Best Airline Approved Carriers for Cats
These days, people are traveling more often by air with their pets. As a result, there are many choices for comfortable and affordable airline approved carriers for cats out there. Cats are notoriously skittish and some would argue nearly impossible to travel with but with these sturdy, comfortable and affordable carriers, your cat is guaranteed to arrive at your final destination safely, comfortably and in style.
Quick Comparison of Airline Approved Cat Carriers
Choosing the appropriate airline approved carrier for your cat
There are so many choices available now for airline approved pet carriers. It can be hard to find the carrier that is best for your cat. You must consider whether or not you want a soft or hard-sided carrier, the length of the flight, if you want a carrier that rolls are one that can be carried on your shoulder and how many compartments or needed to store things like food, waste bags, treats and medications. The very first thing that you MUST do though is to start by ensuring that the product is indeed airline approved.
Whether shopping online or making an in person purchase the most important thing to look for on the product are the words “airline approved”. These are be listed somewhere on the packaging or in the online description of the product
There are several things to consider when choosing the appropriate carrier for your cat.
Note that not all airlines have the same requirements it is important to check with your specific airline before purchasing a carrier.
Size of your Cat
Size matters when choosing the appropriate carrier. You want a carrier that is not too small and not too large for your cat. You don’t want them scrunched up in the bag neither do you want them to slip around in the carrier during transport. The product description will usually say something like “holds up to 30 pounds” and sometimes they even have size choices available: small, medium, large.
The safety and security of your cat is by far the most important feature that you should consider when purchasing an airline approved in-cabin carrier for your cat. Zippers, security clips, and tethers all provide safety and security for your cat once they are in the bag. If you sing a hard side carrier, then consider the door latches and ventilation features of each carrier.
The goal is to ensure that your cat will fit comfortably in the carrier with enough room to turn around or even stretch their legs a bit while they are under the seat while in-cabin. You should look for a bag that is designed for in-cabin use. Is the carrier feather-light or bulky and heavy to carrier? Are the straps adjustable and comfortable on your shoulder? If using, a rolling back; does the bag roll smoothly between terminals? Is the fabric sturdy enough for cat who might try to scratch out of the bag? Does the carrier have tension rods to that would give a soft sided carrier shape? Are the floors sturdy enough to hold your pet in place? Is the padding enough to ensure that your cat’s comfort? These are some of the important features that you should consider before making your purchase.
Hard or Soft Carrier
Soft-sided pet carriers are going to be made of fabric. As previously mentioned, you should ensure that the fabric is made of sturdy enough material so that it your cat will not be able to scratch their way out (if that is an issue). Soft sided pet carriers are also usually (but not always) machine washable. Hard sided carriers usually referred to as travel kennels, are more durable with steel doors that latch securely. Most people use these types of carriers when their pet is going to be traveling in the cargo space of the plane as opposed to in-cabin.
Ease of Access
Another thing to consider when choosing an airline approved pet carrier for your cat is the ease of being able to place your cat inside the carrier and to remove them from it. Some carriers, specifically the hard-side carriers have tops and front dual access for extra convenience. This type of dual access can be very important for cats, who tend to be a bit more skittish when being handled. Many of the soft-side carriers usually only have one way access. You should consider which are convenient for both you and your cat. You certainly don’t want to be fighting to get your cat back in that bag during potty breaks or layovers.
Pockets and Storage Compartments
After you’ve considered the other features of your airline approved pet carrier, you may also want to take into consideration pockets and storage compartments. Are their pockets for waste bags or compartment for treats or any medications that your pet might need during travel? Pockets and storage compartments can make life a whole lot easier when traveling with your cat.
Ease of Storage/Maintaining and Cleaning the Carrier
One last thing that you should consider when choosing a carrier is the ease of storing the carrier when not in use. Hard carriers (kennels), have a tendency to be bulky and possibly more difficult to store, especially when you are working with a small space like say a hotel room or an apartment. Some soft sided carriers are able to fold flat for storing. Also some products have detachable handles for use of storage.
Maintaining and cleaning the bag between trips should also be considered. Hard-sided carriers of course are going to be easier to clean you can just wipe most of them down with a sponge and warm water. However, if you choose a fabric bag then it is important to consider whether or not they are machine washable.
Here is Our Top 5 Airline Approved Cat Carriers:
01. Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier
Sleepypod is a leader in pet carrier brands. Their sleek and stylish designs make them a go to favorite for pet parents who want to travel with their furry four-legged friends in comfort and style.
- Super comfortable for pets
- Sleek design and ergonomic for both pets and their owners
- Available in many colors and designs
- Price can be a prohibitive factor for some. Sleepypod products are not cheap!
The Sturdibag carriers are a favorite of Pet Professionals Worldwide. They are sturdy and lightweight with adjustable shoulder straps and leather hand grips to make them comfortable to carry.
- Made with durable polyester materials
- Feather Light Weight
- Retractable privacy flaps on all mesh windows and security clips and tethers to keep your pet safe during transport
- The arching support rods can be a hassle to place in the bag during assembly
- Not easily stored due to the arching support rods
03. PetEgo Airline Rolling Jet Set Pet Carrier On Wheels
The PetEgo Airline Rolling Jet Set Carrier is perfect for the frequent flyer who’d rather not have to carry straps on their shoulders when transporting their pet.
- Remarkably smooth ride
- Comfortable and handles that detach for easy storage
- Front end loading for easy placing your cat into the carrier
- Doesn’t seem to be available in larger sizes
04. Pet Kennel Direct 27" Airline Approved Plastic Dog / Cat Pet Kennel Carrier or Air
The Pet Kennel Direct Airline Approved Cat Carrier comes with a Chrome Door and Free Cup Foldable Travel Crate.
This one is a hard-sided kennel approved for airline travel. This one can not only be used for airline travel but also for visits to the vet and car travel.
- Easy assembly can be used indoor and outdoor
- Great for international flights
- Heavy duty and long lasting
- Only comes with one food/water dish
05. Doskocil 2 Door Top Load Kennel 4 pk
The Doskocil 2 Door Top Load Kennel 4 pk product provides both front and top loading access which is ideal for cats who are skittish.
- Steel doors that latch securely
- Double access for extra convenience
- Hard-sided carriers can sometimes be hard to store when not in use
Our best choice Airline Approved Carrier
Of the five products reviewed, the one bag that delivers in: size, safety, comfort, ease of access, pockets and storage compartments and ease of storage is the SturdiBag Flexible Carrier.
This bag comes in various sizes and prices and is the best choice for comfortable and safe travel for your pet. Unlike the Sleepypod carriers or the hard-sided carriers reviewed, this product not only provides comfort for the pet but for the pet owner as well with its ergonomic and adjustable straps and its ease of storage.
The durable but flexible material fits under aircraft seats with no problems. The top open feature is perfect for cats who are easily stressed or it can be completely closed to give your cat some rest and privacy. The inside of the bag is cozy but also durable and well designed.
The only drawback to these bags are that the rods that give the bag shape can be difficult to place in the bag during the assembly.
This carrier is the one that is most often chosen by Pet Professionals worldwide. If you want to get your pet to your final destination in comfort and security then the SturdiBag Carriers are the way to go.