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6 Best Cat Carriers for Nervous Cats in 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks

AmazonBasics Two-Door Top-Load Hard-Sided Pet Travel Carrier

We know that traveling with our cats can be a little bit stressful at the best of times. Having a nervous cat makes things worse! Trying to transport your nervous cat in a less-than-ideal carrier can lead to plenty of problems, with the worst-case scenario being that your beloved cat starts to make a bid for freedom.

Setting aside the time to find the best cat carrier for their needs is a great idea. Knowing that your cat will be traveling in comfort and safety makes for a much less worrying trip for both you and your furry friend.

But what exactly should you be looking for when it comes to buying the best carrier for your cat who hates carriers? We’re here to answer all your questions! Our reviews include a selection of the six best cat carriers that we’ve found on the market today, ones designed to suit nervous cats particularly well. Our reviews are specifically designed to help you quickly and easily identify the carrier that will suit you and your cat’s needs in the best way possible.

A Quick Comparison of the Winners in 2023

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Cat-in-the-bag E-Z-Zip Cat Carrier Cat-in-the-bag E-Z-Zip Cat Carrier
  • Feature iconLightweight
  • Feature iconHandles can be secured to car seat belt
  • Feature iconAvailable in three sizes
  • Best Value
    Second place
    AmazonBasics Top-Load Travel Carrier AmazonBasics Top-Load Travel Carrier
  • Feature iconHeavy-duty
  • Feature iconWell ventilated
  • Feature iconTop loading
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Lollimeow Backpack Pet Carrier Lollimeow Backpack Pet Carrier
  • Feature iconSide opening for food or petting
  • Feature iconWell ventilated
  • Feature icon
  • Henkelion Cat Carrier Henkelion Cat Carrier
  • Feature iconMultiple doors
  • Feature iconReinforced wooden base
  • Pet Magasin Airline Approved Pet Magasin Airline Approved
  • Feature iconIncludes leash
  • Feature iconTwo doors
  • The 6 Best Cat Carriers for Nervous Cats

    1. Cat-in-the-bag E-Z-Zip Cat Carrier Bag — Best Overall


    The Cat-in-the-bag E-Z-Zip innovative cat carrier might just change the way you approach transporting your cat who hates carriers. Rather than confine your cat in either a hard or soft carrier, this bag encloses them securely while still allowing them to see everything that’s going on. The soft Velcro collar sections sit comfortably around your cat’s neck, while the bag provides enough space for them to move around while being securely contained.

    The soft straps can be used to carry this bag either by hand or on your shoulder. Many cats take well to this carrier because the roomy shape is designed to allow them to move positions, stand up, and lie down. This allows them to feel free, which in turn, helps them to feel calm. As well as using this bag for transporting your nervous kitty, you can also use this to safely administer medicine and trim your cat’s claws, thanks to the Velcro nail trimming ports!

    To conclude, we think this is the overall best cat carrier for nervous cats out there.

    • Available in three sizes
    • Handles can be secured to car seat belt
    • Lightweight
    • Comes with a full guarantee
    • Takes practice to get on
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    2. AmazonBasics Top-Load Travel Carrier – Best Value

    AmazonBasics Two-Door

    If you’re looking for the best cat carrier for nervous cats for the money, then the AmazonBasics Top-Load Travel Carrier is a great option. Some nervous cats can be difficult to even get into a carrier, so those with small and fiddly side doors soon turn out to be almost impossible to operate. This carrier, on the other hand, has a large top-opening door that makes it much easier to place your cat inside.

    Measuring 19 x 12 x 10 inches, your cat can stand up and turn around comfortably in this if they’re of up to medium size. Unlike soft carriers, there’s nothing on this carrier that can be ripped by pesky claws! The only reason it didn’t make it to the top spot is that it will still make your cat feel confined, which some nervous cats dislike intensely.

    • Heavy-duty
    • Wire front door
    • Top loading
    • Well ventilated
    • Not airline approved
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    3. Lollimeow Pet Carrier Backpack — Premium Choice

    Lollimeow Pet Carrier Backpack

    As our premium choice of cat carriers for nervous cats. We suggest the Lollimeow Backpack Pet Carrier. The backpack design of this carrier means it’s easy to bring your cat with you when you need to. It also includes a leash strap, which is always a nice touch to see when selecting a carrier specifically for a nervous cat. There’s plenty of ventilation, as well as a smaller side opening that you can use to pet your nervous cat when it needs a bit of reassurance.

