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The 10 Best Airline-Approved Cat Carriers

Air travel isn't always the most pleasant experience for some of us, but bringing your cat along can really add to the stress—for you both!

Did you know that some airlines require your cat to be a certain age? Delta Airlines, for example, will not allow you to transport a kitten under the age of 16 weeks if you are flying overseas.

The next critical step is to locate a suitable carrier that can be transported on an airplane.

Because many carriers are classified as suitable for airline travel, we've created reviews of the best airline-approved cat carriers on the market today.

BestForPets (bestforpets.org) hopes that this guide has helped you pick the finest carrier for your needs and that your cat's journey is as comfortable as possible.


Sherpa Original Deluxe Cat Carrier – Overall Winner

The Sherpa Original Deluxe Cat Carrier is the greatest overall airline-approved cat carrier.

Sherpa offers a Guaranteed On-Board program with their small and medium-sized carriers, which is a distinct advantage.

This program is designed to comply with the majority of major airline laws and regulations, ensuring that your cat carrier is not rejected while you board the plane.

Simply print the paperwork from the Sherpa website, and boarding should be a breeze.

This one is a medium size, black, and has a padded shoulder strap as well as zippered front and top openings.

The carrier offers mesh windows for ventilation, a pocket for storage, and a removable and machine washable fake lambskin liner.

On the other hand, if your cat is especially desperate to get out of the bag, he may manage to break the zipper.

We also discovered that the shoulder strap in some carriers would occasionally break.


Best Value Pet Magasin Soft-Sided Cat Carrier

The Pet Magasin Soft-Sided Cat Carrier is the best airline-approved cat carrier for the money. It’s not only reasonably priced, but it’s also durable and collapsible for simple storage.

It is available in orange, pink, or blue and is padded on the inside for your cat’s comfort, with mesh windows for ventilation.

It includes handles and a padded shoulder strap, and it is waterproof on the outside.

Unfortunately, the top of this carrier is higher, and it may not fit beneath the airplane seat.

However, it is branded airline authorized, so double-check the measurements with your specific airline.

We also discovered that it had a very strong chemical odor after unboxing, so it may require some further airing out before usage.


Premium Sherpa Deluxe Lattice Print Cat Carrier

The Sherpa Original Deluxe Lattice Print Cat Carrier is our top pick for the best airline-approved cat carrier.

It comes in two sizes: large (19″ x 11.75″ x 11.5″) and medium, about which we’re writing.

This Sherpa carrier differs from the one at the top of our list due to its elegant style as well as some additional security features.

It has a machine washable and removable fake lambskin liner and is black with a beautiful lattice design.

It has a spring-wire frame that holds the shape but can also be pushed down to fit beneath the airline seat. It contains a security strap for your pet as well as zipper locks.

Aside from the cost, we discovered that even the large carrier is on the tiny side, so if you have a huge cat, keep this in mind and measure carefully.


Airline Approved Cat Kennel Petmate Vari

The Petmate Vari Airline Approved Cat Kennel is reasonably priced and available in four sizes: small, medium (28″ x 20.5″ x 21.5″), intermediate (32″ x 22.5″ x 24″), and large (36″ x 25″ x 27″).

These kennels are typically more larger than soft-sided carriers, but this also means that your cat will not accompany you into the cabin, but will be housed in the cargo.

The Petmate Vari kennel meets IATA and USDA criteria for air travel and includes an interior moat to keep your cat dry.

However, we discovered that the crate was not as strong as we had planned.

We also discovered that the dimensions for each size are for the outside, therefore you need check your cat’s size and round down the measures supplied for the product.


Petsfit Airline-Approved Expandable Cat Carrier

The Petsfit Expandable Airline-Approved Cat Carrier is available in gray or black, as well as medium (the one we’re looking at) and large (19″ x 12″ x 12″).

This is a one-of-a-kind carrier since it appears to be a standard soft-sided carrier but has the potential to extend—similar to how you expand your dining table with leaf extensions!

This provides extra space for your cat when needed (but not on a flight), and it folds down effortlessly for storage.

It has a side strap to keep it tight, a padded shoulder strap, self-locking zippers, and a side pocket. It also has a machine-washable soft fleecy liner.

On the negative, we discovered that when completely inflated and the door is left open, it tends to collapse.

If you have a cat who would claw and bite his way out of an enclosure, the material wasn’t as strong as we would have wanted, and your cat may escape.

Buyer's Guide: How to Choose The Best Airplane Cat Carrier

After we’ve given you a list of cat carriers to look at, there are a few extra things you should think about before purchasing one. And after you’ve bought one.


Keep in mind that the sizes listed with these carriers are for the outside of the bag or kennel only. If you’re not sure what size to order, ask the firm for the internal dimensions.

Remember that if you have a very large cat, he may not fit in a carrier that will be permitted into the cabin.

Filling the Carrier

Puppy pads should be used to line your cat’s carrier. These work as diapers since they can absorb a large amount of liquid if your cat needs to urinate.

Bring some additional pads, Ziplock bags, and paper towels with you.


While flying is extremely stressful for your cat, it is strongly advised that you do not sedate her—this may cause more harm than good.

Don’t feed your cat before the flight, and use a variety of calming tactics. For example, try pheromones in the form of a collar for your cat and wipes on the carrier itself.


As previously stated, you must ensure that your cat is mature enough to travel because some airlines will not allow you to fly with a cat under a specific age.

Even the breed, such as Persians or Himalayans, may be prohibited due to their flat faces, which can cause respiratory difficulties.

Check with the airline again before purchasing your ticket.


The Sherpa Original Deluxe Cat Carrier is the greatest overall because of its dependability and peace of mind, and the Pet Magasin Soft-Sided Cat Carrier is the best value because of its price (obviously) and convenience.

Finally, because of its additional security features, the Sherpa Original Deluxe Lattice Print Cat Carrier is our top pick.

BestForPets (bestforpets.org) hopes that our reviews of the best airline-approved cat carriers will assist you in selecting the best one for your cat.

While you should look for one that is easy to carry, your cat’s safety and comfort should always come first.

Author Image

Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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