Looking For The Best Cat Carrier for Nervous Cats?

Here’s a look at our favorites, including our top pick – PetLuv Soothing “Happy Cat” Premium Soft Sided Cat Carrier & Travel Crate


Anyone who has ever owned a cat knows that cats and pet carriers don’t get along. Maybe it’s claustrophobia (God knows I wouldn’t want to be stuffed in a small box), general discomfort, or just the fact that cats refuse to relinquish control—whatever the cause, trying to put a cat in a pet carrier often results in hissing, scratching, and biting. Believe me, I speak from extensive experience on the matter.

While your choice in a pet carrier probably won’t alleviate your cat’s antipathy for travel and confinement, there are some carriers that are better suited for nervous cats. The differences may seem subtle, but they can make a world of a difference for your pet.


What to look for in a cat carrier for nervous cats:

As you browse around online in search of the perfect cat carrier, there are a couple of features you should pay attention to:

  • Size – this one is a no-brainer. If you try to stuff a large cat into a small carrier, they’re sure to put up a fight. To appease nervous cats, look for larger carriers that are several times their size. The more room the better.
  • Expandable – while plastic carriers are a fixed-size, there are a number of soft carriers that include expandable sides. You can keep the expandable sides zipped up during transit, and you can expand the sides to full capacity when appropriate to ease your cat’s nerves.
  • Visibility – this is one area where plastic carriers consistently fail. Nervous cats don’t like being confined, and they’re going to be extra finicky if they feel like they’re in a dark shoebox. Soft carriers with mesh siding can let in more light and air, putting your pet more at ease.
  • Top Loading – if I had to pick one feature that is indispensable for nervous cats, this would be the one. For some reason, nervous cats hate being pushed through the standard front-hinged door of a carrier. A top loading carrier is much easier to get a cat inside, as you can gently drop them in through the top. It’s better for the cat, and should result in fewer bites and scratches!
  • Collapsible – this is more for your convenience than for the cat. Large carriers can be frustrating to store because they take up so much room. If you go with a collapsible carrier, it’s much easier to store.


PetLuv Soothing “Happy Cat” Premium Soft Sided Cat Carrier & Travel Crate w Locking Zippers Comfy Plush Nap Pillow 4X Interior Room Airy Windows Sunroof Folds Flat Reduces Anxiety

petluv top rated cat carrier for nervous cats

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Of the top 5 carriers for nervous cats, the PetLuv Soothing “Happy Cat” is probably my favorite (at least, it’s the one I would pick if I was the cat). It’s a large soft carrier with heavy duty mesh siding, and every side has both a zipper and the ability to pull down a thick canvas for shade. Fully zipped up, it kind of looks like a boxy tent. With the canvas sides rolled up, your cat will have breathable mesh on every side, and a clear view to make them feel more comfortable.

You can also unzip the mesh siding if you want the carrier to be totally open (though I feel like that defeats the purpose of a carrier).

For your convenience, it includes a shoulder strap for easy transport, seat-belt loops so you can strap your furry friend into the car, and it collapses for easy storage. Inside the carrier, your cat will enjoy resting on a plush double-stuffed pillow. And, of course, it has a top-loader for nervous cats that refuse to use the front door.


Pet Carrier for Dogs & Cats – Portable Soft-Sided Air Travel Bag- Eco-friendly material Roomy With a Side Pocket and a Fleece Bed

petcarrier for nervous cats

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If you want a cat carrier similar to the PetLuv soft carrier but for a bit more of a bargain, the Pet Carrier for Dogs & Cats is a great option. It’s smaller than the PetLuv carrier, but it makes up for the difference with expandable sidewalls. When it’s fully zipped up, the carrier looks like a duffel bag with canvas sides, but when you unzip the sides, it expands to more than double the size and offers better breathability with durable mesh siding.

Inside the carrier you’ll find a soft, comfortable, seamless, and water-resistant pad, that can be removed and cleaned in your laundry machine. Thanks to its compact size, this carrier is small enough to be considered a carry-on by all major airlines.


Amazon Basics Two-Door Top-Load Pet Kennel


best amazon basics cat carrier for nervous cats

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The Amazon Basics Two-Door Top-Load Kennel is by far the best value out of the top 5 cat carriers for nervous cats. It has a simple but durable plastic design, a top-loading door, and it can be collapsed to half its size for better storage. It doesn’t come with a pad for the interior, but you can easily purchase a small pad or blanket separately if you’re concerned about comfort. It comes in a 19-inch or 23-inch option.


Petmate Two Door Top Load Kennel

best petmate carrier for nervous cats


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The Petmate Two Door Top Load Kennel is nearly identical to the Amazon Basics kennel, with two notable exceptions. First, it includes a shoulder strap for better portability. Second, the sides are bolted together so it cannot be collapsed for easier storage.

Other than that, it has the same front-load and top-load access and durable plastic material. The air holes on the sides are a little larger than on the Amazon Basics kennel, but not by much. It’s also slightly larger at 24-inches.


Favorite Dog Cat Rabbit Two Door Top Load Car Travel Vet Visit Pet Carrier

favorite cat carrier for nervous cats


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The Favorite Dog Cat Rabbit Two Door Pet Carrier Kennel is a carbon-copy of the Amazon Basics kennel. Same color scheme, same front- and top-loading doors, and the top can be unbuckled for easier storage.

It does come with a shoulder strap, though, so if you like the simpler style but need the shoulder strap for portability, this is a great midpoint between the Amazon Basics kennel and the Petmate Kennel.


Did You Find The Cat Carrier You Need?

There’s no way to completely appease a nervous cat, but a well-designed carrier can definitely alleviate much of the pain and anxiety. Consider what you’ll need the carrier for—if it’s just for a trip to the vet once a year, then go with one of the affordable plastic kennels with a top-load door.

If you’ll be frequently traveling by bus or car, I’d go with a larger plastic kennel, a large soft carrier, or an expandable soft carrier with mesh siding for increased comfort. If you’ll be traveling by plane, be sure to check the dimensions of the cat carrier to ensure it’s small enough to be considered a carry-on.