The 6 Best Cat Carriers For Cars

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by Shayna Murphy
Originally Published: 

Although most pet parents would love to bring their cats everywhere, traveling can make even the most curious feline feel like retreating. That's why shopping for the best cat carriers for your car is so important, because finding the right one can help make your pet feel more relaxed on the road, and keep them safe while you drive.

Cat carriers come in all different shapes and sizes, and depending on your cat's demeanor, some models may be a better fit than others. Soft-sided carriers are lightweight, easy to store, and usually an excellent choice for mellow kitties that don't mind the car too much.

Hard-sided carriers are another popular option, tend to be more durable and protective than soft-sided ones, and can be a good investment if your cat is more high-strung and needs more security on trips. And, if you're looking for a model that's top-in-class when it comes to safety, consider our best overall option, the Sherpa Deluxe pet carrier, which is crash-tested, airline compliant for carry-on travel, and highly rated.

Because picking the best cat carriers for your car (and your cat) is essential if you want to travel anywhere with your pet in tow, let's get started. This list features some of the most highly rated and popular options on the market today, priced to fit any budget.

In a hurry? These are the best cat carriers for cars:

1. The Overall Best Cat Carrier For Cars: Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier

2. A Budget-Friendly Soft Carrier: AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier

3. The Best Hard-Sided Cat Carrier: Petmate Two-Door Top-Load Kennel

4. The Best For Multiple Cats: SPORT PET Large Pop Open Kennel

5. The Best For Heavy Cats: PetLuv Soothing Happy Pet Premium Soft-Sided Carrier

6. The Largest For Roaming Around: One for Pets Portable 2-in-1 Double Pet Kennel


The Overall Best Cat Carrier For Cars

The Sherpa Original Deluxe pet carrier is the best overall pick for driving because not only is this carrier crash-tested for safety in cars, it’s also airline compliant so you can take it with you on any upcoming travel you have. It features a seat belt/luggage strap so you can secure the carrier in the car and place it safely on your suitcase for better mobility at the airport. Plus, the wire frame allows the back of the carrier to be pushed down a bit to fit under airline seats. To keep your cat comfy and secure, there are breathable mesh panels, top and side entry panels with locking zippers, and a cozy machine-washable liner. And for your convenience, the carrier has an adjustable padded shoulder strap and large zippered pockets where you can store treats and other essentials to keep your cat happy while traveling.

This medium-sized carrier is good for cats up to 16 pounds, and small and large sizes are also available.

One reviewer wrote: “I bought this for transporting my cat into a hotel or in car [...] She is a mid-size siamese and has plenty of room in it. The fleece lining gives it a cozy feel. I left it out and I frequently find her sleeping in it. My cat is able to see me and I think this helps calm her.”


A Budget-Friendly Soft Carrier

This affordable cat carrier is designed to be lightweight, easy to carry, and highly ventilated. It comes in multiple sizes (perfect for any cat and any car) and is ideal for an assortment of travel options, from longer trips by car to quick rides to the vet. Recommended for a maximum load of 16 pounds, this carrier comes with handles and an adjustable shoulder strap. It also features a machine-washable fleece bed, which gives pets a cozy sleeping space for when you’re on the go.

One reviewer wrote: “This one is a good size for the 10 pound cat, has both top and front openings, and folds down smaller when we don't need it. The cat seemed comfortable, and stayed safely contained for a car ride.”


The Best Hard-Sided Cat Carrier

This resilient hard-sided carrier has hundreds of five-star ratings for good reasons: It's cheap, highly durable, and comes with two doors, so pets can pop in and out with ease. It comes in multiple sizes and is made with heavy-duty plastic, which helps make it easier to spot clean compared to soft-sided models. While it doesn’t have the same breezy, lightweight feel as a soft-sided case, it still delivers great ventilation and visibility for pets, so they can get comfortable during trips.

One reviewer wrote: “This worked very well for a cat that is strong and wants to escape any hold and so is very hard to load in a normal end-opening carrier. It is on the small side but I have a small cat and so it is perfect.”


The Best For Multiple Cats

Similar to cat litter boxes, you should probably plan to buy separate cat carriers for each of your pets so they have room to get comfortable and don’t feel overwhelmed by the other. That is unless you have this portable cat cage, which is actually big enough to fit multiple kits and a travel litter box. In short, it’s a must-have if you’re taking your cats with you on a long cross-country road trip and can’t afford to make extra stops. This comes with mesh covering, terrific ventilation, a carrying bag, a machine-washable fleece mat, and seat belt straps, so you can secure it in place in your backseat.

One reviewer wrote: “We used this when we moved from Florida to North Carolina. We had it on the back seat of my Toyota Corolla and there was still a little room on the seat. We had our two cats in it together and they had more than enough room. One is 19 lbs. and one is 13. They could walk around if they wanted to. Being together made the ride easier. They were very relaxed happy.”


The Best For Heavy Cats

For larger breeds (or chubby cats), a more supportive and stronger option like this carrier from PetLuv is a must-buy. It’s got a reputation among reviewers and cat experts for being exceptionally comfortable, and it’s sturdy enough to hold pets up to 45 pounds. It comes with four mesh access panels, as well as full-zippered closure and an incredibly plush pillow that’ll get your feline purring up a storm. Another advantage is that this safety seatbelt loops, so you can secure it in place when you’re prepping to hit the road, and it folds flat when not in use for superior storage.

One reviewer wrote: “I bought this in hopes of having less of a fight getting my 17 year old huge cat into a carrier for his more frequent visits to the vet. I bought this for the larger openings [...] He sleeps in it during the day, next to me while I am working. When it came time for the visit to the vet, he went right in, no fighting and amazingly, for the first time in 17 years, did not scream while in the car. He just sat in there calmly. I cannot say enough about what a game changer this is!”


The Largest For Roaming Around

Designed to be adjustable, this versatile soft-sided carrier features large mesh windows and secures directly to a seatbelt and will allow your cat to roam from one side of the backseat to the other, without causing unexpected mischief along the way. You can also put up a divider between the two halves of the carrier to create two separate compartments if need be. The carrying handles allow each compartment to function as a carrier when you’re getting out of the car.

One reviewer wrote: “I transported my two cats 600 miles in this carrier with it zipped together to make one big space. It spanned nearly the full width of the backseat of my car, giving the cats lots of space. I even put a small litter pan in with them, just in case, but they didn’t use it. I highly recommend for long car travel with small/medium sized pets. It also buckles right in for some added safety. It’s definitely made with high quality materials and seemed very sturdy.”

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