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Whether this is a quick car drive to the vet’s office or you’re moving across the country, one thing that can make traveling with your cat run smoother and safer is choosing the right cat carrier.
But how do you find this perfect carrier?
Well, there are a few things you need to consider:
Whether you go with hard plastic or soft carrier they need to be escape-proof, to keep both you and your kitty safe while you’re driving.
If you need a carrier for a long car trip, then it needs to be large enough for your kitty to stretch and with enough space for food, water, and a portable litter box.
When it comes to shorter car trips, size might not be a major concern, so a lightweight carrier for easy transportation should be enough.
A top-loading carrier will reduce your cat’s stress when being placed into and out of the carrier and also make your vet’s life easier.
And let’s not forget seat belt loops, one of the most important features a carrier should have when traveling by car!
I know that these are a lot of things to keep in mind, that’s why aside from additional information, and important travel carrier features, we’ve created this complete car-friendly carrier guide that can make your cat’s traveling experience a positive one, and yours for that matter!
But if you want to just skip ahead and see what carriers made it to our list you can check it out here:
- Best Cat Carrier Overall: Siivton 4 Sides Expandable Pet Carrier
- The Safest Cat Carrier: Sleepypod Air in-Cabin Pet Carrier – Crash Tested Carrier
- Best Hard-Sided Travel Carrier: Frisco Two Door Top Load Plastic Dog & Cat Kennel
- Best Travel Carrier For The Back Seat: Sport PET Large Pop Open Kennel
- Best Cat Carrier For The Front Seat: Pet Gear Signature Dog & Cat Car Seat & Carrier Bag
- Best Cat Carrier For Two Cats on Long Car Trips: One For Pets Portable 2-in-1 Double Pet Kennel
- Best Collapsible Carrier With A Litter Box: CHEERING PET Cat Travel Cage
- Best Airline Approved Carrier For Car Travel: Sherpa Forma Frame Airline Approved and Crash Tested Carrier
What Makes A Cat Carrier Suitable For Car Travel?
Before we go through each cat carrier on our list, I think it’s important to understand what criteria our picks were based on.
I also believe that this section will help you get a better idea of what you need to look for in a carrier and prioritize certain features to get the best result.
So, let’s get started!
Soft vs Hard-Sided Carrier
When I was searching for cat carriers for my cats, I realized that there are two distinct categories fighting for the top spot, soft carriers and hard carriers.
There are definitely both pros and cons to each category depending on the design and the manufacturer.
Hard carriers are very sturdy, and they’re built to withstand your cat’s claws. They are easy to clean, and they don’t absorb bad smells which makes them a long-lasting investment. Most veterinary centers also prefer hard-sided carriers with a top opening that can be latched securely into place. Additionally, ASPCA states that your kitty might be smart enough to get through the zipper enclosure.
This doesn’t mean that carriers made of soft materials aren’t good, I think soft carriers can be extremely versatile in their design, and the quality of the manufacturing seems to have improved over the last years, with locking zippers and steel support.
Some also offer additional pockets for documents, they’re much easier to secure to the car seat and they can fold flat when you no longer need them.
Soft carriers can also make a long-distance trip more comfortable and if the road ahead is bumpy, your kitty will be surrounded by soft walls instead of hard plastic. These walls are usually made of soft mesh material, which makes it easier to see how your kitty is doing while driving.
As we’ll discuss further in this article, the safest cat carriers specifically for driving that have been crash tested are soft carriers. When it came to hard plastic carriers only hard crates designed for dogs passed the same tests.
Taking in the safety, and design versatility, you’ll see that our list has plenty of soft carriers that have these features, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t added hard carriers since they also bring their own pros to the table.
If you go for a hard plastic carrier, make sure that the top and bottom are securely attached, and the handle can handle your cat’s weight. Depending on the season you might want to add soft fleece blankets to keep your cat warm. They are also easy to clean in case your kitty has a toilet accident.
With soft carriers, you don’t necessarily need to worry about cold temperatures, but they might not be the best choice if you’re traveling during summer. It’s also important to remember that, unlike the hard plastic, the soft carriers are more suitable for calm kitties.
