Having a sturdy cat carrier can mean a less stressful trip when dealing with a feisty feline. We take our pets to the vet, airport, and on vacation, and you want to be able to use a carrier that has convenient features for you while still being comfortable and spacious for your cat.
Realistically, the ultimate goal of choosing the right carrier is to protect your cat with something that isn’t going to fall apart.
We’ve gathered some highly recommended cat carriers with top reviews to help you decide which suits your cat and their needs.
A Quick Comparison of Our Winners in 2023
|Best Overall||Frisco Two Door Cat Carrier||
|Best Value||Petmate Two Door Top Load Carrier||
|Premium Choice||Catit Cabrio Multi-Functional Cat Kennel||
|Petmate Sky Dog & Cat Kennel||
|IRIS Easy Access Cat Carrier||
The 10 Best Hard-Sided Cat Carriers
1. Frisco Two Door Top Load Cat Carrier – Best Overall
We all know what a challenge it can be to try to squeeze our adult cats through a small opening on the front of a carrier when they’re fighting you. The first thing that draws people to this cat carrier is that it has both front and top loading options that make it easier for you to put your cat inside without having to hold them in an uncomfortable position.
Although this carrier is a little pricier than others, there are some excellent reasons why it’s the best overall hard-sided cat carrier. This design has two sizes that fit both cats and dogs. The smaller size fits animals up to 19 inches long, and the larger size fits animals 24 inches long. The roomy size ensures that your cat feels safe without being scrunched up inside.
The Frisco Two Door Top Load Cat Carrier is easy to assemble and the top piece fits inside the bottom for easy storage. It is made of 100% recycled plastic with a moat inside that makes it easy to clean up messes and keep their paws dry when there is an accident. There is plenty of ventilation, a foldable handle, and wire mesh doors so that you can always keep an eye on your pet.
All in all, we think this is the best hard-sided cat carrier this year.
2. Petmate Two Door Top Load Carrier – Best Value
Finding the best hard-sided cat carrier for the money is a challenge because you want top-quality products without having to dish out a lot of money. The Petmate Two Door Top Load Carrier is a nice choice if you prefer to save a few extra bucks while still getting the features provided by more expensive products.
This cat carrier is suitable for animals up to 10 pounds and 19 inches long. The top and front entries are desirable factors and they have easy-squeeze latches on both with a foldable handle on top. It is air-travel approved and has plenty of ventilation holes for your cat on the sides and doors.
The downside to this carrier is that there is only one size that doesn’t accommodate larger cat breeds and the front door is only 6 inches tall.
3. Catit Cabrio Multi-Functional Cat Kennel – Premium Choice
Some people prefer the best of the best with as much convenience as possible, regardless of the price. Despite the high price point for the Catit Cabrio Multi-Functional Cat Kennel, there are a lot of benefits to spending a little extra cash.
Aside from the stylish design, this carrier has both a top and front load, but the top load has two hinges that open up to 180° so that you don’t have to fight with your kitty to get them to go inside. The crate is roomy enough for most cats, but there is only one size.
Traveling is no problem with this carrier because it allows a seatbelt to be looped through the top handle and two bowls for food and water inside. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to collapse this carrier, which makes storing it harder.
4. Petmate Sky Dog & Cat Kennel
Even with the higher price range, the Petmate Sky Dog and Cat Kennel doubles as a two-in-one carrier and kennel so that your feline friend has a safe place to lounge or travel. There are two sizes available, and the smaller size has plenty of room with 21 inches in length and food and water bowls on the front door.
This carrier features a heavy-duty, recyclable plastic casing and wire doors for lots of security while still allowing your pet to breathe. The medium and large carrier do not come with handles, and it may not be approved by some airlines. With that said, it is still a safe option to choose from if traveling with a pet.
5. IRIS Easy Access Cat Carrier
If you’re looking for an affordable cat carrier for small kittens, the IRIS Easy Access Cat Carrier is a good option. There is a small plastic door latch that opens from the top and a wire mesh door on the front. The small size isn’t ideal for adult cats and will only be suitable for small breeds or kittens. There aren’t a lot of ventilation holes compared to some of the other carriers, but there are still enough to allow them to breathe.
The foldable handle is designed for your comfort, and the latches are easy to take apart so that you can collapse it and store it.
6. Van Ness Calm Cat Carrier
Skittish cats tend to hide inside their carriers, and it makes it nearly impossible to fish them out. The Van Ness Calm Cat Carrier allows you to slide the bottom section away from the top so that the kitty has nowhere to hide and you can safely grab them. There is ventilation on all sides, so they have plenty of air to breathe, and it is constructed from high-impact plastic materials that are easy to clean.
