We all dread the idea of having to place our normally calm, cuddly kitty into a cat carrier for the stressful trip to the veterinarian. By the time the trip is done you may feel like you have fought the battle of the century. Choosing the best cat carrier for your cat can help make the trip much less stressful for you and your cat.  There are many different types of cat carriers — from soft carriers to hard carriers and everything in between.

What to look for when choosing a Cat Carrier:


Your cat carrier should allow enough space for your cat to stand without crouching and be able to turn around. If you’re going farther than your veterinarian’s office, make sure the carrier can accommodate food and water bowls. Some plastic carriers have these built in on the top of the cat carrier, which is definitely handy. You do not, however, want your cat carrier to be excessively large. This makes transporting your cat more difficult for you and can make your cat feel insecure with too much room to move around in. Cats like to feel cozy and secure when in stressful situations. When a carrier is too large it also makes removing the cat from the carrier harder because they can hide in a corner making it difficult to remove them.


A number of factors need to be taken into account when choosing the type of carrier for your cat. If your cat is feisty you may want to opt for a carrier that has multiple entrance ways. Sometimes it’s easier to lift your cat into the carrier via the top than to try to coax him in through the standard door type entrance in the front. For cats that like to scratch, a hard plastic carrier may be more durable and secure in the long run than a fabric carrier that can be torn up and worn down over time.  If your cat can easily “Houdini” himself out by squeezing through an opening, you should look for something sturdier. Remember to also think about how comfortable you are cleaning a soiled carrier. Some can easily be washed in a washing machine while others need hand washing.

Here are the Pros and Cons of Carriers:

Hard Plastic Cat Carriers

Pros: They can be taken apart to aid in the removal of the cat. Some come with screws that keep the two parts together and others have latches. The latch type sides are easy to snap off and remove the cat safely.  Some hard carriers also have “sun roofs” which helps when needing to put the cat in the carrier and also for remove your cat once at the vet.

Cons: These carriers are bulky and take up a lot of room when storing. They also are cumbersome to carry around and require you to hand carry which can be challenging if other pets, children, or items need to be carried also.

Wire Top Hard Carriers

Pros: The open wire design can help cats feel less trapped. It also is easier to clean and be hosed out and immediately dried with a towel.

Cons: These carriers are bulky and take up a lot of room when storing. They are also cumbersome to carry around and require you to hand carry which can be challenging if other pets, children, or items need to be carried also.

Soft Carriers

Pros: These carriers are great because they are not bulky or heavy which makes them easy to carry. They normally come with a shoulder strap which helps for easy transport leaving your hands free to carry other items. Since soft cat carriers aren’t bulky, they are easier to store and take up less space. They usually have multiple openings, which can make removing a cat easier.

Cons: Some owners feel they are harder to clean if soiled. Most have removal hard bottoms that can be taken out when cleaning and the carrier can be machine washed or hosed outside. The down side of this is that you then need to wait for the carrier to dry after cleaning. Other owners like that they can be placed in the washing machine. They also typically have less space than other carriers also.

Suitcase Style Cat Carriers

Pros: There is no need to carry or lift the carrier which is great for people with mobility issues. You can roll the carrier around rather than carrying it.

Cons: They can be harder to clean because of their large size and moving parts; putting them in a washing machine is not recommended.  Because the carrier is made of fabric it is necessary to be wiped out or hosed out if soiled. This type of carrier also needs time to dry after cleaning out and will not be able to be used immediately after cleaning. They also are slightly larger if you’re worried about space when transporting and storing.

Pet Sling Carrier

Pro: This is a great option for cats who like to snuggle close to you for security. Because the cat is contained in a soft sling across your chest, they generally will feel secure and calmer being next to you. Removing your cat from the sling at the vet is also easier than structured carriers because you only need to unzip the sling and place it on the table. Sling carriers are easy to machine wash if soiled and take up little room when being stored. The cat carrier sling also frees your hands up for carrying other items.

Con: This should only be used for cats that are calm and will not become agitated. Cat slings are secure but only if you use them properly and secure your cat in the sling. It may also take longer to pack your cat up for the trip to the vet because of the zippers and snaps.

Remember, it’s never a good idea to use a makeshift carrier like a laundry basket or pillow case; it is not safe and may injure or traumatize your cat.  Thankfully, there are lots of options when choosing a cat carrier.  You just need to use the one that is right for you and your cat.