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The 5 Best Large Cat Carriers for Travel

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A cat carrier may not need to be particularly roomy for quick trips to the vet but, for extended periods of travel, your cat will appreciate having a little extra space. Finding a carrier big enough for large cats but compact enough to fit under a plane seat can be particularly challenging.

Our experts have spent hours researching the cat carrier market, reading customer reviews, and testing over a dozen different models. Using a combination of expert input and personal experience, we’ve assembled a list of five travel-friendly carriers appropriate for large cats.

At a Glance: Our Top Picks for the Best Large Cat Carriers for Travel

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We highly recommend looking at the comparison table we have below where we highlighted the features of each product. You’ll also find more detailed information about each product later in the article.

Overall Best
10.0
Picked by 31 people today!

SturdiBag Pro 2.0 Pet Carrier Large

  • Accommodates cats weighing up to 32 pounds
  • Center support keeps carrier from collapsing inward
  • Leash tether and locking zippers for security and safety
Budget Pick
9.8
Picked by 31 people today!

Sherpa Original Deluxe Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier Bag Large

  • Economically priced under $50
  • Mesh panels all the way around for ventilation
  • Locking zippers and seatbelt strap for safety
Premium Pick
9.5
Picked by 25 people today!

Gen7Pets Geometric Roller with Smart-Level Dog & Cat Carrier Backpack

  • Versatile design as a roller bag and backpack
  • Can be secured with seatbelts for car travel
  • Interior padding is removable for cleaning
Best for Air Travel
9.4
Picked by 21 people today!

Frisco Basic Dog & Cat Carrier Bag

  • Added height gives large cats more headspace
  • Large mesh panels for ventilation
  • Reinforced handles and padded shoulder strap
Best Expandable
9.3
Picked by 18 people today!

Petsfit Expandable Airline Approved Soft-Sided Cat Carrier

  • Expandable mesh compartment for added space
  • Solid wire frame and solid base for stability
  • Self-locking zippers ensure safety during travel

How Did We Choose Our Top Picks?

If you haven’t already reviewed our list of the best cat carriers, I recommend reading it first.

In this article, our Head of Content, Mallory, reviews the results of the Center for Pet Safety’s 2015 Carrier Study and summarizes the three most popular types of cat carriers. You’ll also find an in-depth analysis of the qualities you should look for in a cat carrier.

Read It Here: The Best Cat Carriers of 2024

Using a combination of personal experience, input from Cats.com experts, and information from the study mentioned above, I chose five cat carriers that are appropriate for travel with large cats.

First and foremost, I selected soft-sided carriers because they are safer for long trips and more suitable for air travel. I prioritized carriers that are durably constructed to support at least 18 pounds of weight and have wheels or reinforced shoulder or backpack straps for convenient and comfortable transport.

All of the carriers on this list are marketed as “airline approved” but it’s still important to check the specific airline’s regulations for in-cabin pet carriers. The average under-seat dimensions for US-based airlines are 17” x 11” x 9”.

The Best Large Cat Carriers for Travel Reviewed

#1 Overall Best: SturdiBag Pro 2.0 Pet Carrier Large

  • Construction: Polyester, mesh, fleece
  • Dimensions: 18”x12”x12”
  • Weight Capacity: 32 pounds
  • Airline Approved: Yes
  • Certified for Car Safety: No
  • Price: $107.95

With its heavy-duty construction, roomy interior, and 32-pound weight capacity, the SturdiBag Pro 2.0 is my top pick for large cat carriers. Though it’s available in five sizes for pets weighing up to 45 pounds, anything bigger than the Large is unlikely to fit under the seat of a plane.

The SturdiBag carrier features a sturdy base and comes with a removable, machine-washable fleece pad. Both ends are constructed from heavyweight mesh for ventilation with two smaller mesh panels on top but the body of the carrier is solid to give your cat a sense of privacy and security.

Though this carrier is incredibly lightweight at just 3.35 pounds, it is designed to support your cat’s weight safely and comfortably. A padded, adjustable shoulder strap enables you to carry your cat easily while a center support keeps the carrier from collapsing in on your cat without compromising its ability to conform to under-seat dimensions.

My only concern with this carrier is that there might not be enough ventilation to keep your cat from overheating on very long flights. The small mesh panels on top can, however, be unzipped to allow your cat to poke their heat out for fresh air.

What We Liked:

  • Accommodates cats weighing up to 32 pounds
  • Solid base with a washable fleece pad
  • Center support keeps carrier from collapsing inward
  • Leash tether and locking zippers for security and safety

What We Didn’t Like:

  • May not be ventilated enough for very long flights
  • Fairly expensive, over $100

#2 Budget Pick: Sherpa Original Deluxe Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier Bag Large

Sherpa Original Deluxe Airline

  • Construction: Nylon, mesh, fleece
  • Dimensions: 19”x11.75”x11.5”
  • Weight Capacity: 22 pounds
  • Airline Approved: Yes
  • Certified for Car Safety: No
  • Price: $42.61

If you’re making a one-way trip or simply don’t travel with your cat very often, it might not make sense to spend a lot on a pricey carrier. The Sherpa Original Deluxe is an economical option that consistently receives positive customer reviews.

The Large size measures 19”x11.75”x11.5” and can accommodate cats weighing up to 22 pounds. It includes a fleece pad for comfort and a built-in spring-wire frame that compresses to fit under the seats of most airlines. While it does have a solid plastic base, it’s a little thin and may sag under the weight of larger cats during long periods of carry.