Despite the unique design, this carrier has a unique latch system on the front door that isn’t always easy to open. It also lacks a top door and isn’t suitable for larger cat breeds.
7. Pet Magasin Collapsible Pet Carrier
The Pet Magasin Collapsible Pet Carrier brand found a way to combine the sturdiness of a hard plastic cat carrier with the soft touch of a mesh carrier. This cat carrier is affordable for all price ranges, and the sturdy walls and top keep your pet secure but comfy.
There are lots of holes to make the carrier breathable, but the front and top doors zip off, which could be convenient or problematic depending on your preference. This material isn’t waterproof, so it is a little more challenging to clean.
The sleek design and soft sides attract pet owners to this carrier because it means it is approved by most airlines. It easily folds down into a small package, and the pad inside ensures your cat stays cozy the whole trip. However, the small size isn’t suitable for most adult cats.
8. Petmate Ruff Maxx Dog and Cat Kennel
Finding a high-quality carrier for an affordable price is a challenge. This pet carrier is moderately priced but doesn’t have a lot of the bells and whistles of other carriers. Despite this, there are lots of sizing options so that it fits the needs of whatever size cat you have. The door is tall as well, making it easier to put your cat inside.
The Petmate Ruff Maxx Dog and Cat Kennel meats most USDA air travel requirements, but the larger sizes might not be able to fit under an airplane seat. It also has fewer air holes than some of the other products listed.
9. Frisco Top Loading Cat Kennel
This affordable option draws people in because of its price and ability to hold up to 18 pounds. However, it is smaller in size and might not be the most comfortable for adult cats.
The Frisco Top Loading Cat Kennel has a unique shape and foldable handle, but it only has a top-loading option which would be dangerous for your cat if not latched correctly. It comes in two colors is ideal for small cats and short trips only.
10. Midwest Spree Hard Cat Carrier
The Midwest Spree Hard Cat Carrier is a good choice if you’re on a strict budget and need something that works for short trips. Although made from plastic, it isn’t the most durable compared to other hard-sided carriers. The door is also made of plastic and could easily break.
There are a lot of color options and two different size options so it is able to accommodate cats of almost all sizes. Although affordable, there isn’t a lot of comfort that comes with carrying this kennel physically or mentally.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Hard-Sided Cat Carrier
Finding a suitable cat carrier isn’t hard. However, it is something that takes thoughtful consideration. Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for a cat carrier, but at the end of the day, choose a carrier that is going to make your cat feel secure while they travel and won’t fall apart while in your hand.
Comfort is a key consideration for both you and your cat. You want to be able to carry your cat around in a way that is comfortable for both of you. You also want to make sure that you choose the right size carrier for your cat. Only buy cat carriers that give your pet space to lay or sit. When in doubt, it’s better to buy something a little bit bigger than what your cat needs, if possible, that way your cat will have more room to move around and more space for food and water if your cat will be in the carrier for a long time.
Easy to Clean
The great thing about hard-sided cat carriers is that the hard sides are usually made of plastic and other waterproof materials that are easy to clean. However, you may also want to make sure that the lid of the carrier comes off easily so that you can thoroughly clean the inside as well. Luckily, most hard-sided carriers should be able to be cleaned with just soap and water, so you don’t have to worry too much about which carrier you choose in this aspect.
Another important thing to consider is the carrier’s accessibility. You don’t want a carrier that is going to be hard for you to get your cat into and out of. Make sure that the lid and door access prevents you from having to force your cat in the carrier so that you don’t hurt them, and make sure that the door is the appropriate size as well. Some carriers have front access, some have top access, and some have both top and front access. You know your cat best, so make sure that you buy something that is easy to put them into and take them out of.
Finally, if you are going to be traveling with your cat via airplane, you want to make sure to purchase a carrier that meets the airline’s travel requirements. The requirements will vary by airline, so if this is your main reason for buying a cat carrier, make sure you check the airline’s requirements first so that you can narrow down your search and make sure the carrier meets the requirements.
We hope that we’ve gathered enough reviews for you to make an informed decision about the cat carrier that is going to make your feline friend the most relaxed. You’ve discovered that the Frisco Two-door Top Load Carrier is the best overall, while the Petmate Two-door Top Load Carrier is the best for the price. Regardless of if you’ve got no budget or the tightest budget, we’re confident that you’ll find a carrier from this article that fits everything on your wish list and makes your cat feel less stressed when they hit the road.