10 Best Airline Approved Cat Carriers

Written by: Molly Weinfurter
Molly Weinfurter is a writer for iHeartCats, and she’s passionate about helping animals in need. She volunteers for Bailing Out Benji and a local dog rescue.Read more
| Published on May 25, 2023
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If you want to travel with your furry friend, you’ll need one of the best airline approved cat carriers. Most airlines allow pets in the cabin for an additional fee, as long as their carrier fits under the seat in front of you. Since your cat will be sitting in the carrier for long durations at the airport and during the flight, you’ll want to ensure the bag is well-ventilated, comfortable, and sized properly.

To help you make your decision, we’ve compiled a list of the ten best airline approved carriers for cats. Even though most say they work for airlines, you should still check your airline’s requirements before bringing the carrier on your upcoming flight. If you’ve never flown with your cat before, talk to your vet before your first flight.

Cat ready for travel

Best Airline Approved Cat Carriers

1. Sherpa Original Deluxe Travel Pet Carrier
  • Guaranteed On Board
  • 15" x 10" x 8.5" or 17" x 11" x 10.5"
  • Mesh panels on every side
  • Soft interior mat for comfort
  • Several carrying straps

Also available at Petco

This carrier is part of Sherpa’s “Guaranteed On Board” product line, which ensures that the carrier is sized right for any airline. The ends of the carrier are flexible to help it fit under the seat in front of you better. There are mesh panels on all sizes to provide proper ventilation for your feline. The small size is designed for cats up to eight pounds while the medium size works for cats up to 16 pounds, both of which work well for airplanes. The bag’s interior is soft to provide comfort for your cat. You can carry it using the shoulder strap or top handles, and Sherpa sells similar products with wheels for easier transport.

2. Henkelion Airline Approved Cat Carrier
  • 15" x 9" x 9" or 18" x 12" x 12"
  • Soft wool mat for comfort
  • Mesh panels on all sides
  • Multiple carrying straps
  • Folds up for easy storage
  • Several colors available

The Henkelion Airline Approved Carrier is another fabric option that keeps your pet secure during any type of travel, whether it’s in the car or on a plane. It comes in six different colors so you can choose your favorite style. There are also two sizes available: one for 15 pounds and under and another for 25 pounds and under. You can carry the bag using the padded shoulder strap or handles. When it’s not in use, it folds up for easy storage. The carrier’s interior has a wool mat to keep your feline cozy, and it has a safety strap that you can clip to their harness to prevent them from running out when you open the carrier.

3. Petsfit Small Animal Expandable Travel Carrier
  • Sizes 16" x 10" x 9" to 19" x 12" x 12"
  • Expands on one side
  • Several mesh patches
  • Lockable zipper
  • Safety clip
  • Soft mat inside

Some cats may not be happy being confined to a small space. So, this airline carrier has an expandable side so you can give your cat more room to roam while waiting in the airport. The expandable section is fully mesh for maximum ventilation. Inside the carrier, there’s a soft mat and a safety clip. It opens both on the top and the side, so you can choose the opening that’s more comfortable for your feline. The carrier comes in three sizes, all of which should fit well under an airplane seat due to the bag’s shape and flexibility. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll have enough space to expand the carrier during the flight.

4. Mr. Peanut's Expandable Airline Approved Cat Carrier
  • 18" x 10.5" x 11"
  • Expandable side
  • Self-locking zipper
  • Safety leash tether
  • Waterproof material
  • Fleece bedding inside

This is another expandable cat carrier that extends on one side to give your cat more space when waiting at the airport. It has lots of ventilation, along with a self-locking zipper to prevent your pet from escaping. There’s fleece bedding inside to help your cat relax during the flight. There’s also a leash tether for added safety. The carrier is waterproof and only weighs four pounds so you won’t get exhausted carrying your cat around in it. It’s designed for cats up to 15 pounds, and it comes in four different colors.

