A trip to the vet is upsetting for most cats, but can be especially traumatizing for a cat that’s already anxious. Read our guide to find out what is the best cat carrier for nervous cats, so you can make your kitty a more confident traveler.

In this article we will review the following 5 products, and find out how suitable they are for your nervous kitty.

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A Quick Look At Our Favorites

ProductRatingWhy We Like It
1Petisfam Large Cat CarrierFor Nervous CatsBuy on Amazon
2Petmate Two Door Top LoadTop Load CarrierBuy on Amazon
3Petmate Sky Kennel Pet CarrierAirline ApprovedBuy on Amazon
4Iris Deluxe Pet Travel CarrierEasy To CarryBuy on Amazon
5Aspen Traditional Pet KennelFor Small PetsBuy on Amazon
MoistureProtein* (min.)Fat* (min.)Fiber* (max.)Carbs* (approx.)Ash* (approx.)Calories (approx.)Allergens
10%0%0%0%0%0%0 / 100g
20%0%0%0%0%0%0 / 100g
30%0%0%0%0%0%0 / 100g
40%0%0%0%0%0%0 / 100g
50%0%0%0%0%0%0 / 100g
What We LikeWhat We Don't Like
1
  • Foldable, soft-sided carrier
  • Escape-proof zippers
  • Windows can be closed if needed
  • Comes with washable cushion
  • Easy to carry by hand, or over the shoulder
  • Not suitable for small cats
2
  • Opens in front and on top
  • Removable top
  • Comes in two sizes
  • Great fit for small to medium-sized cats
  • Sturdy
  • Top hatch doesn’t fold back
  • Sharp edges on ventilation holes
  • Not suitable for bigger cats
  • Not accepted by all airlines
3
  • Airline approved
  • Sturdy
  • Comes in six sizes
  • Great for medium to big-sizes cats
  • Not suitable for small cats
  • No top load hatch
4
  • High quality materials
  • Suitable for cats of all sizes
  • Comes with detachable food bowl
  • Top half is not removable on larger sizes
  • No top load hatch
  • Ventilation holes in bottom half
5
  • Comes in three sizes
  • Very sturdy
  • Perfect for long road trips and air travel
  • Top half is not easily removable
  • No top load hatch
  • Small door opening, not suitable for bigger cats

Table Of Contents

Our Top 5 Best Cat Carriers For Nervous Cats

We reviewed over 20 different pet carriers and selected our top 5 suitable for scared cats. Read on to find out what best to carry your nervous kitty in.

Best Soft-Sided Carrier: Petisfam Large Cat Carrier

I wanted to include at least one soft-sided carrier on this list, because they are much lighter and easier to carry. Frankly, it was hard to find one that I actually felt comfortable recommending to you. The Petisfam Large Cat Carrier, however, was designed especially for anxious cats and seems to meet all the criteria.

It can be opened from the top and the front. Just the way we like it. It has durable mesh windows on both sides. These can be opened or closed, depending on how much privacy your kitty needs. The zippers are all escape-proof, so you can be assured she is safe during your trip.

The carrier itself is very roomy and doesn’t collapse in on itself. It comes with a removable and washable cushion, so your cat can get comfortable in there. It might be a bit too big as it is, if you have a kitten or a small cat. Quick tip: put a thicker towel or blanket on the bottom to shrink the space inside. This will prevent your feline from sliding around to much and gives her a sense of security.

What We Like
  • Foldable, soft-sided carrier
  • Escape-proof zippers
  • Windows can be closed if needed
  • Comes with washable cushion
  • Easy to carry by hand, or over the shoulder
What We Don't Like
  • Not suitable for small cats

Best Top Load Carrier: Petmate Two Door Top Load

The Petmate Two Door Top Load cat carrier is perfectly suitable for small to mid-sized cats. It has hatches both at the front and the top, so it’s comfortable for your kitty to get in and out. The only fault we can find here is that the top hatch doesn’t fold back completely when you open it. This causes it to easily slam shut when you try to get a wiggling cat in. You can minimize the wiggling by getting your cat accustomed to her carrier before you go on a trip.

