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Home Cat FAQ Is A Hard Or Soft Cat Carrier Better? How To Decide!

Is A Hard Or Soft Cat Carrier Better? How To Decide!

by Rachel

Is a hard cat carrier or soft cat carrier better?Unfortunately for our finicky felines, transportation is unavoidable. While it is a stressful scenario, it does not have to be an uncomfortable one. A high-quality pet carrier helps. But with so many cat carriers available, it can be hard to determine which is best. 

Is a hard of soft cat carrier better? One is not better than the other. They are different and can both are great, depending on what you are looking for. Some owners love sturdy hard carriers, and some love comfortable soft carriers. Your intended use of the carrier and your cat’s personality can help you make the best decision.

Not sure which cat carrier is best for your buddy? Then keep on reading to learn more about both options.

Why Does My Cat Need A Carrier?

It is essential to purchase a carrier for your cat. It’s a safe way to transport your cat if you are traveling, moving, or going to the vet. Even if your cat is docile in your arms or loves to take rides in the car, it is still necessary to own one. 

Vets often require cats to be placed in a carrier for office visits. Even if your cat likes to be held, they are intelligent and unpredictable. They could get scared by another animal and jump out of your arms. Additionally, if they are sick and have an accident, it will go all over you.

Consider your carrier a necessary precaution. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Hard Carriers

As the name implies, hard cat carriers are extremely durable. They are typically made of sturdy plastic and contain ventilation cut-outs. They have a metal or plastic mesh door that swings open where your cat can enter and exit the carrier. 


  • Easy cleanup

Hard carriers are very easy to clean if your cat has an accident. Simply soap it and hose or rinse it. You can also use your favorite pet-friendly spray cleaner. 

  • Sturdy

These carriers are more durable than their soft counterparts. If something falls on the carrier, for example, the walls will not fall on your cat. 

  • Does not retain odors

Unlike some soft carriers, hard carriers do not trap odors. If your cat has an accident in the carrier, you won’t be reminded by the smell each time you need to use it.  

  • Secure

Unless your cat has thumbs, it will be nearly impossible for your feline to escape its hard carrier.


  • Unsturdy handles often break

Some hard carriers have plastic handles secured by plastic brackets that have a habit of wearing down, breaking, or becoming loose. This poses the risk of dropping your cat while it is in its carrier. Buy a high quality carrier to avoid this risk, or if you need a more budget option, support the carrier from the bottom instead of relying on the handles. 

  • Must be made comfortable

It’s not recommended to use your hard carrier as is. A plastic floor and walls will not be comfortable for your cat. You’ll need to add comfort by placing a blanket or pet bed inside. 

  • Bulky

Usually, hard cat carriers do not break down or collapse meaning it can take up more space than you’d like. If you do not like to leave your carrier out constantly, you’ll have to make sure you have room to store it. 

Hard Carriers Work Best for These Situations

  • You have room for storage
  • You are concerned with safety and security
  • You have a cat that’s afraid of travel
  • You have a destructive cat
  • Your cat is an escape artist

Recommended Hard Cat Carriers

Soft Carriers

Soft cat carriers are often made of nylon, mesh and other sturdy yet collapsible materials. They are lightweight carriers best suited for cats with calmer demeanors. The doors on a soft cat carrier are accessible with zippers. 


  • Easier to store

The soft collapsible material means easy storage. These carriers can fold to become a fraction of their size and can be stored in snug spaces. 

  • Comfortable

Soft carriers are more comfortable for your cat compared to hard carriers since the material is more forgiving. Often these carriers come with a soft floor insert so you do not have to provide one.  

  • Breathable

Lots of mesh siding means plenty of airflow. These carriers circulate plenty of air.  

  • Easier to get the cat inside

Usually, the doors on soft carriers open much wider than hard carriers. Some even have a door on top that opens to almost the length of the cat carrier. It is much easier to get your cat through a wide opening.


  • Less secure

Unlike hard carriers, soft carriers can be opened by smart cats. If the zipper is not closed all the way, it only takes one little paw to squeeze through the opening and push the zipper open. 