5. PetAmi Deluxe Pet Carrier Backpack
  • 12.5" x 10.2" x 16.3"
  • Backpack style with padded straps
  • Safety strap and Sherpa bedding inside
  • Comes with a collapsible bowl
  • Several secure pockets
  • Comes in many colors

This product is a cat backpack that doubles as an airline approved carrier. It has several ventilation patches that your cat can look out of, and there’s a safety strap to keep them contained. There are several pockets to hold essential belongings, such as treats, water bottles, and keys. There’s sherpa-lined bedding in the carrier, and it comes with a collapsible bowl. When using it as a backpack, it has padded straps with a chest and waist strap to keep it secure. If you bring it on an airplane, keep in mind that it may need to lay sideways to properly fit under the seat. It comes in 12 unique colors.

6. Prodigen Pet Carrier Airline Approved
  • 17.5" x 10" x 11"
  • Waterproof material
  • Multiple carrying straps
  • Safety leash and sherpa bedding inside
  • Lightweight
  • Several color options

This cat carrier comes in two sizes, but the smaller size is the better option for airlines. It has a carrying handle and a shoulder strap, so you can choose how you want to carry your cat. It’s made with reinforced polyester so kitten claws can’t tear through it. There are also several mesh windows and a safety leash inside. Plus, there’s Sherpa bedding on the bottom to keep your cat cozy. The carrier is waterproof and weighs just over two pounds, so it’s light enough to carry around even with your cat inside. It works well for cats up to 14 pounds, and it comes in six different colors.

7. Petisfam Top Load Cat Carrier Bag
  • 17" x 11" x 11"
  • Three different openings
  • Multiple carrying handles
  • Collapses for easy storage
  • Safety leash and soft bedding inside
  • Several color options

The Petisfam carrier opens from the top and two of the sides so your pet won’t feel as nervous to go inside. It has several mesh patches to provide proper ventilation. There’s a safety leash inside and locking zippers to ensure your cat doesn’t escape the carrier. You can carry it using the handles on the top of the shoulder strap. When it’s not in use, it collapses for easy storage. The inside of the carrier has padded bedding, and there are six color options for the carrier. It’s designed for cats up to 16 pounds.

8. Refrze Pet Carrier Airline Approved
  • 17" x 12" x 11"
  • Mesh windows on all sizes
  • Several carrying straps
  • Comes with wool mat and food bowl
  • Self-locking zippers
  • Collapses for easy storage

This carrier has medium and large sizes, but only the medium size is approved by popular airlines. The medium-sized carrier is designed for cats up to 15 pounds, and it has mesh windows on all sides so your furry friend can see what’s going on. You can carry the bag using the handles or the shoulder strap. It comes with a wool mat for your cat to rest on and a food bowl. The self-locking zippers will prevent your cat from escaping. When you’re not using the carrier, it collapses for easy storage. It also comes in five colors.

9. Siivton Airline Approved Pet Carrier
  • 18" x 11" x 11"
  • Expandable on all four sides
  • Lots of mesh for visibility and breathability
  • Waterproof material
  • Removable and machine-washable bedding
  • Safety clip inside
  • Multiple entry points

If your cat loves to have extra space, this might be the ideal carrier for them. It expands on all four sides so your feline will have plenty of space to move around while you wait at the airport. Each expansion has lots of mesh so your cat can see their surroundings and breathe easily. The fleece bed inside the carrier can be removed and machine-washed. Your cat can enter the carrier through the top or the sides, so you can choose the option most comfortable for your pet. The carrier is made with waterproof materials and it has a safety clip inside. There’s a larger size available, but it’s not suitable for airplanes.

10. Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed
  • 13" x 13" x 11" or 17" x 17" x 13"
  • Dome-shaped mesh roof
  • Water-resistant materials
  • Removable and washable bedding
  • Several color options

The Sleepypod is a mobile pet bed that’s suitable for most popular airlines. It opens from the top and has a dome-shaped mesh roof when it closes, providing a comfortable sleeping space for your cat. It’s made of water-resistant nylon, and it’s ideal for cats up to 15 pounds. You can carry it using the handle on the top or the shoulder strap. It also comes with washable bedding and a water-resistant foam liner. There are mini and medium sizes, and the carrier comes in six different colors.

