How to choose the Best Cat Carrier for Your Cat

Find out how to choose the best cat carrier for your feline and our reviews of the best options on the market.

There comes a time in every cat’s life when she will need to be transported safely. As much as most felines detest a cat carrier, having one is paramount in getting kitty from point-a to point-b without incident or harm.

If you are about to get your first kitten or are just looking for an upgrade to your old model cat carrier, we’ve searched out some of the best cat carriers and have given you all the info you’ll need to make your carrier purchase the right one.

A Quick Glance at Some of the Best Cat Carriers

Cat CarrierRating
Bonve Pet Soft-Sided Pet Carrier5 Stars
Pet Luv Soothing Carrier5 Stars
Petmate Top Load Carrier5 Stars
Petyella Expandable4 Stars
We will review these products and their rating scores (out of 5) in more detail at the end of this article.

Does Your Cat Need a Carrier?

Unless your feline friend is remarkably well behaved in a vehicle, you will most likely, at some point, need a cat carrier. These reasons include;

  • Long Trips/Vacations. If you’re traveling on a long trip, are moving or are bringing your kitty along with you on vacation, you will want to have a cat carrier. This makes it easier to transport your pet from the vehicle to a hotel or to just keep her from interfering with your driving when on the highway.
  • Veterinary Visits. Whether your cat is ill or just needs a check-up, having a cat carrier for veterinary visits is important. This will keep your cat safe from other clinic patients and will also keep her from bolting in fear.
  • Home Emergency. If your home were to encounter a disaster such as a fire, flood or earthquake, having your cat in a carrier will make it easier to get her to safety.
  • A Safe Place. Some cats like to use their cat carrier as a safe place to rest or get away from something that has caused her fear or anxiety.

Types of Cat Carriers

There are four basic types of cat carriers. These include the Homemade carrier, cardboard box carrier, the Soft-sided carrier and finally the hard-sided carrier. These all come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore your options.

Homemade Cat Carrier

Some people in a pinch may use a homemade cat carrier, this can include an old cardboard box, laundry basket, even a pillow case.

The disadvantage of these types of items is that they do not provide any comfort or safety for the feline. Plus, your cat will most likely be even more stressed out from being transported, than if she were in a more suitable mode-of-transportation.

The Cardboard Carrier

This type of cat carrier is typically used by adoption or rescue facilities for taking home a new kitten or cat. However, they are only intended for the short, one-time-use as they are full of disadvantages. These include;

  • Cats can scratch holes into the cardboard as it is not durable enough for multiple usages
  • Is not waterproof, water resistant or urine-proof
  • Cardboard is not airline approved
  • Cannot be cleaned for a later use
  • No place for food/water bowls

The Soft-sided Carrier

As the name implies, these cat carriers are usually made from a soft material like nylon or ballistic nylon. Depending on the design they can have either one or two zippered openings, ventilation mesh holes and a sturdy handle for carrying the pet. Some things to keep in mind when using a soft-sided cat carrier;

  • Should only be used for calm travelers as the mesh ventilation areas may become torn with a snagged claw, making it easier for your cat to escape.
  • Be sure it is the correct size to prevent from sliding around (more on sizing to come)
  • Be sure to purchase one with a sturdy bottom. Sagging bottomed carriers are difficult to carry and are uncomfortable for your cat.

The Hard-sided Carrier

These types of cat carriers are made from tough, durable plastic and usually have a wire or plastic door that is secured with a locking mechanism. Some of the benefits of these models are;

  • Very durable
  • Easy to clean
  • Some come with wheels so it can be pulled behind the pet parent

A hard-sided model may not be the best cat carrier for airplane as it may not fit under an airplane seat. Also be sure the handle is strong enough to withstand the weight of your cat when picked up, or toted along behind you (as with the wheeled kind).

How to Choose the Best Cat Carrier

Choosing the right carrier for you and your feline friend will be very dependent on the circumstances in which you will be using it. The best cat carrier for car travel will have room for food and water, while traveling by plane the carrier will have to be airline approved (it is a good idea to check airline’s regulations beforehand).

