Do Cats Prefer Hard Or Soft Sided Carriers?

Hey there, fellow cat lovers. Are you struggling to decide between a hard or soft sided carrier for your feline friend? As an expert in all things cat-related, I’m here to help you make the right choice.

Let’s face it, transporting cats can be tricky business. But with the right carrier, you can ensure their safety and comfort while on the move. So which type of carrier should you choose?

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the preferences of our feline friends when it comes to carriers. We’ll weigh up the pros and cons of both hard and soft sided options and give you some tips on how to choose the best one for your kitty. Whether you’re heading to the vet or planning a road trip, we’ve got you covered.

Our ultimate goal is to keep our cats happy and healthy, so let’s get started on answering that age-old question: Do cats prefer hard or soft sided carriers?

What Is a Cat Carrier?

This is where a cat carrier comes in. It’s a portable and enclosed container designed to keep cats safe and secure during transport, whether it’s a trip to the vet or an adventure on the road.

Cat carriers come in different shapes, sizes, and materials, but the two main types are hard-sided and soft-sided carriers. Hard-sided carriers are made of durable plastic materials that provide a sturdy and secure enclosure for cats. They offer maximum protection and insulation for cats and are easier to clean and maintain. Soft-sided carriers, on the other hand, are made of fabric materials that provide a lightweight and comfortable option for cats. They are more breathable and flexible, making them ideal for warmer weather conditions and tight spaces.

While choosing the type of carrier is important, there are other key factors to consider as well. Proper ventilation is crucial to ensure that your cat has enough air circulation during transport. The carrier should also be secure to prevent any escapes or accidents, as well as easy to clean in case of any messes made by your cat. Furthermore, it should have enough space for your cat to move around comfortably.

When choosing a carrier, take into consideration your cat’s temperament, size, and the type of travel you’ll be doing. Some cats prefer hard-sided carriers because they feel more secure in a sturdy enclosure, while others prefer soft-sided carriers because they are more comfortable and cozy. Bringing your cat along when shopping for carriers can help you determine which type they prefer.

Advantages of Hard Sided Carriers

Your cat is more than just a pet – they are a beloved member of your family. When it comes to traveling with your furry friend, you want to ensure their safety and comfort at all times. That’s why it’s important to choose the right carrier for them. While there are many options available on the market, hard-sided carriers have become increasingly popular among pet owners due to their durability and sturdiness.

One of the most significant advantages of hard-sided carriers is that they provide superior protection for your cat during travel. These carriers are made from sturdy materials such as plastic or metal, which offer an extra layer of protection against potential bumps or impacts during transportation. This is particularly essential if you’re traveling by plane or car, where turbulence or sudden stops can pose a risk to your cat’s safety.

Another benefit of hard-sided carriers is that they are more secure than soft-sided carriers. Hard-sided carriers typically come with locking mechanisms that keep your cat safe and secure inside the carrier. This is especially important if you have an anxious cat or one that tends to escape from their carrier during travel.

Additionally, hard-sided carriers provide better ventilation than soft-sided carriers. The ventilation holes on these carriers allow for better airflow, which helps to keep your cat cool and comfortable during travel. This is especially crucial for longer journeys or warmer climates, as it reduces the risk of your cat overheating or becoming dehydrated.

Cleaning and maintaining a hard-sided carrier is also much easier than a soft-sided carrier. Soft-sided carriers are often made from fabrics that can trap odors, stains, and dirt, which makes them difficult to clean thoroughly. In contrast, hard-sided carriers can be wiped down with soap and water, making them easy to maintain and hygienic.

Finally, hard-sided carriers tend to be more spacious than soft-sided carriers. This extra space can help reduce stress and anxiety in your cats by giving them enough room to move around comfortably. If you have a larger breed cat or multiple cats that need to travel together, a hard-sided carrier offers ample space to accommodate their needs.

Disadvantages of Hard Sided Carriers

Traveling with our feline friends is always an adventure, but finding the perfect carrier can be a challenge. Hard-sided carriers are often the top choice for cat owners, but they come with their fair share of disadvantages.