    Measuring 16 x 11 x 10 inches, this is a good size for most cats. This carrier didn’t make it into our top two simply because the see-through front panel may make some nervous cats feel too exposed. Others will enjoy being able to see everything that goes on around them! Only you will know which category your cat falls into and whether this will suit them as a result.

    • Side opening for food or petting
    • Well ventilated
    • Too exposed for some cats
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    4. Henkelion Cat Carriers

    Henkelion Cat Carriers

    The Henkelion Cat Carrier is based on a classic straight-sided holdall design, meaning there’s room for your cat to move around in here. As well as having a zipped door at either end, the top and one side of this carrier can also be opened. These doors are wider, which makes it easier to use with them with bigger cats or those who struggle when being placed in a carrier.

    This option on our best cat carriers for scared cats list is airline approved and measures 15 x 9 x 9 inches. We would advise using something to secure the zippers on this carrier, as some cats can manage to get their paw through the small gap between the pair of zippers on each door and then push them open. It does take dexterity and skill, but it’s something to watch out for! Using a cable tie or piece of ribbon to tie the zips together is a good solution.

    • Multiple doors
    • Reinforced wooden base
    • Too small for large breeds
    • Zippers need securing
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    5. Pet Magasin Airline Approved Cat Carrier

    Pet Magasin Soft-Sided

    The PetMagasin Airline Approved Cat Carrier is another good choice if you need to take a plane trip with your nervous cat. It measures 18 x 11 x 10 inches and is designed to be lightweight yet durable enough to withstand the occasional claw or bite marks from your kitty.

    The material is waterproof, so it’s easier to clean if your cat does have an accident. The mesh door and side windows are a nice touch, but we like the fact that this carrier also has enough covered sections that your cat can feel less exposed if it moves to the back of the carrier. We’d caution against using this with nervous cats who like to bite or claw at their carriers, as the mesh sections may not be strong enough to contain them!

    • Includes leash
    • Two doors
    • Non-rigid base
    • Mesh can be ripped
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    6. A4Pet Soft-Sided Cat Carrier

    A4Pet Soft Sided

    Lastly, we have the A4Pet Soft Sided Cat Carrier. This lightweight mesh carrier measures 19 x 15 x 13 inches and is designed to help reduce your cat’s nervousness by allowing them to look out of the mesh windows on either side. We like the fact that this carrier is lightweight and has a comfortable fleece base for your cat to sit on.

    Be aware, though, that if your cat becomes difficult to handle when nervous, it’s going to be pretty tricky to get them into this carrier. The triangular design means there’s not much room for error, so if your cat’s legs and claws are going in different directions, it’s quite a struggle to get them into this carrier.

    • Well ventilated
    • Can be ripped
    • Too small for larger cats
    • No shoulder strap
    • Difficult to get your cat inside

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    Buyer’s Guide: Finding the Best Cat Carrier for Cats Who Hate Carriers

    As cat parents, we know that having a cat carrier is essential, even if we don’t plan on using it that often. From emergency trips to the vet or moving to a new house, we need to make sure our cats can travel comfortably and most of all, safely.

    Having a nervous cat can make things a bit more challenging, though! While plenty of cats don’t necessarily enjoy travel, they’ll usually put up with it. Nervous cats, on the other hand, find traveling stressful and will often do anything they can do to avoid the dreaded cat carrier!

    There are a few key points to look for in a cat carrier that’s particularly well suited to nervous cats, so let’s take a look at features you’ll need to bear in mind.

    Hard or soft cat carrier?

    Soft cat carriers are flexible, with mesh sections so your cat can see out and get ventilation. Many soft carriers are approved for airline travel, so they make a great choice if you’re taking your cat on a plane. The downside is that some cats can bite, rip, and tear the mesh sections. As we all know, that would be the last thing you’d want to happen! You also need to be careful to make sure to select a well-made carrier with locking zips on every opening. Some cats can manage to wiggle a paw in between the double zips of each door and then start to pull them open. With locking zips, they won’t be able to do this!

