10 Best Cat Carriers for Car Travel 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks

Last Updated on: October 20, 2020

cat carrierIf you frequently travel by car with your cat, then you know it can be difficult, especially if your kitty hates to be confined. A good cat carrier should give your cat plenty of room to turn around and lie down. It should also have plenty of ventilation and, ideally, be lightweight.

You may have already researched cat carriers and found that there are countless options. To help you find the best one for your needs, we’ve created a list of reviews. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide to explain all the features of cat carriers ideal for car travel.

Ready to find the best carrier for your cat? Then read on for our recommendations.


A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
PetLuv DC-N PetLuv DC-N
  • Large side pocket
  • Four access panels
  • Adjustable length straps
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Pet Magasin Pet Magasin
  • Hard top and base
  • See-through mesh door
  • Plenty of ventilation
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Pawhut Pawhut
  • Water-resistant Oxford cloth material
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to carry
  • Pawfect Pets Pawfect Pets
  • Reinforced polyester material
  • Airline-approved
  • Two mesh screens
  • Pet Fit For Life Pet Fit For Life
  • Lightweight construction
  • Ultra-soft, velour bed pad
  • Side zipper pocket
  • The 10 Best Cat Carriers for Car Travel — Reviews 2020

    1. PetLuv DC-N Cat Carrier — Best Overall

    PetLuv DC-N

    The PetLuv Cat Carrier is our best overall choice because it includes seat belt loops to secure the carrier in your car. The carry handle on the top is padded and makes it easy to carry and transport your cat. The carrier has adjustable-length straps so you can make the carrier easier to carry. Windows on the carrier allow excellent ventilation for your cat’s comfort. The windows are made of heavy-duty rubber mesh, and you can roll them up or zip them closed. The carrier has a large side pocket for any cat supplies you need to bring. The windows double as access panels, and the top has an opening as well, so you can easily access your cat. It’s also available in two colors: red and navy blue.

    The carrier can tear easily because of its soft sides, so if your kitty tends to panic and scratch, then this might not be the best option.

    Pros
    • Padded top carry handle makes it easy to carry and transport
    • Adjustable length straps for your comfort
    • Windows are made of heavy-duty, rubber mesh with closable flaps
    • Large side pocket for supplies
    • Seat belt loops for securing the carrier in your car
    • Four access panels and top opening
    • Available in two colors: red and navy blue
    Cons
    • Not adequately tear-resistant

    2. Pet Magasin Collapsible Cat Carrier — Best Value

    Pet Magasin 20180108

    The Pet Magasin Collapsible Cat Carrier is the best cat carrier for car travel for the money because it blends features from both hard carriers and soft. It features a hard top and base, so it gives your cat a firm surface to stand on. The soft sides can be folded down for easy storage, and the top and bottom zip together to make it completely compact. This carrier has plenty of ventilation, with large holes all the way around, and a see-through mesh door. The carrier’s floor also has a padded mat to give your cat a non-slip surface as well as extra comfort. You can access your cat from either the top of the carrier or the front, which is ideal for kitties who get scared and don’t want to leave their carrier at the vet.

    The zippers don’t hold up well on this carrier over time.

    Pros
    • Hard top and hard base
    • Soft sides are collapsible for easy storage
    • See-through mesh door
    • Padded mat on floor of carrier provides comfort and non-slip surface
    • Plenty of ventilation
    • Allows you to access your cat from the top or front
    Cons
    • Zippers are fragile

    3. Pawhut Soft-Sided Dual Pet Carrier — Premium Choice

    Pawhut D00-080GY

    The Pawhut Soft-Sided Dual Pet Carrier is our premium choice because it’s made of high-quality materials, and it can be used as a dual-carrier with two separate compartments. This is perfect for transporting more than one cat. You can also unzip the dual carrier and create two individual carriers. The carrier is made of water-resistant Oxford cloth that’s very durable. There’s also a heavy-duty coating on the material for long-lasting use. The carrier is lightweight, portable, and easy to carry. It has two zippered pockets to store supplies. The carrier has a carrying strap and handle, so you can transport it easily. It also has two mesh screens for visibility and ventilation.

