Best Cat Carrier: 5 Smartest Picks in 2021
Let’s face it! No matter how awesome it looks to see a cat traveling, it is not always a pleasant experience for the parent. If you have ever had a cat and tried to travel or move with it, you know the experience we are talking about. The best cat carrier units will always make a positive impact at least for your cat to make the moving experience a bit better.
Whether it is a car trip or a walk to your neighbor, cats hate it when you try to move them. I have personal experience of trying to move my cat with a leash, and I know how it feels. More importantly, your cat might also face pain or un-comfort in this whole process which you as a parent should not allow. Therefore, the best cat carriers seem an ideal solution.
- 1 Petmate Two Door Top Load
- 2 AmazonBasics Two Door Top Load Pet Kennel
- 3 AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Pet Carrier
- 4 U-Pet Cat Backpack Carrier
- 5 TexSens Innovative Traveler Backpack
- 6 Why should you go for a cat carrier?
- 7 How to choose the best cat carrier?
- 8 How to train a cat to get in the carrier
- 9 How to properly use a cat carrier (additional tips)
- 10 Why Your Cat May Hate the Carrier
- 11 How to choose the best cat carrier for difficult cats
The cat carriers are actually a modern version of those old school crates. Remember the crates that had one door/window which used to be made of steel? Yes, that is what they used to be but come on! The world has changed, and now we have the cat carriers.
Have a look at the most famous cat carriers in this chart below and then we will continue the discussion!
|PetMate Two Door Top Load Pet Kennel||A+||5|
|AmazonBasics Two Door Top Load Pet Kennel||A+||5|
|AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Pet Carrier||A||4.9|
|U-Pet Innovative Bubble Pet Carrier||A-||4.8|
|TexSens Innovative Traveler Backpack||B+||4.8|
If you ask us which one to go for, we will undoubtedly tell you to go for PetMate Two Door Top Load Pet Kennel! This has been a top seller and definitely the best cat cage that you will come across. It does not offer you anything fancy but simple features.
There are colors available for you to go for. There is a door at the top, and there is also a side door for easy access. This crate is durable, and your cat can easily fit in if your cat is around 15 inch in terms of length.
The PetMate Kennel is made of both plastic and steel. It is very durable, and it gives you that feeling of trust. Things are comfortable inside for your cat, and there’s more than enough ventilation to be happy about.
- Simplistic design
- Great value of investment
- Made of very durable materials
- Not for extra large cats
Obviously, the company did not put much attention on naming the cat carrier, but they have done one thing right. They made sure that this becomes one of the best cat carrier units of all times.
The carrier comes in two sizes. Those are 19 inches and 23 inches! This is also a two door design, and one is on the left where the other door is at the top.
The steel wire along with plastic combo gives it stuff and durable look. Obviously, the carrier is airline accepted, and you can take it almost anywhere. There’s very less to differentiate between this one and the best one that we picked right before! Both are extremely good products, they are light, and they both will keep your cat happy which is most important.
- Great value of investment
- Minimalist design
- Durable materials
- Large enough for two cats
- The top cover is slightly flimsy
This is another cat carrier from the same Amazon Basics and again, they put all their efforts into the design. So if you didn’t like the last product and are looking for a soft sided version, then this is the one that will excite you.
There are three versions available for you including a small, medium and big ones. The shoulder strap is adjustable, and you can easily carry your cat on your shoulder if you are going to this carrier. Another great benefit is in the cleaning phase. As this is a soft carrier, you can easily clean it using a washing machine.
The company calls this a VIP carrier, and we would love to call it one of the best cat carrier units. The inside part is very comfortable, and your cat will love to sleep inside whether you are traveling or not.
On top of everything, it comes with a one year warranty too!
- Materials are washable
- Soft, comfortable inner materials
- Shoulder carry option
- Sizes are limited to small and large cats. Not recommended for extra large cats.
Looking for an airline-approved cat carrier? This option is 100% for you!
U Pet has recently taken over the internet by storm. This is considered one of the top inventions in the cat world of recent times. As you can understand from the photo, this is a unit which you can carry on your back. That is an awesome experience. U Pet is definitely the best cat carrier for nervous cats because it has only one observation spot (a bubble) and a cat feels more protected and calm in it.
