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Soft Sided vs Hard Sided Cat Carriers (Guide/Review)

What is the best soft-sided or hard-sided cat carriers? This is the best carrier (Click here to check availability on Amazon). Read on for more info.

Quick Comparision of Hard & Soft-sided carriers

DescriptionImageMy Rating
01. Sherpa Soft-Sided (Best Option)
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5 stars
02. Hard-Sided Cat Carrier
Click here for the price on Amazon
03. Henkelion Soft-Sided Carrier
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4 stars

What you need to know about cat carriers (Guide)

Before you look at any cat carriers it’s important to get an idea of the best features and benefits they have to offer, right? This will help you to understand what to look out for.

  • Airline approved
  • Good ventilation
  • Comfortable inside
  • Strong & sturdy
  • Simple entry-points

Airline approved

If you have any plans on airline travel, then it is important to check that the carrier is airline approved. With that being said, it is still advisable to double-check with your carrier. This is because each carrier has their own individual rules, are you with me?

Good ventilation

Regardless if you plan on a long-haul plane ride or a quick trip to the vets, you need good ventilation for your kitty. So, this is one of those non-negotiable features.

Comfortable inside

If your carrier is not comfortable then your kitty will kick-up a fuss when you try to put her in there. Avoid this drama by providing a carrier that makes her feel comfortable.

Strong & sturdy

To make sure a carrier is strong and sturdy does not mean it has to be hard-sided. The reality is, soft-sided can provide this too. Either way, it’s important to have this.

Simple entry-points

If you want to get your kitty in the carrier without hassle, then multiple entry points help a lot. So, it’s worth checking it has this before committing to it.

My Best 3 Cat Carriers (Hard & Soft-sided review)

In this section, I will share with your three of my best cat carriers, This is a combination of hard and soft-sided offerings. This will help you to see what I liked and did not like about each one, which should help you to see what works best for you.

01. Sherpa Soft-Sided carrier (Best Option)

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  • Airline approved (double-check wit your carrier)
  • Spacious
  • Plenty of ventilation
  • Strong & sturdy
  • Fleece flooring (Removable)
  • Padded shoulder strap (more comfortable + Non-slip)
  • Machine washable (Internal liner)
  • Entry from the side & top


  • The shoulder strap could be a bit longer
  • The shoulder strap doesn’t keep it level
  • May sag (if you have a large cat)

What I like about this Sherpa cat carrier

This offering by Sherpa, not only provides a practical solution to cart your kitty from A to B, it also looks cool and stylish, right?

It has tons of space for your loved one as well as providing a lot of nice ventilation for her, while you are in transit.

You will be happy to know that it is airline approved, making it ideal for those plane journeys for vacation. As well as this it is strong and sturdy, whilst remaining soft-sided, which makes her feel more comfortable.

While we are on the subject of comfortability, let me comment on the fact that it comes with a nice fleece pad to help her feel cozier while you are on your travels. Which is also accompanied by a padded, non-slip shoulder strap for extra convenience.

This is also removable in case you need to clean it. Also, the internal lining is machine washable so that you have that extra convenience, rather than having to hand-wash everything.

Access is a strong point for this carrier with entry points on the top and side.

In summary, if you are looking for a soft-sided carrier that is spacious, has plenty of ventilation and airline approved, then look no further.

What I do not like about this Sherpa cat carrier

This carrier is great, but still has a few issues that I will like to discuss. Nothing is perfect, right? Firstly, if you have a large cat, then you may notice that the bottom part may sag a bit under the weight.

In addition to this, the shoulder strap is tough at keeping the carrier balanced. And, I feel that it could be a tad bit longer to make it easier to carry.

02. Hard-Sided Cat Carrier

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  • Simple to set-up
  • Has a top door (convenient for problematic cats)
  • The top door can be opened two ways (Left or right)
  • Easy entry (It has two doors)
  • Top handle (one-handed carrying)
  • Extra security (Can use screws for securing top & bottom)


  • The installation requires screws
  • The top door is a bit of a hassle to open
  • Plastic is a bit thin

What I like about this hard-sided cat carrier

If a hard-sided cat carrier is more your thing, then this one is a charm. I say that because most people that go for a hard carrier do it for one thing, its strength and sturdiness, right? Well, this is a great option.

If you have a problematic cat, maybe an aggressive cat (Click here for the best solution for this) that you need to get to the vets, then good entry points are a must, why? Because let’s face it, she will be struggling and kicking like a damn banshee, right?

Therefore, this carrier, with two entry points, one on the side and on top will help. Also, regarding the top entry. It has the added feature of opening two ways, left or right. This helps you to select what works best for you, are you with me?

The top handle also provides a great way to pick up the carrier one-handed. Trust me, it just makes life easier.

Regarding installation, its simple to do. And, it has some screws (more on this later) that will help to secure the top to the base more firmly.

In summary, if you are looking for a hard carrier that is easy to enter, especially for aggressive cats, and simple to carry, then look no further.

What I do not like about this hard-sided cat carrier

Earlier I commented on the screws that are provided to secure the top to the bottom, remember? Well, they are a great addition but be warned, this means you need to reach for your toolbox.

I know, some people may say this is a minor, but if you are DIY doofus, like me, ha! Then these things can make you anxious, right?

Lastly, the top door is a great feature, but it can be a faff to open at times. And, in general, the plastic itself, it does seem a tad bit thin, to be honest. Not a deal-breaker, but noted never the less.

03. Henkelion Soft Sided Carrier

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  • TSA airline approved (Check before travel)
  • Fleece pad provided (Also, can be removed and cleaned)
  • Simple to store
  • Waterproof fabric
  • Good ventilation
  • Looped handle (for balanced carriage)


  • Has a Plastic-type smell (to begin with)
  • The comfortable pad provided slides around
  • If the larger zip is undone, the structure becomes weak

What I appreciate about this Henkelion cat carrier

Henkelion has provided us with another quality soft-sided carrier that I really needed to include in my top three. Firstly, it is an airline approved one, which is a big feature. I would say though, it is always worth double-checking this with your intended carrier to be safe.

For your comfort, it has a nice little fleece pad provided. In addition, it can be removed and cleaned, so that it doesn’t get all manky!

The material is waterproof and I have to say, it is well ventilated. On top of this, it is a doddle to store away when it is not needed. Which is a bonus with these soft-sided carriers.

When it comes to carrying around this bad-boy, I like te looped carry handles they provide. Why? Well, it keeps the carrier balanced while it is in transit, are you with me?

In summary, if you are looking for a soft-sided carrier that is well ventilated, airline approved and waterproof, then stop now and pick this up!

What I do not appreciate about this Henkelion cat carrier

Not sure if it’s just me, but I felt it had a weird plastic-type smell at first. I also noted that the fleece pad that is provided is good, but it has a tendency to slide about in the carrier. If it was bigger maybe this wouldn’t happen.

Last thing, regarding the large zip. if it is loosened, it seems to make the carrier loses its structure a bit, if that makes sense? Its almost like you need it to shut to keep its structure. Not a deal-breaker, but worth mentioning.

Related Questions:

In this section, I will answer some questions related to cat carriers and general travel. Let me know if you have any other related questions you need to be answered.

Can you take a kitten on a plane?

yes, you can carry a kitten on a plane. The challenge is understanding how to keep her happy and secure while you are on your journey.