Which Top Loading Cat Carrier Should You Buy?

kittens in a top loading cat carrier


Getting a cat in and out of its carrier can be tough.

It’s even more difficult if your pet is aggressive, anxious or suspicious of crates, cages and carriers.

Anything that makes it easier to scoop a cat up, secure them inside and get
them from A to B is worth researching.

Fortunately, top loading cat carriers are popular, affordable and easy to buy.

kittens in a top loading cat carrier

Top loading cat carriers are regarded as one of the best cat carriers for vet visits but the two-door option is useful in a wide range of situations.

We wanted to take a look and see what some of the best options are, so we hope you find the information helpful in your research.

If you’re in a hurry, we’ll list the 2-best sellers below so you can jump right into the link and start shopping.

Otherwise, keep reading and we’ll give a short buyer’s guide on what to look for in open top cat carriers as well as a list of some of the best on the market with features, pros, cons and of course links to buy the products. 

We use affiliate links so if you follow them and make a qualifying purchase then we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you 😊

Bestseller No. 1
Petmate Two Door Top Load Dog Kennel
  • PET CRATE FOR SMALL DOGS: This small dog kennel has a top entry door so you can access your cat or dog. Suitable for small dog breeds between 10-20 lbs. Measures: 19"
  • AIR TRAVEL APPROVED: This pet carrier meets most airline cargo specifications. The air travel kennel for dogs & cats also has a durable, ergonomic comfort-grip handle & ventilated sides for comfortable transport.
  • KENNELS & HOUSES: Crate & kennel training is vital for dog safety & comfort. We provide traditional travel carriers, wire training & exercise kennels, play pens, barn-style dog houses & more
  • Petmate: For over 50 years, we at Petmate are passionate about our dogs, cats & furry friends in general. Starting with the very first dog kennel, we've produced plenty of eco-friendly products that pets will love.
  • JUST FOR PETS: Petmate makes a variety of pet products for dogs, cats, chickens & other small furry friends! Check out our brands such as Aspen Pet, Arm & Hammer, Booda, Chuckit!, Jackson Galaxy & more!
Bestseller No. 2
AmazonBasics Two-Door Top-Load Hard-Sided Pet Travel Carrier, 19-Inch
  • Two-door model allows for easy loading of pets
  • Plenty of ventilation on sides, top, and back of crate
  • Included screws can be used to attach top and bottom for additional security as well as quick release latches for quick set up
  • Spring loaded from latch for smooth opening
  • Top door features handle and latches to open to the left or right for convenience

Last update on 2020-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

  • Top load cat carriers make it easier to get your cat in and out of its carrier.  There are often two doors: one on the carrier’s roof and the other at the front or on the side. 

  • It means you can walk the cat in or lower them in.  The same goes for whenever you’re ready to take them out. 

  • Vets can sometimes treat ill or injured pets inside the carrier if the top can be lifted off.  This makes it easier on the poorly cat who’ll probably be more comfortable not being moved.

  • If you’re taking a mom cat and her babies to the vet, then it’s easier to pick up individual kittens than having to reach a hand inside.

  • Top loading cat carriers generally have better ventilation, too, and a great panorama for the pet to look out of.
clips that secure top loading carrier from base

What to look for in open top cat carriers

  • You should always measure your cat before buying a cat carrier as it’s important to have the correct size. It may be tempting to pick a much bigger carrier but cats prefer smaller spaces so a carrier that’s right for their height and weight is much better.

  • Picking between a hard or soft-sided cat carrier will depend on the cat’s personality as well as your preference.  Generally, if you have an anxious or difficult cat then a plastic carrier is better but a calm and chilled pet may prefer the comforts of a fabric carrier.

  • You should also consider your own needs, too. Top-opening carriers can be heavier especially if you’re using a plastic one. Will you be able to lift it comfortably with your pet inside?  Don’t forget that there is a range of different products designed to make it easier to move cats around. You can buy a cat backpack to distribute the weight more evenly across the shoulders or you could try a pet stroller with a detachable cat carrier which makes it far easier to walk longer distances.

