The Best Cat Carrier For Long Distance Car Travel: Soothe Your Nervous Cats

I can’t be the only one who has spent more money than they care to admit on a fancy cat bed or cat carrier, only to have them sleep in the cardboard box it came in, right?

I used the Sherpa Cat Carrier (if you are on a budget) when I drove my 4 cats across the U.S and again recently from Massachusetts to Missouri. Love these.

I can save you the cash to be spent over the next few years and just take a look at the few carriers below in the chart.

Carrier  Weight  Width  Height  Depth
Sleepypod Air (in cabin) up to 18 lbs.  16-22 inches  8-10.5 inches  10-10.5 inches
Sleepypod Atom (in cabin) up to 15 lbs.  16-17 inches 8-10.5 inches  8.5 inches
Sleepypod Mini (for smaller cats) up to 7 lbs.  13 inches  9-11 inches

 13 inches

Sherpa Deluxe (budget friendly) up to 16 lbs.  11 inches  10.5 inches  18 inches

Back to the box…

My cats love that cardboard box so much, I just surrendered to the idea that it’s now a new piece of furniture in our home.

I’ve turned the box on its side (so the picture of the actual cat bed doesn’t taunt me with its uselessness), put a little blanket in there and slid it into their favorite little corner.

My cats absolutely adore this box, and the $40 cat beds that came in the box are now in storage.

I must’ve repeated this cycle a few times over the years because when I went to add these new cat beds to our storage cubby, there was already two cat carriers and three cat beds in there.

A little ridiculous, right?

While marking the calendar with our cat’s next vet appointment, I laughed and told my husband that it would be great if we could just take our cats to the vet in this box, because it would be a good way to get them in the car without the normal sass we get from them.

The SleepyPod carrier is essentially that idea:

SleepyPod Cat Carrier

Image via Pinterest

A bed that you can make into a carrier to easily transport your pet in the comfort of their own favorite sleeping spot.

How Does a SleepyPod Carrier Differ from Other Cat Carriers?

They’re an all in one system:

  • cat bed
  • carrier
  • and safety car seat

This essentially solves the problem of your cat not liking or freaking out in their carrier.

The Disguise Of A Cat Bed…

Normally, cats will associate travel with negative experiences (unless you have a cat that likes adventure), and these reduce stress by allowing your pet to travel in the bed (that has a soft padded base) that they use every day at home.

So, when it’s time to go for a ride, you simply zipper on a mesh top piece and strap it in the car using a seatbelt to keep your cat from juggling around in the seat.

With available accessories such as the Warmer Kit (essentially a car- seat warmer, but for the cat bed), or air-mesh bedding (a snap-in-place mesh piece you can use to have your cat hanging a little over the original plush base of your SleepyPod) – this pet carrier seems to have an answer to every one of your cat’s needs.

How Does a SleepyPod Carrier Work?

While SleepyPod has quite a few instructional videos on how to best use one of their systems, they suggest a few things to do before using your pet carrier in day to day life:

Step 1:

Allow your cat to get used to the bed (base only) by putting it in a spot your cat likes, surrounding it with some favorite toys or treats, and allowing them free use of the bed until they begin to feel comfortable with it.

Step 2:

Zip the top mesh piece on, leaving the center open to get your cat used to the SleepyPod. Most cats enjoy the sense of privacy that having the top on (and open) gives, and prefer to use the cat bed when it’s like this.

Step 3:

Once your cat is familiar and comfortable with the SleepyPod with the cover on, zip up the centerpiece and takes your pet for a little walk around the room.

Then, set your SleepyPod back in its original space, open the centerpiece and allow your pet to exit as they wish.

Step 4:

Repeat Step 3 until your cat is comfortable being transported around the room (or several rooms in your home).

Encouraging your pet by talking to them and rewarding them along the way often helps them get used to transport.

