7 Best Cat Carriers: Our 2018 Cat Carrier Buying Guide

best cat carriers

You’re never going to be thanked by your cat for picking the the best cat carrier, but you can make their time spent “locked up” a little less stressful. This is why it’s important to do your research and find the right product for your kitty (even if they are still going to sulk for hours afterward).

Today we are going to take a look at the world of cat carriers and provide you with a little information about the strengths and weaknesses of the different types available. We’re going to conclude with several reviews of what we think are the best cat carriers on the market in 2018.

What to look for in a Good Cat Carrier

All cat carriers are not created equally, there’s a potentially confusing amount of choice from different manufacturers on the market. They’re all going to be telling you that their product is the best, so who should you believe? And what should you be looking out for?

Size – Perhaps the most important thing you should be getting right is the size of the carrier. It’s what is going to matter most to your cat, and it’s what’s going to define their experience inside the carrier. Picking the perfect size is a little bit of a balancing act, you don’t want a product that’s too big, but you don’t want one that’s too small either.

Any carrier should be big enough for your cat to stand up and move around a little bit while they are being transported. This will allow them to have a bit of a stretch and it will allow them to stay comfortable until their journey is completed.

Before you rush off to start Googling the largest products on the market, it’s important to remember that bigger is not always better when it comes to cat carriers.

Being transported in a carrier is a stressful experience for a cat. They probably know that when they are put in a carrier that it’s not usually a good sign for their immediate future. They’re either going to be locked up for a while, or they’re going to the vets. Having a carrier that’s not too big will provide them with a slight sense of security and coziness that can go a long way to reducing their stress levels.

Ideally, you should be looking for a carrier that is roughly twice the size of your cat. Any smaller and they will not be able to stretch and move around sufficiently, any larger and they may be more stressed while being transported.

Security – You should consider why you need your carrier and think about what kind of situations it is likely to be used in. Are you going to be carrying your cat to the vets? Or are they going to be in the boot of a car? If you’re not going to be holding your carrier at all times, then it may be best to consider getting a hard case version for added security.

Food And Water – If you’re taking your cat on a 10-minute journey down the road then you probably don’t need to worry about food and water inside the carrier. However, for longer journeys they are essential. Traveling is a stressful experience for a cat, they’re going to need to stay hydrated and fed if they’re locked up for an extended period of time. If they’re going on a long trip you need to find a product that is compatible with specialized food and water containers, or even better, find a product that already has them included.

Handles – It’s much more important than you might think to find a product that has a good, sturdy, ergonomic handle or strap. Once your cat is inside the carrier it can become reasonably heavy. Dropping the carrier with your feline friend inside is going to be a traumatic experience for both you and the cat. It’s an unfortunately common cause of injury, and it is often avoidable if you pick a product that has a decent handle.

Ventilation – All cat carriers on the market are going to be well ventilated enough to allow them sufficient air to breathe. However, they’re not all good enough to keep your cat cool during transit. Your little fluff-ball is going to potentially be inside their carrier for quite some time while they are on their journey, and inevitably things are going to start to warm up. By having great ventilation air will naturally be able to flow throughout the carrier and remove some of the heat – keeping your kitty cool and comfortable.

Access Points – Getting your kitty into their carrier is one of the least enjoyable parts of cat ownership. The claws may come out, and an almighty struggle may ensue as you try and get them inside. Some of the best carriers on the market have multiple access points which will give you different options to get your kitty in and out of the carrier. This can make your life much easier if you have a kitty that hates to travel.

Ease Of Cleaning – During their time in the carrier, your kitty may need to go to the toilet due to stress or due to the sheer amount of time they are in transit. While this is a situation that is best avoided through other means if an accident does happen it’s useful to know that it’s not going to be a huge cleanup job. Ensure that any carrier you’re considering can be cleaned and disinfected easily if it’s a hard product, and ensure it’s machine washable (or has a removable base) if it’s a soft product.

Cat Carrier in the Car

Different Types Of Cat Carriers

Ok, so now we know some of the most important things you should be looking out for in any good cat carrier. Now let’s take a look at some of the most popular kinds of carrier that are currently on the market.

Backpack

As the name suggests, backpack cat carriers are designed to be worn on your back while your kitty is in transit. They’re great for journeys where you’re not planning on leaving them unattended (like in a car trunk). They’re often thinner than other kinds of carrier, but they’re also reasonably tall. They’re not usually recommended for long journeys, but can be convenient and comfortable for short trips.

Airline Approved

Airline approved cat carriers are designed to be taken into the cabin with you and placed underneath the seat in front of you when you board a plane. They’re almost always soft carriers and they’re specifically designed to meet the strict size restrictions and safety standards required by all major airlines. They usually either have expandable sections for extra space while in the departure lounge, or they are larger by default and can be slightly collapsed when it’s time to board the plane.

Soft

Soft cat carriers are the general term that is given to a wide range of different carriers that are not hard-shelled. They’re lighter, and often more comfortable for the cat, but they offer less protection. Some lower quality soft carriers can actually be opened by the cat from the inside if the zippers are not of an adequate standard – be careful and only pick products from reputable brands.

Top Loading

Top loading cat carriers can either be soft or hard-shelled products. As the name suggests they allow you to load your cat from the top of the carrier as opposed to the sides (although most top loaders have side access points too). Many cat owners find top loading to be a much easier way of getting their cat inside the carrier with the minimum amount of fuss.

Collapsible

Collapsible cat carriers are usually soft products, but some hard collapsible carriers do exist. As the name suggests they are designed to collapse when not in use to make storage easier. They are often quick and easy to collapse or expand, but lower quality products can be a little bit flimsy, so it’s important to ensure that you pick a good product from a respectable brand.