The top is attached to the bottom with a few easy to remove screws. This is especially convenient for scaredy cats. You can just remove the top and the vet can examine her without taking her out of the crate. The screws are on the outside of the crate, so kitty won’t hurt herself on them.

One part that she unfortunately can hurt herself on are the ventilation holes. Some of them may have sharp edges and there have been reports of cats cutting their nose on these. If you buy or have this carrier, please carefully inspect all the holes. If you find any sharp edges, just sand them down and your cat will be fine.

The manufacturer claims that this carrier is accepted by most major airlines. However, some pet owners have found that their airline does not accept top load carriers. If you plan on traveling with your cat, please consult your airline on its requirements for pet kennels and crates before purchasing.

What We Like
  • Opens in front and on top
  • Removable top
  • Comes in two sizes
  • Great fit for small to medium-sized cats
  • Sturdy
What We Don't Like
  • Top hatch doesn’t fold back
  • Sharp edges on ventilation holes
  • Not suitable for bigger cats
  • Not accepted by all airlines

Best Airline Approved Carrier: Petmate Sky Kennel Pet Carrier

The Petmate Sky Kennel Pet Carrier definitely is an airline approved pet carrier, so it’s perfect for taking your furry companion with you on vacation or for a cross-country move. It comes in six different sizes. So you should have no problem finding a crate that fits your cat, unless she is of a smaller size. Tiny cats might find this big kennel a bit too intimidating.

This pet carrier doesn’t have an opening on the top. However, the top half of the crate can be removed, so this shouldn’t be much of an issue.

It is made from durable materials and easy to clean. It has ventilation holes all around. They are not too big, so your nervous cat can feel safe from outside threats. There is no padding in a hard carrier like this, so be sure to add a blanket before you put your kitty inside.

What We Like
  • Airline approved
  • Sturdy
  • Comes in six sizes
  • Great for medium to big-sizes cats
What We Don't Like
  • Not suitable for small cats
  • No top load hatch

Best Easy-To-Carry Carrier: Iris Deluxe Pet Travel Carrier

The Iris Deluxe Pet Travel Carrier is a very sturdy crate made from quality materials. It does not have a top load hatch, but it makes up for that with a very good handle. You definitely won’t need to worry about it breaking under the weight of your pet.

It comes in four sizes, ranging from small to large. So no matter the size of your kitty, this carrier will fit her fine. If your scared cat needs some treats to calm her down, you can use the detachable food bowl. Hang it off the inside of the door and fill it with something she can nibble on.

There are a few things that I don’t like about this carrier. First, only the small size has latches to remove the top from the bottom. Since it doesn’t have a top load hatch, I would prefer to see this on all sizes just for kitty’s comfort. Nevertheless, it should be fine for small cats. Second, it has ventilation holes in both the top and bottom half. I prefer pet carriers that are a bit more closed for my scaredy cat. It gives her more of place to hide when she gets anxious.

What We Like
  • High quality materials
  • Suitable for cats of all sizes
  • Comes with detachable food bowl
What We Don't Like
  • Top half is not removable on larger sizes
  • No top load hatch
  • Ventilation holes in bottom half

Best Travel Carrier For Small Pets: Aspen Traditional Pet Kennel

The Aspen Traditional Pet Kennel is a sturdy but small pet carrier suitable for longer trips in the car. You might even be able to use it as an air travel carrier, because it is not a top load kennel and it has ventilation holes on all sides. Contact your airline to check their exact rules, though.

Unfortunately, this kennel’s top does not come off without some serious disassembly, so I would not recommend it for a trip to the vet. The bottom is also a little uneven. It has some ridges that can be uncomfortable for your cat to sit on. Be sure to lay down a soft cushion for her when using this carrier.

The ventilation holes are big, yet few enough. So your kitty will feel secure and hidden, while still having a good view of the world around her.

What We Like
  • Comes in three sizes
  • Very sturdy
  • Perfect for long road trips and air travel
What We Don't Like
  • Top half is not easily removable
  • No top load hatch
  • Small door opening, not suitable for bigger cats

Our Favorite: Petisfam Large Cat Carrier

Okay, I know I said a hard-sided carrier is better for nervous cats. And for long trips and air travel, it still is. However, I don’t think it’s likely that you’ll be taking your anxious kitty on all your vacations.

