cat carriers is their maneuverability. These bags are great for pet parents who can’t bear lugging around loads. The downside to these types of carriers, though, is you need to ensure the bag is level.
You can’t exactly treat it as another piece of luggage. A small amount of movement from the outside can feel like an entire rollercoaster ride for your feline on the inside. And a stressed kitty on a long journey is the last thing you need.
2. Backpacks and Strollers
One way to explore with your kitty comfortably is to use a stroller or a backpack. Because why leave your beloved furry friend at home when they could be out and about exploring with you? Bear in mind; you’ll need to consider what exactly you’ll be doing.
Cat backpacks are practical if you’re going on a hike, or some other adventurous activity. Cat strollers on the other hand are better suited for casual walks in the park or elsewhere.
3. Cardboard Carriers
Many pet shelters provide these cardboard carriers for new cat parents at the time of adoption. These kinds of carriers are mostly constructed for short-term use. Because of the carbon fibers, the bag will eventually break down and become less rigid.
These boxes are not long-lasting and are prone to be chewed, scratched, and soiled very easily. These carriers are made for quick and efficient transportation, to get your kitty from point A to point B, but are not practical for long term use.
4. Soft-Sided Mesh Panels
Soft-sided cat carriers with mesh windows are made with firm yet flexible materials such as nylon, polyester, and microfiber. These bags are very lightweight and pliable, making them easy to maneuver around or stow away when not in use.
While soft carriers are fairly durable, your pussycat can easily damage the bag with their teeth and claws. They also don’t provide as much protection as a hard-sided carrier, so again not a very good investment for long-term use.
5. Hard-Sided Carrier
A traveling cat parent’s favorite, the hard-shelled cat carriers are more durable than other styles. The sides provide a sturdy and supportive space for your cat to relax in while traveling with you. You can choose between a top-door, top-loading case, or a single-door, depending on you and your kitty’s preferences.
Hard-shelled carriers typically don’t come with their own padding, but you can place a small blanket, pillow, or tiny bed inside to make your kitty their little nest. Keep in mind, if you do insert padding, make sure your kitty has enough room to move around.
Best Cat Car Carriers At a Glance
Here are some of the best cat carriers for car trips:
- Best overall carrier: Siivton Pet Carrier
- Best value for money: NECOICHI Portable Cat Carrier
- Most comfortable: Morpilot Pet Travel Carrier Bag/ Pet Gear & Car Seat Carrier
- Most stylish: EliteField Soft-Sided Pet Carrier Bag
- Safest: Mr. Peanut’s Soft-Sided Pet Carrier
- Best collapsible: Pet Magasin Hard Cover Collapsible Cat Carrier
- Sturdiest: Petmate Two Door Top Load Carrier
15 Best Cat Carriers for Car Travel
Now that we’ve learned about the many sorts of carriers, let’s look at the best cat bags for car travel for our beloved felines.
1. Henkelion Soft-Sided Collapsible Pet Carrier
The Henkelion Soft-Sided Collapsible Pet Carrier is an excellent pet transporter for our purrfect kitties and other small canine friends. The bag boasts some handy features, from the various zippered openings to the all-around mesh panels.
One of the most notable features of the Henkelion Soft-Sided Collapsible Pet Carrier is that it has two connecting loop handles that can act as a seatbelt or luggage strap. This is a great feature in the category for best cat travel carrier for car travel because it means that you can have peace of mind knowing that your kitty will be safe and secure while you drive.
The airline-approved pet carrier provides two connecting looped handles and padded shoulder straps for easy, secure transport of your precious cargo. Moreover, the lightweight bag is easy to carry and stow away when not used. It also has a cuddly fleece bed that can be removed and washed.
2. NECOICHI Portable Cat Carrier
NECOICHI Portable Cat Carrier is the ideal lightweight, foldable bag for day trips. The carrier provides mesh windows for your kitty to peer out and enjoy the travel experience. Also, as cat parents, we want to ensure our kitties are happy, and the open panes enable us to do just that.
The sturdy fabric makes it super easy to clean. The bag is also equipped with two twin zipper-lock rings that can’t be opened from the inside – for maximum security for those escape artists.
This is one of the best car carriers for cats in terms of value for money, because it is relatively affordable, while not compromising on safety and comfort.
Tip: Has your cat become an expert at running away from you when they shouldn’t? Check out this guide on the best escape-proof harnesses that your cat won’t easily get out of.