Additionally, the carrier should be strong and durable enough to withstand your cat’s clawing and moving around. The hard-sided models should also use stainless steel hardware over plastics as it is much stronger and will last longer.

You will also want to ensure there is proper ventilation provided for good airflow into and out of your cat carrier. And lastly, if your cat detests being put into a carrier, the kind that opens at the top is very useful and saves a lot of stress and anxiety for both you and your pet.

How to Choose the Right Size of Cat Carrier

When it comes to carriers, bigger is not always better. The right size of cat carrier will give your feline enough room to stand up, turn around, then lie back down. Too much room and your cat may move around too much, causing the carrier to flip. Not enough room and your feline will be too cramped making it extremely uncomfortable for longer trips.

How to Get Your Cat into the Carrier

Create Carrier Fun, Not Carrier Fear

Most cats associate the carrier with going to the veterinarians, as usually, this is the only time pet parents have to use it. However, trying to fight a frightened or sick animal into a carrier for a vet visit is never fun. For this reason, it’s always best to allow your cat to become accustomed to the carrier in advance of any vet visits. Here are some helpful steps to help create carrier, fun, over carrier fear;

Step #1 – Leave it Be

Put the cat carrier in a well-used room with a soft pillow or blanket and your cat’s favorite toy. Your cat will check out the carrier and associate it as “just part of the furniture.” Leave it be for a few days.

Step #2 – Treats & Praise

After your cat becomes associated with the carrier as a non-threat, toss a few of his favorite treats into the carrier. Use the command “crate.” You may have to give your feline a little push at first to get him to enter, but after he does, praise him with lots of petting and another treat. Repeat this process several times and another session later in the same day.

Step #3 – Close the Door

After a few days of practice with the door open, repeat the treat process and command, but this time after your cat enters the carrier, close the door for a few seconds, then open it again. Praise kitty and give treats to your cat for being quiet and compliant.

Step #4 – Lift & Carry

Once your feline is comfortable being shut into the carrier, it’s time to lift and carry it. Do this by giving your cat the “crate” command. Once he’s in, secure the door, then lift the carrier and carry it into another room. Open the door and praise your cat and reward him with a treat. Now close the door again and return him to the original room. Open the door and allow your cat to exit the carrier if he wishes to do so.

Step #5 – The Car Session

Once your feline friend is accustomed to being moved around in the carrier, it’s time to visit the car. When your cat is in the carrier, pick it up and move it outside to the vehicle. Seat belt it securely to avoid any spills. Ideally, your cat should still be able to see you. Remember to praise with gentle words and his favorite treats.

Step #6- Start the Car

After a few vehicle sessions, start your car. If your cat is fine, take him for a little ride around the block. Praise and reward for good behavior.

What if none of this works?

If you’ve tried but your cat still won’t take to the carrier, there are calm down sprays that use natural pheromones to help your cat relax. You can also load your cat into the carrier backward. This is done by taking your cat firmly by the scruff of the neck and while supporting his body gently glide him into the carrier rear-end first.

Here Are 4 Cat Carriers for You to Check Out

With so many choices when it comes to choosing the best cat carrier, we’ve done some research and have found four of the top cat/pet carriers that may be a good fit for you and your feline companion.

Best Soft Cat Carrier: Bonve Pet Soft-Sided Pet Carrier

Find out how to choose the best cat carrier for your feline and our reviews of the best options on the market.Waterproof, padded and conveniently foldable, the Bonve Pet Soft-sided Cat Carrier is getting a top score with pet parents everywhere. It comes with plenty of room for your feline friend, but not so much that it’s dangerous. The mesh ventilation is provided on both sides and on the zippered door. In addition, it will hold its shape when your cat is traveling inside of it, plus it comes with a padded should strap for easy transportation.

The Pros of the Bonve Pet Soft-sided Carrier

The great things about the Bonve Pet Soft-sided Carrier that I found pleasing are;

  • Padded for comfort
  • Durable
  • Well-designed
  • Waterproof
  • Convenient
  • Great for smaller dogs, too
  • Comes in two colors (black and orange).
  • Reasonable priced
  • Airline approved

The Cons of the Bonve Pet Soft-sided Carrier

One of the disadvantages of the Bonve Pet Soft-sided Carrier is although, it does offer up the color choices of black and also orange, a few more color options would be pleasing.

