So Many Choices! What’s The Best Cat Carrier?

It’s a good thing we’re not asking cats for their opinions about the best cat carrier, firstly because they don’t speak English and that would be kinda crazy and secondly because cats are notorious for hating being carried like that.

Our poor little asthmatics will probably need to go to the vet frequently, which is a traumatic enough experience in itself, but getting the right carrier for your unique feline snowflake could make all the difference. There are heaps of different types to choose from and yes, you can even train your cat to like tolerate being in a travel cage. Or a bag.


Why You Need a Cat Carrier

It’s in everyone’s best interests to always take your cat to the vet in a carrier, even if you have an argument getting him in there. Transporting your kitty in a carrier is mostly for his own safety. The car is not a pleasant experience for most cats and having a free range cat roaming around while you’re trying to drive is a very bad idea. Having him safe inside his little box will stop him from freaking out and running away on the way to the car and keep him out of harm’s way – and your way – while you drive.Best Cat Carrier

Once you get to the vet, having your cat contained becomes even more important because…dogs. Need I say more? Cats will freak out and lash out if they’re scared and the bombardment of the car ride, all the smells and the sticky-nose dog may be too much. Even if you go to a cat only or registered cat-friendly clinic, cats are territorial and dangerous when scared. It’s nice to let them have their own little piece of territory out in the strange world.


Soft Sided vs. Hard Shell

There’s really no right or wrong answer here, it depends on what you and your cat likes and how your cat tolerates being deposited into said carrier. Where you’re going and the lengths of your road trips will play a part in which carrier you choose as well – your cat will have different needs on a four-hour journey to Grandma’s house than he will on a 10 minute trip to the vet.

Hard shell carriers have the advantage of being easier to clean, especially if you’re in a place where you can just take the thing outside and hose it out. These are usually bigger and sturdier, which has the disadvantage of making them more cumbersome to carry. But…if you’re on a long adventure, this is probably your best bet.

Soft-sided carriers usually have an over the shoulder type strap for easier carrying and I guess if your kitty is being jolted around in the car they’re a nicer thing to be smashing into. They’re generally smaller than traditional plastic carriers, which is great if your cat needs that kind of security but probably not the best for long trips. I prefer a soft-sided carrier, mostly because I get to say “the cat is out of the bag!” whenever I let the Sparrow out. There’s a reason our vet is sick of me.


What Size Do You Need?

What size is a cat? The size you choose will depend on the size of your cat and the size of your journey. For shorter trips around the neighbourhood, a smaller, soft-sided carrier is ideal – it’s easier to get in and out of the car and easier to carry. Your cat will probably (maybe) want to move around less on a short trip, so the spaciousness of the carrier shouldn’t be a great concern.

For longer journeys, size matters. As a general rule, your cat should be able to stand up without hunching and turn around easily in his carrier. The more a kitty can stretch out, the happier he will be. Maybe. The cat is in a carrier, so you probably shouldn’t expect too much in the enjoyment department.

Getting The Cat to Love The Carrier.

Getting your cat to not hate the carrier isn’t as hard as you think. It’s all about making positive associations with the carrier, the car and the journey. Keeping the carrier out in the open and making it part of the furniture is a great start. If you leave it out somewhere that your cat likes and keep it stocked with tasty treats, your kitty will love being in it. Maybe not, but at least he won’t go hiding under the bed when you bring it out.

If you’re really keen (which you should be, this is your precious fluffball we’re talking about) take your cat on short drives to get used to being in the car. Even five minutes around the block will help your cat to feel safe in the carrier and in the car, especially if you come home and praise the furr off your cat when you’re done. Do this on a semi-regular basis and your cat will never know if he’s going to the vet or for a short adventure with good things at the end, which (hopefully) will make him not completely dread the experience.


The right cat carrier for you and your cat will depend on where you’re going, what you’re doing and how big and feisty your feline is. The only wrong answer is not having one at all, for your own safety as well as your kitty’s.

What kind of cat carrier do you prefer? Ask your questions or share your advice below in the comments…


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  1. I thought your post was very conclusive. There are lots of cats in my family and my daughters and granddaughter are paticular about their cat carriers.I loved the photos you used to show how comfortable they can be. Thanks for allowing me to read your post.