Either way, I think comfort is key for shorter trips like going to the vet. Not just for your cat, also for you. I, myself, have to take my cat to the vet by bicycle (Dutch people…). Hard-sided carriers tend to be too bulky to be comfortably secured to my bike and still be able to ride it. A good soft-sided carrier for cats has enough loops and straps to carry it and safely tie it to anything, without the sides collapsing. The Petisfam Large Cat Carrier has all of that, and then some!

The closable windows are a juicy cherry on top for scaredy cats. That is why the Petisfam Large Cat Carrier is our choice in the race for best cat carrier for vet visits with nervous cats. If you need a little extra help with your cat’s general anxiety, consider getting her a cat tree. Sitting up somewhere high can give a real boost to her confidence.


Choosing The Best Cat Carrier For Nervous Cats

Choosing the right carrier is extra important when you have a nervous or anxious cat. Being taken out of their territory for a trip or a vet visit is traumatizing to any cat. Of course, you want to make this experience as comfortable for your feline as you can.

Looking at it from the cat’s perspective, the world outside of her territory is filled with unknown threats. Strange people, loud cars, other animals. All she is focused on is keeping them out and she will quite literally go wild to do so. Fortunately, a good carrier can do a lot to help her feel safe and secure.

Sturdy

When you are picking out a carrier for your nervous cat, make sure that it is sturdy. A sturdier carrier makes it less likely that your cat will claw her way out. It also keeps other animals from getting in.

Hard-sided carriers are the better choice for anxious cats. Pay extra attention to the inside and make sure there are no elements that she can hurt herself on. Look for a carrier that opens from the top, or both the top and the front. Kitty will appreciate being lifted into her carrier more than being shoved into it.

Size

Cats feel safest in tiny places where no predators can follow them. You want to look for a cat carrier that is about 1.5 times the size of your cat. This way she will have enough room to move around, but will still feel comforted.

If you have more than one cat, never put them together in the same carrier. When you take them out of their territory, they basically revert to their feral selves in response to the fear. Even if they get along great in everyday life, they might viciously turn on each other in a situation like this.

Grey and white kitten looking scared on a sofa

Sight

A nervous cat likes to be hidden away, but still be able to peek out. A darker carrier with less openings feels more secure to them. If you do choose a more open carrier, or pet cage, consider covering it with a blanket before you leave the house. Be sure to leave a bit of an opening for her to scan her surroundings, and you’re good to go.

Scent

You can give your cat a bit of extra carrier confidence by letting her soak it with her scent. Simply place a blanket or cushion on the bottom of the carrier. Everytime she sits in it, this will soak up her scent. Over time the carrier will become part of her (mobile) territory.

You can also use this to get her used to a new carrier. Place it somewhere in her territory, put one of her already cat-scented blankets in there and let her explore it in a safe environment. Then, when you actually do take her to the vet, she will feel a lot less intimidated by the carrier.

Sound

Scaredy cats are on high alert, especially when you take them out of their home. Any sound that is unfamiliar or unexpected can startle them. This also goes for the sounds of the carrier itself. The sounds of zippers, hinges and clasps opening and closing aren’t threatening to us. But your cat might feel differently.

Look for a carrier that opens and closes smoothly, with minimal sound. Don’t be tempted to pick a carrier with wheels. Yes, you will be much more comfortable wheeling kitty around, but she will have a very bad time. Not only will your cat be stressed out by the noise of the wheels. She will feel completely unsafe being so close to the ground, because that’s where all the threats are.

Soothe

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when taking your cat out in a carrier is that you are her guardian. You are the only thing she knows in this strange world. Make use of the bond you have and keep her as close as you can during a trip.

A cat being pet

If you go by car, place her on the passenger seat instead of the back seat. Talk to her in a soothing voice as you drive. Give her treats to calm her down. Place her on a chair or on your lap in the vet’s waiting room. Always make sure that she can see and/or smell you.

When your cat feels threatened by something, she will literally look to you for comfort. If you are stressed, she will be stressed. So, whatever happens, stay calm and reassure her that everything is fine. A great way to communicate love and security to your cat is by blinking your eyes at her slowly. Do that until she starts blinking back at you and you will know that she is secure.


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