For starters, hard-sided carriers are heavy and bulky. This can make them challenging to transport, especially if you need to carry them for an extended period. Soft-sided carriers are typically much lighter and easier to carry around, making them a more convenient option.

Hard-sided carriers can also be uncomfortable for cats. The enclosed space can make them feel trapped and claustrophobic, which can lead to anxiety and stress. Additionally, the hard surface of the carrier may not be as comfortable over time, especially during long journeys.

Cleaning hard-sided carriers is another issue. Unlike soft-sided carriers that can be thrown in the washing machine, hard-sided carriers require manual cleaning. This can be time-consuming and challenging, especially if your cat has had an accident inside the carrier.

Lastly, hard-sided carriers are limited in their versatility. They are designed for specific purposes such as airline travel or car transportation and may not be suitable for other activities such as hiking or camping. Soft-sided carriers offer more flexibility and can be used in a variety of situations.

Advantages of Soft Sided Carriers

While hard-sided carriers may seem like the obvious choice, soft sided carriers offer numerous advantages that make them a better option for both you and your cat.

Firstly, soft sided carriers are lightweight and easy to carry, making transportation less stressful for both you and your feline companion. You won’t have to worry about lugging around a bulky carrier, and your cat won’t feel weighed down or cramped inside. Additionally, soft sided carriers are more flexible and can be collapsed for easy storage when not in use, which is especially beneficial for those living in smaller homes or apartments with limited storage space.

Another significant advantage of soft sided carriers is their ventilation. Cats can become stressed and anxious during transportation, especially if they’re overheated or have limited airflow. Soft sided carriers usually feature mesh windows or panels that allow for better airflow, keeping your cat calm and comfortable during travel. This feature is particularly crucial during hot weather conditions or extended journeys.

Soft sided carriers are also generally more comfortable for cats. The material used in these types of carriers is often softer and more padded than hard-sided carriers, providing a cozy and comfortable environment for your cat to relax in during transportation. This is especially essential for longer journeys where your cat may need to rest or sleep in the carrier.

Finally, cleaning a soft sided carrier is a breeze. Many soft sided carriers have removable and washable liners, making them easy to keep clean and hygienic. This is important since cats may become stressed or anxious during transportation, leading to accidents such as urination or defecation in the carrier.

Disadvantages of Soft Sided Carriers

Soft-sided carriers are a popular option due to their lightweight and portable design. However, it’s important to consider the disadvantages before making a purchase. Let’s dive into what makes soft-sided carriers less than ideal for transporting cats.

Firstly, durability is an issue. Soft-sided carriers are made of fabric or mesh, which can easily tear or wear out over time. This poses a potential safety risk if your cat is able to claw their way out of the carrier during travel. Conversely, hard-sided carriers offer a more durable and secure option that can withstand the potential damage from sharp claws.

Secondly, soft-sided carriers do not offer as much protection as hard-sided carriers. In the event of an accident or impact, a soft-sided carrier may not be able to protect your cat as well as a hard-sided carrier would. This is because soft-sided carriers lack the structural support and stability that hard-sided carriers provide. The safety of your furry friend should always be a top priority when choosing a carrier.

Thirdly, soft-sided carriers tend to be less secure than hard-sided carriers. They often have zippers or flaps that can be easily opened by curious cats, leading to escape attempts during travel. Soft-sided carriers are also easier to break into, which could pose a security risk if your cat is left unattended in a public place. A hard-sided carrier offers better security and peace of mind when traveling with your cat.

Lastly, soft-sided carriers may not provide as much comfort for your cat during long trips. The lack of structure and stability can cause the carrier to collapse or shift during travel, making it unsettling and uncomfortable for your pet. Hard-sided carriers offer more stability and comfort for cats during long trips.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Carrier

Choosing the right carrier can make a big difference in the comfort and safety of your cat during travel or trips to the vet. As an expert on this topic, I’ve compiled a list of factors to consider when choosing a carrier for your cat.