Buyer’s Guide for Airline Approved Cat Carriers

Below are a few features to look out for when selecting the ideal carrier.


Size is crucial for an airplane bag. First of all, it must be large enough for your cat to comfortably turn around in. Some cats love the extra space of expandable bags because it makes them feel less confined. However, you also need to ensure the carrier is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you on a plane. Always make sure the dimensions line up with an airline’s restrictions before taking a carrier on a flight.


The carrier should have lots of mesh windows so your cat can breathe properly in their carrier. Those windows also help the carrier feel more spacious by letting your cat see their surroundings.


Since your cat will be in the carrier for long periods, they need to feel comfortable inside. Most carriers come with padded bedding to put on the bottom so your kitty can curl up and take a well-deserved nap.

Carrying Options

Even though cats don’t weigh much, carrying them around the airport can become exhausting. Bags with multiple carrying options, such as a carrying handle, a shoulder strap, or a wheeled bag with a long handle, can help make travel easier. Some bags can also attach to the top of a suitcase so you don’t have to carry them at all.

Special Features

Any additional features depend on your preferences. Pockets, leash attachments, and waterproof materials are all aspects that can make a bag better. Some products even come with additional items, such as a collapsible food bowl, to make travel easier.

Cat at airport

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Bring My Cat on a Plane?

Yes, most airlines allow cats on flights, but there are rules and regulations you will need to follow. Most airlines will charge a fee for pets on the flight, so you’ll need to plan ahead to book a spot for your feline. Always check an airline’s pet regulations before booking a flight with your cat.

Do Cat Carriers Go in the Cabin of the Plane?

Yes, most airlines allow cats in the cabin, as long as the carrier fits the size requirements. Carriers go under the seat in front of you and should stay there for the duration of the flight. Most flights only allow a certain amount of pets in the cabin, so book your flight in advance.

What are the Requirements of an Airline-Approved Cat Carrier?

The requirements of an airline-approved cat carrier vary based on the airline. However, all airlines require your cat’s carrier to be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. To find out the exact under-seat dimensions, check out your airline’s website.

Are There Weight Restrictions for Airline-Approved Cat Carriers?

Some airlines have weight restrictions for pets, whether they’re in the cabin or cargo. It’s unlikely that your cat will exceed those weight restrictions. The weight usually refers to the pet’s weight without adding the carrier’s weight.

What Documentation Do You Need for Flying with a Cat?

Every airline is different, but some may require vaccination records, a current health certificate, and an identification tag and/or microchip. If your airline requires any of these documents, be sure to have them accessible in case an employee asks to see them.

Can I Store My Belongings in My Airline Approved Cat Carrier?

You can store small items in the pockets of your cat’s carrier, but you shouldn’t let your belongings crowd your kitty’s space. Their carrier should be a safe and comfortable place during the flight, so adding too many items could make your cat uncomfortable and stressed. Put anything you don’t need in your luggage instead.

Are There Breed Restrictions for Flying with Cats?

Most airlines do not have breed restrictions for cats. However, some may restrict flat-faced cats, such as Persians, for safety reasons since they’re prone to breathing problems.

Can You Put More Than One Cat in an Airline Carrier?

No, putting two cats in the same carrier isn’t a good idea. Cats are more likely to be anxious and uncomfortable with another cat in the carrier, especially since it may restrict their ability to move around. Many airlines require separate carriers for each pet on board.

Can My Cat Come Out of Their Carrier During a Flight?

No, most airlines do not allow pets to come out of their carrier during the flight. The cat carrier must stay under the seat in front of you for the duration of the flight.

Cat in airplane carrier

Final Thoughts

The best airline approved cat carriers are necessary if you want to travel with your cat. If this is your first time flying with your cat, make sure to talk to your vet first to make sure they’re healthy and don’t need any medications during the flight. Also, before you choose the perfect bag, make sure it fits your airline’s requirements. With the perfect cat carrier, flying with your cat should be a breeze.

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