Sling

Sling carriers have very limited use cases for cats. They’re often the least comfortable, they’re the least secure, and your cat is going to be doing their utmost to get out of it. This makes the serene dreamlike scenario of carrying your cat by your side in a sling crash head first into the cold hard reality of sharp claws and scratching. In our opinion slings are best avoided, there are few situations (or no situations) where slings are better than the other alternative kinds of carrier on the market.

Rolling

Rolling cat carriers are exploding in popularity and they provide a convenient way for owners to move their cats around with the minimum amount of effort. They are usually found on soft cat carriers, but hard carriers can have wheels too.

It’s important to remember that just because it’s easier for you doesn’t make it easier for the cat. If you’re not on a perfectly smooth surface (like a sidewalk) the vibrations can be distressing and annoying for your kitty. Ensure you’ve got a product that has a decent handle and try to only use the wheels when you’re on smooth ground.

Dual Cat Carriers

If you’ve got two cats that get along with one another and they often need to be transported at the same time, then it’s a good idea to look into getting a dual cat carrier. The transportation process is much less stressful when it’s shared with a feline friend. They will provide each other with reassurance without even realizing it. The same sizing rules we mentioned earlier also apply to dual cat carriers, and you should get a product that’s roughly twice the size of both cats combined.

Overall Best Cat Carrier

Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier

In our opinion, this product from Sherpa is the best cat carrier on the market in 2018. It’s a well-made product from a respectable brand, and while it’s not the cheapest option, it’s going to last a lifetime.

It’s approved for use on most major airlines, as it’s slightly collapsible which will allow it to fit snugly under the seat in front of you. Its got large mesh windows that provide excellent ventilation to keep your kitty cool, and its got super strong locking zippers to ensure your cat can’t escape during transit.

It’s an easy clean product that’s machine washable and the solid padded shoulder strap will allow your hands to be free while carrying your kitty. It’s a great product that does everything a carrier needs to do. If you don’t need the security of a hard carrier – then this should be at the top of your shortlist.

Best In Class Cat Carriers

Backpack: K&H Pet Products Comfy Go Backpack Pet Carrier

This backpack fought off fierce competition to earn its place on this page. It’s a great product made by the well respected K&H that hits the sweet spot of functionality and affordability.

It’s got two strap modes, one uses two straps and is worn like a traditional backpack and the other is a shoulder strap mode that allows your kitty to be down by your side. There are two large openings (one on the side and one on the top) which will make getting your kitty in and out of the backpack as easy as possible. It’s machine washable, its got convenient pockets, and it’s extremely well ventilated too.

Airline Approved: Sherpa Delta Pet Carrier

Our overall best pick is also airline approved, but if you want a dedicated carrier that’s mainly going to be used for air travel then this may be a better option. It’s made by Sherpa, but it’s endorsed by the airline Delta. It’s part of a guaranteed boarding scheme which means that Delta and other major airlines are going to let you and your kitty board without any hassles that can occur due to size regulations and safety requirements.

Its got a patented spring frame that compresses to fit the bag underneath the seat, and it’s roomy and pleasant while uncompressed in the departure lounge. Its got super secure locking zippers to stop your kitty escaping mid-flight, and the excellent levels of ventilation will ensure they stay calm and cool while in the air.

Soft: Petmate Soft Sided Pet Kennel Cab & Carrier

This product is one of our all-time favorite soft carriers, and if you liked the look of our overall best pick you should also consider this product too. The Petmate provides your kitty with the maximum amount of ventilation possible. The vast majority of it is made from a durable and breathable mesh that allows for almost unbeatable airflow throughout the journey.

It’s machine washable and has a removable PVC backing to clean up any little accidents that occur during travel. It’s also suitable for airline travel (but it’s not airline approved like the Sherpa product above). You can side-load or top-load your cat for convenience, and its got several little pockets to store treats and other essentials too.

Top Loading: Petmate Two Door Top Load Pet Kennel

The second product from Petmate on our list is the first hard case we are recommending today, and it’s one of the best on the market. It’s a top-loading product that has a large gated opening to allow easy access and optimum airflow. There’s also a side entrance that can be used for easy release.

It’s made from a heavy-duty PVC that will be able to withstand any accidental knocks and bumps during travel, this makes it great for traveling in the trunk of a car. Its got a super strong ergonomic handle, and it’s available in a wide range of color options to ensure your kitty travels in style.

Collapsible: GoPetClub Soft Portable Pet Carrier

This great collapsible carrier is one of the finest examples of collapsible technology we have come across. Lower quality collapsible carriers can be a little flimsy when assembled, but this product is strong and sturdy. It will safely transport your cat in comfort. Its even got a machine washable fleece lined bottom which provides your kitty with reassuring softness. Assembling and packing away the carrier is super simple (unlike some other collapsible products) and you’ll be done in less than a minute from start to finish.

Rolling: Sherpa Ultimate on Wheels Pet Carrier

This is an excellent rolling carrier that also doubles as a traditional handheld product with its comfortable padded straps. It’s one of the most ventilated products we have come across with a huge portion of its surface area being made up of strong yet breathable mesh.

The wheels are designed to reduce vibrations which means your kitty will have a soft gentle journey, and its got a faux lambskin liner for comfort. Airports are one of the best places for rolling pet carriers with their super smooth flooring. It’s no surprise then that this carrier is suitable for airline travel and it’s part of several guaranteed boarding programs.

Conclusion

So there you have it, everything you ever wanted to know about the world of cat carriers.

We can pretty much guarantee that your cat isn’t going to enjoy traveling in a carrier – there’s no product on the planet that a cat is going to choose to spend time in by choice.

But by doing your research (and picking one of the excellent products we have recommended today) you can at least make an unpleasant experience a little bit more bearable for your kitty.7 Best Picks for the Best Cat Carrier

 

 

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