    Because of its two-in-one design, this carrier is expensive. There are also no loops or straps to secure it with your vehicle’s seat belt.

    Pros
    • Collapsible carrier can be zippered together for one large dual carrier or two individual carriers
    • High-quality and durable water-resistant Oxford cloth material
    • Lightweight, portable, and easy to carry
    • Two zippered pockets
    • Carrying strap and handle
    • Two mesh screens for visibility and ventilation
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • No loops to secure to your car’s seat belt

    4. Pawfect Pets Airline Approved Pet Carrier

    Pawfect Pets Airline Approved Pet Carrier

    The Pawfect Pets Airline Approved Pet Carrier is made of reinforced polyester material with a comfortable handle and strap for easy portability. Both sides and the top of the carrier open to give you plenty of access points for your cat. The carrier is airline-approved to give you flexible travel options. It also has two seat belt buckles to secure the carrier in your car. The carrier has a side zipper pocket to store supplies.

    This carrier is styled like a piece of luggage, and it doesn’t have much ventilation to keep your cat cool. The zippers on the carrier fail easily, so it’s not very durable.

    Pros
    • Reinforced polyester material with a comfortable handle and strap
    • Top opening and both sides opening to allow easier loading and unloading
    • Side zipper pocket
    • Airline-approved pet carrier
    • Features two seat belt buckles to secure carrier in car
    Cons
    • Not much ventilation
    • Zippers fail

    5. Pet Fit For Life Collapsible Cat Carrier

    Pet Fit For Life Collapsible Cat Carrier

    The Pet Fit For Life Collapsible Cat Carrier is lightweight and collapsible for easy portability. It has a large, spacious interior to allow your cat plenty of room to turn around and stretch. It comes with an ultra-soft, velour bed pad that will make your cat feel cozy and comfortable. The carrier has one door and two window screens to give your cat plenty of ventilation. It also has seat belt straps to secure the carrier in your car.

    This is an expensive carrier, especially in the larger size. There’s also no support to the bottom of the carrier, so it’s uncomfortable for your cat when you carry it.

    Pros
    • Lightweight construction
    • Large, spacious interior
    • Ultra-soft, velour bed pad
    • 1 door and 2 window screens
    • Integrated seat belt straps to secure carrier in car
    Cons
    • No support to the bottom of the carrier
    • Expensive

    6. WOpet Pet Car Seat Carrier

    WOpet Pet Car Seat Carrier

    The WOpet Pet Car Seat Carrier is great for both airline travel and car. It has adjustable straps to secure the carrier to your car’s seat belt for added safety and security. The carrier has openings on the top and front to allow you easy access to your cat. It’s made of a waterproof nylon material that’s lightweight and durable. It features front and side pockets for any cat supplies you want to bring with you. The carrier also folds flat for easy storage.

    This carrier has a strong chemical smell that’s unpleasant, especially right out of the box. The soft sides of this carrier aren’t very durable. The carry straps also fray easily, so it’s not a long-lasting option.

    Pros
    • Front and top openings for easy access of your cat
    • Adjustable straps fit most cars, vans, and SUVs
    • Waterproof nylon material
    • Front and side pockets
    • Folds flat for easy storage
    Cons
    • Has strong chemical smell
    • Not very durable
    • Carry straps fray easily

    7. Mr. Peanut’s Soft Sided Pet Carrier

    Mr. Peanut’s 9902102

    The Mr. Peanut’s Soft Sided Pet Carrier is lightweight for easy portability. The carrier features a luggage strap, padded shoulder strap, and a handle, so you can choose the most comfortable way to carry it. The zippers are strong and self-locking for added security. The base of the carrier is made of plywood to give your cat additional support. It also has a plush faux-fleece pad to keep your cat comfortable. The carrier has mesh windows on the top and all the sides for ventilation.

    The mesh windows on the top and the sides are small, though, and don’t allow much airflow. The zippers also don’t glide smoothly and get stuck easily. The shoulder strap frays easily, so it isn’t very durable.