Obviously, you won’t have to worry about the ventilation. Though the bag looks stiff, you can see those big holes on the sides which provide enough air for your cat! The Bubble helps your cat to look around. The inside is comfortable enough, and there are tons of color options for you to choose from.
This carrier is already approved by almost all airlines, and this is a fun one too!
- Variety of colors to choose from
- Unique design
- Made of durable exterior
- Comfortable materials inside
- Easy to maintain
- Not made for extra large cats
- Cats need basic training to get used to it
So this is another variation of the model that we just talked about, and if you did not like the previous one, there is a chance that you might like this one.
This model is foldable which makes it the best cat carrier for car travel.
Again, the features are very similar. There are around 10 colors available for you to choose from. As you can see, the ventilation options are actually better in this unit as there is ventilation option all around the backpack.
This model is not made of plastic which is another thing to notice.
The shoulder straps are comfortable and all in all, it is a happy experience!
- Air holes for enhanced ventilation
- Strong, durable exterior
- Variety of colors to choose from
- Modern backpack design
- Not made for extra large cats
- Basic training is required for your cats to get used to it
Why should you go for a cat carrier?
We actually addressed the reason in the introduction of this article, but if you still need to be convinced, here it goes! You should go for a cat carrier because you do not want your cat to be unhappy and you obviously do not want your cat to be at home alone when you are traveling.
No, seriously. A cat carrier can make your life so easy as a parent. Cat carriers are easy to carry which means that you do not have to face pain in the hand joints whenever you travel with your cat. There are those soft handles that make it easy for you and on top of it, there are some units which will allow you to carry your cat in the back. Isn’t that awesome?
According to me, every cat parent should have a cat carrier. Obviously, if you do not travel with your cat or if you won’t have to travel with a cat in future either, there is no point in going for even the best of the best cat carrier units, but apart from that, you need one! Why? Because those old steel made crates should never Some cats are!
Those old steel made crates were tough for you and for your cat too. Cats love to stay in a warm and comfortable space. Obviously, when you are moving with your cat, cats get afraid as they don’t like it which results in more fear. Combining all of these, steel made crates make the life of your cat horrible in that trip, and your cat will always fear traveling if you do so.
On the other hand, a crate is soft, and it is warm inside. The dark scenario also helps a piece of furniture, and obviously, as your cat will not move a lot inside when it is comfortable there, it will be easier for you to carry the cat carrier too.
How to choose the best cat carrier?
There are certain things that you should look for when you are searching for a cat carrier. After all, we are trying to find that best cat carrier for you, aren’t we? Though there are a ton of requirements, a good carrier should have some basic ones in common. This section is all about those.
In this section of the article, we will tell you the things that you should look for when you are searching for the best cat carrier. It is not that tough as it sounds so don’t worry!
How to choose the best cat carrier?
- Consider Size
The first thing to look for when you are searching for the perfect cat carrier is the size. Size is probably the most important variable too which you need to consider. Now, there is a cache here! If you now have a kitten, then you can either go for a small cat carrier which you can change later on or you can also go for a big one and let your kitten grow in it. If you have multiple cats, then the whole equation is different.
When you have more than a cat, you have to make sure that you are buying a cat carrier big enough which can accommodate all of your cats. It is not easy to carry 3-4 cat carriers when you are traveling. Don’t worry! Cats do not fight a lot when they travel.
When you are finding the best cat carrier, make sure that you are thinking about the weight of your cat too. If your cat is overweight, you will need a carrier that can support those extra weights. Remember, you might have to take cat food, toys and similar kinds of stuff in that same carrier, so those will add up weight too. Think about these terms and you will be safe in terms of size.
- Consider Ventilation
The next variable to think about is the ventilation. Make sure that your cat is having more than enough air inside so that there is no chance of accidents. We haven’t seen cat carrier companies that do not think about ventilation, but it can come from you too, so it is better if you are careful. We have heard stories where people kept another small bag on top of their cat carrier, and it covered the ventilation parts. Don’t go for such silly mistakes.
