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The Best Cat Carrier For Traveling With Your Pet

Updated on September 6, 2013

Cats Love This Soft Sided Cat Carrier

Pet owners should own at least one pet carrier. Cat carriers are essential for taking your pet to the vet, or for emergencies, or even for traveling with your pet.

There are many types, sizes and styles of pet carriers, including the traditional hard pet carriers, soft sided cat carriers and even designer pet carriers. The best cat carrier will depend on your purpose for the carrier, how often and far you will be traveling, etc.

I have a small cat (an adorable tabby cat weighing about 7 pounds), and while she's not a very good traveler, she loves the new soft cat carrier I got her from Petmate.

The Petmate 21353 Soft-Sided Pet Taxi is perfect for cats and small dogs up to 22 pounds. I love it because it's easy to carry with an adjustable shoulder strap, Bosco (my 16-year old tabby) loves it because it's made of soft material and the bottom is lined with a fleece covered pad similar to her kitty bed at home.

My cat loves her new carrier so much I even catch her sleeping in it every once in a while!

Why We Love the Petmate Soft Sided Pet Taxi

Our recent trip to the vet reminded me of why we love the Petmate Soft Sided Pet Taxi so much.

First of all, it's the perfect size for my kitty. In the past, we've always used large hard sided carriers, but they are bulky, they can be awkward to carry, and they aren't very comfortable for my cat to ride in. The Petmate soft sided pet taxi is built for cats and small dogs up to 22 pounds, so it's perfect for my 10-pound cat, Bosco. And it also fits perfectly under airplane seats, which makes this a great carrier when we are traveling by air.

It's also very comfortable for Bosco to ride in. The soft mesh material is much nicer for her than the plastic used for hard sided carriers, and she loves the fleece bottom, which is very similar to her pet bed at home. The mesh ventilation is awesome because not only can Bosco see what's going on, but she gets plenty of air circulation, so she doesn't get too hot when we are traveling. I've even found my kitty sleeping in the carrier (even when we're not going anywhere), which says a lot for how comfortable they are!

Speaking of comfort, this carrier is much more comfortable for me as well as for Bosco. It has two handles and an adjustable shoulder strap, so I can carry her easily whether we're in an airport or just going to the vet for a quick checkup.

One of my favorite features of the Petmate pet carrier is the front and top loading. I never have trouble getting Bosco into the carrier (she's a good kitty :), but she does get anxious when we're in the car, so the ability to open the top so I can reach in and pet her to keep her calm is a big, big plus for me.

The only drawback to this carrier is the fact that a cat or dog that is determined to get out of the carrier could probably claw or chew her way through the mesh material. My kitty loves her carrier, so that's not an issue for us, but I can see it being a potential drawback for cats who are not de-clawed or who are really determined to escape the carrier.

All in all, the size and comfort of the carrier, in addition to being able to fold it up when not in use, make the Petmate Soft Sided Pet Taxi the perfect cat carrier for us.

The Mean Kitty Song

I just had to share this video... it is too funny! AND the kitty in the video looks just like our new kitty Kaycie, spots on the belly and all!

What Others are Saying about the Petmate Soft Sided Pet Taxi

5.0 out of 5 stars - My cat loved Pet Taxi...

By S. Berry " Fan" (Minnesota)

This review is from: Petmate Soft-Sided Pet Taxi, Small, Black (Misc.)

I recently purchased the Pet Taxi to transport a large 9 pound cat on Northwest Airlines. It fit fine under the seat on NWA. My cat loved the Pet Taxi so much that he used it to sleep in. The fabric is sturdy enough that my cat could not scratch and break it. There is plenty of mesh so that my cat could see out, yet the back piece was solid so he could turn that way, if he was feeling shy. The bottom had a fleece covered sturdy pad that does not bend. It was easy to carry with the shoulder strap and handles. For the price, this was a good buy and I recommend it.

4.0 out of 5 stars - Did the job

This carrier was great - successfully transported the family's 15 lb cat on two airplanes for a total of over 1000 miles. It was a little small, but the cat was comfortable for the majority of the trip, especially once the "Rescue Remedy" solution kicked in. [Search for this if you're traveling with your pet - it really works!] My only caution is that if your pet has front claws, they may be able to rip the mesh to shreds and escape, but this was not a problem for my de-clawed cat. Overall, I am pleased with my purchase and would recommend this to others.

