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10 Best Cat Carriers for Car Travel in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

Nicole Cosgrove

July 23, 2021

cat carrier for travel

Whether you want to take your cat on road trips, or just want to get them to the vet in one piece, you need a great cat carrier for the car. There are many choices out there that vary in terms of quality, safety, and comfort.

You want to find the best carrier for your cat, but it’s tough to navigate the many options. Don’t worry, though! Our reviews will make it easy for you to find the best cat carrier for your needs.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
SP Dog & Cat Car Seat Crate SP Dog & Cat Car Seat Crate
  • Can hold a litter box
  • Secures to seat belts and headrests
  • Large size for comfort and movement
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Necoichi Ultra Light Collapsible Cat Carrier Bag Necoichi Ultra Light Collapsible Cat Carrier Bag
  • Water-resistant
  • Ventilation windows
  • Collapsible for easy storage
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    ibiyaya 5-in-1 Combo EVA Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier & Stroller ibiyaya 5-in-1 Combo EVA Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier & Stroller
  • Great for car trips
  • Can be used as a backpack
  • Comes with a stroller attachment
  • petisfam Pet Carrier for Medium Cats and Small Dogs petisfam Pet Carrier for Medium Cats and Small Dogs
  • Adjustable shoulder strap
  • Plush, comfortable interior
  • Easy to load cat in and out
  • Pet Gear I-GO Plus Traveler Dog & Cat Backpack & Rolling Carrier Pet Gear I-GO Plus Traveler Dog & Cat Backpack & Rolling Carrier
  • Multi-use product
  • Secure, breathable mesh
  • Removable, washable padding
  • The 10 Best Cat Carriers for Car Travel – Reviews & Top Picks 2021

     1. SP Dog & Cat Car Seat Crate – Best Overall

    SP Dog & Cat Car Seat Crate

    Dimensions: 42.25” L x 18.75” H x 17.25” W
    Product Weight: 6.57 pounds
    Soft/Hard-sided: Soft side, hard ends
    Safety features: Seat belt loops, headrest straps for securing in the backseat

    Our best overall cat carrier for car travel is the SP Dog & Cat Car Seat Crate. This carrier is made specifically for long car trips. It securely attaches to the back seat of your car with seat belt loops and headrest straps. There is enough room in the carrier for a small travel litter box as well as food and water bowls. The sides are made of soft mesh and each end has a hard plastic shell with a wire door to make it easier for you to load your cat into the carrier. The only drawback is the size—this is a large carrier meant to fill most of your back seat.

    Pros
    • Large size for comfort and movement
    • Can hold a litter box
    • Secures to seat belts and headrests
    • Large enough for two cats
    Cons
    • Takes up a lot of space in the car

    2. Necoichi Ultra Light Collapsible Cat Carrier Bag – Best Value

    Necoichi Ultra Light Collapsible Cat Carrier Bag

    Dimensions: 19.7” L x 15.7” H x 13” W
    Product Weight: 1 pound
    Soft/Hard-sided: Soft
    Safety features: Sturdy fabric, small footprint

    If you are looking for an easy-to-use carrier for short trips to the vet, then the Necoichi Ultra Light Collapsible Cat Carrier is a great choice. This is our best cat carrier for car travel for the money. It is lightweight, made of a sturdy fabric, folds easily for storage, is water-resistant, and has large ventilation windows. It has a small footprint that will easily fit on the floor of the backseat of your cat. This carrier is not meant for long road trips, however, but it is a fine, affordable option for short ones.

    Pros
    • Made of strong fabric for security
    • Collapsible for easy storage
    • Water-resistant
    • Ventilation windows
    Cons
    • Not meant for long road trips

    3. ibiyaya 5-in-1 Combo EVA Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier & Stroller – Premium Choice

    ibiyaya 5-in-1 Combo EVA Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier & Stroller

    Dimensions: Carrier only 19.7” L x 13.4” H x 11.8” W
    Product Weight: 15. 7 pounds
    Soft/Hard-sided: Soft, padded
    Safety features: Seat belt strap, ventilation mesh

    If you are the adventurous type with an equally curious kitty who wants to go on adventures with you, then the Ibiyaya 5-in-1 Combo Carrier is perfect for your needs! This deluxe option has it all. You can use it as a car seat by securing it with a seat belt. The back has straps that allow you to carry it as a backpack. Then there is a stroller attachment that you can use when you have extra stuff to carry. The carrier itself also has wheels so you can pull it like a suitcase too! All of these options make for a flexible carrier that also doesn’t shy away from comfort. The inside is softly padded so your cat will be comfortable on all of your adventures.

