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10 Best Hard-Sided Cat Carriers in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

Oliver Jones

July 18, 2021

Frisco Two Door Top Load Plastic cat carrier_Chewy

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 its needs.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Frisco Two Door Top Load Cat Carrier Frisco Two Door Top Load Cat Carrier
  • Multiple sizes
  • Two loading locations
  • Easy storage
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Petmate Two Door Top Load Carrier Petmate Two Door Top Load Carrier
  • Moderately priced
  • Sturdy
  • Lots of ventilation
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Catit Cabrio Multi-Functional Cat Kennel Catit Cabrio Multi-Functional Cat Kennel
  • 180° top door
  • Two doors
  • Waterproof material
  • Petmate Sky Dog & Cat Kennel Petmate Sky Dog & Cat Kennel
  • Heavy-duty plastic material
  • Dual purpose
  • Two sizes
  • IRIS Easy Access Cat Carrier IRIS Easy Access Cat Carrier
  • Cheap
  • Two doors
  • Foldable handle
  • The 10 Best Hard-Sided Cat Carriers – Reviews & Top Picks 2021

    1. Frisco Two Door Top Load Cat Carrier – Best Overall

    Frisco Two Door Top Load cat carrier_Chewy

    • Dimensions (LxWxH): 24 x 16.5 x 14.5 inches
    • Weight: 6.43 pounds
    • Life stage: Kitten or adult
    • Material: Plastic

    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 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 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.

    Pros
    • Multiple sizes
    • Two loading locations
    • Recyclable material
    • Moat inside to keep paws dry
    • Easy storage
    • Foldable handle
    • Roomy
    • Two sizes and color
    Cons
    • Semi-pricey

    2. Petmate Two Door Top Load Carrier – Best Value

    Petmate Two Door Top Load cat carrier_Amazon

    • Dimensions (LxWxH): 19″ x 13″ x 10″
    • Weight: 3.5 pounds
    • Life stage: Small adult or kitten
    • Material: Plastic

    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 six inches tall.

    Pros
    • Moderately priced
    • Sturdy
    • Two doors
    • Lots of ventilation
    • Foldable handle
    Cons
    • Smaller size
    • Small front door opening

    3. Catit Cabrio Multi-Functional Cat Kennel – Premium Choice

    Catit Cabrio Multi-Functional Cat Kennel_Chewy

    • Dimensions (LxWxH): 20 x 13 x 13.8 inches
    • Weight: 2.2 pounds
    • Life stage: Adult or kitten
    • Material:Plastic

    Some people prefer the best of the best with as much convenience as possible, regardless of the price. Despite the high price point for this carrier, 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 create 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.

    Pros
    • 180° top door
    • Seat belt loop for safety
    • Two doors
    • Food and water bowls included
    • Waterproof material
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Not collapsible

    4. Petmate Sky Dog & Cat Kennel

    Petmate Sky cat kennel_Chewy

    • Dimensions (LxWxH): 21 x 16 x 15 inches
    • Weight: 6.02 pounds
    • Life stage: Adult or kitten
    • Material:Plastic

    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.

    Pros
    • Heavy-duty plastic material
    • Dual purpose
    • Two sizes
    • Roomy
    • Comes with food and water bowls
    Cons
    • Pricey
    • Larger sizes don’t have a top handle
    • Only one door

    5. IRIS Easy Access Cat Carrier

    IRIS Small Easy Access cat carrier_Chewy

    • Dimensions (LxWxH): 19 x 12 x 9.75 inches
    • Weight: 2.87 pounds
    • Life stage: Kitten
    • Material:Plastic

    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.

    Pros
    • Cheap
    • Two doors
    • Foldable handle
    • Easy to use latches
    Cons
    • Not suitable for adult cats
    • Fewer ventilation holes

    6. Van Ness Calm Carrier

    Van Ness Calm Carrier_Chewy

    • Dimensions (LxWxH): 20 x 14 x 13 inches
    • Weight: 4.5 pounds
    • Life stage: Kittens or adults
    • Material:Polypropolene

    Skittish cats tend to hide inside their carriers, and it makes it nearly impossible to fish them out. The Van Ness 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 to 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.

    Pros
    • Slide-out feature
    • Lots of ventilation
    • Easy to clean material
    Cons
    • Complicated door latch
    • Pricey
    • Not large enough for some adult cats

    7. Pet Magasin Collapsible Pet Carrier

    Pet Magasin Collapsible cat carrier_Chewy

    • Dimensions (LxWxH): 17 x 14 x 13 inches
    • Weight: 5.0 pounds
    • Life stage: Kittens
    • Material: Sturdy Mesh

    The Pet Magasin 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.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Soft but sturdy material
    • Collapsible
    Cons
    • Not waterproof
    • Too small for adults
    • Zippers make it more difficult to open and close entrances

    8. Pet Mate Ruff Max Dog and Cat Kennel

    Petmate Ruff Maxx cat carrier_Chewy

    • Dimensions (LxWxH): 26.15 x 18.56 x 16.5 inches
    • Weight: 5.75 pounds
    • Life stage: Adult
    • Material:Plastic

    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 Pet Mate Ruff 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.

    Pros
    • Lots of sizes
    • Tall door
    Cons
    • Larger sizes won’t fit on a plane
    • Only one door
    • Fewer ventilation holes

    9. Frisco Top Loading Cat Kennel

    Frisco Top Loading Cat Kennel_Chewy

    • Dimensions (LxWxH): 18.9 x 14.2 x 12.6 inches
    • Weight: 12.64 ounces
    • Life stage: Kittens
    • Material:Plastic

    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.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Holds up to 18 pounds
    • Two colors
    Cons
    • Top load design could be dangerous
    • Small size
    • Doesn’t accommodate adult cats
    • Only one door

    10. Midwest Spree Hard Cat Carrier

    MidWest Spree Hard-Sided cat carrier_Chewy

    • Dimensions (LxWxH): 20.7 x 13.22 x 14.09 inches
    • Weight: N/A
    • Life stage: Adults and kittens
    • Material:Plastic

    The Midwest Spree 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.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Multiple sizes and colors
    Cons
    • Cheap plastic material
    •  Plastic door
    • Suitable for only short trips
    • Only one front door

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    Buyer’s Guide

    Finding a suitable cat carrier isn’t hard. However, it is something that takes thoughtful consideration. You want to be able to carry your cat around in a way that is comfortable for both you and your cat. Only buy cat carriers that give your pet space to lay or sit, waterproof materials that are easy to clean, and door access that prevents you from forcing your cat in the carrier and possibly hurting them. 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.

    Related Read: Soft vs Hard Cat Carrier: Which One is Better for Your Needs?

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    Conclusion

    We hope that we’ve gathered enough reviews for you to make an informed decision about that 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.

    Oliver Jones

    Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.