How to Pick the Best Cat Carrier

cat traveling in bike basket

Overwhelmed by all the options out there for cat carriers that range from price, size, color and style? You’ve come to the right place. We are not going to tell you which products are the best because we understand that every cat is different, and every cat parent has different needs. Instead, we will provide you with some of the most important factors to consider when shopping for the best cat carrier for your fur friend.

What type of cat carrier to opt for?

If you search “types of cat carriers” on Google you’ll be bombarded with choices. To make things easier for you, all carriers can be classified into 2 main categories: hard plastic carriers and soft-sided carriers. There are also cardboard carriers that usually come with the cat from adoption facilities, but we won’t recommend them for long-term use as they are easily damaged with scratches or pee-pee.

cute white kitten inside cardboard box

Hard Plastic Cat Carriers

These are made for cats with a high level of travel anxiety who tend to scratch their carriers a whole lot. The hard plastic casing doesn’t really help with the anxiousness of your cat – it is made more for scratch resistance and durability. If you only take your cat out for vet visits, and your cat knows this, and WILL throw a tantrum in the carrier, then a hard plastic cat carrier might be the right one for you. The plastic material is also easier to clean if your cat potties inside. We urge you to cushion the plastic carrier with a thick blanket (or some old garments with your scent on them) to ease the anxiety of your friend during travel. If you have an anxious little traveller, make sure to scroll down to the bottom of this article as we will provide you with some tips for acclimating your cat to their carriers, hard or soft. 

Soft-Sided Cat Carriers

It doesn’t matter if the carrier comes in the shapes and forms of a backpack, handbag or luggage, as long as the sides are in a soft material (leather, PVC or nylon), it falls into the category of a soft-sided carrier. If your furry friend is more chill and calm during travels, soft-sided carriers are for you, as they provide more comfort. They are also generally lighter and easier to carry around. When choosing within this category, make sure that the carrier has some sort of structural stability, so the sides don’t collapse easily onto your cat. The carrier’s base also needs to be sturdy enough so that your cat can stand or sit without sinking in. If you’re stuck with a carrier with a soft base, try placing a hardcover book in the bottom and cover it with soft fabric so that it doesn’t sag when the cat’s on top.

Best size of a cat carrier

The size of your cat carrier is another important factor for your cat’s travelling comfort. Please DO NOT choose the carrier based on weight only! Measure your cat and choose according to dimensions first, then make sure the weight doesn’t exceed the max limit of the carrier. The safest way to go is roughly 1.5 times the size of your cat. This size allows your cat to stand, sit and turn around easily in the carrier. However, don’t go overboard with size, as too big of a carrier can cause the cat to slide around during travel.

how to measure your cat to choose the best cat carrier

If you’re picking out a carrier for airline travelling, make sure the size of the carriers meets the airline compliance requirements. Many airlines also ask for waterproof carriers, please check the official website of your airline for compliance requirements before purchasing a carrier for air travel.

Choosing the best cat carrier – other important features to look out for


Ventilation is key for air circulation and preventing moisture build-up in your cat carrier. 3 side ventilation is ideal, although 2 side is sufficient for keeping the air fresh inside.

Visibility vs. Privacy

Intuitively we like to think that huge windows are best for cats. Although every cat is a bit different in nature, most cats value privacy more than we think! Choose a carrier with a bigger window if your cat is on the more adventurous side. If you don’t know your kitten’s personality quite well yet, opt for a cat carrier that provides both good visibility and privacy. Bottom line is, make sure your cat has a window to look out from to satisfy its curiosity and has enough opaque area when it wants to hide.

cat in sugar milk pet carrier

Top Opening

Top openings are designed for the lazy goofballs who don’t like to come out on their own. It’s easier for parents to pick up their fur babies from the top opening than a front or side opening. 


A tether inside the carrier can latch onto your cat’s harness to prevent the cat from jumping out. This will come in handy if you want to open up the carrier on the go, to play with or feed your cat. 

inbuilt tether pet carrier on faux sherpa

Ergonomic features for YOU.

Your comfort is as important as your cat’s. If you plan on taking your cat out on walks often, make sure to pick a backpack cat carrier that seems comfortable to wear. One with wide shoulder straps, soft paddings and lighter weight is ideal for ensuring your comfort.

cute cat peeking out from creamy mimosa pet carrier

Tips for acclimating your cat to its new carrier

If you only whip out the cat carrier before taking your cat to the vet, your cat would be conditioned to fear its carrier and wouldn’t be very happy in it. Once you chose the best carrier, we recommend leaving it out for your fur child to interact with. If your cat shows no interest in it, you can place some “incentives” inside the carrier, such as a favorite toy, catnip, or a piece of garment with your scent on it… Whatever works best for your cat. Once it starts exploring inside without any incentives, immediately reward it with treats and praise. Take your cat out in the carrier for walks in nature or in the city! Cats love novelty and exploring as much as humans do. The goal is to associate the carrier with positive experiences to minimize the anxiety when it’s been taken out.

With the experience of being quarantined and confined in a limited space in recent years, many pet owners can relate more to their pets whose outdoor exploration opportunity is limited, and has to spend the most time at home.  We hope you can find the purrfect cat carrier for both your cat and yourself with the help of this article, so you could spend more outdoor quality time with your favorite feline friend. 

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