A proper-sized carrier is a requirement no matter how far or close is your driving destination. ASPCA states that a cat carrier should be a comfortable space for your kitty to be able to stand, sit, lie and turn around.
Usually, a cat carrier should be one and a half times larger than the size of your cat, and you need to consider all dimensions including length, width, and height.
I also want to add that the VCA hospitals suggest that it’s best to “get the right size cat carrier. If your cat dreads going into the small confines of a carrier, consider getting an oversized, top-loading cat carrier so your cat doesn’t need to squeeze through a narrow door.”
While your cat’s carrier needs to follow these requirements for short-distance trips like a visit to the vet, but for long-distance car travel, even a regular-sized carrier might not be enough.
Let’s not forget that this carrier might have to fit both your kitty as well as their food and water bowl and depending on the longevity of the trip a litter box. So, this means that you will have to look for a carrier with large enough dimensions, so your kitty doesn’t feel confined.
You will also need to consider the space available in your car. Some cars have enough room for a full backseat-sized carrier, but if you’re bringing additional personal belongings or you simply don’t have a back seat to spare then you need to consider a smaller option.
Don’t forget to weigh your kitty and look at the weight capacity of the product before getting the carrier. Cats come in different shapes and sizes and certain carriers no matter how big might not be able to handle your kitty’s weight.
If you’re worried that you’ll struggle with a larger carrier instead of choosing a hard plastic you can go for a soft carrier. They are usually lighter and can make the loading and unloading process easier. You could also opt for a stroller or a backpack carrier that will make carrying more manageable.
Another important feature you need to consider is the opening of the carrier, and top loaders are usually everyone’s favorite because they make the process of getting your kitty in and out of a carrier so much easier.
You will also make the vet’s life easier since veterinarians themselves suggest that top loaders are especially great because they offer access to your cat without getting them out of the carrier completely.
Aside from having access from the top of your cat’s carrier, side openings are also important especially if you’re driving a car. More so, a zipped carrier will work much better, because with careful maneuvering you can squeeze your hand through and have better access to changing your cat’s food and water bowl, as well as the litter box, even petting them.
A hard plastic or metal door will have to open completely as well as the carriers with just one large top opening and they might give your scared kitty the opportunity of getting out running away from you.
Aside from weight capacity you also need to consider the weight of the carrier itself since it will also affect you. I mean you’ll be the one carrying the carrier and your fluffball from your house to the car and back again.
Similarly, you need to be critical of the carrier’s size. I know we all would like to offer them a breezy ride in a large palace, but we practically can’t.
As we’ve already mentioned soft carriers are lighter and easier to move around, but for some people even having the soft carrier along with their cat’s weight pulling on their hand or shoulder is too much to bear.
In this case, you might want to consider a backpack carrier that can also be attached safely to your cat’s seat. If you have a curious kitty, you might even take them with you outside of the car for a walk during your travel breaks.
There are also strollers and carriers that function both as bags with a handle and travel bags that you can push on rollers. This way you don’t have to rely on someone helping you with your carrier and you can feel more independent and flexible.
I think one of the most important features in a carrier that’s suitable for car travel is seat belt loops. Especially during long-distance travels, you’ll need to be able to secure the carrier to the seat through belts or straps, or any safety mechanism the carrier offers.
This means that the carrier will be firmly placed preferably in the back seat, without sliding from side to side or falling off.
Another thing that can help you understand how safe a carrier is for car rides is whether it was tried and tested for this specific reason.
Looking through reviews also helps see whether other cat parents are happy with how safe the product is.
I’d also suggest that you go for a carrier with seat belt loops even if you simply are visiting the vet, especially if you live in an area where there are bumpy roads. This way you can avoid accidents.
The last thing you want is to see your cat jump out of the carrier and be free to wreak havoc in your car.
Easy To Clean
There are plenty of reasons a carrier can get messy. Some cats poop when they’re scared and this can happen before the vet visit, after, or during a long-distance car trip.