To keep your cat comfortable and safe during travel, the Sherpa Original Deluxe features mesh panels all the way around the carrier for ventilation as well as locking zippers and a seatbelt safety strap. It also comes with a padded, adjustable carrying strap.

What We Liked:

  • Economically priced under $50
  • Mesh panels all the way around for ventilation
  • Locking zippers and seatbelt strap for safety
  • Accommodates cats weighing up to 22 pounds

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Base may sag with long periods of carry
  • Some customers say the carrying strap is too narrow

#3 Premium Pick: Gen7Pets Geometric Roller with Smart-Level Dog & Cat Carrier Backpack

Gen7Pets Geometric Roller with Smart-Level Dog & Cat Carrier Backpack

  • Construction: Nylon, polyester
  • Dimensions: 18.5”x11.5×18.5”
  • Weight Capacity: 20 pounds
  • Airline Approved: Yes
  • Certified for Car Safety: No
  • Price: $186.44

Whether you’re traveling by car or by plane, the Gen7Pets rolling carrier is a well-constructed, roomy choice for large cats. What makes it unique from other carriers is its versatile design as a roller bag and backpack. You aren’t limited to carrying the full weight of your cat on one shoulder.

Uniquely suited to car travel, this carrier can be secured in the back seat by sliding the seatbelt through the anchor straps on the back of the carrier. The carrier may compress a little bit when laid flat, though the frame for the telescoping handle prevents the carrier from compressing vertically. For this reason, the Large Gen7Pets rolling carrier may not work for all airlines – the Medium should.

This carrier features two large side pockets for storage and mesh panels on the front and sides for ventilation. Locking zippers help keep your cat safe during travel and Smart Level technology keeps the base level when the carrier is set down on all four wheels.

What We Liked:

  • Versatile design as a roller bag and backpack
  • Can be secured with seatbelts for car travel
  • Interior padding is removable for cleaning
  • Plenty of storage with two large side pockets

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Expensive, over $100
  • May be too large for some under-seat spaces

#4 Best for Air Travel: Frisco Basic Dog & Cat Carrier Bag

Frisco Basic Dog & Cat Carrier Bag

  • Construction: Polypropylene, mesh
  • Dimensions: 19”x10”x13”
  • Weight Capacity: 22 pounds
  • Airline Approved: Yes
  • Certified for Car Safety: No
  • Price: $27.76

When traveling with a large cat, the last thing you want is to be weighed down by a heavy carrier. The Frisco Basic carrier weighs just over 2 pounds but is big enough to accommodate cats weighing up to 22 pounds. Reinforced handles make short-distance carry comfortable, though the carrier comes with an adjustable padded shoulder strap for prolonged transport as well.

What makes this carrier ideal for bigger cats is that it is taller than it is wide. The carrier measures 19 inches long and 10 inches wide but offers 13 inches of interior height. With its spring-wire frame, however, it still compresses as needed to fit under an airplane seat.

This carrier offers plenty of ventilation to keep your cat comfortable and is made with waterproof materials for easy cleaning. Where it falls a little bit short is in added safety features like locking zippers and an internal leash tether. The base could also be sturdier for support during prolonged carry.

What We Liked:

  • Added height gives large cats more headspace
  • Large mesh panels for ventilation
  • Reinforced handles and padded shoulder strap
  • Collapses to fit under most airline seats

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Somewhat lacking in safety features
  • Base may sag during prolonged carry

#5 Best Expandable: Petsfit Expandable Airline Approved Soft-Sided Cat Carrier

Petsfit Expandable Airline Approved Soft-Sided Cat Carrier

  • Construction: Polyester, nylon, polypropylene
  • Dimensions: 19”x12”x12”
  • Weight Capacity: 18 pounds
  • Airline Approved: Yes
  • Certified for Car Safety: No
  • Price: $58.99

Reasonably priced and airline approved, the Petsfit expandable carrier is a good option if you’re expecting to spend a lot of time in the airport. One side of the carrier expands into an enclosed mesh compartment to give your cat room to spread out during long layovers.

While its weight capacity is more limited than other carriers on this list, the expandable design gives this carrier unique appeal. This soft-sided carrier comes in three sizes and the Large can accommodate cats weighing up to 18 pounds.

The Petsfit expandable carrier features a solid wire frame paired with a solid base for stability. Self-locking zippers provide added security during travel and one of the straps is designed to slide over the telescoping handle of your luggage so you can transport your cat more easily.

What We Liked:

  • Expandable mesh compartment for added space
  • Solid wire frame and solid base for stability
  • Self-locking zippers ensure safety during travel
  • Can be secured to rolling luggage for easy carry

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Weight capacity is more limited than other carriers

When it comes to choosing a travel carrier for large cats, size isn’t the only factor to consider. The dimensions of under-seat space on a plane limit the size of your carrier anyway, so it’s more important to choose a carrier that can accommodate your cat’s weight.

Look for a carrier made from heavyweight materials with reinforced seams. A solid base is essential for support and make sure any handles and carrying straps are adjustable and padded to keep you comfortable as you carry your cat around.

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About Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is a writer with over twelve years of experience in the pet industry. She is an NAVC-certified Pet Nutrition Coach and has completed coursework in therapeutic nutrition, raw feeding, and the formulation of homemade diets for pets at an accredited university. Kate enjoys cooking, reading, and doing DIY projects around the house. She has three cats, Bagel, Munchkin, and Biscuit.

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