Experienced cat owners know that our feline friends can be a bit fickle, especially when it comes to going for a ride in the car. Dogs love jumping in the back seat because it usually means a walk in the park at the end. Cats? Not so much. They much prefer home turf.
In order to provide the safest, most comfortable environment for your cat when it’s necessary to bring them on a long drive, you should take the time to learn about the different features that constitute a quality carrier, so you’re armed with the knowledge to make the right choice.
We’ve done the hard part for you and gathered five of the top-rated carriers for taking lengthier trips; have a read through our product descriptions and pay attention to the procs and potential cons of each, depending on your circumstances.
Our handy buyer’s guide breaks down everything you need to know about cat carriers, especially when you’ll be driving for a while, and highlights your main concerns when it comes to picking out a good one.
Any lingering queries and concerns might be allayed by the list of frequently asked questions we’ve put together, having scoured the net for the most common wonderings of customers looking to buy a suitable carrier for their cat.
Top 5 Best Cat Carriers for Long Car Trips
OUR TOP PICK
If you haven’t got time to compare your choices before you head out to the highway with your favorite feline, we recommend the foldable carrier from Pet Magasin as a good all-rounder suitable for the majority of cats and cars.
Lightweight at only two pounds, it’s easy to transfer kitty into and out of the car, with a removable padded shoulder strap for your convenience, and the carrier folds down when not in use to store neatly away for next time.
Your cat will be relaxed in no time thanks to soft sides and a cozy padded floor, snuggling down comfortably with plenty of ventilation, and it should fit most cats no problem at 12” x 11.5” x 10”, leaving space to move and stretch.
Approved for use on all major airlines, so will fit great in a car
Convenient open-top design
Plush floor prevents slipping
Soft sided, so may require extra support
Designed by pet loving creators with support from qualified vets, the Petisfam carrier has been created to keep your cat comfortable and safe in transit and provide peace of mind for owners embarking on long drives.
A sturdy bottom and metal frame bring structure to nylon mesh sides, providing all the safety of a plastic carrier in a much lighter, more comfortable package, as well as making your cat easier to transport once inside.
All zippers have been positioned to be escape-proof, and cats can either enter the carrier themselves or be placed in from the top, so either way your feline friend can feel safe and secure at all times, and won’t be able to claw their way out!
- You can put a seatbelt through the shoulder strap, securing your pet further
- Folds flat when not in use
- Suitably sized for medium and large cats or two smaller kitties together
- Not as sturdy as plastic carriers
This claw-proof, soft sided carrier from Coopeter has two side expansions, offering your cat their own traveling apartment with three rooms! Perfect for the most regal of pets, it’s also lined with metal wire to keep things sturdy and absorb any impact whilst driving.
Perfectly ventilated with mesh, your cat will be as comfortable as possible, whilst the removable, washable fleece bed cover and hard support board keeps your pet supported without forcing them to snooze on a hard surface.
Two handles and a soft shoulder strap make carrying your cat (or cats - there’s plenty of room!) from place to place as easily and safely as possible, and a built-in leash holds them steady whilst you’re moving, to prevent anxiety for both of you!
Huge expandable carrier - plenty of room for two
Sturdy and soft, the best of both worlds
Removable, washable bed is convenient and cozy
More expensive than others on the list, as you’d expect
Perhaps the most impressive carrier on the list comes from Siivton, with a total of four expanding mesh windows to create a veritable cat castle - your furry friends will be desperate to go in the car after a stay!
A comfortable, laundry-safe bed is included to keep kitty snoozing soundly, and the large shoulder strap can be secured with a seatbelt, allowing anxious owners to keep their eyes on the road at all times.
You can gently place your cat in this carrier from above, or they can stroll in themselves if they prefer - there’s plenty of room to stretch their legs and find an optimally cozy position to snuggle down in, zipped away securely.
Dedicated after-sale support team
Airline approved for your next vacation
Oxford and EVA board is utilized to keep the carrier sturdy
Might be too big for smaller cars
With one top loading and two side entrances, it doesn’t matter how fussy your cat is, you’ll find a way to ease them into this versatile carrier from MASKEYON. Able to hold kitties up to twenty pounds with room to spare, you’ll find it a great fit for any small to medium pet.
An upgraded, rugged frame of steel strand prevents the soft, meshed and fabric sides from being bent out of shape, and also assuring kitty’s safety if things get bumpy on the road, whilst two side cushions and a large floor pad keep them nice and cozy.
