small tabby cat

What size cat carrier do I need?

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Cat owners have one advantage over dog owners: cats come in a smaller range of sizes than dogs.

It’s far easier to imagine a medium-sized cat than it is a medium-sized dog.

Or at least we think so.

And choosing the right size cat carrier can sometimes be as simple as looking at your pet and thinking in terms of small, medium and large.  You should already have some idea based on the breed of your cat as well as on how much you’re feeding them.

If you know their weight then that’s useful, too, as most products come with a maximum limit.

These are all helpful indicators for what size cat carrier you’ll need but relying on them alone puts you at risk of making incorrect estimations; it’s far better if you can measure your cat for its carrier.

What size cat carrier should I buy?

The carrier should be 1.5 times the size of your feline.

This gives them ample room to sit down, stand up, lie down, and turn and is true both for hard and soft carriers.

As tempting as it may be to buy a much bigger box, cats prefer small spaces to hide in.  If you’re buying a hard carrier, getting one that’s a lot bigger just means the cat will be slipping and sliding around inside.

Online retailers should always include the dimensions of the product for comparison with the measurements you’ve made.  Sometimes a manufacturer will list an item as a large when it’s more of a medium. It’s what we found when we bought ours from Argos in the UK (we’re super-happy with it but relieved we went for the large).

cat carrier size infographic

Measure from the nose to the tip of the tail

Measure from the ground to the tip of the ear

Add 4-inches to each measurement


·        There are a few methods of finding out and the best is to measure your cat. This might be easier when they’re half-asleep or lying on the ground.  You just need a tape measure.

·        Add 4-inches to each measurement so there’s enough additional space around it to be comfortable.


·        You should weigh your pet, too, particularly as soft carriers can dip in the middle.  Cat carriers often include a maximum weight and you should take notice of his.  This is for the cat’s benefit but also your own as an unbalanced heavy carrier could cause you an injury.


·        If you do buy a carrier that’s slightly bigger than you intended, you can always fill it out with additional blankets or towels.  If it’s too much bigger though we’d recommend sending it back and getting a smaller size.


·        If you’re traveling by plane, then the carrier will also be restricted by airline regulations.  Check with the airline as there are different requirements for each airline as well as for traveling in the cabin or in the hold or via cargo.


·        We also found one site which offers a way of measuring the cat using a small rope and credit cards which could be useful if you don’t have a tape measure or long enough ruler.

What size crate should I get for 2 cats?

It’s the same principle as measuring for one cat.

Often, it’s a jump to a bigger size for example from a medium carrier (suitable for one cat) up to an extra-large. Often, it’s better that two adult cats have their own carrier but if you have litter mates, kittens, or cats that are closely bonded then a double cat carrier can make a lot of sense. 

You’ll probably be surprised at the range of different cat carriers available.

It’s good news for owners as our pets all have different personalities and needs and a bigger selection means more chance of making the right buying decision. 

We’ll drop a few of our most popular cat carrier related posts below.  Feel free to follow them for more information and good luck in deciding on the best size of carrier for your cat.

·        Trying to decide between a hard or soft carrier?

·        What’s the best cat carrier for vet visits?

·        Looking for something different?  Backpacks for carrying cats  

·        Hitting the road?  What’s the best cat carrier for long car trips

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