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Opinions on "soft" cat carriers versus "hard" ones? Deciding what to buy.

Discussion in 'Grooming & General Cat Care' started by ghiblithecat, Dec 4, 2015.

  1. ghiblithecat

    ghiblithecat Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

    Nov 12, 2015
    My parents cat has a soft one. It is lined with a washable soft lining, but it is so flexible! Chester seems to like it though.

    I got a new cat recently and am currently using one of the cardboard ones [​IMG]  Time for an upgrade! 

    What do you guys think? Sturdy or soft? What one is more comfortable? 

  2. detroitcatlady

    detroitcatlady TCS Member Adult Cat

    Nov 18, 2015
    It really depends. I have used both kinds. The soft ones are easier for cats to escape from and some are kind of flimsy. The plastic ones are sometimes too hard and uncomfortable for long car rides. I usually put a blanket or towel on the bottom of the hard carriers for my cats to lay on so they will be comfortable.

    All of my cats seem to have different carrier preferences. Shadow who is still a kitten (8 months) likes the fabric soft carriers. She was very unhappy in a hard plastic carrier and changing carriers made all the difference. Treasure hates soft carriers and will constantly try to "escape" while in them. She would actually unzip the carrier and get loose so I tried putting a luggage lock on it and this worked ok but she constantly meowed while in it and was very unhappy so I ended up buying a larger hard plastic carrier for her and she loves it.  Pumpkin used to like the fabric carriers but one time while in the car for 6 hours he chewed a hole in the fabric and ended up running around loose in the car. No more soft fabric carriers for him!
    4catsand a dog purraised this.

  3. Cataria

    Cataria TCS Member Adult Cat

    Nov 14, 2015
    My personal preference is the hard carriers. I like the sturdiness and not having to worry that if something hits the carrier, it will collapse the carrier and hurt the cat inside! Plus, hard carriers are much easier to clean out. One of my cats gets car sick sometimes, and it's very easy to rinse out a hard plastic carrier. I used a soft carrier with a dog while dog sitting a few years back, and dealing with cleaning it up after the many times that dog got carsick was a huge pain!

    If you do get a hard carrier, you should definitely add a cushion and maybe a blanket in there as well so it is not uncomfortable for the cats. Also, make sure that the carrier fits on your car seat or wherever you decide to put the carrier when you have it in the car -- I have put dents in the leather of my car door from putting a carrier on the passenger seat that is too big to fit there!

  4. artiemom

    artiemom Artie, my Angel; a part of my heart Top Cat

    Dec 22, 2014
    near Boston
    I tried both with Artie. He is a big boy.

    At first I thought he would feel more comfortable in a soft carrier. I got a real good one with a fleece/sherpa washable lining. I have a hard time lifting things. I thought the shoulder strap would be good. No--he was bouncing around as I walked. I tried the handle..kind of the same thing, but if I bumped into things, I was worried about him. 

    The last straw was when he had an accident in the carrier. I mean a bad one..poop....not in one place by wet poop...He was a mess, the carrier a mess, I was able to throw the liner in the washing machine, but was uncertain about the carrier. It had wires to keep it sturdy. I had a heck of a time getting that clean.

    I went back to the hard carriers... no accidents (fingers crossed). I got a top and front loading one. I just put a soft towel in the bottom. While it is heavier and not as soft for Artie, I feel safer having that in the car, just in case.....

    I gave my soft carrier to my neighbor when he got his cat. They both love it!!

    I have a problem with my shoulder/arm so that, unfortunately, Artie does bounce around a lot. I feel better having him in the hard carrier. 
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2015

  5. lykakitty

    lykakitty TCS Member Adult Cat

    Jul 30, 2014
    I use hard carriers for all of mine. Maya likes little dark spaces so it's perfect to make her comfortable. she actually has her carrier available all the time to hide in. As long as there's a blanket or towel on the bottom we haven't had any problems with them seeming uncomfortable. I like the added security of hard carriers and knowing that if something happens in the car they'll be safer than in a soft carrier, and it's easier to maneuver multiple occupied carriers (which is a necessity if you show like we do). The cleaning is a plus, especially if someone has an accident. Ours all disassemble into 3 pieces and are super easy to wash and set out to dry and then put back together.

  6. margd

    margd Chula and Paul's roommate Veteran

    Feb 24, 2015
    Maryland USA
    I have both a soft and hard carrier and always preferred the soft one until Paul came to live with me. He is a very big boy at 18 pounds and the soft bottom of the carrier does not provide adequate support. It bulges downwards from his weight and I always wonder if that makes him feel less secure as he's being carried. Unfortunately he is too big for my hard carrier so I will probably get a larger one before his next check-up.

  7. jtbo

    jtbo TCS Member Top Cat

    Feb 25, 2011
    Hard carrier is better, imo.

    You can put diapers on bottom of hard carrier, so no accident will leak, it is also comfy soft for the cat.

    Hard carrier also protects cat if something falls or something of such unforeseen events happen.

    I have hard carrier meant for small dogs, it has holes at corners so you can use bolts to secure bottom and top half, which I recommend, so many sad stories of flimsy plastic locking mechanism failing and top half separating from bottom half.

    My bigger ones are over 15 pounds, so sturdy is better for me, also small dog carrier has small hatch at the top, which can be used to access the cat, give treats, water or such, but hatch is also such large that smaller cats could get out trough it if left opened.

    One of my bigger ones also does not like being in carrier, he goes in just fine, but when I close the door he starts ramming towards the door, until he realizes it is not going to open, so I doubt any soft carrier will become rapidly moving ball of sorts as cat runs around inside of soft carrier.

    He gets mobile with hard carrier too, kind of barrel rolling the carrier as he runs to walls and tips carrier over and over again, it is quite hilarious, but I'm sure not so much fun from cat's point of view, so I don't really take him around in carrier anymore, it gets bit too stressful for him.
    jcat purraised this.

  8. cinqchats

    cinqchats TCS Member Alpha Cat

    Nov 8, 2015
    Yup, I vote for hard carrier. You don't want to be cleaning out one of those soft ones after your cat has performed the "perfect trifecta" on the way to the vet. Pee, poop, and barf. No thank you.

  9. ghiblithecat

    ghiblithecat Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

    Nov 12, 2015
    Thanks guys!!!

    Your comments were seriously so helpful! Hard carrier it is :) I saw one at Petco I really liked, and I will make sure to put lots of softness and cushion in it for little Ghibli! The diapers idea is so good as well.... hopefully Ghibli won't ever have an accident but it is a great precaution to take!

  10. catpack

    catpack TCS Veteran Kitten

    Aug 13, 2013
    Southeastern USA
    I see you've made a selection already; but, wanted to add my preference as well. My absolute favorite carrier is a combination soft-sided crate with a steel frame. It is made by Guardian Gear:


    I use the xx-small (yellow) one for all but one cat (he's special needs and has to travel with a litter box...I use the x-small (pink) for him). I have used this carrier/crate to transport 20+ lb cats without worry that it would fall apart.

    As for the debate between traditional hard and soft, I definitely vote for hard; but only the hard shells that have bolt or latch systems to hold the top and bottom pieces together like this:



    And, I always go with a crate with a top entry.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2015

  11. ghiblithecat

    ghiblithecat Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

    Nov 12, 2015
    Wow! That is unlike any soft case I have ever seen. Yes, I will definitely be getting one with a top entry. Thanks for the input :)

  12. bonepicker

    bonepicker Animal Lover Extraordinare Top Cat

    I need a hard dog crate, my boy cat is huge and my girl cat did not like the movement of the soft ones.

  13. dbljj

    dbljj TCS Member Adult Cat

    Nov 12, 2015
    Walkertown, NC
    I prefer the hard ones also but like others I always line the bottom with a blanket or a towel. However my 20 pounder has to go to vet soon and one I have is NOT big enuff, think i will harness and leash him.He sits in my lap really well while the kitten is all about escape and moving around.

