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The 8 Best Cat Backpack Picks for Carrying Felines

Cat being carried in a backpack around a museum
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Over the past few years, a lot of people decided that the best way to deal with COVID-19 stress was to adopt a pet—in fact, according to the ASPCA, more than 23 million households added either a cat or dog to their family during the pandemic. Now that many restrictions are lifting and people are starting to consider traveling again, people are also considering taking their dogs and cats along for the ride. 

According to a recent story in The Washington Post, demand for pet-friendly vacation rentals increased 40 percent from 2020 to 2021.Further, hotel brands like Hilton are adding pet-friendly properties to their portfolios at a consistent clip.

While dogs are known for being excellent travel buddies, there are also felines who like to go on adventures. For those kitties, many cat parents rely on a cat backpack to get Mittens from Point A to Point B. But what is a cat backpack, and how do you pick the best one for your feline friend? 

What is a Cat Backpack?

Cat in a backpack sitting in a living room

In the most basic sense, a cat backpack is a backpack with features that make it ideal for transporting cats. Unlike traditional cat carriers—which may have shoulder straps, handles, or wheels—cat backpack carriers are designed to be worn on a person’s back. Some cat backpacks also can be worn as a front-facing carrier. 

Cat-friendly features typically included on cat backpacks include mesh panels for ventilation, viewing windows that allow your cat to look around, clips to attach a harness, a comfortable (and washable) mat, pockets for storing treats and other necessities, and comfortable straps that make it easy to wear even if you’re traveling long distances. 

There are lots of cat backpacks on the market, and some are better suited for certain tasks than others. There are cat backpacks specifically designed for going on hikes, walking around a city, and long-haul air travel. Some backpacks are built for bigger cats, and others can even comfortably transport more than one feline at a time. 

8 Best Cat Backpack Picks

Here are 8 excellent cat backpack carriers to consider. 

All featured products are chosen at the discretion of the author. However, Great Pet Care may make a small affiliate commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Best Cat Bubble Backpack

Our Pick: PETKIT Pet Bubble Backpack Carrier

PETKIT Pet Backpack Carrier for Cats

The PETKIT Pet Backpack Carrier brings a lot to the table. It has a large, tinted, bubble-shaped viewing window for kitties who like to take in their surroundings, features large mesh panels as well as a built-in fan for air circulation, and even has an interior light for times you’re traveling at night! It also has pockets, clips for a leash, and a removable mat. 

Highlights

  • Sturdy plastic construction
  • Tinted, bubble viewing window protects your cat from the sun
  • Large mesh panels for ventilation
  • Built-in fan and interior light
  • Pockets for travel essentials

Things to Consider

  • Powerbank for light and fan is not included
  • Recommended for cats 17 pounds and under

Best Cat Hiking Backpack 

Our Pick: The Navigator Cat Backpack by Travel Cat

Travel Cat The Navigator Cat Backpack

The Navigator Cat Backpack from Travel Cat is ideal for taking your feline friend on hikes. It has three large claw-resistant mesh panels that ensure good ventilation and sight lines, so your kitty can stay comfortable and secure while taking in all that nature has to offer. For human hikers, the backpack was designed to be carried for long distances and has adjustable chest and waist straps.

Highlights

  • Claw-resistant material
  • Large mesh panels for both ventilation and good lines of sight
  • Leash clip for safety
  • Adjustable straps for hiking long distances
  • Side pockets for stashing treats and other essentials

Things to Consider

  • Made entirely of fabric, might not work for someone looking for a more structured backpack
  • Recommended for cats 25 pounds and under

Best Airline-Approved Cat Carrier Backpack

Our Pick: Texsens Innovative Traveler Bubble Backpack

Texsens Innovative Traveler Bubble Backpack Pet

The Traveler Bubble Backpack from Texsens is specifically touted as an airline-approved cat carrier backpack, which is essential if you and your furry friend are taking to the skies. It has a semi-sphere window that allows your kitty to take a look at his surroundings and mesh panels on the sides for good ventilation. It is designed to fit under a standard airline seat so that your kitty can stay with you through your entire journey. It also has a built-in security leash, which is especially important when you’re in a high-traffic place like an airport.