Below is the instruction card on how to use this:

Sleepy Pod Mobile Pet Bed Instruction Card

Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed For Cats

These cat carriers come with many features (listed above) and are extremely easy to use. (also above)

  • From the cards, you can see the circular shape of the base allows cats to position themselves comfortably in the bed, while the rigid sides and mesh removable top allow for safe and sturdy transport.
  • The top handle allows for comfortable carrying as well as a place to strap a seatbelt in to keep your pet safe.
  • The Handilock feature is by far the most innovative thing that SleepyPod has done to ensure your pet’s safety.


During the initial crash test simulations, it became clear that your pet will be safe inside, however, it could possibly come undone from the seatbelt loop used to secure it, and could end up moving if a crash were to happen.

It didn’t take long to find a solution for this, and that’s when they invented the Handilock feature.

A small clip that you easily secure to the handle of your SleepyPod before putting the seat belt on; this successfully keeps it in place, even when an accident occurs.

You can find the Handilock Instruction video and the crash test performed while using Handilock, along with other informational/safety videos on SleepyPod’s “Research” section of their website here. Or check out the video below!


Which SleepyPod Model is Best for My Pet’s Weight?

On the manufacturers’ website and forums, we have found a few answers to this question, so we wanted to help clarify it for you.

According to the comparison charts from the site, they suggest a maximum weight of 15 lbs for a cat and 12 lbs for a dog.

However, each SleepyPod model has their own restrictions, which we’ve outlined below:

  • SleepyPod: Maximum weight suggested is 15 lbs for cats, 12 lbs for dogs. Successful crash test at 15 lbs
  • SleepyPod Air: Maximum weight suggested is 17.5 lbs for cats, 15 lbs for dogs. Successful crash test at 18 lbs
  • SleepyPod Atom: Maximum weight suggested is 12 lbs for cats, 8 lbs for dogs. Successful crash test at 12 lbs
  • SleepyPod Mini: Maximum weight suggested is 7 lbs for all pets. Successful crash test at 6 lbs

SleepyPod FAQs

#1.) Question: Is the SleepyPod mobile cat carrier airline approved?

SleepyPod Mini Viewed Under An Airline Cabin Seat

Image courtesy of SleepyPod via Pinterest &

Answer: Yes, you can fly (in the cabin) with most airlines using this product – however, please consult your airline first just to be sure. Also, ask and figure out the dimensions of under the seat as well for the airline your flying with.

Every Airline has its own set of regulations in regards with in-cabin pet transportation. Make sure you check with your airline regarding the necessary documentation needed (health certificates, pet passport etc), the costs involved, the # of pets allowed per plane, and the dimensions needed for your carrier.

Also, check the dimensions of the three carriers below to see if your cat will fit.

The Sleepypod Air, Atom and the Mini would be the choices here. It’s mainly up to the size of your cat and if they are ok inside a smaller space inside an airplane.

Here is the Atom below for a visual:


#2.) Question: What is the PPRS Handilock, and does it come with my SleepyPod carrier?

Answer: The PPRS Handilock was a solution to crash test simulations that showed the SleepyPod could be dislodged from the seatbelt during an accident. (video above for the crash test)

This Handilock strap was created to prevent that from happening and to further SleepyPod Mobile Pet Bed vehicle safety.

Any model sold after 2016 comes with a Handilock (however, if you have an earlier model pet carrier and would like a Handilock, you are able to contact SleepyPod directly to ask for one!)

PPRS Handilock System For SleepyPod

Image courtesy of Miss Molly Says via

#3.) Question: Is the SleepyPod leak proof?

Answer: The Atom and the Air has a formed base that is designed to hold a small amount of liquid and you can use disposable pads (Get the DryFur Pads, for longer trips. You can cut to fit and put them at the base of your carrier.

#4.) Question: What comes within my SleepyPod purchase?


  • Black plush bedding
  • a removable foam insert
  • the removable shoulder strap to carry the SleepyPod
  • an instruction manual
  • the base carrier
  • a tether
  • and a small privacy panel. (All accessories for SleepyPod units are sold separately.)

#5.) Question: Are there “feet” on the bottom of this cat bed?

Answer: There aren’t “feet” or “legs” but there are grip marks on the bottom to stop the bed from being moved easily by your pet.

