Hard or Soft Cat Carriers? Here’s What You Should Choose

When buying a cat carrier there are two types of carriers you could go with. Hard and soft ones. Hard carriers are usually made out of plastic or metal and the soft ones have mesh windows with fabric on the sides.

The thing is which one is better and what should you go with? Both have their pros and cons depending on your situation. Here is a list to help you decide which is best for you.

Hard Cat Carriers

These are usually the type of cat carrier you would want to go with if you have a really aggressive cat that can break through fabric or they like to fondle with zippers. You would also want to get a hard carrier if you plan on going to a cat hotel as they do not allow soft carriers.

Benefits of A Hard Cat Carrier

Good For Aggressive Cats: If your cat does not like carriers it will be very difficult for them to break out of or damage a hard carrier. If you get a softer style carrier they could potentially rip through the fabric with their claws or their teeth which is something you don’t really want.

Easier to Clean: Because they are made out of metal or plastic that means no staining which makes cleaning a lot easier and faster to get done.

Attaching a Water Cup: If you have a hard carrier you can attach a water cup to the door. This makes it a lot easier to give your cat water and it won’t spill everywhere.

Disadvantages of a Hard Cat Carrier

Airplane Travel: These types of cat carriers are typically too large to fit under your seat so I do not recommend these types of cat carriers if you plan on bringing your cat on a plane in cabin.

Harder To Store: When you get a soft carrier its as easy as pushing it down and putting it away somewhere whereas a hard carrier is more complicated than that. You have to disengage bars to lower the frame to get it to do what you want or some other complicated process.

Soft Cat Carriers

These types of carriers are usually best for plane travel since hard carriers are difficult to fit under your seat. They are often the preferred choice of people that like to travel with their cats including myself.

Benefits of A Soft Cat Carrier

More Protection: If you are in a car or even something like an RV and you happen to get into an accident your cat is much more likely to survive and not sustain injuries compared to a hard carrier.

You would think that the harder carrier would work better for this but its actually the opposite. In fact, all CPS approved cat carriers all happen to be soft sided and not harder. Here is a more in depth article on this here “The Three Safest Cat Carriers Around“.

Storage and Movement: Since cat carriers like this are made out of fabric they are easy to store when you aren’t using them anymore. This can also be useful when you are still traveling as well.

Another nice thing about soft sided carriers is you don’t have to worry about things such as dinging your door where as a harder carrier this could potentially happen. In terms of travel I would say soft carriers are the best to use overall just because they are easier to move around.

Airplane Travel: These are the best type of carrier if you want to go on a plane as they fit under your seat a lot easier.

Covers: Another thing that I really like about soft carriers is that they usually have window covers on them. A hard carrier you would have to cover the crate with a blanket or some other fabric. These are very useful to have because it helps your cat relax more during travel. If they see what is going on around them it could stress them out more.

Disadvantages of a Soft Cat Carrier

Harder to Clean: These types of cat carriers have fabric bottoms so if your cat decides to do a number one or number 2 it will take a lot more time to clean as fabric stains. You can fix this problem by adding lining to the carrier.

Less Durable: If your cat likes to claw things and bite things or they don’t like the carrier the carrier might not last as long as a hard carrier. If you have a well behaved cat they can last just as long as a hard carrier.

You can however get really good soft carriers that are scratch and bite proof so they don’t get through the material.

Sagging: If your cat is really large the bottom of the carrier can sag. This isn’t a huge problem but can be a minor annoyance.

Zippers/Velcro: If you have a cat that likes to mess with zippers they can potentially break out of the carrier. You can combat this by getting zipper locks.

More Expensive: These types of carriers can be more expensive compared to hard carriers. a good example of this is the Sleepypod carriers which go for around 180 dollars.


Both carriers can be a good choice but if you have a nice mellow cat that doesn’t claw everything, you take care of the carrier and take some precautions I would say that softer carriers are the better overall choice in most situations where you are traveling with a cat but sometimes a hard carrier can be the better choice.