    Pros
    • Premium self-locking zippers
    • Plush faux fleece pad with plywood base insert for additional support
    • Lightweight
    • Open-air, mesh windows on top and all sides
    • Luggage strap, padded shoulder strap, and hand-carry handle
    Cons
    • Zippers do not glide smoothly
    • Shoulder strap not very durable
    • Not much ventilation

    8. Petseek Extra Large Cat Carrier 

    Petseek Extra Large Cat Carrier

    The Petseek Extra Large Cat Carrier is ideal for transporting two cats together, which may help reduce stress during travel. The carrier has a steel support structure to give the carrier added support, but the whole thing is still collapsible for easy storage. It also has mesh windows on all sides that roll up for great ventilation. The carrier has seat belt loops and zippers even clever cats can’t open for added security.

    This carrier is too large for use on only one cat. The bottom of the carrier isn’t sturdy enough, so your cat may feel uncomfortable while you’re carrying it. It’s also expensive.

    Pros
    • Large enough to transport two cats together
    • Steel support on the sides are sturdy but still collapsible
    • Mesh windows on all sides that roll up
    • Features seatbelt loops and zippers your cat can’t access
    Cons
    • Too large for only one cat
    • Expensive
    • Bottom isn’t sturdy enough

    9. Necoichi Portable Cat Carrier

    Necoichi Portable Cat Carrier

    The Necoichi Portable Cat Carrier is made from durable, easy-to-clean fabric. It folds to a convenient, compact size for easy storage. The carrier has a claw-resistant, waterproof liner for added durability. To prevent clever cats from escaping, the zippers can’t be opened from the inside. This carrier also has a litter box included for long car trips.

    The zipper on this carrier is weak and easily separates. The floor isn’t reinforced for added stability. This carrier doesn’t include seat belt loops to secure it to your car. It’s also difficult to carry since it doesn’t have a strap or handle.

    Pros
    • Durable, easy-to-clean fabric with litter box
    • Folds to convenient compact size
    • Claw-resistant, waterproof liner
    • Zippers can not be opened from inside carrier
    Cons
    • Zipper is weak and easily separates
    • Floor is not reinforced for added stability
    • No seat belt loops
    • Difficult to carry

    10. Siivton Airline Approved Pet Carrier

    Siivton Airline Approved Pet Carrier

    The Siivton Airline Approved Pet Carrier has an interior space that’s expandable by folding out a bay on both sides. It has plenty of breathable mesh for good airflow and ventilation. There are access points on the top and sides to easily put your cat in and out of the carrier.

    This carrier has no extra pockets for supplies. It’s very small, so be sure to measure your cat before purchasing it. The carrier isn’t very sturdy. It doesn’t hold its shape when you use the handle or shoulder strap, which can be very uncomfortable for your cat. The mesh on the fold-out sides isn’t durable and tears easily.

    Pros
    • Expandable interior space by fold-out expansion bay on sides
    • Breathable mesh provides additional ventilation
    • Access points on top and sides
    Cons
    • No extra pockets
    • Very small
    • Not very sturdy
    • Mesh on fold-out sides not durable
    • Carrier does not hold its shape when using handle or shoulder straps

    Buyer’s Guide

    There are many features to look for when you’re shopping for the best cat carrier to use on car trips. Because there are so many different options of carriers on the market, we’ve created a buyer’s guide to point out the most important things to consider.

    Size

    It’s important to note that bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to cat carriers. Too much room in a carrier can make your cat feel stressed because it enables them to slide around inside–not fun on a long car trip! It’s better to find a carrier that’s about two times the size of your cat. This way, your cat has room to turn around and stretch, but not so much room that your cat gets flung around in the carrier. For trips to the vet, this is a good size in case your cat has to wear a cat cone after surgery. Your cat should feel cozy and comfortable in its carrier but not confined.