3. SportPet Foldable Travel Cat Carrier
SportPet Foldable Travel Cat Carrier is specifically designed for felines and can hold up to 25 lbs – ideal for both small and large cats. When you’re not using the carry bag, it easily folds down and can be stored just about anywhere. Similarly, it assembles within seven seconds – which is perfect if you’re running late, because it means you can put it together with no hassles.
The key feature of this carrier is its wide-side opening door to allow your cat to feel comfortable walking into it. The carrier also includes a comfy waterproof, machine-washable bed for your kitty to lay on. It’s an exceptional traveling carrier for your feline.
4. Pet Magasin Hard Cover Collapsible Cat Carrier
If you’re looking for the ideal top-loaded, foldable pet carrier for your sweet feline friend, Pet Magasin Hard Cover Collapsible Cat Carrier provides a comfortable resting place for any trip.
It’s one of the safest cat carriers for car trips, because the case features both hard and soft shells, providing your kitty with a firm surface to stand on. The floor is also made of a rigid, non-slip base to keep your pet from getting knocked around giving both you and them peace of mind.
The mesh windows around the sides of the carry bag provide plenty of ventilation for your pet, with a 360-degree view of you and their trip.
Tip: Planning on getting a new kitty? Check out my guides to How to Look after a Kitten, 12 Best Kitten Wet Food Options, and 9 Best Kitten Dry Food Options for more tips on how to look after your new fur baby.
5. Pet Magasin Soft-Sided Cat Carrier
Another incredible travel bag from Pet Magasin, the Soft-Sided Cat Carrier, is airline approved and provides a comforting space for traveling felines. The bag was made to keep your pet safe and retains its shape when the zippers are pulled together. The carrier is soft-sided with comfortable padding inside and is surrounded by mesh windows for ventilation.
6. Petmate Two Door Top Load Carrier
If you’re looking for a hard-shell pet crate for travels, this Petmate Two-Door Top Load Carrier will make an excellent choice. The carrier was built with an ergonomic handle to hold your kitty’s case fast and stable. It can hold up to 15 lbs and also has double doors so that your cat can get in and out of its carrier easily.
The low-cost, durable carry kennel will provide your cat pal with plenty of room to move around. One easy-to-fix downside is the hard floor. However, you can add a pet blanket or a small pillow to give your little prince or princess the comfort they necessitate. There are also ventilated sides for your fur baby to enjoy the views en route to your destination.
Oh, and I must mention, they come in multiple colors as well, making it easy to pick out the perfect one for your kitty.
7. PetAmi Premium Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier
The PetAmi Premium Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier provides our much-beloved pets with a comfortable, durable design and top safety features. It is ideal for any trip whether it’s flying or car travel, as it comes in two sizes – small and large.
Apart from being a super comfy travel bag for your kitty cat, this carrier also boasts an extra pocket for you to keep your fur baby’s treats or other essentials for their trip. Moreover, the bag comes in 13 different funky colors to choose from and can carry up to 18 lbs.
The double clip straps help support the weight of your kitty, whether they sit, stand, or sprawl out in their little portable castle. The carrier is breathable with three sides of mesh windows and a two-way entry for easy access.
For your peace of mind, the backpack comes with a safety strap and buckle to prevent even the most cunning of escape artists from getting out.
Psst…If you’re looking to take your furry cat pal on an adventure, whether hiking or a trip to the park, take a look at the PetAmi Deluxe Pet Carrier Backpack – providing you with oh la la cuteness and keeping your kitty close to you.
8. Sherpa Travel Deluxe Pet Carrier
Another top choice for our beloved cats, the soft-sided Sherpa Travel Deluxe Pet Carrier provides plenty of features to make your cat’s trip a comfortable one. The bag is patented for its unique spring-wire frame that allows you to push down several inches of the frame at the rear to conform to under-seat airline requirements.
The carry bag provides see-through mesh sides to keep your kitty’s space breathable without obstructing their vision. Stash treats, a water bottle, and their favorite toys in the rear pocket to keep them content along the way.
The bag comes available in three sizes, namely small, medium, and large. The fabric is durable and machine washable, easy to clean between trips. It’s a great bag for shorter plane or car trips with your cat.
9. EliteField Soft-Sided Pet Carrier Bag
The best thing about these travel bags is that you can take your furry friend with you wherever you go in an easy and comfortable manner for both of you. And, the EliteField Soft-Sided Pet Carrier Bag provides both you and your pet with style and comfort in one. The bag comes in six snazzy colors: black, charcoal gray, pink, purple, sky blue, and sapphire blue.
It’s made from durable, lightweight material and features mesh netting in the front and sides of the bag for optimum ventilation for your little partner. The carrier includes a seat belt loop and straps to attach to your luggage or car seat.