    Pros
    • Comes with a stroller attachment
    • Can be used as a backpack
    • Great for car trips
    • Plenty of ventilation
    Cons
    • A little expensive

    4. petisfam Pet Carrier for Medium Cats and Small Dogs

    petisfam Pet Carrier for Medium Cats and Small Dogs

    Dimensions: 17” L x 11” H x 11” W
    Product Weight: 2.49 pounds
    Soft/Hard-sided: Soft
    Safety features: Leash hook, seat belt straps

    This petisfam carrier is a great option for cat comfort and value. It has a plush interior pad with a machine-washable cover. The sides are made of a durable mesh for good ventilation and visibility for your cat. The three different openings make it easier to get your cat in and out of the carrier. There are also seat belt straps for safety in the car. The biggest drawback is the lack of padding in the shoulder straps. If you plan on carrying the carrier for a longer distance, it may be uncomfortable on your shoulders.

    Pros
    • Plush, comfortable interior
    • Good ventilation
    • Adjustable shoulder strap
    • Easy to load cat in and out
    Cons
    • Shoulder straps are not padded

    5. Pet Gear I-GO Plus Traveler Dog & Cat Backpack & Rolling Carrier

    Pet Gear I-GO Plus Traveler Dog & Cat Backpack & Rolling Carrier

    Dimensions: 16” L x 22” H x 13.5” W
    Product Weight: 6 pounds
    Soft/Hard-sided: Soft
    Safety features: Seat belt loops, ventilation mesh

    If you are looking for a multi-use carrier at a lower price than our deluxe option, then this is the carrier for you! The Pet Gear I-GO Plus is a backpack, roller bag, car seat, and carrier all in one. It does not require any tedious assembly and is easy to use. For safety in the car, you can securely fasten this carrier with a seat belt. Your cat will appreciate the comfortable, fleece-lined pad that you can remove and wash when needed. One thing to be aware of is storage. If you are short on space, this carrier does not collapse and fold up like some of the others on our list.

    Pros
    • Multi-use product
    • Removable, washable padding
    • Secure, breathable mesh
    Cons
    • The handle isn’t padded
    • Not collapsible for storage

    6. OMORC Pet Carrier Airline Approved, Expandable Foldable Soft-Sided Carrier

    OMORC Pet Carrier Airline Approved, Expandable Foldable Soft-Sided Carrier

    Dimensions: Normal: 18” L x 9.4” H x 11” W, Expanded: 18” L x 9.4” H x 29.8 ”W
    Product Weight: 3.79 pounds
    Soft/Hard-sided: Soft
    Safety features: Reflective tape, safety belt

    This cat carrier is a good choice if you are traveling and then staying somewhere for the night. The expandable sides give your cat more space to stretch out after a long car ride. It can attach securely to your car seat when not expanded for your cat’s safety. The interior is only 9.4 inches in height when the bottom pad is inserted, making this a better choice for smaller cats rather than large ones. The maximum weight it can carry is 15 pounds.

    Pros
    • Expandable for more space
    • Comfortable interior
    • Attaches to the seat belt for safety
    Cons
    • 15-pound weight limit
    • Interior height is only 9.4”

    7. morpilot Pet Travel Carrier Bag, Portable Pet Bag – Folding Fabric Pet Carrier

    morpilot Pet Travel Carrier Bag, Portable Pet Bag - Folding Fabric Pet Carrier

    Dimensions: 17.3” L x 13.4” H x 12.2” W
    Product Weight: 3.15 pounds
    Soft/Hard-sided: Soft
    Safety features: Safe for car, good ventilation

    The morpilot carrier is a nice value for car rides with your cat. It has a super-soft removable bed inside for ultimate cat comfort. The carrier easily buckles in with your car seat belts for safety and security. It even comes with a collapsible dish for food or water on the road. The detachable shoulder strap is padded for your comfort. This is a good choice for smaller cats as the top opening is a bit of a tight fit for huskier kitties. The weight limit is 15 pounds.

