The 6 Best Cat Carriers For Cars In 2021

Although most pet parents would love to bring their cats everywhere, traveling can make even the most curious feline feel like retreating. That’s why shopping for the best cat carriers for your car is so important, because finding the right one can help make your pet feel more relaxed on the road, and keep them safe while you drive.

Cat carriers come in all different shapes and sizes, and depending on your cat’s demeanor, some models may be a better fit than others. Soft-sided carriers are lightweight, easy to store, and usually an excellent choice for mellow kitties that don’t mind the car too much.

Hard-sided carriers are another popular option, and tend to be more durable and protective than soft-sided ones are, and can be a good investment if your cat is more high-strung and needs more security on trips. And, if you’re looking for a model that’s top-in-class when it comes to safety, consider our best overall option, the Sleepypod Atom pet carrier, which is crash-tested, airline compliant for carry-on travel, and award-winning.

Because picking the best cat carriers for your car (and your cat) is essential if you want to travel anywhere with your pet in tow, let’s get started. This list features some of the most highly rated and popular options on the market today, priced to fit any budget.

In a hurry? These are the best cat carriers for cars:

1. The Overall Best Cat Carrier For Cars: Sleepypod Atom In-Cabin Pet Carrier

2. A Budget-Friendly Soft Carrier: AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier

3. The Best Hard-Sided Cat Carrier: Petmate Two-Door Top-Load Kennel

4. The Best For Multiple Cats: SPORT PET Large Pop Open Kennel

5. The Best For Heavy Cats: PetLuv Soothing Happy Pet Premium Soft-Sided Carrier

6. The Largest For Roaming Around: One for Pets Portable 2-in-1 Double Pet Kennel


The Overall Best Cat Carrier For Cars

The Sleepypod atom in-cabin pet carrier is the best overall pick for driving because not only is this carrier crash-tested for safety in cars, it’s also airline compliant so you can take it with you on any upcoming travel you have. While, yes, the price tag is a little on the higher side, its versatility, durable design, and mesh panels for extra ventilation make it a great investment for pet owners. One thing to note? This cat carrier is meant for cats under 12 pounds, so if your cat fares a little heavier than most, keep scrolling for a different option below.

One reviewer wrote: “So glad I purchased this! My 14 yr old cat loves it. No fighting, she crawls right into it on her own. I truly think she feels more secure than in her last Carrier which had open sides. She doesn’t cry in the car anymore! This is very well made, secures into the car seatbelt and is very easy to carry.”


A Budget-Friendly Soft Carrier

This affordable cat carrier is designed to be lightweight, easy to carry, and highly ventilated. It comes in multiple sizes (perfect for any cat and any car) and is ideal for an assortment of travel options, from longer trips by car to quick rides to the vet. Recommended for a maximum load of 16 pounds, this carrier comes with handles and an adjustable shoulder strap. It also features a machine-washable fleece bed, which gives pets a cozy sleeping space for when you’re on the go.

One reviewer wrote: “My cat has plenty of room in this carrier. We have used it already for a few road trips and she does not complain, she just goes to sleep in there. The padding is pretty thin but cant be any less comfortable than her laying on the floor. It was a good value for the price! Very portable! Would buy again.”


The Best Hard-Sided Cat Carrier

This resilient hard-sided carrier has hundreds of five-star ratings for good reasons: It’s cheap, highly durable, and comes with two doors, so pets can pop in and out with ease. It comes in multiple sizes and is made with heavy-duty plastic, which helps make it easier to spot clean compared to soft-sided models. While it doesn’t have the same breezy, lightweight feel as a soft-sided case, it still delivers great ventilation and visibility for pets, so they can get comfortable during trips.

One reviewer wrote: “This worked very well for a cat that is strong and wants to escape any hold and so is very hard to load in a normal end-opening carrier. It is on the small side but I have a small cat and so it is perfect.”


The Best For Multiple Cats

Similar to cat litter boxes, you should probably plan to buy separate cat carriers for each of your pets so they have room to get comfortable and don’t feel overwhelmed by the other. That is, unless you have this portable cat cage, which is actually big enough to fit multiple kits and a travel litter box. In short, it’s a must-have if you’re taking your cats with you on a long cross-country road trip and can’t afford to make extra stops. This comes with mesh covering, terrific ventilation, a carrying bag, a machine-washable fleece mat, and seat belt straps, so you can secure it in place in your backseat.

One reviewer wrote: “Used this for a cross country move. I have 2 cats. One is a big older guy and we have a 6 month old kitten. It worked really well. It is sturdy and they were well contained. No escapes and no running around the car while I was trying to drive. It had adequate room for them and other than some initial complaints when we first got on the road they seemed content overall. […] I think this was better than attempting 2 small carriers for such a long journey.”


The Best For Heavy Cats

For larger breeds (or chubby cats), a more supportive and stronger option like this carrier from PetLuv is a must buy. It’s got a reputation among reviewers and cat experts for being exceptionally comfortable, and it’s sturdy enough to hold pets up to 45 pounds. It comes with four mesh access panels, as well as full-zippered closure and an incredibly plush pillow that’ll get your feline purring up a storm. Another advantage is that this safety seatbelt loops, so you can secure it in place when you’re prepping to hit the road, and it folds flat when not in use for superior storage.

One reviewer wrote: “I have a tall, 14 pound cat and it was even a little bit big for her. Plenty of room for her to stand up, curl up or stretch out. Worked well for our 3 hour car trip.”


The Largest For Roaming Around

Designed to be adjustable, this versatile soft-sided carrier features large mesh windows and secures directly to a seatbelt and will allow your cat to roam from one side of the backseat to the other, without causing unexpected mischief along the way. You can also put up a divider between the two halves of the carrier to create two separate compartments if need be. The carrying handles allow each compartment to function as a carrier when you’re getting out of the car.

One reviewer wrote: “I transported my two cats 600 miles in this carrier with it zipped together to make one big space. It spanned nearly the full width of the backseat of my car, giving the cats lots of space. I even put a small litter pan in with them, just in case, but they didn’t use it. I highly recommend for long car travel with small/medium sized pets. It also buckles right in for some added safety. It’s definitely made with high quality materials and seemed very sturdy.”

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