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, we’ve searched out some of the best options and have given you all the info you’ll need to make your purchase the right one.
A Quick Glance at Some of the Best Cat Carriers
|Bonve Pet Soft-Sided Pet Carrier
|Pet Luv Soothing Carrier
|Petmate Top Load Carrier
We will review these products and their rating scores (out of 5) in more detail at the end of this article.
Doe you Need one?
Unless your feline friend is remarkably well behaved in a vehicle, you will most likely, at some point, need a carrier. These reasons include;
- Long Trips/Vacations. Traveling on a long trip, moving or bringing your kitty along with you on vacation. It will be much 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, a veterinary visit will be much easier. This will keep the feline 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, it will make it easier to get her to safety.
- A Safe Place. Some cats like to use their carrier as a safe place to rest or get away from something that has caused her fear or anxiety.
What different types are there?
There are four basic types. These include the Homemade carrier, cardboard box carrier, the Soft-sided one and finally the hard-sided one. These all come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore your options.
Some people in a pinch may use one they made their selves, 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, it 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 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
As the name implies, these 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 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.
These 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 option for airplane as it may not fit under an airplane seat. Also be sure the handle is strong enough to withstand the weight of the cat when picked up, or toted along behind you (as with the wheeled kind).
How to Choose the Best One for Your Needs
Choosing the right option for you and your feline friend will be very dependent on the circumstances in which you will be using it. For car travel you need room for food and water, while traveling by plane it will have to be airline approved (it is a good idea to check airline’s regulations beforehand).
Additionally, it should be strong and durable enough to withstandclawing 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 for your feline. And lastly, if your cat detests being put into one, 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
Bigger is not always better. The right size will give your feline enough room to stand up, turn around, then lie back down. Too much room and the 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 Fun, Not 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 in for a vet visit is never fun. For this reason, it’s always best to allow your cat to become accustomed in advance of any vet visits. Here are some helpful steps to help create carrier fun, over fear;
Step #1 – Leave it Be
Put the carrier in a well-used room with a soft pillow or blanket and your cat’s favorite toy. The feline will check it out 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 it. 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 the cat enters it, close the door for a few seconds, then open it again. Praise kitty and give treats for being quiet and compliant.
Step #4 – Lift & Carry
Once your feline is comfortable being shut in, it’s time to lift and carry it. Do this by giving the “crate” command. Once he’s in, secure the door, then lift it 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 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, pick it up and move it outside to the vehicle. Seat belt it securely to avoid any spills. Ideally, she 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 it relax. You can also load your cat in backward. This is done by taking it firmly by the scruff of the neck and while supporting his body gently glide him in rear-end first. This video has some further tips:
Here Are 4 option for You to Check Out
With so many choices when it comes to choosing, 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 option: Bonve Pet Soft-Sided Pet Carrier
Waterproof, padded and conveniently foldable, the Bonve 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 traveling inside of it, plus it comes with a padded should strap for easy transportation.
The things that I found pleasing are;
- Padded for comfort
- Great for smaller dogs, too
- Comes in two colors (black and orange).
- Reasonable priced
- Airline approved
One of the disadvantages 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
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 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 model 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
This hard-sided model is perfect for those felines that dislike being put in one. 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.
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 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
This model 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. It 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.
One of the great things about this product is that it is secure and strong, providing the feline with the ultimate in comfort. Other pleasing features are;
- Reinforced steel frame keeps its shape and adds more stability over traditional soft-sided units
- 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 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.
We have three very clear winners of our carrier roundup. These models deliver durability, convenience and the comfort your cat will appreciate when traveling.