Are Soft Sided Cat Carriers Safe? (Hard VS Soft)

You’re in the market for cat carrier, but you’re not sure if you should get a hard-shell or soft-sided carrier? Don’t worry, this article will show you the biggest differences between the two types of carriers and what type of cats should and shouldn’t use a soft carrier.

Are Soft Sided Carriers Safe?

While not as safe as a hard-shelled carrier, most are constructed with heavy-duty fabric (600D polyester), wireframes, and plenty of ventilation to keep your kitty safe and secure while traveling.

That being said, not all soft-sided carriers are equal and there are certain things you should keep in mind when shopping for the right soft-sided carrier. We’ll discuss some of the things to keep in mind when shopping for a soft-sided carrier or any other type of cat carrier.

But first, let’s take a look at the differences between hard & soft carriers.

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Hard Shelled Carrier VS Soft Sided Carrier

hard cat carrier vs soft cat carrier

There are some distinct differences between a soft and hard carrier. Let’s take a look at some of the differences to help you choose the right one for your feline friend. I’ve put together a huge list of the best cat carriers to help make your job easier.

Hard Carriers

  • Hard Shell – These are hard-shelled carriers that are typically designed with extremely durable plastic material and contain cut out ventilation holes.
  • Doors – They have a plastic or metal mesh door that swings open so you can put your cat can enter and exit the carrier.
  • Locks – Most carriers use secure locks that won’t break down if your cat chews or claws it.
  • Sturdiness – They are assembled using nuts and bolts that are designed to carry a maximum amount of weight. (always check the weight allowance before buying)

Soft Carriers

  • Soft Carriers – Typically made with nylon, ballistic nylon, or heavy-duty polyester lightweight fabric and claw defense mesh ventilator windows.
  • Doors – The soft carriers typically have zipper buckles to keep your cat safely inside.
  • Locks – Unlike hard carriers, soft carriers don’t have secure locks to keep your cat inside. Most will offer a leash to attach to your cat’s collar to keep them from escaping.
  • Sturdiness – They typically have a wire, or metal frame to prevent them from losing their shape or caving in when you’re cat is inside the bag.

Features To Look For In Soft Carriers

sherpa pet carrier

As a cat owner, the most important safety features to consider when shopping for a soft-sided carrier is the type of material, ventilation, and frames.

Here are some important features to consider:

High-Quality Material

Opt for soft carriers that are constructed of durable materials such as 600D high-grade polyester. 600 Denier polyester is a very durable material that has great stability and is used for the production of many day-to-day items such as camp chairs, and backpacks.

600D is commonly used for school backpacks because of the strength of the material. Military backpacks are constructed of 1050D nylon, which is known to be a higher strength. This graph will show you the differences in strength in the different types of fabric.

Durable Frame

Opt for a carrier that has a metal or wireframe. While they won’t provide a lot of defense from heavy objects, a good frame can prevent the carrier from collapsing on your feline friend.

The downside is that as the carrier ages, the wireframe can start poking through the material and can injure your cat. Before putting your cat in the carrier, make sure that it is still in good condition and the wire is not breaking through the material.


Adequate ventilation is a requirement for any pet carrier. Choose one that has openings on at least 3 sides, or at least more than one. This will ensure that your cat stays safe and has no problem breathing.

Is A Soft Carrier The Right Option For You?

soft cat carrier

Now that you know the biggest differences between the two types of carriers, it’s important to consider a few things before making a decision. Here are some factors to consider what type of carrier to get.

Cat’s Personality

Soft carriers are not best suited for cats that are calm and don’t mind traveling. As mentioned, these are designed of lightweight heavy-duty fabric that will eventually tear from your cat’s behavior. If this is your cat, then they will be safer in a hard shell carrier because they will be less likely to tear apart the carrier.

If you have a difficult cat, scared cat, or one that hates being in a carrier, you should always use a hard one.

Airplane Travel

If you’re planning on traveling internationally and your cat is traveling in the cargo hold of a plane, you’ll need a hard carrier. When your cat is traveling in the cabin, a soft carrier is the best option as it is designed to fit more easily under plane seats.


Soft carriers work best when you’re taking a quick trip, preferably to the vet or groomers. If you’re planning a longer trip, consider investing in a hard-shell carrier. Hard carriers are much safer for those long trips.

Do Cats Prefer Hard or Soft Carriers?

As long as the carrier is comfortable, they won’t mind what type of carrier they are traveling in. You can make the experience more comfortable by putting these things inside the carrier, especially when you’re planning a long trip.

You on the hand will have a preference as one will be easier to carry than the other.

What Is The Safest Soft Sided Cat Carrier?

After spending hours online, we have discovered the safest carrier that meets the requirements of keeping your cat safe and secure while traveling. We highly recommend the PetSeek Oxford Carrier (on Amazon). This carrier is designed with durable oxford material that is wear-resistant.

In addition, oxford has the characteristics of moisture resistance, dire resistance, and scratch resistance. Which makes it a very safe carrier and easy to clean up spills and messes.

This bag has 3 locking zippers to secure your cat safely inside. It also makes it extremely easy for you to monitor your cat or reach in and comfort them.

The metal support provides a sturdy structure so the carrier won’t collapse on your kitty. It has four nylon mesh windows to provide adequate airflow.

Bottom Line

While soft-sided carriers are designed with safety in mind, these lightweight carriers may not be strong enough to withstand excessive chewing, scratching, and biting.

Soft carriers are great for those short distance trips such as vet visits, Sunday drives, running errands, and etc. If you’re planning on traveling long distances, a hard shelled carrier will be much safer for your feline friend.