cat sitting in carrier with door open

Best Cat Carriers Recommended By Vets


This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Josepha Cox BBiomedSc(Hons) DVM

Cat carriers come in a range of sizes, shapes, materials and colours and the options can sometimes seem endless which can make buying a new carrier a confusing task! While it can be tempting to choose the cheapest or even the most extravagant carrier for your kitty, it may not be the safest or best choice for your cat's comfort.

This guide will help to navigate through the many options and select a carrier your cat will be thankful for.

Shop All Cat Carriers Now

Why do I need a cat carrier?
What to look for in a carrier
Hard vs Soft
Cardboard carriers
Backpacks and Strollers
How big should a cat carrier be?
How to open a cat carrier
Top recommended carriers
Harnesses and Leashes
Frequently asked questions
Further reading

Do I need a cat carrier?

A cat carrier is a secure and safe way of transporting your cat. Even if you only plan on moving your cat a few blocks down the street, a stressed or frightened cat can easily escape cardboard boxes and home made carriers. Anxious cats can inadvertently hurt themselves or those around them. A sturdy carrier can also help protect them from other animals in the vet clinic waiting room.

A good quality carrier is a valuable investment for any pet parent.

What to look for in a carrier

Cats are naturally drawn to dark, comfortable, enclosed spaces which is why you may find them hiding and playing in cupboards or cardboard boxes.These spaces make them feel secure and so this is what you should aim to replicate in a carrier.


Carriers come in a range of material choices and each have their pros and cons.

Are soft or hard carriers better?

Soft carriers are usually made from materials such as nylon, polyester and microfibre. The benefits of these carriers is that they are lightweight and easy to store. They don't provide as much protection and support as hard carriers and are often hard to clean if your pet soils them.

Hard carriers are made from a combination of hard plastic and metal. These are sturdy and durable, often have multiple entry points and are easy to clean if soiled by your pet. They provide good coverage and most provide adequate room to sit or lay comfortably. The down sides are they are usually heavier than other types and take up more room in storage.

Cardboard carriers

Cardboard carriers are only intended for short trips and should only be used a few times. They are not good for long term, repeated use. They are not very sturdy and can become insecure quickly as the cardboard fatigues. This is especially true if the cat soils in the carrier. They are also typically quite small and so can be uncomfortable for many pets, especially for long journeys.

Backpack and stroller cat carriers

Backpack and stroller carriers can be made from a combination of materials including soft material, mesh, hard plastic or reinforced firm material. Some of these are quite well enclosed while others are quite open and can make your pet feel insecure. These types of carriers can be a fun and convenient way of transporting your pet. However, some cats may be more stressed in these carriers as they may be frightened by the large viewing windows or the sound and movement of the rollers used on the ground. Some carriers may also not be large enough to allow your cat to lay down comfortably.

How big should a cat carrier be?

When it comes to cat carriers, bigger is not always better. A cat carrier that is too large can allow your cat to slide around inside and will not provide them the snug, secure feeling they seek.

The ideal size for regular use is one that allows your cat to stand up, lay down and turn around. It's generally about one and a half times the size of your adult cat. If buying one for your kitten, estimate how big they will be when they are fully grown. Placing a towel or blanket in the bottom of the carrier will prevent them from slipping and provide them with a comfortable place to lay.

If travelling long distances a larger carrier or crate is often needed to allow room for water, food and even litter trays.

How to open a cat carrier

Openings can be single or multiple and include zip doors, velcro doors and latch doors. The best option is a carrier with both a front end opening and a top opening door and even better if the carrier can be halved and opened in the middle to remove the top only. This provides many ways to get your kitty in and out with minimal stress. Latch doors tend to be more sturdy than zip or velcro doors.

Top recommended carriers

The ideal carrier should be sturdy, securely enclosed with multiple openings, an ideal size for the pet and easy to clean. I would recommend:

Feline First Traveller Crate

The carrier is sturdy, easy to clean, has lots of ventilation with a front, top and half carrier opening option.

Pawise Portable Carrier

A lightweight carrier with two handy access doors at the top and side. Removable floor mat, water resistant fabric and machine washable.

Ibiyaya Eva Pet Wheeled Carrier

While, backpack and stroller carriers are not the preferred choice if your heart is set on one then this carrier takes the top place. It provides more room than a lot of its competitors and also offers more privacy for your cat.

Harnesses and leashes

Training your cat to walk on a lead is an excellent activity that both of you can enjoy. It provides a great form of exercise and mental stimulation for your kitty. However, when travelling a fair distance or to a potentially stressful place like the vet clinic it is still best to use a sturdy cat carrier. Not only can cats on leads be at risk from injury from other animals such as dogs, frightened cats can be very agile and can easily escape harnesses putting them in danger of getting injured or lost.

Generally speaking, most cats will also feel more vulnerable on a leash and harness when travelling to places like the vet clinic and so transporting them in a carrier will help them feel at ease.

For more travel tips and recommendations check out our article How to make travel less stressful for your cat.

Frequently asked questions

Some frequent questions we get asked about cat carriers include:

I can't get my cat in the carrier!

Cats can be pretty clever when it comes to not wanting to go to the vets! The trigger for them to run off and hide tends to be whenever the owner gets out the cat carrier! It's understandable as generally the only time the cat goes in the cat carrier is when they're going somewhere unpleasant (let's be honest, going to the vets doesn't tend to result in pleasant things for the cat, as much as us vets might try!). So the trick with getting you cat to go in the cat carrier is to make it a pleasant place to be, also known as 'counter-conditioning' as we want to change your cat's response to that trigger. Steps we would recommend include:

  1. Get out the cat carrier a long time (i.e. weeks) before you need to use the carrier.
  2. Use a pheromone product such as Feliway to spray the inside and outside of the carrier. The pheromone is a synthetic form of the natural pheromone which is given off by a mother cat to her kittens to calm them down and reduce anxiety.
  3. Put some of your cat's bedding and treats inside the carrier and leave it out for them to explore in and around. You want them to get comfortable in and around the carrier, so you don't want to lock them in it the first time they go in.
  4. When your cat is comfortable resting in the carrier, you can try closing the door for a couple of minutes, then opening it back up again. They'll learn that being locked in is not a bad thing as they're let out soon after. Keep doing this for about a week or so.
  5. When you can start closing the door without your cat being anxious inside, then you can try a trip to the vets.
  6. Be sure to spray the carrier every day with Feliway during this process.

If your cat puts on the breaks when being put in their carrier, try the bottom-first approach. Put the carrier on a slight angle with the opening facing upwards. Hold onto your cat's bottom with one hand and their chest with the other, holding them upright. Gently lower them into the carrier, bottom first, and close the door behind them.

Can you put two cats in the same carrier

Ideally no. Each cat should be transported in their own carrier. Multiple cats in the one carrier are often cramped and uncomfortable. Although we might think it is comforting for our cats to travel with their sibling or friend, this is usually not the case. In a high stress situation, cats are more likely to want their own space, even if they are the best of friends at home!

Further Reading

Want to know more?

New kitten guide

Choosing the perfect cat furniture

Your complete guide to cat litter

10 tips for reducing your cat's stress during vet visits

How to catify your apartment