🔍 How we picked our favorites
We started with results — We scoured Instagram for cat adventurers and asked which backpacks they enjoyed using, and the ones they didn’t. Then we dug through customer reviews and product details.
We skipped backpacks that weren’t easy to clean — Sometimes your pet has a whoopsie. It’s part of life. All of our favorite backpacks have accessible floor mats in case of an accident.
We handpicked the most versatile products — We focused on backpacks that were both stylish and practical. Any good pet carrier has water-resistant fabric, breathable mesh, large ventilation holes, thick shoulder straps, and smart storage.
- Cat backpacks are great for all types of pet travel — Long walks for fresh air, jaunts into the city, hikes, waiting at the terminal. Most backpacks meet basic airline travel requirements — some even work as a car seat.
- Getting the proper size is key — Don’t rely on size ranges alone. You need to measure your cat before buying one. There should have enough room for your cat to stretch and turn around. Otherwise, they might be uncomfortable.
What to look for in a backpack carrier
Durability. First, make sure it’s made from high-quality materials that’ll hold up to all sorts of adventures. (Think water-resistant materials, metal zippers, useful storage compartments, etc.)
Safety. When comparing cat backpacks, look at the safety features of each option. Strategically placed, secure clasps and zippers will make it harder for your cat to escape (or get stuck trying to escape) while you’re out and about. Ventilation is also crucial, especially for certain space-capsule backpacks. Make sure there are mesh windows on the sides of the bag as well.
👉 Remember that safety isn’t just for your cat, either. Check to make sure the straps and handles are comfortable for you to carry and won’t cause issues after being on your back for a couple of hours.
Versatility. Something else to consider is how versatile the backpack is. Can you use the carrier while traveling? Is it within the TSA-approved dimensions to carry on planes? Is it easy for you to interact with your pet while they are in the carrier? Will the backpack fit other supplies, such as a water bowl or your wallet and keys? These are just a few of the questions you should ask when looking for the right backpack.
Pet backpacks vs handheld carrier bags
It’s simple: Backpacks are just easier for on-the-go pet parents to carry. They’re designed to distribute weight evenly, all while keeping your hands free for other things. Plus, they usually have a lot more room for curious cats to move around. That means they’re easier on you and your pet.
Additionally, soft-sided such as handbag carriers provide less security for a cat that has a side-hustle as an escape artist.
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Getting your cat used to their new carrier
Like any new carrier, your cat will need some time to get used to it. Give them time to explore it while at home before trying to use it to take them out. Our vets suggest using treats, toys, catnip or even familiar bedding to help create a positive connotation to the new carrier.
Once your cat has gotten more familiar with their new carrier, try it out on shorter walks and positive outings. Don’t use your carrier for the first time on a trip to the vet or a long flight.
Are cat backpacks safe?
Absolutely. Backpack-style carriers are actually more secure than handheld carriers. Just make sure you get the right. Sitting in a cramped carrier for an extended period of time can be super stressful for your cat.
Do cat backpacks work with large cats?
👉 Yes, but as a general rule, your cat should have enough room to stand up, stretch, and turn in a circle.
Different products have different size requirements. Make sure to check the weight and size recommendations for any backpack you plan to buy.
How long can cats stay in a backpack carrier?
Our vets recommend that adult cats should spend no more than one to two hours in their carrier at a time. If you’re on a long trip, plan to take breaks every hour or so. Keep in mind that kittens may need to be taken out more often so they can drink and go potty.