It’s also possible that your cat could get sick in their carrier, as Tammy Hunter, DVM, explains “most motion sickness cases in cats are caused primarily by the stress and anxiety associated with travel.” This is especially true for cats that travel by car once or twice a year for their vet visits.
Aside from messy and stinky accidents according to Blue Cross For Pets “If you have already tried to put your cat into a carrier and they’ve been scared or nervous while doing it, they will sometimes release stress hormones.”
This all means that you’ll need to clean the carrier after each travel, long or short. If you find that your kitty has made a mess the moment you step your foot into the vet’s office, you should know that with a hard carrier cleaning the mess will be quick and easy simply by wiping the hard plastic with pet-friendly wet wipes, and your kitty doesn’t have to travel back home in their own mess.
While some soft carriers can be machine washed they are not as easy to clean right at that moment. Of course, you could also use bedding that you can remove and wash but if it reaches the soft material of the carrier it’s most likely going to absorb the mess, especially in the corners and the soft walls.
If your cat tends to poop or throw up when stressed during car travels I’d suggest getting a plastic carrier, but make sure to look for one with a smooth interior surface and minimal nooks where dirt can accumulate.
Room For Food and Water
When you’re considering the size and dimensions of your cat’s carrier, especially if you’re planning on taking your feline companion on a long trip, you need to think big.
It doesn’t have to be humongous of course, but it does need to have enough space for your cat’s food, water, and litter.
If you’re going to stay somewhere for a few nights during your trip choose a carrier that can expand. This way you don’t have to let your cat roam the hotel room, since for certain cats this will mean more stress, the need to mark this new territory, and they’ll most likely hide.
Of course, leaving your cat in a carrier overnight isn’t ideal, but you can give them more room, and add the litter box, and anything else they need to feel more comfortable, by choosing an expendable carrier or at least one that’s spacious enough for all these necessities.
Traveling in a car can get stuffy, so you definitely need to make sure that your cat’s carrier offers enough ventilation.
Soft carriers are truly on top of this feature because most designs offer multiple openings that help with air circulation. Of course, a hard carrier can be equally good if it has a top opening along with the regular side openings.
Not only will good ventilation help with your kitty’s well-being during a long car trip, but it will also protect them from overheating during the summer, and it’s even more crucial for those of you that have a feline companion with breathing problems such as feline asthma.
Long-Distance Travel vs Short Car Trips
It’s certain that one thing that will affect your carrier choice is whether it’s suitable for car travel. But even in this situation, everyone might have different expectations simply because they intend to use the carrier for different types of travel.
For All Travels
Some of you might need a carrier that can work for short car trips whenever your kitty needs a veterinarian check-up, as well as long-distance travel through car transportation. You might also want this carrier to fit the size standards of airlines.
This means that you perhaps need to look for a carrier that is small enough to be accepted by airlines, it’s easy to carry and comes with safety belts so you can attach it to the car seat. Since long car travels are difficult, you could go for a small carrier that can also expand so your kitty has enough room during these travels.
Basically, a transformer carrier, like the number one carrier on our list!
For Vet Visits
Most cats won’t face long-distance trips during their whole life, but they do have to go on car rides to their “favorite” place the vet. By choosing a soft carrier you can make these short vet trips into a comfy ride, and you don’t have to worry about the size as long as it’s appropriate for your cat.
Soft carriers are also more comfortable to carry around, but if your cat is too anxious and you’re afraid they will claw their way out then go for the reliable hard plastic carrier instead!
For Long Travels
Riding to the vet is a very different experience from long-distance trips. That’s why you’ll need to choose your cat’s carrier based on more features.
Aside from being sturdy the major thing you need to look at is the size.
Long travels are hard on everyone, and just like you want to stretch your body from time to time, so does your kitty. Depending on how long the trip is you might want to go with the carrier that can accommodate their essentials, like food, water, and a small litter box.
