Hard Vs. Soft Cat Carrier – Which is the Purr-fect Choice?

Hard Vs. Soft Cat Carrier

Are you trying to decide between a hard-sided and a soft-sided cat carrier? It can be a difficult choice both offer benefits, but neither one is necessarily better than the other.

Studies show that when it comes to cats, the type of carrier they are transported in can have an impact on their well-being and safety. While hard and soft carriers both have their advantages and disadvantages, each serves its purpose.

Hard carriers are a great option for cats who are anxious about traveling and need the extra security of a sturdy, rigid container. Soft carriers, on the other hand, are lightweight, portable, and comfortable to wear, making them ideal for cats who don’t mind traveling.

Hard Or Soft Cat Carrier based On Personal Choice:

The hard shell of a hard cat carrier provides security and protection against any potential impacts, while the soft sides and interior give your cat plenty of comfort.

The carriers that provide both hard and soft surfaces have been shown to reduce stress in cats. You can also use a hard-shell cat carrier for years to come since it is more durable and less likely to be damaged than a soft-sided one.

When my cat, Mittens, had to undergo surgery, I was at a loss for what type of carrier to buy him. After consulting with the vet, I decided to purchase a hard-sided cat carrier. Based on research, I chose hard-sided cat carriers as they are more comfortable and safer for cats.

But from my own experience, I can attest to the comfort and convenience a soft cat carrier provides, while still providing plenty of protection and security, ensuring your cat’s safety and comfort when traveling.

Differences in Hard Vs. Soft Cat Carrier

1. Hard Carriers

Hard Carrier

Hard carriers are typically made of plastic and feature a dome-shaped top with a wire door. Despite offering greater protection and durability, these carriers are often heavier and less comfortable for cats. The hard sides may make cats feel more closed-in and restricted, and the shape of the enclosure may make moving difficult. Hard carriers also typically have less ventilation than soft carriers.

2. Soft Carriers


Soft carriers are typically made of nylon or canvas and feature mesh sides for ventilation. They are generally lighter than hard carriers, making them easier to carry, and they often have straps to make carrying more comfortable. The mesh sides give cats more visibility, which can reduce their anxiety, and the flexible material allows them to maneuver better. However, soft carriers may not provide as much protection as hard carriers, as they can be easily scratched or torn.

Pros and Cons of Hard Vs. Soft Cat Carrier 

Pros of Hard Cat Carriers

1. Durable

Hard cat carriers are made from a hard plastic material and are incredibly durable. This means that they can withstand wear and tear from your cat’s claws as well as from your handling.

2. Easy to Clean

Since hard cat carriers are made from plastic, they are very easy to clean. Simply wipe them down with a damp cloth and you’re good to go.

3. Not Easily Damaged

Hard cat carriers are typically made with thick plastic, making them less likely to break when dropped.

4. Weatherproofing

Most hard carriers are designed to be weatherproof, meaning they can stand the rain, snow, and other inclement weather. This ensures that your items remain safe from the elements.

5. Versatility

Hard carriers are also highly versatile, allowing them to be used to transport a variety of items. From camping gear and sporting equipment to photography and videography equipment, hard carriers are the perfect choice for any outdoor adventure. 

6. Secure

These carriers often come with a secure locking mechanism, giving you peace of mind that your cat will stay safe and secure while inside.

7. Travel Ready

Hard carriers are designed to be travel-ready, meaning they can be used on planes, trains, and automobiles. Many come with adjustable straps for easy carrying. 

8. Food and Water Trays

Many of the hard carriers often come with removable trays for food and water that are easy to clean and keep your pet’s food and water separate from the rest of the carrier.

9. Handles

For easy carrying, most carriers feature built-in handles, along with adjustable straps to make it more comfortable for you to carry your child.

10. Top Loading

In most cases, hard carriers feature top-loading doors that open up, making it a lot easier for your pet to get in and out of the carrier without having to struggle to reach down into it.

11. Ventilation

It is important to note that hard carriers are equipped with side ventilation panels to ensure your pet receives the necessary amount of air.

12. Insulation

Often, hard carriers come with insulation to keep your pet warm in the event of extreme cold temperatures.

13. Storage

A lot of hard carriers have pockets or compartments for storing toys, treats, and any other items you may want to store.

19. Washable Liners

As a standard feature of most hard carriers, the liners can be removed and washed easily.