5.0 out of 5 stars - Cats love it!

By P. Szalay

I used to have one big plastic carrier for two cats but it was way too heavy. This is really nice and the cats love it.

Designer Pet Carriers - Travel with your cat in style...

designer cat carrier
designer cat carrier

What To Look For When Buying Pet Carriers for Cats

There are many sizes, styles and types of pet carriers for cats. The right cat carrier depends on your main purpose for the carrier. When purchasing a small pet carrier, you should consider the material it is made of, how durable it is, if it's easy to clean or not, if it's airline approved or not, the size and weight, and of course the design and visual appeal of the carrier.

When I'm shopping for a cat carrier, I'm looking for one that's durable and will last a long time, easy to clean, and of course, comfortable for my cat to travel in.

The type of cat carrier you purchase should match how you plan on using the carrier. If you travel a lot, you'll want to purchase a hard cat carrier that will be sturdier than a soft carrier. You'll probably want a larger carrier if you're using it for traveling so your pet has room to move around and shift positions. A hard carrier will also be easier to clean, which is important if you are traveling with your pet.

A soft cat carrier is perfect for short trips to the vet. A soft sided carrier is generally more comfortable for your pet, and will make vet trips less stressful on your pet. Soft carriers generally will have be top loading in addition to front loading, making getting your pet out of the carrier much easier (especially for those cats who refuse to get out of the carrier when visiting his or her veterinarian). A soft carrier may not be approved for airline travel though, so you may want to have both a soft and hard carrier if you do a lot of traveling.

Cat Carriers for Air Travel

When shopping for a cat carrier, you need to know what the primary purpose of the carrier will be. Will you only be using it for short trips to the vet, or will you be traveling with your pet by air?

There are many cat carriers available, in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and they can be hard sided or soft sided. Many factors go into choosing a cat carrier, including how often you'll be traveling, how long your pet will be in the carrier, how many pets you have, how large your pet is, etc.

Cat carriers for air travel can be either hard sided or soft sided; the main thing is they need to be small enough to stow under your seat. At the same time, the pet carrier should be large enough for your pet to move around and change positions during the flight.

If your pet (or pet carrier) is too large for carry-on, you'll need to buy an airline approved pet carrier. There are many pet carriers designed specifically for air travel. Make sure the carrier is structurally sound and just large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around in. It should also be escape-proof and it should have absorbent bedding so your pet is comfortable. The pet carrier should be properly ventilated, but to avoid injury, it should not have any holes or openings large enough for your pet to put their paws or other body parts through.

All cat carriers for air travel should include your name, address and phone number so you can be contacted if your pet is separated from you. You should also label the carrier with "Live Animal" and "This End Up" for safety purposes.

Cat carriers for air travel can be soft-sided or hard-sided; most pet supply stores carry both.

Recommended Reading: Traveling with Pets

Travel Tips for Pets

Some pets love to travel; others never leave the home. Here are some tips if you plan on traveling with your pet:

Make sure your pet is well enough to travel. If you have a pet who is old, sick or pregnant, it may not be safe for them to travel. If in doubt, take your pet into the vet for a checkup before leaving for your trip. You should also make sure your pet is up to date on all of her vaccinations before you leave on your trip as well.

Proper identification is critical when traveling. Pets may get separated from their owners when traveling by air, so it's important to have updated tags on your pet or even a microchip so that your pet can be identified and returned to you if you are separated. Microchip procedures are safe, quick and becoming more common as pet hospitals, shelters and kennels are using scanners to read microchips and help reunite pets and owners.

Pack extra supplies for your pet. In addition to food and your pet's favorite toys, here are some other items you might want to bring on your trip: extra leashes and collars, an old blanket or sheet to put under your pet's carrier for easy cleanup, your pet's bed if she has one, a food and water bowl set, extra treats, pet grooming supplies, extra litter and litter pans for cats, and a first aid kit for pets.