I will once again mention the safety belt feature, which is important both for short and long-distance trips, but especially for the latter. Fastening the carrier securely to the seat won’t simply keep it from toppling over, but it will give your cat an overall sense of stability in a moving vehicle.
Should I Worry About Crash Testing?
Another safety feature you might want to consider when looking for a travel carrier is whether it has been crash tested.
I’m guessing some of you, myself included, didn’t even know that carrier crash testing was a thing, but in 2015, the Center for Pet Safety ran some extensive testings to see which carriers can actually survive well in a crash.
During these testings, they made sure to be inclusive since pet owners have different economical backgrounds. That’s why they tried a variety of carriers at different price levels.
If you’ve ever seen car crash testing videos with human dummies, then you can imagine that carrier testing is quite similar. They put the carriers through simulations to test their durability during different car crashes and they even use dummy cats and dogs to assess the injuries that could happen on a real pet in a similar accident.
This was definitely valuable research that inspired more brands to test their products. Manufacturers like SleepyPod realized how important this feature is, and made modifications to improve the safety of their entire line of travel carriers with a 100% success rate.
Here’s a crash test video of one of the SleepyPod travel carriers passing the CPS test that also made it to our list:
From testings made on different carriers and crates, the important feature that helped them rank at the top was the belts that secured the carrier to the car.
But this is not true for all brands since some that claim they offer belt security saw their travel carriers collapse under the pressure of the seat belt during these tests.
Crash-tested carriers are definitely more pricey, but the fact that they are the safest carriers on the market, made of durable materials, also means that it’s a lifelong investment, especially for those of you who are used to taking your kitties on your car travels quite often when visiting your parents during holidays and birthdays.
I also want to make it clear that getting carriers that have been crash-tested isn’t a must, since as I already pointed out that they’re more pricey and they can be difficult to find.
There are plenty of brands that make safe travel carriers that haven’t been crash-tested, but if you want to be on the safer side you can always read more about the SleepyPod carrier on our list below.
8 Best Cat Carriers For Car Travel
Now that we’ve gone through all of the details of what makes a carrier suitable for traveling by car, it’s time we’ve looked at the cat carriers that made it to our list.
I also want to point out that, during my research, I found that soft carriers have more to offer than hard-sided carriers, especially for longer trips. Soft carriers are more diverse when it comes to their size and shapes, as well as additional features that we’ll explore on our list below.
This doesn’t mean that hard carriers aren’t as good, and for certain cats that are notorious for their stressful scratching and clawing, they work much better. That’s why I made sure to include a hard carrier that I think many of you will find suitable for all your travels.
1. Best Cat Carrier Overall: Siivton 4 Sides Expandable Pet Carrier
✅ The non-slip bottom protector will keep the carrier from sliding off the car seat.
✅ The carrier can be secured with the car's seatbelt and the loops on the adjustable straps, for maximum security.
✅ It has a double-sided inner pad for hot and cool weather making it a suitable carrier for all-season travels.
✅ This carrier comes in two different sizes and as a backpack, to fit your unique traveling needs.
The reason the carrier from Siivton has won the number one spot on this list is that it ticks so many boxes when it comes to traveling.
First of all, it’s a great carrier for vet visits. It’s small enough and lightweight to load into your car and the additional shoulder straps make it easy to carry this carrier from your house to your car and to the vet.
Secondly, this carrier is great for long car travels. It has 4 different sides that can expand individually, so you can adjust them according to your car space.
This extra space means your cat will be able to stand up and stretch throughout the long drive. But even without expanding the carrier, it’s large enough on its own. In fact, according to a happy reviewer, their overweight 17-inch long kitty fits just perfectly.
The mesh windows also offer superb ventilation, but the additional visibility could be a drawback for anxious cats.
Finally, this carrier is suitable for all types of travel because it’s airline-approved.
You can also read more reviews and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: Aside from the size and expandability, this carrier is a top loader and I think you, your kitty, and your vet will appreciate it.
What I Wish It Had: The bottom needs to be more structured so it doesn’t dip down when carrying the carrier on your shoulder.