  • Less protection

Soft carriers offer less bodily protection for your cat. Collapsible walls have little defense against heavy objects hitting against it. 

  • More difficult to clean

Most cat carriers are machine washable which is great for regular maintenance. However, if your cat has an accident, it can soak into the material making it more difficult to clean and possible leaving a long-lasting odor. 

  • Not recommended for aggressive or anxious cats

Soft carriers work best for laid back kitties. If your cat is frightened, stressed out, or just has a habit of being destructive, it can cause damage to the carrier or even escape. Cats can scratch and bite the interior, causing damage to the textile material. Also, cats can tear away at mesh, leaving holes. 

Soft Carriers Work Best in These Situations

  • You are concerned with storage space
  • You need a carrier that conforms to airline regulations
  • Your priority is comfort
  • Your cat does not have many accidents
  • Your cat is calm and well behaved outside of the house 

Recommended Soft Cat Carriers

Acclimating Your Cat To The Carrier

are hard cat carriers safe?No matter which carrier you think works best for your cat, it’s necessary to get your cat accustomed to its pet carrier. If your cat is sick, you’re in a rush, or there is an emergency, it will be a huge inconvenience to wrestle your cat into its carrier. 

Thankfully there are steps to take that make this process go smoothly. Below you will find tips on how to acclimate your cat to its carrier. 

Make sure the carrier is clean

You want to turn your cat’s carrier into a familiar safe space, not a trap. The first step to doing so is making sure the carrier is in good condition. If your cat had an accident prior and it was not properly cleaned, it can deter your cat. No person or animal wants to be in a dirty environment. 

Make sure your cat carrier is safe

Check your pet carrier for any signs of wear. If your soft carrier has a wireframe, make sure it is not poking out and check the mesh for any tears. Also, plastic carriers are susceptible to wear – they can crack, develop loose handles, or have sharp plastic defects. 

Leave the carrier out for your cat

If possible, make your cat’s carrier a part of its everyday environment. This way it can be viewed as a familiar object, not something foreign and unknown. Many cats actually wind up loving their cat carriers, and they enjoy hiding in confined spaces.

If it’s comfortable, your cat will spend lots of time inside the carrier.

Practice closing the carrier door

If your cat is comfortable inside its carrier, it’s a good idea to close the door for a few moments while it is inside. This way when you need to shut the door for an extended period of time, your cat will not be afraid.  

Associate the cat carrier with positive experiences

Make the cat carrier enticing. Try playing with your cat around its carrier. You can use a laser pointer or a string toy inside or around the opening of the carrier to coax your cat inside. You can also use treats, catnip, or a few spritzes of cat pheromone spray to make your cat like its carrier.  

Don’t forget about your cat

Don’t put your cat inside its carrier then ignore it. You know your cat best and can make its time in the carrier more enjoyable. If your cat is curious, then make sure it can see out of its carrier. Some kitties love looking through their carrier and out of the window.

If your cat is afraid, drape a towel over the sides. This gives your cat a sense of security. 

You know your cat best. If you do a little research, you’ll be able to provide your cat with a great carrier suitable for all its needs. 

Related Questions

Is it okay to put two cats in one carrier? It depends. If you have two cats that get along well and a large cat carrier that fits both cats comfortably, then it’s perfectly fine. However, if your cats do not get along, are sick, or go bananas outside of their home, then use separate carriers. If in doubt, it's best to use separate carriers.

How much room should my cat have in its carrier? Your cat carrier should be somewhat roomy. Make sure your feline has enough room to turn around, lie down, and stand up. However, make sure your carrier is not too big. An oversized carrier can make your cat feel lonely and anxious. 

How do I get my cat into a soft carrier? Need to get your cat into its soft carrier but it’s not cooperating? Try to make the inside of your cat’s carrier appealing by adding a soft blanket, toys, and treats. If this doesn’t do the trick, you can swaddle your cat and gently place them inside. 

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