    Hard cat carriers are made from sturdy plastic with either plastic or wire doors. They’re a good choice if your nervous cat tends to scratch at their carrier, as you don’t need to worry about them getting tears or rips. They’re well ventilated but also offer solid sections where your cat can retreat to if they’re becoming overstimulated by watching the outside world go by. Hard carriers are heavier than soft carriers and take up more room to store when not in use.

    The other alternative is a “cat bag,” such as our best overall cat carrier. These securely contain your cat while allowing their head freedom. This works extremely well for some cats as they often hate the feeling of confinement that comes with being placed in a standard cat carrier. You might see them scrabbling at the door, trying to bite their way out, panting, and generally giving off clear signs that they’re becoming stressed. This can be hard to watch, so if your nervous cat struggles with both hard and soft carriers, then we highly recommend trying a cat bag to see if they prefer it!

    Important features to consider when buying a cat carrier for your nervous cat

    The number of doors. While some placid cats are easy to get in the small side doors seen on most cat carriers, you might find that’s not the case with a nervous cat! Top doors offer a great alternative as they’re usually larger. It’s also much easier to place your cat directly into a carrier from the top, rather than trying to squeeze them into a small door from the side.

    Internal leash. This is something we like to see on carriers designed specifically for nervous cats. If your cat’s flight response kicks in while they’re being transported, it can be a big worry that they make a bid for freedom as soon as you open the door. If you select a cat carrier with an internal leash, you can clip it onto your cat’s harness. That way, when you open the door, you know that they’re still secured safely to the leash and you can unclip them. Of course, we recommend making sure that your cat is fully trained to wear a harness before you attempt this, and you should only ever carry out shorter trips, where your cat is fully monitored.

    A4Pet Soft Sided Super Lightweight Cat Carrier for Travel
    Image credit: A4Pet Soft Sided Super Lightweight Cat Carrier for Travel, Amazon

    Ventilation. While all cat carriers must be fully ventilated, some nervous cats like to be able to see out as much as possible. If that sounds like your cat, then something like a soft-sided carrier with plenty of mesh panels will suit them well. On the other hand, some nervous cats prefer an area where they can “hide,” in which case a hard carrier with a section that doesn’t have any ventilation holes in that spot is a good idea.

    Airline approved. If you want to travel on a plane with your nervous cat, then make sure you select a cat carrier that has been approved for use with major airlines. These are usually slightly smaller, with dimensions to suit the size of cabin baggage.

    Measuring your cat for a cat carrier

    Before you choose and buy your new cat carrier, you’ll need to measure your cat to make sure the carrier is going to be the right size. This is doubly important for nervous cats because if they feel that they can’t move around comfortably within the carrier, they may start panicking.

    For both hard and soft carriers, you want your cat to be able to turn around, as well as lie down. Some carriers, usually the hard sort, will allow your cat to stand up.

    The measurements you’ll need to take are:

    • Your cat’s length, measured from the base of their tail to the middle of their chest
    • Your cat’s height, measured from the base of their paws to the highest point of their back

    You might want to weigh your cat at their next veterinarian check-up too. Quite a few cat carriers, especially the soft-sided variety, have a weight limit, so make sure your cat fits comfortably within those guidelines.

    For soft bag carriers like our best overall cat carrier, the only measurement you should need is their weight.

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    After reviewing a wide range of cat carriers available for purchase, we decided the overall best cat carrier for scared cats to be the Cat-in-the-bag E-Z-Zip Cat Carrier Bag. This innovative soft carrier is like nothing we’ve seen before. It safely cocoons your cat yet lets them feel unconstrained. This technique seems to work wonders for certain nervous cats, and we definitely recommend trying one of these carriers if you’re currently struggling to transport your nervous cat.

    As the best value choice, we recommend the AmazonBasics Top-Load Travel Carrier. Because of the wide top opening door, this is a great choice for cats who tend to be difficult to place in their carrier. The generous size of this carrier gives your cat plenty of space to move around, while the rigid sides and wire-mesh door are well-suited to cats who like to try and scratch their way out of a soft carrier.

    We’re confident that one of the six carriers included in our reviews will work perfectly for your nervous cat. Taking the time to find the best carrier for your nervous cat will mean that they feel much less stressed the next time they have to travel, and that can only be a good thing!