2. The Safest Cat Carrier: Sleepypod Air in-Cabin Pet Carrier – Crash Tested
✅ Works great for cats up to 18 lbs.
✅ The Carrier has a top opening so you can load your kitty in with ease.
✅ It has a trolley pocket that makes transporting luggage more efficient if you're traveling alone.
✅ It includes straps on both sides to secure your car's seatbelt around the Sleepypod carrier.
Since we’re talking about car travel many of you would want to maximize your cat’s safety. That’s why we had to include a travel carrier that has been successfully crash tested, by the researchers at the Center for Pet Safety.
Aside from being among the safest carriers out there, Sleepypod also offers a comfortable ride for your feline companion.
The compact size makes it a great carrier to take with you to the vet or on short car trips. But since it doesn’t expand, there’s no space for a litter box, and for some cats, it won’t be large enough for long-distance car travel.
As I already mentioned flights, this carrier meets most airline and TSA requirements. More so, the design of the bag makes it flexible enough to contract the size to fit the space under the airline seats, until you can readjust it back to its more comfortable size for your kitty after taking off.
For those of you who are curious, I added the crash test video of this specific carrier. Or if you prefer to read more reviews on the Sleepypod Air Pet Carrier and see today’s price on Amazon you can click here.
What I Love About It: The tear-resistant mesh opening is also quite dark so you don’t have to worry about your cat getting scared.
What I Wish It Had: One of the reviewers mentioned that the carrier doesn’t offer good airflow, but they also stated that their flight was 31 hours long.
So, if you live in a hot country or you’re planning on traveling to one this carrier might not work well for your cat.
3. Best Hard-Sided Travel Carrier: Frisco Two Door Top Load Plastic Dog & Cat Kennel
✅ The hard plastic is easy to clean even after the stinkiest accidents during your car trip.
✅ The top-loading option makes it easier to put your kitty inside or put food and water during the road trip.
✅ It comes in two sizes, each can accommodate a cat up to 10 lbs and 15 to 20lbs.
As I’ve already mentioned not everyone feels comfortable with soft carriers and some cats also prefer hard plastic. That’s why I made sure to have a quality hard-sided carrier on this list.
The large size of the Frisco carrier offers plenty of space even for the chunkiest of felines and has enough space for you to add soft blankets to maximize their comfort.
The size should work great for most cats, whether you’re planning on a short trip or a long-distance adventure. The carrier can be placed at the back seat or front seat, but I’d suggest you look for safety belts specialized for hard carriers since Frisco doesn’t include them.
When it comes to airflow this carrier is truly on top of, something that many soft carriers can’t compete with. This is also an important feature to consider since cars can get stuffy. And while it offers great ventilation, it also gives your kitty a sense of privacy.
Aside from being comfortable and spacy, I love that Frisco is also environmentally conscious, by making this carrier from 95% pre-consumer recycled plastic content! You can read more about that and check today’s price on Chewy by clicking here!
What I Love About It: Unlike other hard carriers that use latches to secure the top and bottom, this carrier is fastened with nuts and bolts along the rim.
What I Wished It Had: I’d like this carrier to have a belt or safety loops that you can attach to the car seat.
4. Best Travel Carrier For The Back Seat: Sport PET Large Pop Open Kennel
✅ You can fasten it with seatbelt straps to keep it in place and safe from sliding while driving.
✅It has waterproof and machine washable pads to protect the carrier from kitty accidents or water bowl spillage.
✅ You can cover the large mesh windows for more privacy, or protect your kitty from the sun while driving.
✅ This carrier comes at a budget-friendly price, but the litter box isn't included.
This carrier almost won the top spot on this list, but it couldn’t quite make it because it’s too large for an airplane, something you can clearly observe on the images that Amazon and the reviewers offer.
While you won’t be able to fit this carrier under an airplane seat, you can attach it safely to the back seat of your car.
I also don’t think this carrier is designed for vet visits, but it’s perfect for road trips no matter how short or long distance they might be.