The carry pack also comes with a removable plush bed to provide your kitty with comfort for a quick trip to the vet, or a longer road trip. There is also an accessory storage pocket to keep their toys and snacks for along the way.
10. Siivton Expandable Pet Carrier
Regarding lightweight and comfort, the spacious, cozy Siivton Expandable Pet Carrier checks all the boxes. The four-door carry bag easily folds down to provide extra space for our beloved pets, allowing them to move around more freely and reducing anxiety levels in cats associated with confinement. Its expandability makes it a top contender for the title of best cat carrier for long-distance car travel.
The pet carrier is easy to carry over your shoulder; place it atop your luggage, secure it with a seatbelt in your car, or add it as a top bag. The bag has various entry points as well as mesh windows for good ventilation.
The carrier is easy to clean, and the warm fleece pet bed can be removed and washed. The Siivton Expandable Pet Carrier is a great investment for long-term use, especially if you and your pet friend are frequent travelers.
11. Mr. Peanut’s Soft-Sided Pet Carrier
The next time you take your kitty on vacation or a little car trip, the gold series airline-approved Mr. Peanut’s Soft-Sided Pet Carrier will spoil your dear pal with some top-notch comfort. Recommended for pets up to 15 lbs, the luxury tote is designed with faux fleece bedding, a leather strap, and handle, and a plywood base for added support and comfort.
The carrier features premium self-locking zippers to keep your pet exactly where they belong during your trip. Give your kitty cat the privacy they need with the roll-away or roll-up cover. The soft-sided carrier is a breeze to travel with.
It also provides mesh windows on all sides and on top and a zippered mesh pocket for storage. Moreover, it comes with a luggage strap, ID tag holder, and safety seatbelt attachments making traveling hassle-free for both you and your sweet pet.
12. Morpilot Pet Travel Carrier Bag
The Morpilot Pet Travel Carrier Bag presents some unique features for traveling with your pet. It comes with all the bells and whistles that you could want in a cat car carrier. This includes a collapsible water bowl to keep your pal hydrated during trips, and all four sides have breathable mesh windows. This allows your kitty to look around and enjoy the journey just as much as you.
The carrier provides a built-in collar buckle and comes with a spacious front pocket, ideal for placing toys, leashes, or clothing for your cat. The floor is sherpa-lined and reinforced with sturdy support to provide your pet extra stability. The carry bag also comes with a small washable cushion to give your kitty all the pleasures of home while traveling.
13. PetLuv Happy Cat Soft-Sided Carrier
Let your little friend ride in style with the PetLuv Happy Cat Soft-Sided Carrier. The royal chambers boast a foldable design and built-in features that provide plenty of room for your kitty. In addition, it’s designed with all-around mesh windows to provide your furry companion with ventilation and panoramic views of the outside. And if your kitty prefers privacy, there are unique three-stage privacy settings for the flaps.
Your feline can go in through the top and side holes. And the adjustable shoulder straps make it simple to transport the bag from your car to your next location. Furthermore, there is a washable, soft pillow for your pal to sleep on, which provides comfort and reduces anxiety.
This ultra-stylish carrier comes in three colors and three size options – small, medium, and large for you to choose from.
14. Pet Gear & Car Seat Carrier
The best thing about a road-tripping buddy is that you both equally enjoy the views and surroundings together. And the Pet Gear & Car Seat Carrier for cats and dogs is designed for both of you to enjoy adventures together.
The carrier features mesh ventilation around the case to provide your little pawtner with a 360-degree view and enjoy the fresh air. It also comes with a removable liner that makes it easy to throw in the wash and keep clean.
No need to fumble around with annoying zippers here, the lightweight carrier is easy to access with a push-button entry on the side of the bag. There’s also a tether in the interior that can easily attach to a harness to keep your fur baby locked in. The carrier can also be easily attached to the seatbelt of your car, great for any bumpy rides.
15. Sherpa Forma Frame Pet Carrier
The Sherpa Forma Frame Pet Carrier is an ultra-sleek carrier that will easily fit into your car. This lightweight carrier can carry up to 16 lbs and is easy to fold and store when it’s not in use.
There’s plenty of room inside the carrier, and it also features a reversible quilted mat on the inside, ensuring that your kitty is as cozy as can be. One of its notable features is its versatile straps which can be used to carry your cat around without any hassles.
They can also be attached to car seats, acting as seatbelts. As one extra feature, the Forma Frame also includes a safety leash inside the carrier, which you can attach to your pet for extra security.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Car Cat Carrier
Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the best cat carriers, here are a few things to consider before you make your final choice:
Duration of the Car Trip
For short trips such as to the vet, you typically don’t need a large carrier. However, if you are going to be on the road for a long period of time, then you’ll need something that is easy to assemble, but still comfortable for your cat.