The overall rating of the Bonve Pet Soft-sided Carrier is 5 out of 5 for its overall design, convenience, and durability.

PetLuv Soothing Soft-sided Cat Carrier

Find out how to choose the best cat carrier for your feline and our reviews of the best options on the market.The Pros of the PetLuv Soft-sided Cat Carrier

One of the great things about this product are the access doors and the fact that it is roomy enough to provide great comfort for cats that need to be enclosed for long periods-of-time.

Other pleasing features are;

  • Reasonable priced
  • Comes with an ultra soft sleeping pillow
  • Has a carry strap and padded handle grips
  • Folds away for convenience
  • Great for bigger cats and puppies up to 15 pounds
  • Has seat belt loops

The Cons of the PetLuv Soothing Soft-sided Pet Carrier

The biggest concern some pet parents have is this unit is not yet airline approved.

The overall rating of the PetLuv Soothing Soft-sided Cat Carrier is 5 out of 5. This cat carrier is designed to give your feline the ultimate in comfort and the access points and folding design makes it convenient for pet parents.

Petmate Top Load Hard-sided Cat Carrier

Find out how to choose the best cat carrier for your feline and our reviews of the best options on the market.This hard-sided cat carrier is perfect for those felines that dislike being put into a carrier. The top-loading feature allows you to simply lower kitty into the unit and latch the door closed. The durable plastic is completely washable and will stand up to tough wear-and-tear. The ergonomic handle makes it easier for you to carry, even if your cat is making a fuss inside the unit.

The Pros of the Petmate Top Load Hard-sided Cat Carrier

One of the great things about this product is that since it is made of plastic it will be more durable and your cat will not be able to chew or claw his way out of it. Other pleasing features also include;

  • Comes in 4 color choices
  • Place for food/water cups (not included)
  • Reasonable priced
  • Company has been in business for 50+ years

The Cons of the Petmate Top Load Hard-sided Cat Carrier

The biggest concern some pet parents have with this unit is that it only comes in two sizes (19″ and 24″) so it may be too small for those heavier felines. Plus, it may not be air lined approved.

The overall rating of the Petmate Top Load Hard-sided Cat Carrier is 5 out of 5 for its durability and convenient top-loading feature.

Petyella Expandable Soft-sided Cat Carrier

Find out how to choose the best cat carrier for your feline and our reviews of the best options on the market.The Petyella cat carrier has taken pet carrying to a whole new level. This unit expands on both sides to make for 31 inches of stretched-out comfort – perfect for when staying in a hotel overnight or long waits at the airport. This cat carrier is made from durable mesh ventilation and nylon with a removable padded shoulder strap. When condensed you can load your cat through the zippered front panel or the top panel. It even comes with a handy side pocket to carry those extras like food, bowls, and treats.

The Pros of the Petyella Expandable Soft-sided Cat Carrier

One of the great things about this product is that it is secure and strong, providing your cat with the ultimate in comfort. Other pleasing features are;

  • Reinforced steel frame keeps its shape and adds more stability over traditional soft-sided units
  • Expandable
  • Lightweight to carry
  • Folds down for easy storage when not in use
  • 1-year money back guarantee
  • Order from Amazon and it comes with a free collapsible water/food bowl and a fleece blanket
  • Reasonably priced

The Cons of the Petyella Expandable Soft-sided Cat Carrier

The biggest concern reviewers had of this product is it’s only designed for pets under 14 pounds. In addition, the mesh ventilation material may be chewed through by active pups or frightened cats.

The overall rating of the Petyella Expandable Soft-sided Cat Carrier is 4 out of 5 for its unique expandable design, but the mesh may pose a problem for some pet parents.

Conclusion

We have three very clear winners of our best cat carrier roundup. These models deliver durability, convenience and the comfort your cat will appreciate when traveling in a cat carrier.

If you’re shopping for the best cat carrier you can find, take these helpful hints and tips to help further your decision.

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