  • It’s always important to read the reviews of genuine customers and to pay particular attention (once you’ve read the specifications of the product yourself) to what’s been said about build quality.  Top opening cat carriers mean a second potential escape route for your pet so it’s important to know that the carrying handle and opening are secure and sturdy.
  • Some cat carriers have a gate that opens on the top but others will have clips that secure the top and bottom sections together.  The latter gives you more space to get your cats in and out and makes it easier to store but it’s not as convenient to open out as one with a door and a latch.

Fortunately, top loading cat carriers are popular, affordable and easy to buy.

Top loading cat carriers are regarded as one of the best cat carriers for vet visits but the two-door option is useful in a wide range of situations.

We wanted to take a look and see what some of the best options are, so we hope you find the information helpful in your research.

If you’re in a hurry, we’ll list the 2-best sellers below so you can jump right into the link and start shopping.

Otherwise, keep reading and we’ll give a short buyer’s guide on what to look for in open top cat carriers as well as a list of some of the best on the market with features, pros, cons and of course links to buy the products. 

24 x 16.8 x 14.5 inches

This is a durable plastic carrier which will be ideal for anxious or difficult cats. It has a grated steel door and vented sides for ventilation and visibility. 

Petmate Two Door Top Load Dog Kennel
  • PET CRATE FOR SMALL DOGS: This small dog kennel has a top entry door so you can access your cat or dog. Suitable for small dog breeds between 10-20 lbs. Measures: 19"
  • AIR TRAVEL APPROVED: This pet carrier meets most airline cargo specifications. The air travel kennel for dogs & cats also has a durable, ergonomic comfort-grip handle & ventilated sides for comfortable transport.
  • KENNELS & HOUSES: Crate & kennel training is vital for dog safety & comfort. We provide traditional travel carriers, wire training & exercise kennels, play pens, barn-style dog houses & more
  • Petmate: For over 50 years, we at Petmate are passionate about our dogs, cats & furry friends in general. Starting with the very first dog kennel, we've produced plenty of eco-friendly products that pets will love.
  • JUST FOR PETS: Petmate makes a variety of pet products for dogs, cats, chickens & other small furry friends! Check out our brands such as Aspen Pet, Arm & Hammer, Booda, Chuckit!, Jackson Galaxy & more!

Last update on 2020-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Got your hands full when carrying your cat? No problem, you can open the front door latch one-handed. 

  • Easy to get your cat in and out of the carrier through the front and top-doors.

  • Carrying handle that’s comfortable in your hand

  • Easy-squeeze door latches for one-handed access to the front mesh gate.

  • Grated steel doors so the cat can see out (easy to cover over if you’re pet is motion sick).  It gives a good airflow, too.

  • Good range of colors to choose from

  • Top and bottom can be separated and then reattached using a wing-and-bolt design.

  • Durable steel door for security

Pros:

Easy to get the cat in and out

One-handed door opening

Enough space to add a cushion in the bottom

Good airflow throughout the carrier

Cons:

Not suitable for large cats

We like this carrier as it’s affordable and it’s pretty basic. You’d probably want to add a cushion or some blankets in the bottom because plastic carriers aren’t very comfortable without some padding. 

Petisfam Pet Carrier for Medium Cats

17 x 11 x 11 inches

We love how it uses anti-escape zippers and it has a leash hook inside for added security. 

Sale
petisfam Top Load Cat Carrier for Medium Cats, Collapsible and Escape Proof
  • TOP LOAD soft cat carrier measures 17"L X 11"W X 11"H, recommended max load of 16 lbs (7.3 kg)
  • ESCAPE PROOF, all zippers are anti-escape and has a leash hook inside
  • EASIER TO GET PET IN OR OUT. It's easier to load your pets into the petisfam than most other carriers because it has 1 top opening and 2 side doors
  • EASIER TO TRANSPORT, no matter by CAR or AIR. Luggage attachment and car seat belt straps included. Airline approved, fits Southwest airlines, American Airlines, Jet Blue, United Airlines, Allegiant Air, Virgin airlines, Alaska Air, Frontier Airlines
  • EASIER TO CARRY and STORAGE. Carrying handles and adjustable shoulder strap; It's collapsible, just unzip it and fold it down into a flat package when not in use

Last update on 2020-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It’s collapsible so easy to store when not in use.