Your Cat’s Size and Weight
Often, cat owners make the mistake of choosing the incorrect size when purchasing carriers. The bigger your cat, the sturdier and more spacious the carrier will need to be to accommodate them comfortably.
It’s best to measure and weigh your cat beforehand, so when you’re looking up the specifications of the carrier you’ll have little difficulty seeing which ones will work for your pet.
Most cat car carriers can carry weights between 8 and 25 lbs.
How Much Space Do You Have in Your Car for the Carrier?
It’s all good and well to want to purchase the biggest carrier for your cat to ensure that they’re comfortable. But, one important factor to also consider other than your cat’s comfort is whether or not the carrier will actually fit into your car.
Sometimes bigger isn’t always better, so ensure that you have enough space for something that will be easy to transport.
The Shape & Design of the Carrier
The shape and design of a car carrier for a cat are one of the most important factors to consider before purchasing one. The carrier should ideally be large enough for your cat to lie down and stand up. However, the carrier shouldn’t be so large that your car doesn’t feel secure.
On the other hand, it shouldn’t be too small so that your cat feels claustrophobic and becomes anxious while traveling. Choosing a carrier that has expandable sections that double or triples in size is your best bet because you can customize it to your pet’s needs.
Cat carriers come in all sorts of materials such as plastic, polyester, and mesh. The material you pick is key because it often helps with ventilation and most importantly — your cat’s comfort.
It’s wise to pick a carrier that has breathable material, and that is also lightweight and washable for easy maintenance.
Luggage straps are a huge convenience factor. They make it easy to transport your cat. If possible, pick one with padding so that you can slip it over your shoulder for an easy hands-free experience.
Another plus about luggage straps on car cat carriers is that they also double up as car seat belts. So, you can travel peacefully knowing that your cat is comfortable yet secure.
Interior Safety Tether
If you have a cat that can easily find its way in and out of a carrier, then look for one that has an interior safety tether. This will keep your kitty safe and secure throughout the journey without causing it any discomfort.
It will also give you the peace of mind that you’ll need knowing that your cat won’t jump out the minute you stop driving.
Floor Mat/Padded Bed
A comfortable floor mat or padded bed is not always standard with all cat carriers, so be sure to keep an eye out for this in the descriptions. Cat carriers for cars that come with padded beds, or floor mats might be a bit pricey.
But they are a good investment because it means you won’t have to worry about buying the incorrect bed size and trying to fit it into your carrier.
Pockets are great storage features because it means that you’ll be able to store extra things like your cat’s treats, toys, and even a foldable water pouch. You can keep everything in one place if you opt for a carrier with pockets.
All modern cat carriers come with additional features such as feeding and water bowls, pockets, washable inserts, locking zippers, padded straps, mesh windows, and expandible compartments. Furthermore, some even come with more than one entry point, making it easy to get your cat in and out of the carrier.
Some additional features might excite you more than others, so when picking the perfect cat carrier for a car, it’s best to consider the needs of both you and your kitty.
How to Help Your Cat Adjust to Their New Car Carrier
- Add a treat and toy before traveling: This will help your cat feel more relaxed and at home before and during traveling.
- Leave it open for a bit before traveling: Cats are naturally curious characters. So before you embark on your journey, leave the cat carrier out so that they can familiarize themselves with it and get comfortable. That way when it is time to leave, it will be less of a hassle to get them into it if they are already familiar with their surroundings.
- Spray the padded bed or mat with some cat calming spray: To help take the anxiousness out of the journey, consider spraying your kitty’s bed or mat with some cat calming spray to help them settle in and relax.
Tips for Traveling Safely with a Cat Carrier for Long Car Trips
- If you’re traveling long distances by car, let your cat out every now and again when you take a break from driving. This will give them a chance to stretch their legs and avoid getting too irritable.
- Attach the safety tether to your cat, as this will ensure they’re not thrown around easily.
A Footnote: Cat Carriers for Car Travel
Finding the best carriers for our purr-fect little companions is essential to our kitty’s peace of mind, comfort, and contentment. When moving your cat by car, comfort is usually the biggest issue.
Soft carriers with mesh-sided windows tend to be preferred over hard-shelled ones. And attaining top-rated products to suit our feline’s demands is essential to a happy kitty and a convenient trip.
So, let’s paw-tect our little kitties and provide them with the ultimate care they deserve during our travel trips.
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