If you’re a cat owner (or know one) and are unfamiliar with the concept of a cat backpack, here’s what’s up: The best cat backpacks give your feline friend a chance to experience the world from the safety of their own little mobile home. If you worry that your indoor-only cat isn’t getting enough fresh air, but don’t want to lug them around in a carrier, a cat backpack is the answer. Whether or not you’ve managed to leash-train your kitty, these pet carriers are an easy, safe way to tote your fur babies around—without pulling a back muscle.
I’m a cat parent myself, and I’ll never forget the first time I saw a cat pass me on a Brooklyn street, its tiny, furry face poking through the fishbowl bubble of its owner’s backpack. I LOL’d at first because—come on—a cat in a backpack? What is this, a Dr. Seuss book? But last year, I bought my own and find it surprisingly useful. The backpack makes an excellent, hands-free pet carrier for travel and trips to the vet, especially since I have two cats (one goes in a handheld carrier; the other I put in my pack).
As the weather warms, I’ve noticed more and more cat carrier backpacks on the street (dog backpacks, too). Now that they’ve caught on, there’s a whole market for cat backpacks out there. Some feature the trending astronaut bubble window (such as the Lollimeow Pet Carrier Backpack, which any cat lover has doubtless seen on Instagram), while others are covered in sizable, strong breathable mesh panels made of anti-scratch material. All of these backpacks have ample air holes for ventilation, and one backpack even has a built-in fan (seriously). Many contain expandable mesh tunnels so your kitty has a roomy area to relax, and most are foldable, airline-approved, and equipped with comfy padded shoulder straps and chest straps. Safety straps and tethers ensure that your cat doesn’t get loose, and side pockets keep water bottles, pet gear storage, and attachable water bowls close.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best cat backpacks (which can work for small dogs, too) from retailers like Amazon, Target, Maxbone, and Chewy featuring popular brands like PetAmi, Texsens, Pecute, and more. You’ll find the top picks for both small cats and large cats, including durable, oxford-cloth options for long walks and hikes, rolling backpacks for air travel, backpacks that act as car seats, and—of course—ridiculously photogenic cat backpacks, too. Just be sure to compare your cat’s weight and height with the bag’s measurements before you buy.