  • Very easy to put your cat in and out as it has 2-side openings and one top opening.

  • Ideal for traveling in the car with the included seat belt attachment

  • Approved for a number of airlines including Jet Blue, United, Alaska and Virgin (but always double check before buying).

  • Folds down when not in use

  • Easy to carry thanks to an adjustable shoulder strap

  • Good airflow throughout the carrier with 3-mesh sides

  • Comfortable fleece for the cat to sit on 

Pros:

Escape proof zippers

Attractive design

Easy to store when not in use

Use for in-cabin airline travel or traveling by car

Cons:

Maximum weight limit is 16 pounds but some reviewers have said the carrier is a little smaller than they expected.  You can buy a bigger version of this carrier though.  You can follow this link through to Amazon to check it out. 

We really like how versatile this in and should suit many of your cat carrier needs: traveling in the car, in-cabin, and out for veterinarian visits. It’s a really good looking top-loading cat carrier, too.

Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe Airline Approved Pet Carrier

This popular Sherpa carrier comes in three-sizes which makes it a great option for larger cats as well as cats who are still growing.  

Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carriers
  • Perfect for traveling in style and comfort by plane or car, for an adventure or just a trip to the vet
  • Patented spring wire frame allows the rear end of the carrier to be pushed down several inches to conform to under-seat requirements.Wipe clean with damp cloth
  • Mesh windows for ventilation, top and side entry with locking zippers for safety, padded adjustable, no-slip carrying strap, seat belt/luggage strap, machine-washable faux lambskin liner
  • Rear pocket for convenient storage of treats, leash, bags, or anything else your furry friend might need on the go
  • Approved for use on most airlines and included in Sherpa’s Guaranteed on Board programSize medium is for pets up to 16" L x 10" H and up to 16 lbs Medium carrier measures 17” L x 11” W x 10.5” H Do NOT select the carrier size based on weight only. Choose the carrier size based on your pet’s measurements first, then make sure not to exceed the maximum weight limit..Carrier is intended for safe and comfortable travel; the pet will not have excess room to move around

Last update on 2020-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

You can push this carrier down to fit underneath a plane seat so it’s a great option for anyone traveling in-cabin with their cat.   

  • You can push this carrier down to fit underneath a plane seat so it’s a great option for anyone traveling in-cabin with their cat.

     

  • It has fiberglass support rods which is so important in retaining the carrier’s shape after it’s been collapsed down.

     

  • No sagging in the bottom thanks to a wooden stability board

     

  • Good air flow throughout the carrier

     

  • You can see your cat through the mesh when you’re traveling

     

  • Locking zippers for added security

     

  • Use in the car with the seatbelt/luggage strap
  • If you’re flying, you can keep paperwork in the rear pocket

  • Comfortable faux-lambskin liner

  • The small or medium Sherpa carrier is included in the ‘guaranteed on board program’ which means you can be assured it’ll be accepted in-cabin on most major airlines (always, always double-check with your airline though).

  • Pick from different colors

Pros:

Accepted on most major airlines

Retains shape after being collapsed flat in storage

Attractive looking carrier

Wipe opening for easy access

Secure zippers

Cons:

Not suitable for nervous or aggressive cats

Sherpa carriers are great for keeping an eye on your pet when you’re traveling as it has mesh paneling on the sides.  We really like the simple design of the black Sherpa, too. 

 

AmazonBasics Two-Door Top-Load Hard-Sided Pet Travel Carrier

This is another basic and affordable carrier that’s suited to cats who prefer plastic carriers to fabric.  We really like how the top-door can open to the left or to the right making it even easier to get your pet in and out. 

AmazonBasics Two-Door Top-Load Hard-Sided Pet Travel Carrier, 23-Inch
  • Two-door, top-load model allows for easy loading of your cat or dog
  • Measures 23 * 15 * 13in
  • Top door can open to the left or right for easy access and convenience
  • Included screws can be used to further secure the top and bottom of kennel for added reinforcement
  • Made of durable plastic with a steel-wire front door

Last update on 2020-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

You can screw the top and bottom sections together so it’s good for heavier cats. 

  • Easy to get your cat in and out as it’s one door on the top and one on the side.