If you’re planning on moving and your journey is quite far, this carrier will most likely help your kitty get through it. Plus if you won’t move ever again and aren’t planning on traveling with your cat you could use it as a portable outdoor enclosure.
You can take a closer look at this unique feline carrier and see the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: I know that the litter box isn’t included, but the fact that you can fit a litter box in this carrier has me sold.
What I Wished It Had: The material isn’t durable enough for a feisty cat, and two cats can easily tear this if they start fighting.
5. Best Cat Carrier For The Front Seat: Pet Gear Signature Dog & Cat Car Seat & Carrier Bag
✅ The Pet Gear carrier comes at an affordable price.
✅ Designed for pets up to 20 pounds, so it's perfect for large breeds.
✅ You can place the seat belt through the seat belt loops, so it stays in place during the drive.
✅ The top opening offers easy access for you and the vet.
Placing your kitty in the front seat isn’t always a safe choice, but road trips also mean lots of luggage, and it’s not always ideal to have other bags sitting next to your cat’s carrier at the back seat.
While the carrier itself won’t move, it takes one abrupt turn for your personal belongings to topple over your kitty. It’s also possible that your car mightn’t have a back seat so you have to use the front seat to transport your kitty.
In any case, one thing is clear, the fourth carrier on our list won’t do it for you, that’s why I decided to add Pet Gear. The shape and size of this carrier are made to fit perfectly at the front seat.
Most importantly your kitty should be happy with the carrier itself since it gives them plenty of space to stand up and stretch. You could also place a food or water bowl for longer trips, but it’s not large enough for a litter box.
The mesh windows offer supreme airflow, but they also offer too much visibility, which can make certain cats uncomfortable especially since the front seat gives them a better view of their surroundings.
If you want to know more, read the reviews and see today’s price on Chewy by clicking here.
What I Love About It: There’s enough room for treats, a comfortable blanket, and toys to make the ride more comfortable.
What I Wish It Had: I would love it if this carrier had lockable zippers against determined escape artists.
6. Best Cat Carrier For Two Cats on Long Car Trips: One For Pets Portable 2-in-1 Double Pet Kennel
✅ The built-in straps connect to the seatbelt, securing the carrier during the car drive.
✅ There are pegs to help secure the carrier to the ground, for outdoor use.
✅ The carrier can be used for two cats individually, or as one large carrier for one cat.
Traveling with two cats in the same carrier isn’t ideal. Stressful situations can make any kitty become defensive, and they can easily lash out at the cat that they’re sharing their carrier with.
But I also understand that this isn’t the best choice for everyone, and there are owners out there claiming that their bonded cats feel better when traveling side by side.
No matter what your stance is, this carrier should make everyone happy!
There are three ways you can use the One for Pets carrier.
1. As two single carriers for each cat.
2. As two connected carriers with a divide in the middle.
3. As one single connected carrier for both cats to share.
If you’re not sure how this magic works, you can always consult the video by clicking here.
With this carrier, you can test their limits, by keeping the compartment connected but divided. This way they won’t be able to fight each other during the car drive, but they’ll still be close for emotional support.
If you hear them hiss and claw at the divide you can keep the two carriers spaced out on the two back seats.
Then again you might find that your cats love to travel in the same carrier, in that case, you simply have to put down the divide.
Aside from these three functions, the compartments are large enough individually. If you’re planning on using the whole thing for one cat there’s enough space for their food and water, as well as their litter.
As with all soft carriers, especially ones that have so many parts, make sure you check all the zippers before the ride. Cats are smart creatures and if they see a way out they’ll make sure to run for it.
You can take a closer look at this unique carrier and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: The design is simply perfect for long trips, and if you don’t believe me you can check the 600+ positive reviews from fellow cat travelers!
What I Wish It Had: It will be difficult to carry both kennels all at once, and it’s best you don’t do it all alone.
7. Best Collapsible Carrier With A Litter Box: CHEERING PET Cat Travel Cage
I truly appreciate cat brands that are trying to offer more than just a carrier. This large cat condo has everything your kitty is going to need during their long drive to a new destination.