  • Size: The size of the carrier is crucial for your feline’s comfort. Your cat should be able to move around comfortably, stand up and turn around without any issues. A cramped carrier can cause stress and discomfort, making your cat more anxious during travel.
  • Durability: Both hard and soft-sided carriers can be durable, but it’s important to choose one that will last through multiple uses. If you plan on using the carrier frequently, investing in a high-quality carrier may be worth it in the long run.
  • Type of Travel: Consider the type of travel or transportation you plan on using the carrier for. If you plan on flying with your cat, a hard-sided carrier may be required by the airline. However, if you plan on traveling by car or public transportation, a soft-sided carrier may be more convenient and easier to transport.
  • Ventilation: Proper ventilation is essential for your cat’s comfort and safety during travel. Make sure the carrier has enough ventilation to allow for proper air circulation.
  • Cat’s Preferences: Finally, consider your cat’s individual preferences and personality. Some cats may prefer the coziness and familiarity of a soft-sided carrier, while others may feel more secure in a hard-sided carrier that provides more protection and privacy. Observe your cat’s behavior and reactions to different types of carriers before making a final decision.

Tips for Making Travel with Your Cat Easier

Traveling with your cat can be an exciting experience, but it can also be a daunting task. One of the most important decisions you’ll make before hitting the road is choosing the right type of carrier for your furry friend. Should you go for a hard or soft-sided carrier? Let’s explore the benefits of each and some tips for making travel with your cat easier.

Benefits of Hard or Soft-Sided Carrier

Choosing between a hard or soft-sided carrier depends on your cat’s individual needs and personality. For cats that are anxious or nervous, a soft-sided carrier may be the best option. These carriers are more flexible and comfortable, offering your cat a cozy space during long car rides or flights. Made of durable materials that can withstand wear and tear, they provide a comfortable space for your cat to rest. The soft sides also make it easier to fit under airline seats or in tight spaces.

If you have a larger or more active cat, a hard-sided carrier may be more suitable. Hard-sided carriers offer more protection and stability during travel, which can be especially important if your cat tends to move around a lot. The hard sides also provide more security and protection in case of sudden stops during car rides or accidents.

Introduce Your Cat to the Carrier Early

It’s essential to introduce your cat to the carrier early. Start by leaving the carrier out in your home so your cat can explore it on their own terms. You can also leave treats or toys inside the carrier to encourage them to go inside. This will help your cat become familiar with the carrier and feel more at ease during travel.

Make the Carrier Comfortable

Make sure the carrier is as comfortable as possible for your cat by adding a soft blanket or towel to make it more inviting. You can also add some of your cat’s favorite toys or treats to make them feel more at home. A familiar scent can help your cat feel more at ease during travel.

Use Pheromone Sprays or Diffusers

Consider using pheromone sprays or diffusers to help calm anxious cats during travel. Feliway is a popular brand of pheromone sprays and diffusers that can help reduce stress and anxiety.

Don’t Feed Your Cat Before Travel

Feeding your cat before travel can increase their chances of getting motion sickness. It’s best to avoid feeding them for a few hours before travel. However, make sure to provide them with water throughout the journey.

Take Breaks During Long Trips

If you’re traveling long distances, make sure to take frequent breaks so your cat can stretch their legs and use the litter box. This will also help reduce their anxiety and stress levels during travel.


To sum up, selecting the right carrier for your beloved cat is crucial to guarantee their security and well-being while on the go. Hard-sided carriers offer top-notch protection, durability, and ventilation, making them a great option for air or car travel. On the flip side, soft-sided carriers are lightweight, flexible and more comfortable for cats during extended journeys. They also provide superior ventilation and are easier to clean.

When making a decision about which carrier to choose, it’s important to take into account your cat’s personality and preferences as well as the type of travel you plan on doing. By introducing your feline friend to the carrier early and filling it with familiar scents, you can help ease any travel-related anxiety they may experience. Additionally, using pheromone sprays or diffusers can work wonders in calming anxious cats.

Ultimately, whether you opt for a hard or soft-sided carrier will depend on your cat’s unique needs and personality.