  2. Great post! I’ve never thought about taking our kitty for short rides in between vet visits. He is definitely motivated by treats. Some great tips. I have always used a sturdy plastic case with lots of towels or a blanket in it for cushion. We haven’t ever taken him on a trip. But now I’m wondering if we should get him a different kind of travel case…. I want him to be safe and comfortable! Is there any specific brand or style we should look for?

    1. It all depends on your cat, you know best what kind of things he will like. I’m going to be reviewing a couple of my favourites soon, so stay tuned. 

  3. Hi Shirley, thanks for the post.
    Our cat, a rather large ginger has to go to the vets after fighting occasionally for treatment to Abscesses and other illnesses. He is strange as he like to climb into the car and wil even toerate it being started, but move it and you are in trouble. he freaks, I know this is why you use a carrier but even then when he goes back after being treated for a checkup he freaks. Do you have any suggestions?
    He now has a kidney disease which is agrivated with stress, so not a good situation.
    We use an open wire basket so he can see all around, at the vets while waiting we have no problem oening it and fussing him – he sees it as sanctuary.

    1. Hi Phil, thanks for reading. Talk to your vet before you do this, but maybe you could try something like Rescue Remedy to help him with the freaking out, you can check out my review here. It’s pretty harmless stuff, but if he’s got kidney disease please ask the professional first. Good luck!

  4. Good information. I am here to tell you I agree with you using a cat carrier. When I had my first cat in college I made the horrible mistake of putting her in the car to ride from Chicago to Olney, Il. She was everywhere and it was very annoying. She actually could have caused us to crash a few times. She was driving me crazy. It took over an hour before she calmed down. I think she got mad at me too.

  5. Hi Shirley, such a great article! I am a dog person, however, I deal with cat issues at times due to my daughter being a cat person. I would agree that the correct carrier is vital to a secure, safe and happy excursion to the vet or just sight-seeing with your baby(cat). We found that the best for Sophie is the top loading soft case, not the kennel type, she had an allergic reaction when we tried that one, well, that’s what we’ll call it anyhoo…. thanks for such a great post!

    1. “Allergic reaction”. Yeah, I like that. My Sparrow has ‘allergic reactions’ to quite a few things that he doesn’t like, including dogs.

  6. My cat carrier is limited by airline regulations, because (unfortunately) we fly a lot. I do use a soft carrier, although the maximum size approved by airlines isn’t quite big enough for Blanche to stand up and move around in. So, needless to say, she hates it in there. But I like your idea to take her for drives when we’re NOT going to the vet (no easy feat). thanks for the fun to read post, as always!

  7. Amazing! Will have to consider some of these tips with my own cats. Every cat i’ve had has ALWAYS hated their carrier and I’ve had many problems trying to get them in there and feel so bad when I finally do because they seem miserable. Had not considered just taking my cat for drives in the carrier to get them use to the experience and also help them not associate it with scary things like the vet!

  8. Cat carriers are more than important. Imagine having your cat jumping in front of your vision while you are driving. You are prone to a serious accident. I love your suggestion about making the cat like the carrier through putting treats inside of it. What a great idea! Are there some cat carriers that are more comfortable for your cats than others?

  9. Thanks for some awesome advice! My grandma has had enough cats for three lifetimes I think. Soft carriers totally have their advantage, but I go with a hard shell myself. Mostly for clean up purposes. There’s nothing worse then scrubbing up your cats lunch to try to get the stains out! But like you said, they both have their advantages!

    Have a catastic day!

  10. We have a hard shell carrier for our little Zoe. She kind of likes (tolerates ;)) it if we put some food and a towel into it. But I guess it also depends on the type of cat you have. Our cat for example also does not mind being on a leash while we go for a walk with her in the park 🙂
    I can really agree on the fact that you should not drive with the cat running around in the car.

    1. I’ve tried walking Sparrow on a leash – every time I put the harness on him he just collapses on the floor and refuses to move! I guess you can’t win them all, hey? 🙂

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