20. Collapsible

Some hard carriers can be collapsible so that they can be easily stored when not in use and when they are not needed.

 21. Safety Clips

Mostly they come with safety clips, which secure the carrier while in use. This prevents the carrier from opening accidentally and keeps pets secure.

Cons of Hard Cat Carriers

1. Heavy

Hard cat carriers are generally quite heavy and bulky, making them difficult to carry.

2. Uncomfortable

The hard walls can be uncomfortable for some cats, as there are no cushioned surfaces.

3. Prone to Overheating

Since they are made from plastic, hard cat carriers can get quite hot in the summer months, making them uncomfortable for your cat.

Pros of Soft Cat Carriers

1. Lightweight

Soft cat carriers are lightweight and easy to carry around.

2. Quiet

Soft cat carriers are made from fabric and are much quieter than hard cat carriers, providing a more comfortable and calming environment for your cat.

3. Easy to Store

Soft cat carriers can be folded up and stored away when not in use.

4. Comfortable

They are often lined with a soft material to provide extra comfort for your cat.

Cons of Soft Cat Carriers

1. Not as Durable

They are not as durable as hard carriers and can be easily damaged by your cat’s claws.

2. Not as Secure

These cat carriers generally do not come with a locking mechanism, making them less secure.

3. Difficult to Clean

They can be difficult to clean since they are made from fabric.

Do cats prefer hard or soft carriers?

Soft carriers are preferred by cats over hard carriers. Because soft carriers are softer, more comfortable, and provide more security and safety for cats than hard carriers, this may be the reason. Additionally, cats can see out of soft carriers better than hard carriers and therefore feel less panicked when being transported. Moreover, my cat always prefers the soft carrier even though I have tested on my Mitten by giving him choice to sit in he went in both and sit for a while then selected the soft carrier to sleep over.

But as an owner when choosing a carrier for your cat, it is important to select one that is spacious, well-ventilated, and easy to open and close. 

Most importantly, it should be comfortable for your cat and provide plenty of room for them to move around. Soft carriers are typically the best choice for cats, as they are designed to be roomy and comfortable, while still providing a safe and secure environment.

Which One is Better According to Vets and Their Studies?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there is no definitive answer as to which type of cat carrier is better hard or soft.

The decision should be based on the individual needs of the pet, the type of transportation, and the overall comfort of the cat. 

There are many advantages to soft-sided cat carriers, such as their lighter weight, portability, and greater flexibility for a cat’s movement. However, they may not provide as much protection should a pet be dropped or bumped hard. 

An accident may be more likely to occur if you use a hard-sided cat carrier. However, they can be more difficult to store and transport due to their size and weight.

Vets typically recommend using a hard-sided cat carrier for travel because it is more secure and stable than a soft-sided carrier. Soft-sided carriers are lightweight and may be easier to carry, but they do not offer the same level of protection and security as hard-sided carriers. Also, the American, Veterinary Medical Association recommends using a hard-sided carrier because it is “better suited for protecting your pet during travel and is more stable in the event of an accident.” 

The American Animal Hospital Association also recommends using a hard-sided carrier, citing that it “offers the best protection from the elements and from other animals during transport.” 

In addition, the Humane Society of the United States recommends using a hard-sided carrier for transporting cats, as the hard sides will provide more protection in the event of an accident. 

The best type of carrier for a cat depends on the situation and the individual needs of the pet. If the cat will be traveling in a car, a hard-sided carrier may be the best option. For a pet that is being taken on a plane or to the vet, a soft-sided carrier may be the most appropriate choice.


As a cat owner, I understand the importance of a good cat carrier. Whether you’re planning a trip to the vet, visiting family, or even just going to the store having a reliable, comfortable, and safe cat carrier is essential. After years of trial and error, I’ve concluded that the best type of cat carrier is one that is both hard and soft. 

Moreover, you can see after reading this article that hard and soft cat carriers both have their advantages and disadvantages. You can carry your dog more comfortably and with more ease when using a soft carrier, whereas a hard carrier offers more security and protection.

Ultimately, the choice between a hard or soft cat carrier depends on the individual needs of the cat owner. Some may prefer the security of a hard carrier, while others may find the convenience and comfort of a soft carrier to be more desirable. Ultimately, it is up to the cat owner to decide which type of carrier is best for their pet. Thanks for reading!