- Consider Safety
The third thing to worry about is the safety. You have to make sure that all the sides of the cat carrier are strong enough to take the pressure. Your cat might try to tear the sides or the corners! Also, you have to check whether the handle can take pressure or not. Your cat might move inside initially, and if the handle is weak, it will tear apart.
Other than this basic stuff, make sure that the buttons or the zippers are on the outer side of the bag. You do not want your cat to get hurt with the corner of a zipper. Everything that is hard should be on the outer side. It is that simple.
- Consider Cleanliness
Let’s face it. It gets difficult at times to clean the cat carrier no matter how awesome it is. Things get messy inside. You have to think about that early and make sure that you are going after a carrier which will be easy to clean later on. We, with our experience, have seen that the hard body cat carriers are easier to clean than the soft ones. It is your call at the end of the day!
- Choose Between Top loading vs. front loading
Some cats are very powerful and won’t allow you to make it go inside if the carrier is a front loading carrier. A front loading carrier is one in which the cat will enter from the front of a regular crate. On the other hand, the top loading carrier is one where the cat will enter from the top.
This is the basic difference, and it depends on your cat on which product type you should go for. If your cat is powerful and you do not want to get those marks on your hand, going for a top loading cat carrier would be your best choice.
- Choose Hard side vs soft Side carrier
There are two choices for you when you are looking for the best cat carrier model. You can either pick a hard side or a soft side carrier. If you are buying a soft side carrier, you will enjoy the privilege of carrying a light cat carrier where the case is opposite when you are buying a solid side cat carrier. The hard side adds weight.
Also, think about your storing needs. Do you need to store your cat carriers in a small area? If that is the case, then going for a soft sided carrier would be the best option for you.
You can enjoy the same benefits with solid carriers too if you buy one which is not fixed. Means you can take away different parts and join them when you use the carrier. That saves space too!
- Take into account the additional benefits
It is always fun to get some extra benefits when you are buying a cat carrier. Some carriers come with toys and catnips inside There are some other ones who offer gifts. Look for those extra benefits if you wish. A gift is always fun to get!
Your carrier should be airline-approved if you want to travel by air
This is another important thing to consider when you are looking for the best cat carrier. If you are a frequent traveler, this is probably the most important aspect that you need to consider. Not all cat carriers are supported by airlines, and you need to think about that too!
In most cases, here are the requirements that airlines ask for:
- The bottom material of the cat carrier should be waterproofed
- Regular ventilation, or preferably mesh ventilation
- Zipper lock is a must when you are travelling on an airline
- The cat carrier should be big enough for your cat to move around comfortably
You can check Pets & International Travel if you are living in the United States to see the requirements.
How to train a cat to get in the carrier
No matter whether it is the best cat carrier on the planet or not, the chances are high that your cat will not like the carrier on the first go! You have to train your cat to like the cat carrier. There are certain things that you can do to make that best cat carrier actually meaningful. This section is all about that. Let’s learn how to train your cat for the cat carrier.
Your cat probably has a blanket that it already loves. Maybe it’s the one it likes to nap on or the one you place treats on. The first step of carrier training doesn’t involve the carrier at all, and instead is all about that blanket.
First, place the carrier in a room, with the top off. Make sure the blanket is in the same room. If you know your cat is terrified of the carrier, begin with the blanket as far away from the carrier as possible while still in the same room.
Every time your cat relaxes on the blanket, reward it with a treat or toy. Soon, your cat will have a positive association between the reward and the blanket.
Gradually (over a few sessions) begin moving the blanket closer to the cat carrier. Remember, this training is all about trust. Never make changes when your cat is using the blanket comfortably.
One of the best ways to help your cat associate certain behaviors with the reward is by using a clicker or word. If your cat is relaxing on the blanket, clicking the clicker or using a word such as “good,” should be immediately followed by a reward.
If you place the reward away from the blanket, this will allow you to move the blanket closer to the cat carrier. That’s why the clicker or word is important; you should let your cat know that you’re rewarding it for being on the blanket, and not for moving off.
Short, frequent sessions will help keep your cat engaged and build a positive relationship between your cat and the blanket. Gradually move the blanket closer and closer to the cat carrier each session.
Eventually, place the blanket in the carrier (the top should still be removed). Be sure to lavish plenty of praise on your cat and reward it for sitting in the carrier.