#6.) Question: Can more than one pet be inside the same SleepyPod?

Answer: No, weight restrictions allow for only one pet at a time, and it is also safest this way. Although this is safe practices and not recommended, I’m sure there are pet owners out there that do put 2 super small pets inside for trips and such. Just understand this isn’t recommended.

#7.) Question: Is there a restraint on the inside which I can attach to my dog or cat’s harness?

Answer: No, it wouldn’t be safe to tether the animal to the SleepyPod this way, especially if you needed to get him/her out in a hurry.

#8.) Question: Is it easy to clean if my pet gets sick, or if the outside becomes dirty?

Answer: The inside padding is machine washable and the outside material is very easily washed with a damp cloth. Obviously, the outside could and would stain depending on what you put it through. Be mindful of that!

You can find more frequently asked questions on SleepyPod’s FAQ page. Each listing for the models has it’s own set of questions/answers, respectively.

SleepyPod Mobile Pet Carrier With 2 Cats

“Creative Commons 2006-12-06 16-17-27 DSC05010.JPG” by Greg Mote is licensed under CC-BY 2.0

SleepyPod Carrier: A Must-Have Product That People (and cats) Love to Use

There are several things you will love about the SleepyPod carriers, but the biggest win for me was when I read that the lining of this carrier is completely machine washable!

You can also purchase replacement liners, though many customers report never having to do so.

It’s also sleek, modern and comes in a variety of nice colors, so it won’t look out of place on a desk or in your living room.

The shape and design of this carrier also allow for easy access when you take your pet for vaccination or check up (which many customers have reported makes vet visits easier than normal).

Instead of dragging, dumping or pulling your cat out of their crate when it’s time to be set on the vet’s table – you can simply unzip the top and your pet can climb out.

A great simple review below captures a realistic perspective:

We have looked through customer reviews and gathered a list of pros and cons for purchasing a SleepyPod pet carrier, and the outcome is:

This is a fantastic, must-have product that people (and cats) love to use.


  • High quality, durable fabric
  • Safety conscious/crash tested
  • Not an eyesore (a variety of nice colors to choose from)
  • Easy access to your pet from the top
  • Can be strapped into any vehicle seatbelt


  • A little awkward to carry (because it’s circular)
  • Accessories sold separately (heating kit and mesh insert)
  • May not be the most ideal for traveling on a plane (some airlines may not accept it)

The biggest downfall of this product seemed to be that it was just an awkward shape to carry, especially if you’re using the shoulder strap and want your cat to be able to lay flat – however, this may be a small price to pay.

Reviews were especially positive around the durability of the carrier, with people saying their 5-year-old pet carrier was essentially in the same condition as the day they got it or that the mesh seems to hold up even with your kitty/pup scratching at it roughly.

One other downfall to the product was that not all airlines accept this model as a “cargo item” and may require the crate-like carriers – but the SleepyPod is great (and most ideal) for traveling with your cat by car due to the ability to strap in with a seatbelt.

Sleepypod Car Seat Carrier

Image via Pinterest

The SleepyPod pet carrier doesn’t just have fantastic customer reviews… it has also received praise in other ways, such as being honored with the Center for Pet Safety Top Performer Award in 2015.

“With the added PPRS Handilock, the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed, performed exceptionally well. The product is unique in its form and snugly straps into the seat with the lap and shoulder belt system. At the end of crash testing the product was removed from the test bench with no evidence of any damage, it looked brand new. Sleepypod took top honors in the 2013 Center for Pet Safety Harness Crashworthiness Study and their Mobile Pet Bed is another indication of this brand’s commitment to pet passenger safety.” – Center for Pet Safety

SleepyPod’s dedication to your pet’s safety has been proven (time and time again) with their continued research and improvements to their pet carriers, you can see full crash test results (for several attempts) here.

With my 4 senior cats (I have the Sherpa’s – Back in the day these Pods weren’t around.) they do fine for short trips to the vet and they did fine with a move across the US. If these were around, I would’ve given them a shot and  I’m sure your “kids” already have them on their wish list too!

My resources:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *