Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds
Soft cat carriers have the advantage of being relatively flexible. This makes them easier to slot into spaces and much lighter than hard crates or carriers. As they are usually made of nylon or other soft materials they also make less noise which is great if your cat is noise-sensitive.
These carriers will always feature at least one mesh component to allow your cat to see outside. This part is usually on one or both of the ends of the carrier and surrounded by a zip. These carriers may also open at the top so you can give your cat a reassuring scratch while on the move!
Some soft cat carriers feature two openings and can be folded down completely when not in use. It's also possible to find carriers with backpack straps which is particularly handy for navigating your way around an airport or train station.
Please note that that soft carriers do not conform to the standards set out by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and can therefore not be used in the cargo hold of a plane.
Lightweight and foldable
More likely to move around
Comfortable for cats (insulated against the cold)
Need to keep an eye on fastenings
Different sizes and carrying methods
Not IATA approved
Hard cat carriers are the sturdier way to transport your pet. These carriers are composed of a hard shell with ventilation on the sides and a metal grid door. They are equipped with a handle on top but it's also possible to hold them in your arms if the carrier is small enough. Hard cat carriers need to be checked on a regular basis to ensure that all parts are properly fixed in place (base, top, door, etc.). The size of the carrier will depend on the type of cat you have. If buying for a kitten, be sure to purchase a carrier that is big enough for them to grow into.
Quick tip for anxious cats: leave your cat carrier set up in the house prior to travel and while you're on holiday. This way, the cat will get used to its presence and the carrier can double up as a place for them to hide if necessary.
Not all cat carriers are created equal! Some low-end models don't feature the strongest fixings which can lead to disaster if you're not careful! Before purchase, you need to test the strength of all components designed to hold the carrier together. The same goes for the screws holding the door in place. It is also highly recommended to inspect the entire carrier before every outing. For greater security, you can always apply some tape along the connections or add your own hardware. It's important that your cat is able to stand up, sit down and turn around easily.
If you're travelling by plane, you need to ensure that your cat carrier is IATA-approved and has its own water and food dish.
Can be dismantled
Noisy if bumped into objects
Not very robust (if low quality)
Comes in different sizes
Handle can be uncomfortable to use
Easy to clean
Can be IATA-approved
Whether you go for a hard or soft cat carrier, bear the following points in mind:
In order to find the perfect cat carrier, it's a good idea to test as many cat carriers as you can. If possible, it can be really helpful to ask fellow cat lovers to let you try out their carriers before you make your final choice!
Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds, 122 guides
With a handyman-father, I grew up with the soft sound of the sander and hammer on weekends. I am both manual and cerebral (yes, it is possible.), I learned the basics of DIY and the customization of furniture because I was passionate. The salvage mentality is a true way of life that allowed me to know how to use all the tools and products needed to give something a second life, from sander to varnish. I have two favorite activities: the transformation of old furniture and decoration tips. I am always ready to lend a helping hand to revamp a table or to restore a mirror that was intended for the trash that will become a friend’s centerpiece. I’m convinced that it’s possible to reinvent an interior by small, regular modifications, I constantly research low-cost, test ideas.