While it’s clearly not made for airplane flights, or small vet visits, this carrier can help bring a sense of comfort to your kitty during any long-distance road trip.
You can stick both the collapsible litter box and water bowl to the bottom so they don’t move around the carrier. This is an important feature when you’re on the road and no matter how smooth of a driver you are the road can be full of bumps and turns.
The carrier also has a large mesh window for the curious cats, but if your kitty prefers the dark you can pull the “curtain” down and help them feel safer.
The carrier itself is also collapsible and can be stored in a bag, but it’s definitely cute enough to leave it out in the open as a hiding spot for your kitty.
There are plenty of reviews that use this carrier for more than one cat, you can check them on Amazon along with today’s price.
What I Love About It: This carrier is like a little cat paradise. It has all their essentials, as well as toys that you can attach to the top.
What I Wish It Had: It would be better if the carrier had an additional top opening.
8. Best Airline Approved Carrier For Car Travel: Sherpa Forma Frame Airline Approved and Crash Tested Carrier
✅ Sherpa carrier includes straps that can be fixed to your car seat.
✅ Crash Tested by the University of Michigan, to ensure your pet's safety while driving.
✅ It has a reversible and washable mat for all seasons and easy cleaning when you're on the road.
✅ Perfect for cats up to 16lbs.
Last but not least, we have a Sherpa carrier on our list.
When it comes, lightweight and strong are two words you truly appreciate especially when you have additional luggage to carry from your car to the airport, and up those wobbly aircraft stairs.
Of course, this carrier is airline-approved, and while it meets the size requirements it still manages to be a comfortable little place for your kitty.
I know many of us to have second thoughts when it comes to soft-sided carriers with mesh windows. Many of them can tear if our cats put their heart, mind, and claws too, but this carrier promises that their windows are claw-proof.
Aside from being airplane compatible, you don’t have to only use it when you’re flying. The carrier is perfectly suitable for car rides, to the vet, or even a day trip.
When it comes to long car travel, I’d probably go with our bigger options on this list or our number one option that is expandable but also meets airline requirements.
If you want to read more about Sherpa carriers, read the Q&A section or simply check today’s price on Amazon, click here.
What I Love About It: For a crash-tested pet carrier, the price is quite affordable.
What I Wished It Had: The carrier doesn’t have a top opening which for certain cat parents like myself can be a struggle.
What Is the Safest Way To Transport Your Cat On A Long Car Ride?
Now that we’ve gone through the list of our best cat carriers and perhaps you already have your mind set on one of them, it’s time to think about the journey itself.
Carriers are a crucial part of traveling with your kitty, but there are also other things you need to pay attention to, more so when you’re planning a long road trip.
Consider Their Needs
It’s not always easy to imagine that cats can leave the comfort of their home and be positive about it, but Tammy Hunter, DVM, is here to let us know that “cats can be very lively travel companions if we take the time to create a positive experience for them.”
The first step you need to take to create this positive association is by turning the carrier into a happy space. Don’t keep it hidden until the day of the trip, instead treat the carrier as a full-time cat bed. This means placing a cozy blanket full of familiar scents that they love to knead, as well as toys and some catnip if your kitty is into it.
Another great piece of advice from Dr. Hunter is to keep your cat’s food in individual containers so you can easily feed them during the trip. Use familiar dishes both for the food and water and I’d even suggest adding a bit of their old litter into the portable litter box to help them feel at home.
She also adds that if your car trip will take you less than a day you can withhold breakfast from your cat to avoid vomiting and feed them the moment you reach your destination. This of course won’t work for longer trips, during which your kitty will need food and water for hydration especially if it’s hot outside.
You also need to make sure you’re making regular stops to check out your kitty. Perhaps you’ll notice your cat panting, in which case you’ll have to replenish their water and perhaps turn the AC on.
The number of car breaks you’ll need to take will depend on the longevity of the trip if it’s day or night, and the individual cat, but pet experts recommend that “you should stop every two hours to allow your dog or cat to relieve itself and stretch its legs.”
