As any cat lover knows, some felines will never enjoy being put in a carrier. Nevertheless, a good one can make travelling comfier and less stressful for your cat, and for yourself too.
When choosing the one to go for, the most important factor to consider is whether you should get a hard carrier or a soft one.
Hard carriers, such as those made with hard plastic or wicker, tend to be best for cats who find travelling stressful, as they typically provide greater stability and security than a softer one would. Meanwhile, soft fabric carriers are a convenient option for transporting confident cats. This type can usually be folded down neatly whenever it’s not in use.
On a less positive note, soft carriers can sometimes be relatively tricky to clean – especially if the passenger has relieved themselves during transit.
Another key consideration when buying a cat carrier is security. As the owner, you need to be happy that the carrier you choose will be secure enough to keep your cat contained. If you think they might be a bit of a feline Houdini, we suggest buying a particularly secure carrier with a metal gate.
How we tested
For this guide, our reviewer teamed up with the cats in his life to test ten highly-rated cat carriers in a variety of styles and materials. Our reviews are based on factors such as convenience, ease-of-cleaning and comfort.
The best cat carriers for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Catit cabrio top opening cat carrier: £39.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for using in the car – Ferplast atlas wire door carrier for cats and small dogs: £42, Petsathome.com
- Best wicker cat carrier – Trixie wicker cat basket: £40.81, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for reluctant cats – Rosewood plastic pet carrier with cushion: £22.99, Argos.co.uk
- Best wearable cat carrier – LuxVac space capsule cat carrier backpack: £39.99, Luxvac.co.uk
- Best for visibility – MDC cat carrier: £39.99, Ocado.com
- Best soft cat carrier – Pets at Home bright blue fabric pet carrier: £20, Petsathome.com
- Best stylish cat carrier – Archie & Oscar Nala rectangular pet carrier basket: £55.99, Wayfair.co.uk
- Best portable cat carrier – PawHut pet carrier: £19.99, Wayfair.co.uk
- Best novelty cat carrier – Lekesky soft-sided pet carrier: £36, U-buy.co.uk
Catit cabrio top opening cat carrier
The Catit cabrio is the ideal cat carrier for practical purposes. The surfaces of the carrier are easy to clean, the handle on the top is comfortable to hold, and there’s plenty of space and ventilation to keep your passenger in shipshape.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of this carrier is that it gives you a choice of two ways to get your furry friend inside: either through the gate at the front, or by taking the lid off and lifting the cat inside. We found that this really helped with loading in our feline reviewer, Martha, ahead of a trip to the vets.
Ferplast atlas wire door carrier for cats and small dogs
Best: For using in the car
This is a sturdy, spacious, no-nonsense pet carrier that prizes simplicity over swanky features.
In our testing, the twin clasps on the carrier held the gate securely, despite being particularly easy to operate from the outside. A mat inside provides comfort during transportation, and can be removed for cleaning between uses.
The carrier itself is easy to wipe clean, with a textured finish that is not only pleasant to the touch, but also provides traction, which could help prevent it from sliding while in transit.
Trixie wicker cat basket
Best: Wicker cat carrier
One of our feline reviewers, Bertie, has been using this wicker cat basket for several years now. He’s so fond of it that he has taken to using it as a bed on a day-to-day basis.
From a human perspective, this is a great little cat carrier, combining beautiful natural materials with a stout metal door that keeps it reliably sealed.
The downside to this carrier – and this is true of many “natural” cat baskets – is that it’s relatively tricky to clean. However, we reckon its cute, cat-pleasing design merits the extra effort on upkeep between uses.
Rosewood plastic pet carrier with cushion, medium
Best: For reluctant cats
For a simple, cost-effective solution for transporting your cat, look no further than the Rosewood plastic pet carrier. Like the Catit cabrio above, it features two ways to load your pet inside – either through the gate, or by removing the lid. This makes all the difference when it comes to transporting a reluctant cat. The carrier is well-ventilated, can be wiped clean, and also proved able to stay securely closed during our testing.
LuxVac space capsule cat carrier backpack
Best: Wearable cat carrier
The space capsule cat carrier range from LuxVac is an incredibly fun way to carry your pet from A to B. Worn by the owner as a backpack, this carrier gives your cat a wide-angle view of the world outside during transit, while giving the people around you a super-cute view of your cat inside.
Our feline reviewer, Hilda, was naturally curious about this carrier, and she seemed to enjoy jumping in and out of it, before we had fixed the window in place. Speaking of which, it’s worth noting that it does require some assembly, and you’ll need to do this carefully in order to ensure safe travels for your cat.
MDC cat carrier, black
Best: For visibility
Some cats, and some owners, prefer a carrier which has very good visibility in both directions. This helps the owner check on the cat, while allowing the cat to see its surroundings. If this sounds like something which would be important to you and your pet, we suggest you check out this carrier.
Secure, lightweight and easy-to-operate, it is fantastically functional. Loading your cat inside is made simple with a top-opening design, while the plastic tray in the base can be removed easily for cleaning.
Pets at Home bright blue fabric pet carrier
Best: Soft cat carrier
For cats who prefer riding in a soft carrier, this bargain-priced fabric design from Pets At Home could be just the thing. With multiple points of entry and a very well ventilated design, this carrier fulfils some of our key practical requirements. One downside, however, is that it is a little trickier to clean than most carriers made with hard materials. However, we really appreciated the fact that it can be collapsed when not in use, saving a huge amount of storage space in the home.
Archie & Oscar Nala rectangular pet carrier basket
Best: Stylish cat carrier
In our opinion, this is one of the most beautiful cat carriers you can buy. Handmade out of wicker, it combines a pleasing, boxy form with some beautiful details, including an elegantly barred window and a gorgeous carry handle on the top.
The only downside is that its wicker weave is much harder to clean than a smooth, artificial surface typically would be. We suggest you consider how well your cat travels before you buy. It should also be noted that the Nala is best suited to relatively large cats, or those who prefer to have plenty of wiggle room.
PawHut pet carrier
Best: Portable cat carrier
This is a simple, soft cat carrier combining a comfortable interior with plenty of useful features for the human user. We particularly appreciated the pockets on the front, which are just the right size to accommodate some cat treats or a favourite toy.
One of the best things about PawHut’s pet carrier is its outstanding space-efficiency, which is in stark contrast to the hard plastic and wicker ones we’ve tested. Between uses, it packs down into its own bag, and even when in use its profile is neat, with just enough room for a medium-sized cat.
Lekesky soft-sided pet carrier
Best: Novelty cat carrier
Not only is Lekesky’s soft-sided pet carrier shaped like an adorable school bus, but it’s also really practical. Three points of entry give you plenty of options when it comes to coaxing your kitty inside, while the handy pockets on either end are cleverly incorporated into the fun design. We were particularly impressed with the safety leash attachment on the inside of the carrier too, which can clip onto your cat’s collar as an extra safeguard. Considering its reasonable price, we couldn’t ask for more from a fabric carrier.
The verdict: Cat carriers
With a host of handy features, as well as eye-catching design and robust build quality, the Catit cabrio is our best buy. It performed perfectly in our testing, and while there’s no guaranteeing a trip to the vet will ever be easy, this carrier could certainly take some of the stress out of the situation.
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