You may find that your cat no longer wants to be near the carrier once the top is on. If this is the case, repeat the process when the blanket is placed near the carrier, and gradually moving back.
Your cat may only place its head inside the carrier at first. This could be followed by one paw inside, or head and front paws. Each time your cat gets closer to the carrier, continue to reward and praise them.
Eventually, your cat should have its whole body inside the cat carrier, while remaining relaxed. At no time should you need to push or guide the cat into the carrier- it should always be your cat’s decision.
Once your cat is spending five minutes relaxing in the carrier, the next step is to close the door. Just like the steps with the blanket, this will take some time:
- When your cat is inside the carrier, close the door slightly, open it, and reward your cat.
- Repeat this step, shutting the door a little more each time, and opening it straight away to reward your cat.
- If your cat voluntarily walks towards the carrier, open it right away. That shows your cat that it can control the opening of the door and exit whenever it likes. This will make it feel more comfortable in the cat carrier.
- Keep working on this step until your cat is happy in the carrier for 3-5 minutes with the door closed (start with unlocked and then move to locked).
One of the biggest things to remember here is how long your cat will need to spend in the carrier if you take it out of the house. If it usually takes half an hour to get to your destination, the goal should be for your cat to relax in the carrier with the door open for at least that amount of time.
Eventually, you may find that your cat chooses the cat carrier as a place to nap through the day.
The next step is to ensure your cat will stay relaxed while the carrier is being lifted. It’s not uncommon for cats to hate this process so you’ll still need to work on this step in increments:
- With the door closed, begin moving the cat carrier slowly along the floor.
- Keep rewarding your cat with treats in the carrier, and immediately let it out if it begins meowing or moving towards the door.
- Progress towards lifting the carrier a few inches and then putting it back on the floor.
- Rewards are still crucial here, and the goal is to progress to walking a few steps at a time.
- Eventually, take the cat carrier outdoors and place it in the car.
- Keep the cat carrier stabilized as much as possible while you’re lifting it, and reward your cat continuously.
As you can see, while there are many steps involved in training your cat to get into the cat carrier, the results will be well worth it. Keep training your cat each week, and retain the carrier within reach of your cat every day, so it can choose to spend time in the carrier whenever it likes.
Have you been training your cat to accept the cat carrier? How is the training going? Leave a comment below and let us know, or get in touch today.
How to properly use a cat carrier (additional tips)
Now, you have the best cat carrier on the planet. It is time to know some tips to make that traveling experience even more awesome. This section is dedicated to that. So here it goes:
- Make sure that your are not feeding your cat anything from at least one hour prior to the journey. This is not because your cat will poop and damage your cat carrier. It is to avoid cat travel sickness.
- If the zippers are inside the carrier, make sure that you use a scotch tape and tighten properly. Even if those are at the outer part, using a scotch tape is a good idea because your cat will be able to see it moving from inside.
- Do not put your cat carrier on the ground (on roads especially) when there are dogs around. It can cause serious accidents.
- When you are placing your cat inside the carrier, the head should always be on the opposite side of the entrance.
Why Your Cat May Hate the Carrier
The first step is to consider why your cat is having issues with the carrier.
Your cat’s distress may not be caused by the carrier itself, but by the physical act of shoving them into the carrier. This is often because you believe your cat will get used to it.
Here are some other things to think about:
- Cats associate their energy to objects. If you have repeatedly been shoving your cat inside a certain carrier, you may have to buy a new one. You cat may have already associated this carrier to negative experiences.
- It could be that the carrier is too small for your cat. The size should be small enough to carry conveniently but should be big enough for your cat to move around comfortably.
- Another reason why your cat may hate the cat carrier is if it smells of another cat. If you use the same carrier for multiple cats that don’t get along, this could cause them to become frustrated. Imagine being surrounded by the smell of someone you hate- no wonder your cat gets stressed out and annoyed.
- You may also be using a used carrier. In this case, your cat will be smelling strange cats which will cause anxiety. Always make sure that you wash the carrier after each use to remove any scents. This is one reason why a plastic carrier is a good choice.
- If your cat still does not like a carrier – you may consider buying a good cat stroller instead.