  14. LTS3

    LTS3 TCS Member Staff Member Forum Helper

    Aug 29, 2014
    A puppy traning pad will absorb any accidents your cat may make in the carrier and make for easier clean up.

    I have two carriers, a hard sided double door one and a soft sided one with wheels. My Aby has to go in the hard sided carrier because he knows how to open zippers. I barely had him for an hour when he managed to claw a hole in the meshy part of the soft sided carrier (which was used just once previously) and poked his head out... on the subway heading home after picking him up at the airport [​IMG] I had to grip the ripped mesh together to keep him from escaping. It was a nerve wracking trip home. My rescue gets the soft sided carrier. Since it has wheels, I can just pull her with one hand while my other hand is lugging the hard sided carrier.

  15. kittens mom

    kittens mom Kittens life was lost to a negligent veterinarian. Top Cat

    Aug 27, 2015
    Moriarty, New Mexico
    A hard one secured in your car will provide more protection. I do advise lining it with blankets. My last visit to a local vet left me in a room full of cats and dogs. Dogs are crated and often not being properly controlled. I would prefer one of my cats not end up being a piggy in a blanket. The clinic we're using now has separate waiting areas but there is not door or wall. The soft while easier to carry almost universally have nylon zippers. Which under the right conditions can split. leaving your cat with an escape route.

    Most hard crates have holes at the top and bottom to secure with a zip tie. You can easily undo that with a nail clipper at the vet and put a new one on upon leaving.

    I put Kittens crate in the storage shed after coming home from having her PTS. I bought a new one that has a front entrance and a top opening. I haven't had a chance to really examine it beyond the inspection at the store.

  16. donutte

    donutte Professional cat sitter extraordinaire! Top Cat

    Apr 22, 2015
    Northern suburbs of Chicago
    I originally only used a soft carrier. Originally got it to bring my kittens home. And figured, oh, the vet's just next door, no biggie. And all was well and good until the first time I had to take Lucky in it. He got out via the velcro enclosure while I was driving and was roaming about the car. Eventually got into my lap and i just held him there (he was freaking out - did not like being out of the house). So, no more using it for him!

    When I took the kittens to be neutered, I went to spay/neuter clinic that required separate and secure carriers. Well, the "secure" part was obviously out the window on the soft one. So I went and got two "semi-hard" carriers. The bottoms are rigid, not sure exactly what the top is made of but it's definitely more soft than the bottom part. I questioned the "secure" part when on the 1.5 hour ride to the city with the boys. Oscar was just FREAKING out in there and was sure he's shred the top of it. But it survived! And on the plus side, they had shoulder straps.

    I really need to see the brand, I keep forgetting to look at it so I can do a review.

  17. misterwhiskers

    misterwhiskers TCS Member Top Cat

    Dec 7, 2014
    I have a hard carrier. My theory is that if, God forbid, the car gets into an accident, there's at least a little protection. But my considerations go farther: he's protected from nips at the vet office. Plus, again God forbid, the hard carrier would be safer if I had to evacuate quickly or put him in there in case of a bad storm or something. The soft carriers offer no protection, and are flammable and not waterproof, as far as I know.

  18. philbnv

    philbnv TCS Member Kitten

    Dec 1, 2015
    I use the large Sherpa brand carriers, my cat goes nuts in it when heading to vet and didn't want him to get hurt by a hard carrier. He is 12 lbs and fits snuggly. Its not flimsy like other soft carriers.

  19. Mamanyt1953

    Mamanyt1953 Rules my home with an iron paw Staff Member Forum Helper

    Oct 16, 2015
    Havelock, North Carolina
    Hekitty has had both, but prefers a larger, hard carrier.  I think she feels more secure with "walls" around her.

    However, if you're going to fly with your cat, be sure to call the airline and ask what their policies are.  Some want hard, others soft.
    ghiblithecat purraised this.

  20. Anne

    Anne Site Owner Staff Member Admin

    Oct 23, 2000
    On TCS
    Just a quick reminder! Please review products you've used this month and take part in our fundraiser for cats in need!


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