Another thing you need to remember is never leave your cat alone inside the car, first of all, it’s not safe even if you have the heating or A/C on and secondly it can be considered illegal in certain states of the U.S. and possibly in other countries of the E.U.
Of course, you might have to fill up your car or run to the toilet for a brief stop. In this case, you could leave a note on your car, that you’ll be back in a few minutes, perhaps leave a phone number as well and make sure the heating or A/C are on.
Consider Their Privacy
Cats have different personalities and while some might enjoy the view from their carrier, for others this could be a source of anxiety.
If your kitty is one of the cats that prefer to be in a dark carrier with minimal visibility then you can consider a carrier that has roller blinds, or instead use a light breathable fabric to cover the carrier.
For those of you who want to embark on a road trip with your kitty during the summer, covering the carrier is important during the day, or you can use a window shade to keep them safe from driving in direct sunlight for long hours.
On the other hand, some cats prefer fully translucent windows in their carrier so they can enjoy the view around them, and be able to look at their owner. These kitties can benefit from multiple entry points that can offer complete visibility of their surroundings, plus these carriers also have great ventilation.
Consider Their Safety
We’ve already talked about the crash-tested carriers that are the ultimate safe option. But not everyone can afford it, and even if you do there are other things that you need to pay attention to in order to make the carrier a safe place for your kitty when it arrives.
First, make sure that the carrier is escape-proof. Whether you go for a soft or hard carrier make sure you check the zippers, all the seams, or the buckles and the plastic sides. All these parts need to be sturdy, with no tears or breaks.
Then I’d suggest you give the carrier a test run with your kitty. Once your cat is comfortable with their new carrier, take them for a few rides around the block before the big journey.
This way you’ll have a chance to test out the seatbelt loops or any other method with which the carrier can be belted into the backseat. You’ll also be able to see if your kitty feels comfortable in it and whether the carrier offers proper ventilation.
I think a good carrier is an important part of traveling with your kitty, but even the greatest cat carrier can’t replace the importance of cat-friendly traveling practices!
Do I Have To Worry About Pet Carrier Airline Requirements?
This will heavily depend on your future plans. I personally use my cats’ carriers once or twice a year when I take them to the vet, and when they were younger I used to also bring them with me to my parent’s home on Holidays, which was a two-hour car drive.
I never had to consider airline requirements, so I went for cozy carriers that offered more space. If you’re like me then you can also look for a carrier without being restricted by certain airline regulations and their sizing.
For those of you that go on road trips occasionally and take your feline companion with you, but you also want to be flexible in case you need to fly then it’s best you look for a carrier that does follow airline sizing requirements for pet carriers.
That’s why I made sure to add the Sherpa Forma carrier that is airline-approved and should work better for your personal traveling needs.
Instead of buying one carrier that can work both for your car and the airplane you could have two different carriers that can serve you for these two different occasions.
One of my best friends actually has one smaller carrier for vet visits that can work for airplanes and a much larger carrier for long car drives.
Her kitty is pretty easygoing and has no issue switching between these two carriers, but certain cats will find it difficult to accept two different means of confinement.
You will also have to make sure that the carriers aren’t tucked away in a closet, instead, both need to be on public display, so your kitty feels more familiar with them, especially if you convert them into cat beds or hiding spots around the house.
You can go for an all-in-one carrier or have more than one, at the end of the day the choice is yours, but do consider what your kitty also might have to say about this.
No matter how excited you are about the adventure you’re about to embark on by going on a car trip, having your feline companion in the back seat can be stressful.
And speaking from my own experience picking a carrier is no easy task either. I mean there are so many things going through your mind while scrolling through the vast list of carriers available online.
Is it large enough? Will they be able to breathe properly? Will it be comfortable, and most importantly will the carrier be safe?
Well, that’s why my feline friends and I tried to make this search easier and created a list of carriers that not only are safe to travel with but are also cozy for our furry road trip buddies.
Now it’s your turn to tell us all about your travels and how does your kitty feels about them, do you usually leave them behind, or do you take them along inside their cozy carrier?