    Soft vs. Hard-Sided

    Cat carriers are available in soft, fully collapsible carriers or hard ones. They’re also available in hybrids of the two. Soft carriers are generally lighter and easier to store since they collapse. If you have a cat who panics in a carrier, though, soft-sided ones can be a problem. Your cat can easily scratch through or chew the carrier, allowing it to escape. Hard-sided carriers offer your cat greater stability and are often more durable. They are more difficult to store, however. A hybrid of the two is a great option. Often the tops and bottoms of these carriers are hard, which gives your cat a firm surface to stand on. The soft sides allow the carrier to collapse, which is ideal for easy storage.

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    Ventilation

    You don’t have to worry about your cat being in a carrier that doesn’t allow them to breathe–all cat carriers will make sure there’s adequate airflow for that. But the more ventilation a carrier has, the better. This will keep your cat cool and comfortable, even on long car trips. Look for cat carriers with mesh sides or plenty of large ventilation holes to ensure your cat doesn’t get overheated. This is especially important for older cats or ones with long hair. Some carriers even feature windows that can be rolled up to give your cat greater airflow.

    Access Points

    One of the most frustrating parts about a cat carrier is that cats generally hate going in them. Your cat knows that it will either be taken to the vet or be confined in the carrier for a long time, so it probably won’t go in happily. Therefore, it’s important to look for carriers that have multiple access points. Having an access point at the top of the carrier is most helpful because it allows you to reach down and grab hold of your cat. If you’re lucky enough to have a cat that is willing to go into the carrier without a struggle, then a front access point will suffice.

    blue cat carrier

    Food and Water

    If you plan to use your cat carrier for trips to the vet, then this won’t be much of a concern. But for long journeys, you need a way to make sure your cat can have food and water inside the carrier. There are different options for travel food and water bowls, but some carriers have them already included. Others have storage pockets for collapsible bowls and other supplies.

    Portability

    A cat carrier must be easy to transport, so it must be lightweight enough for you to carry it easily. Some carriers have a handle or a strap only, and others offer both. Choose the one that’s easiest for you. You also want the handle or strap to be comfortable. Padded or ergonomic handles and straps are ideal for giving you a good grip on the carrier.

    Seat Belt Loops

    The last thing you want on a car trip is for your cat’s carrier to slide around or fall on the floor if you have to brake hard. Seat belt loops are a great way to secure your cat’s carrier in your car. Many carriers have them, and they loop through the seat belt in your car. This is important for both safety and security on car rides.

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    Ease of Cleaning

    At some point, your cat carrier will need a good cleaning. Typically, hard-sided carriers are easier to clean than soft-sided carriers. After all, it’s easier to clean up cat vomit from hard plastic than when it’s embedded in soft fabric. If it’s a soft-sided carrier, then make sure it’s machine-washable or has a removable base. This makes it much easier to clean.

    Airplane Approved

    If you travel by both airplane and car, then it can save you money to buy a carrier that works for both. Many carriers that are made for car travel are also airplane approved. Choose a cat carrier that’s lightweight, portable, and has great ventilation to be sure your cat stays cool and comfortable.

    Easy Storage

    If you’re tight on storage space, then this is an important consideration. Most soft-sided cat carriers and even some of the hybrid hard-and-soft carriers fold completely flat. This is ideal for easy storage. Hard-sided carriers typically don’t fold flat, but they may still be compact enough that you won’t have trouble storing them. Keep your storage space in mind before purchasing a cat carrier.

    Conclusion

    Our best overall choice is the PetLuv DC-N Cat Carrier because it has seat belt loops that allow you to secure the carrier with your car’s seat belt. This carrier has lots of ventilation for your cat, with mesh windows on all sides that roll up. You can also access your cat from both the top and the sides.

    Our best value choice is the Pet Magasin 20180108 Collapsible Cat Carrier because it combines the best features from both hard carriers and soft. The hard top and base give your cat added security and a firm surface to stand on. The carrier is collapsible and folds completely flat for easy storage.

    Traveling by car with your cat doesn’t have to be a hassle with the right carrier! We hope our list of reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you find the best cat carrier for your travel needs.

    Featured Image Credit: Necoichi, Amazon