    Pros
    • Collapsible food or water dish included
    • Plush interior bed
    • Easy to buckle in with car seat belt
    Cons
    • 15-pound weight limit
    • The top opening is a little small

    8. Petmate Two Door Top Load Dog & Cat Kennel

    Petmate Two Door Top Load Dog & Cat Kennel

    Dimensions: 24.05” L x 14.5” H x 16.76” W
    Product Weight: 6.43 pounds
    Soft/Hard-sided: Hard
    Safety features: Hard plastic shell, steel wire front

    If you have a heavy or feisty cat, then you may want to consider the Petmate Top Load Kennel. The top-loading door feature makes it easier to get a resistant cat into the carrier while the weight maximum is 20 pounds. This basic kennel does not have some of the frills of the other choices here, but it will get your cat where they need to go safely. Even though it lacks seat belt loops, you can rest this carrier securely on the floor of your backseat.

    Pros
    • Good for feisty cats
    • Secure front latch
    • Can carry cats up to 20 pounds
    Cons
    • Lacks seat belt loops
    • No inner padding for comfort

    9. Sherpa Forma Frame Dog & Cat Carrier Bag

    Sherpa Forma Frame Dog & Cat Carrier Bag

    Dimensions: 22.83” L x 15.94” H x 15.94” W
    Product Weight: 6.68 pounds
    Soft/Hard-sided: Soft
    Safety features: Seat belt straps, crash-tested

    If you are looking for the ultimate carrier for cat safety and security, then you may want to check out the Sherpa Forma Frame Carrier. This heavy-duty carrier has both seat belt straps and a built-in tether system for great security. It has a comfortable liner for your cat and three ventilation windows. It can also be used for cats of all sizes as the maximum weight is 35 pounds. The biggest drawback is the price. This is one of the most expensive options on our list.

    Pros
    • Securely attaches to your car seats
    • Comfortable, quilted liner
    • Can hold pets up to 35 pounds
    Cons
    • Quite expensive
    • A little heavy

    10. Sleepypod Atom Pet Carrier

    Sleepypod Atom Pet Carrier

    Dimensions: 18.5” L x 11.02 ”H x 8.8” W
    Product Weight: 3.31 pounds
    Soft/Hard-sided: Soft
    Safety features: Seat belt straps, ventilation mesh

    The Sleepypod Atom Pet Carrier is not made for large cats. However, if you have a petite kitty and want a safe, secure way to transport them in the car, this might be a good choice for you. The Sleepypod is made with your cat’s safety in mind. It can attach securely with your seat belt and has thick padding on the sides for protection. It is a little on the pricey side but does a great job of keeping your small cat safe in the car.

    Pros
    • Seat belt straps for safety
    • Mesh top panel
    • Padded shoulder strap
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • 12-pound maximum weight
    • 8” height only tall enough for smaller cats

    Buyer’s Guide

    Now that you have read about our top picks for cat carriers for car travel, let’s take a look at some things you should consider when selecting the best carrier for your needs.

    What to Consider When Choosing a Cat Carrier for Car Travel

    • How long is the car trip? A small carrier is perfectly fine for quick trips to the vet or the groomer. However, if you are going to be in the car for hours, you need to give your cat more space. They are going to need a litter box and access to food and water, so you’ll need a carrier that gives you the room your cat needs.
    • How big is your cat? It is recommended that your cat be able to stand up fully and turn around in its carrier. You also need to pay attention to the weight limit for the carrier you choose. A heavier cat will need a sturdier carrier for its safety and comfort.
    • How much space do you have for the carrier? Some of our picks require a lot of space in the car. If your car doesn’t have enough room for a full backseat-sized carrier, you’ll need to consider a smaller option. It is always best to securely fasten the carrier with a seat belt or tether whenever possible.
    • What’s your cat’s personality? If your cat likes adventures, you may not have too much trouble coaxing them into the carrier. However, if you have a feistier feline, one of the top-loading options might be an easier choice for you to get the cat in.
    • What’s happening when you get to your destination? Are you bringing your cat for a quick vet visit? Or are you going on a hike with your outdoor-loving kitty in tow? Will you be staying in a hotel or other rental in which your cat will need a secure place to sleep, eat, and use their litter box? If you are going to stay somewhere for a few nights, it might be worth it to invest in one of the larger carriers that can fit a litter box and food and water bowls.

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    Conclusion

    Car travel with your cat doesn’t have to be a hassle. There are plenty of great carrier options in our reviews to meet your needs. For space and security in the car, our best overall pick, the SP Dog & Cat Car Seat Crate is a great choice. When you are looking for an affordable option for short car trips, the Necoichi Ultra Light Collapsible Cat Carrier Bag will do the job. For the adventurous family and cat, investing in the ibiyaya 5-in-1 Combo will give you everything you need.

    Nicole Cosgrove

    Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.