Highlights

  • Security leash is key in airports
  • Mesh panels ensure good ventilation
  • Adjustable padded shoulder straps
  • Carrying handle allows you to strap this backpack to a car seat via the seatbelt
  • Well-designed and made from faux leather

Things to Consider

  • While this backpack should be approved for air travel, always check with your airline before committing to a flight
  • One of the heavier options on this list at 4.4 pounds
  • Recommended for cats that weigh between 10 and 13 pounds

Best Clear Cat Backpack

Our Pick: LOLLIMEOW Clear Cat Bubble Backpack

LOLLIMEOW Pet Carrier Backpack, Bubble Backpack Carrier

Made in a variety of rainbow colors, this clear cat carrying bag offers an enormous viewing window, which is great for cats who like to be part of the action. There’s a mesh panel, as well as nine portholes for ventilation, ensuring your cat stays comfortable. There’s also a pocket for snacks or other essentials. 

Highlights

  • Available in fun colors
  • Large, clear viewing window
  • Has two points of entry – the front unzips completely, but there is also a side “door” that your cat can go in and out of
  • Removable cushion is easy to clean
  • Leash clip for safety

Things to Consider

  • On the smaller side, so not suited for larger cats

Best Large Cat Backpack

Our Pick: The Fat Cat Backpack Carrier for Large Cats

Your Fat Cat Backpack

The Fat Cat Backpack Carrier is ideal for bigger kitties—we’re talking heckin’ chonkers who weigh up to 20 pounds! This backpack is made with claw-resistant material, has mesh sides and top for air flow, and has a bubble viewing window that lets your kitty gaze at the world around him like an adorable spaceman. 

Highlights

  • Sturdy, claw-resistant material
  • Lots of mesh for optimal airflow
  • Adjustable chest and shoulder straps for humans
  • Can be attached to a car seatbelt for enhanced safety while on the road

Things to Consider

  • Meant for bigger cats, so if you have a teeny kitty, you might want to size down

Best Expandable Cat Backpack

Our Pick: Halinfer Expandable Cat Backpack Carrier

Halinfer Expandable Cat Backpack Carrier

This expandable cat backpack from Halinfer is touted for large cats, but its best feature is that it has expandable panels in the front and back that—when the backpack is on the ground—gives your kitty more space to stretch out. It’s a great option if your cat will be in the carrier for long periods of time.

Highlights

  • Expandable front and back panels
  • Can hold cats that weigh up to 20 pounds
  • Lightweight and only weighs about 3 pounds
  • Has an adjustable chest buckle for hiking and other outdoor activities

Things to Consider 

  • Some reviewers noted that the bag got very warm when in direct sunlight
  • Mesh panels are only in use if the front panel of the backpack is extended

Best Small Cat Backpack

Our Pick: RABBICUTE Cat Backpack Carrier

RABBICUTE Pet Dog Carrier Backpack

If you have a teeny kitty friend and aren’t looking to lug around a giant backpack, the RABBICUTE backpack is specifically designed for pets between 5 and 8 pounds. The backpack is padded for optimal comfort, and the mesh viewing window offers a good vantage point when you’re on the move.

Highlights

  • Padded back is very comfortable for pets
  • Mesh window can be removed if your kitty wants to poke his face out and look around
  • Safety leash is attached to the interior of the bag to prevent escape
  • Removable mat is easy to clean
  • Can be worn as a backpack or on the front of your body if you want to keep a close eye on your feline

Things to Consider

  • This is truly a bag for small cats. Any cat larger than 8 pounds will likely be very uncomfortable
  • Viewing window is smaller than in most other backpacks

Best Double Cat Carrier Backpack

Our Pick: GJEASE Double-Compartment Pet Carrier

GJEASE Double-Compartment Pet Carrier Backpack

Want to take multiple cats on the road? Look no further than the GJEASE Double-Compartment Pet Carrier. It has two compartments to hold two smaller kitties, or you can remove the partition for enough room for a medium-sized cat. The backpack’s seven mesh windows ensure cats stay cool and provide good visibility if they want to see what’s going on. 