Three large ventilated pockets keep air circulating and can also be used as storage for your cat’s favorite treats; any of the comfort pads can be removed, allowing you to make adjustments depending on the temperature or your cat’s needs.
Sizeable carrier with removable pads
Waterproof, easy clean material
Large mesh pockets
May provide less support than a hard carrier
Best Cat Carrier For Long Car Trips Buying Guide
When it comes to selecting a carrier your cat will feel at home in, your pet’s safety is of course your number one priority, but there are several other factors worth considering to maximize kitty’s happiness.
A sturdy material, like plastic, is preferable over fabric or wire mesh when it comes to carriers, as it ensures your cat will be protected from impact should you encounter any bumps or sharp braking on your journey.
Likewise, although you should provide somewhere for your furry friend to go to the bathroom, accidents are bound to happen, especially if the kitty is scared of car rides and becomes distressed. Plastic is much easier to wipe down afterward!
Soft versus hard - which is best for my cat?As we’ve outlined, safety-wise a harder carrier is best, and also better when your cat is a bit of an escape artist or takes unkindly to being zipped away, as it’s less likely to sustain any damage from their claws!
However, if your cat doesn’t mind hitting the road, and provided there is still a solid base to the carrier, one made of a softer material could be more appropriate as they’ll find it much easier to settle down and get comfortable.
Openings - top or front?
Depending on how your cat feels safest being carried, they might prefer you to carefully lower them into their carrier from above; others may be more comfortable strolling or being placed through a front door, if they can be trusted not to flee!
By purchasing a carrier with both options, you can please your cat however they’re feeling - if, for instance, they get sick or are injured, putting them in from the top might be better to get to the vet without further stress.
Ideally, the carrier will offer your cat a bit of privacy, with a solid back and sizes for concealment, but there need to be slits or windows to allow plenty of airflow, as you wouldn’t want kitty to overheat or struggle to breathe when you’re at the wheel!
These little areas of ventilation can also be handy for slipping treats through (obviously not whilst you’re driving!) to make sure that your cat knows you’re still there and doesn’t feel too sorry for itself!
Food, Water, and Bathroom Access
Having some water and a bowl of food in their carrier will probably cheer your cat up a little bit when you set off, so a carrier with space for those, especially if they can be affixed and held steady to avoid spillages.
If your journey is more than an hour or two long and you won’t be stopping, you’re going to want to make sure your cat has a litter box to go in whilst you drive - how would you feel if you were locked up and couldn’t relieve yourself?
Some carriers come with built-in litter boxes, but if you’re looking to save money or you’ve already got a tray you can use, then so long as it won’t be rolling around everywhere, it's fine to use one that came separately.
Perhaps the easiest way to make sure your cat is comfortable and happy whilst on a long journey is to make sure you pop a blanket from home in their carrier. It will smell of them, you, and familiarity, which will be reassuring if they dislike car rides.
You could also toss in a couple of their toys, although bear in mind that it might lead to a playful mood, which wouldn’t exactly be the best in a moving vehicle, so choose which comfort items you include wisely!
A carrier’s primary purpose is to contain your cat safely, so you want to ask yourself how each potential product is secured - will your furry friend be held securely? Zips are most commonly used, but clever cats know how to manipulate them.
Depending on your kitty’s likelihood of trying to attempt a break for freedom, you might want to consider a more robust locking system that requires more force than a cat could muster in order to open.
Cars have limited space, so it doesn’t need to be a pet palace, but your cat does need enough room for travel to be comfortable. Before setting off, you should check they have enough room to sit, stand up and move around with ease.
Length-wise, the carrier needs to be long enough that kitty can comfortably get cozy and lie down - if your cat is an extra-large breed, like the lovely Maine Coons, they may need a bigger-than-average size.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I cover my cat’s carrier when traveling?
If your cat is nervous about car travel, it might help to create a cozier, safer space for them by covering their carrier with a towel or blanket, making sure not to block off all of the ventilation points.
How long can a cat travel in a carrier?
It’s suggested that, so long as you schedule in a couple of small breaks, some cats will be fine travelling for up to eight hours, provided their carrier is comfortable and all of their needs are met.
Other cats may not like being enclosed for much longer than an hour or two, it entirely depends on the temperament of your pet. Try not to drive without someone there to check on them, should they get distressed, if you can help it.
Can two cats travel in one carrier? It depends on the size! If there’s enough room for both cats to be able to move around adequately, stand up and settle down (remember, cats like to spin around and make a fuss when they get comfy) then it should be fine.
That said, the cats in question actually have to like each other and be comfortable in close quarters for long periods of time, otherwise you’re asking for trouble!