Finally, make sure you have a sturdy pet carrier for your pet. If you will be traveling by airplane, make sure you have an airline approved cat carrier. Generally when shopping for pet carriers for cats you will want a sturdy (hard sided or durable plastic), properly ventilated crate. It should be adequate size that will allow your pet to stand up, turn around, and lie down in comfortably. Make sure the door is secure so your pet doesn't get out of the carrier. It's also a good idea to line the bottom of the carrier with a towel to keep your pet comfortable and also to keep the carrier from leaking. And of course, make sure the carrier has both your pet's name and your name, as well as contact information so you can be reached in the event your pet gets separated from you.

Get Your Airline Approved Cat Carrier Here

Not all pet carriers are suitable for airline travel. Here are some airline approved pet carriers available at

soft cat carrier
soft cat carrier

Should You Buy a Soft Cat Carrier or a Hard Cat Carrier?

Pet carriers for cats vary quite a bit in size, material and style. With so many different varieties it may be hard to know which type of pet carrier is best for your pet. Here are some tips to help you decide whether to purchase a soft-sided carrier or a hard pet carrier.

Soft Cat Carriers:

Soft sided pet carriers are better for short trips, such as to the vet or to a family member's house for a visit. Soft carriers are more comfortable for your pet, so they are a great choice for pets who don't like to travel or who are nervous about going to the vet. Most soft carriers are made with a lightweight mesh material that allows your pet to get plenty of air while traveling and they usually have a top entry in addition to a side entry which makes loading your pet in and out of the carrier much easier.

The soft carriers are generally more stylish than hard carriers, so they are a great choice for people who like to take their pets with them on frequent trips. Soft sided carriers usually have a shoulder strap to make them easier to carry, which is a really nice feature. Not all soft sided cat carriers are approved for airline travel, so it's important to check with your airline before traveling.

Hard Sided Pet Carriers:

Hard cat carriers are more appropriate for pets who will be traveling by airline, because they are more durable than soft carriers. They are also easier to clean than soft carriers, which is very important when traveling long distances. Hard carriers are more appropriate for larger or heavier animals because of the more durable material. And most importantly, hard sided carriers are more likely to be approved for airline travel.

As you can see, there are pros and cons for each type of carrier. If your budget allows, you might want to have both styles so your pet is comfortable whether you're planning a short trip to the vet or a long trip across the nation.

How to Travel With a Cat - How to Send a Cat Cross-Country on an Airplane

Cat Health Care - Recommended Reading

Even if you take your cat to the vet for regular checkups it's important to understand basic health care for pets so you can tell when they are ill or are experiencing the effects of aging. Here are some great books from Amazon to help you learn more about caring for your cat(s).


EbizTaxTips (Kristine McKinley) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to,, or

Does Your Pet Love or Hate Her Pet Carrier?

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    • EbizTaxTips LM profile image

      EbizTaxTips LM 5 years ago

      @RuralFloridaLiving: That's very unusual that your cats love their carrier... and very helpful when you need to take them somewhere I'm sure!

    • EbizTaxTips LM profile image

      EbizTaxTips LM 5 years ago

      @Churchmouse LM: Very un-cat like! Mine doesn't like her carrier, but she doesn't fight me when putting her in it. Since we go to the vet a lot (kidney failure), I appreciate her cooperation!

    • profile image

      RuralFloridaLiving 5 years ago

      Mine love them. A little den of security.

    • Churchmouse LM profile image

      Churchmouse LM 6 years ago

      when I bring ours out for a visit to the vet or cattery, our two push and shove to be the first to get inside. They love their carriers - and often just play in them for fun. Quick un-cat like!

    • PetLoversClub profile image

      PetLoversClub 6 years ago

      great lens on a huge selection of pet carriers!

    • TIRMassageStone1 profile image

      TIRMassageStone1 6 years ago

      Lots of carriers to look at in this article, thanks!

    • profile image

      angelaplynn 6 years ago

      My cat really likes her Kobi pet carrier.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 7 years ago

      The caption contest is great! Wonderful.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 7 years ago from USA

      My cats hate their carrier but sometimes it's a necessity to keep them safe.