Highlights

  • Two compartments
  • Lots of mesh panels for ventilation
  • Front mesh windows can be covered if kitty is feeling shy
  • Has handles so you can wear as a backpack or carry as a bag

Things to Consider

  • Best suited for two small cats, large cats will be cramped

Cat Backpack Buying Guide

Cat backpack on a walk

So, you’re ready to hit the road with your feline friend. What should you be looking for in a cat backpack? Pay close attention to these tips when shopping for a cat backpack.

Choose comfort over style. It’s important to find a backpack carrier that works for both you and your cat. Wearing a backpack that digs into your shoulders or hurts your back is not optimal, so be sure to take any bag for a spin to test for comfort before adding your cat into the mix.

Don’t skip safety features. Beyond comfort, look for those important cat safety features mentioned above including mesh panels, viewing windows, harness clips, a comfortable mat, and secure zippers. 

Splurge on storage. When deciding on a cat backpack, consider extra storage options. Pockets, panels, and pouches in addition to the main compartment can store cat toys and treats. Storage also comes in handy for your own personal items like a phone and your keys. 

Double check your measurements. Since cat backpack carriers come in all different sizes, it’s important to accurately measure your cat and compare those measurements to the manufacturer’s size chart to ensure your cat will fit comfortably in the carrier. There is no universal measurement or sizing system, so double check your measurements before ordering to get a great fit. 

Consider compliance for air travel. If you plan to use your cat backpack as a way to transport your cat on a plane, make sure it meets your airline’s carry-on requirements and is compliant with air travel rules and regulations. Don’t assume that all cat backpacks are airplane friendly. 

Cat Backpack FAQs

Cat walking in a cat backpack with owner

Are cat backpacks safe?

If you take the proper precautions, cat backpacks are indeed safe. You should be sure that the backpack is the right size (too big or too small could be uncomfortable for your cat),that it’s well-ventilated so your kitty doesn’t overheat,and that the straps and zippers are secure to prevent escape.

You also want to be sure that your cat feels safe and relaxed when on an adventure. This may take a bit of training to get Fluffy used to the backpack. Some cats may not take to backpacks at all, so pay close attention to your cat’s demeanor. If being in the backpack stresses your cat out, you may have to consider other travel options. 

Do cats like backpacks?

Whether or not your cat will like a backpack will depend on your cat’s unique preferences. Some cats are completely comfortable in a cat backpack carrier, while others find backpacks stressful and uncomfortable. 

It’s important to introduce the backpack to your cat slowly and associate it with positive experiences like treats and toys. Before traveling or going on an extended outing with the backpack, test placing your cat in the backpack inside your home for short periods of time first. Pay close attention to your cat’s body language. If you notice any signs of anxiety or distress, get your cat out of the backpack and try again at another time when your cat is calm. 

How can you clean cat pee out of a backpack?

Accidents happen and if your cat pees in your backpack carrier, cleaning it to remove the stain and odor is important. First, choose a cat backpack carrier that is easy to clean. This means looking for a backpack with a removable, machine-washable mat. It will also be helpful if the whole backpack can be put into the wash. 

In a pinch, use paper towels or a cloth to mop soak up any urine you can. Then, use a pet-safe enzyme cleaner and spray the area. Let it sit for 5-15 minutes and use paper towels or a cloth to dab the area again. Then spray the soiled area with the cleaner again and let it air dry. This should remove the stain and odor. If you can throw your cat backpack in the washing machine, allow it to air dry and do not put it in the dryer. The high heat of a dryer can trap the urine odor. 

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