 

  • Good for escape artists as the front door is a spring-loaded latch

     

  • Good airflow throughout

     

  • Comes in medium (19-inch) and large (21-inch) sizes

Pros:

Made from durable plastic

Top and bottom sections can be screwed together

Good ventilation

Cons:

Unsuitable for use on airplanes

Reviewers suggesting it comes up small

This isn’t one of the stronger carriers on our list but we own this carrier (purchased from another retailer in the UK), and we’re very happy with our product. 

This is a very affordable soft-sided top loading carrier that looks more expensive.  It comes in medium and large as well as a range of different colors.  

Henkelion Cat Carriers Dog Carrier Pet Carrier for Small Medium Cats Dogs Puppies up to 15 Lbs, TSA Airline Approved Small Dog Carrier Soft Sided, Collapsible Waterproof Travel Puppy Carrier - Grey
  • AIRLINE APPROVED CARRIER - With airline-approved design, you can take your pet to go to everywhere. This pet carrier provides two connecting loop handles for balanced carrying as a dual seat belt or luggage strap to secure transport
  • SAFETY DESIGN - The adjustable shoulder strap help you hands-free carrying and makes it the most safe and convenient pet carrier bag for your travel
  • WATERPROOF & DURABLE - This cat carrier is made of durable, lightweight and waterproof polyester fabric. The four-side mesh will not only give a safe and comfortable travel for your pet, but also easy for you to check on your pet
  • PORTABLE & WASHABLE - This dog carrier is easy to carry and store, which has a padded shoulder strap and handles. The cozy fleece pet bed can be completely removed and machine-washed
  • BOTH SIZES AND WEIGHTS - The mediun cat carrier is designed for small and medium pets within 15" x 9" x 9" and 15 lbs. Please do not choose your carrier only based on weight. Reference your pets' length and height in selecting a carrier size.

Last update on 2020-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 This is a lightweight carrier that will make multitasking whilst carrying your cat much easier

  • Easy to attach to a seat belt or luggage strap thanks to two connecting loop handles

  • Hands-free carrying with the adjustable strap

  • Waterproof

  • Good visibility of the pet at all times

  • Machine-washable fleece included

  • Small size will fit under airline seats (not the medium)

  • Cat is secured with a safety leash

Pros:

Easy to carry and to put into the car

Good ventilation

Stylish design

Cat is attached to the carrier

Cons:

Larger size will not fit
on aircraft

Won’t be accepted on Southwest Airlines

This is one of the bestsellers on Amazon so we’d really recommend reading the reviews for an in-depth understanding of how the carrier has worked for other owners. 

FAQs

Are soft carriers safe?

Soft cat carriers can be just as safe as plastic ones but you do need to think about the personality of your cat.  Cats are great escape artists with sharp teeth and claws that can make light work of a zip or mesh material. Heavier cats may also be a strain on smaller soft carriers so always check the maximum weight as well as the height and width before buying.  If you have a calm cat who’s unlikely to fight against its carrier, then a soft carrier is safe and more comfortable for them to sit in and it’ll be lighter for you to carry, too.

Why does my cat hate the carrier?

Think about when you put your cat in its carrier: veterinary and boarding visits. If a cat doesn’t have a pleasant experience with its carrier (taken out of its territory, poked and prodded, or left in a strange pen for two-weeks), then its always going to react poorly.

 

Most of us don’t carrier train or cats so when the box comes out, it’s panic stations for our felines. You can train your cat to like (or at least tolerate) its carrier by making it a familiar and safe space that smells like them and (if you leave toys and treats inside) more positive associations attached to it.  

Can 2 cats travel in one carrier?

You can put 2 cats in one carrier so long as the combined height, length and weight are within the product’s dimensions.  For long distances in a car, it may not be comfortable for cats to share a traditional style carrier.  

You might prefer to buy something like a 2-in-1 double shelter than can be separated into two or unzipped into one carrier or a long enclosed tunnel than can be spread across the back seat of the vehicle.  

Two cats sharing a carrier often isn’t allowed on airlines (unless it’s a mom cat with kittens) so always double-check the requirements.  Cats that don’t get on in confined spaces should be separated into their own carriers.

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