Traveling with your cat on a family trip or even just to the vet can be quite an ordeal. Most felines hate traveling and will spend the majority of the time meowing loudly in terror. Soft-sided carriers can help provide your pet with a more comfortable space, and it might reduce the risk of injury if you usually let your cat roam in your car and they tend to fall into the sides as you stop and go.
If you want to get a soft-sided carrier for your pet but aren’t sure which brand is best, you’ve come to the right place. We’re about to review several brands and we’ll tell you the pros and cons of each one—we’ve even included a short buyer’s guide so you will know what to look for if you continue to shop. Keep reading while we look at the size, material, durability, and more to help you make an informed purchase.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites of 2022
The 7 Best Soft Sided Cat Carriers
1. EliteField Airline-Approved Soft-Sided Cat Carrier – Best Overall
|Size:||19 x 10 x 13 inches|
|Max Pet Weight:||18 pounds|
The EliteField Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier Bag is our pick as the best overall soft-sided cat carrier. It’s available in multiple colors, so you can get something that matches your current accessories, and it’s extremely lightweight at just a little over 2 pounds. It has a removable plush bed for added comfort, and it’s machine washable. Mesh sides allow plenty of airflows and provide visibility.
We liked using the EliteField and found it extremely sturdy and durable. However, it’s a little small and might not be suitable for some larger cat breeds.
2. Pet Magasin Airline-Approved Soft Cat Carrier – Best Value
|Size:||18 x 11 x 10 inches7|
|Max Pet Weight:||10 pounds|
Pet Magasin Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier Bag is our pick as the best soft-sided cat carrier for the money. It features a durable waterproof material that you can get in several colors, and it folds flat, so it’s easy to store away when you’re not using it.
We enjoyed using the Pet Magasin and found it surprisingly sturdy and durable for its price. The downside is that it’s a little small, and some larger cats will have difficulty fitting inside. This is not for a Maine Coon, for example.
3. PetLuv Happy Cat Soft-Sided Cat Carrier – Premium Choice
|Size:||24 x 16 x 16 inches|
|Max Pet Weight:||45 pounds|
The PetLuv Happy Cat Soft-Sided Cat Carrier is our premium choice soft-sided cat carrier. It has a steel frame for extreme rigidity and durability, while large mesh panels provide plenty of ventilation and visibility. It even has adjustable seatbelt straps so the carrier will remain stable while you travel, which is especially helpful if you need to take your cat to the vet alone.
The downside to the PetLuv is that it’s quite heavy at around 9 pounds, so it can be hard to manage with a full-grown cat inside. We also found it expensive compared to the other models on this list.
4. IRIS Soft-Sided Cat Carrier – Best for Kittens
|Size:||13.7 x 9.05 x 9.05 inches|
|Max Pet Weight:||8 pounds|
IRIS Soft-Sided Dog & Cat Carrier is our pick as the best for kittens. It’s available in multiple colors, including camouflage, and the material is water-resistant. Large mesh panels provide plenty of ventilation and visibility to help keep your pet calm while you drive, and it folds up nicely to store it away when you don’t need it.
The downside we experienced while using the IRIS carrier is that it is a little small, and you might need to choose a different brand when the cat is fully grown. We also noticed that the zipper could work its way open on long trips or if your cat is trying to escape.
5. Jespet Sport Soft-Sided Cat Carrier Bag
|Size:||16 x 11 x 10 inches|
|Max Pet Weight:||10 pounds|
The Jespet Soft-Sided Sport Dog & Cat Carrier Bag is another well-built carrier that’s extremely sturdy, and it will help keep your pet safe on long trips. It has large mesh panels that provide plenty of ventilation invisibility, and it has three large built-in pockets for storing treats and accessories for your trip.
The downside to the Jespet is that it’s a little small, and, like many carriers on the market, bigger cats might find it a tight fit. The zipper is also a bit of a pain to use and keeps getting stuck.
6. Petmate Soft-Sided Dog & Cat Carrier Bag
|Size:||20 x 11.5 x 12 inches|
|Max Pet Weight:||15 pounds|
The Petmate Soft-Sided Dog & Cat Carrier Bag is an attractive bag that’s easy to carry around and suitable for airline travel. There’s plenty of room to travel back and forth while the soft sides stay comfortable and keep your cat safe. It has several large mesh panels that provide ventilation and visibility to help keep your cat calm, and we found the material easy to clean.
The downside to the Petmate Soft-Sided Dog & Cat Carrier Bag is that it’s not too tall, and full-grown cats may push their head against the top, which we found makes it easy to open the zipper allowing the cat to escape.
7. Mr. Peanut’s Airline-Approved Soft-Sided Cat Carrier Bag
|Size:||18 x 10.5 x 11 inches|
|Max Pet Weight:||14 pounds|
The Mr. Peanut’s Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier Bag is the last soft-sided cat carrier on our list, but it still has plenty to offer. It’s extremely attractive, comes in multiple colors, and has a paddle handle that makes it easy to carry. It has a nylon exterior and inside is a soft fleece bed providing maximum comfort while you travel.
The downside to Mr. Peanut’s carrier is that the stitching is irregular and suggests poor craftsmanship. It also falls apart quickly after a few washes. That being said, it is one of the more affordable choices.
Buyer’s Guide: Picking the Best Soft Sided Cat Carriers
Choosing a Soft-Sided Cat Carrier
Soft-Sided Cat Carriers vs Hard-Sided Carriers
While you shop, you will notice that there are two kinds of carriers, soft-sided and hard-sided. Both cases will protect your cat, and which one you choose is mostly a matter of personal choice. We only discuss soft-sided carriers in our reviews, but we wanted to mention hardshell cases briefly because they can be useful in some situations. Hardshell works great for long trips where there is more risk of an accident. Hardshell cases are also a better choice for “Houdini” cats that are masters of escaping confinement. You might also choose a hard-shell case if you have a large or overweight cat, as many softshell carriers can crumble under the weight making for an uncomfortable ride.
Soft-sided cases are considered more attractive than hardshell, are less expensive, and are easier to carry. They appear more comfortable, and our cats don’t seem to struggle as much when trying to get them in or out. However, they are usually smaller and may not be suitable for larger cats. They are not as durable and often acquire stains with use. Cats are also more likely to find a way out of soft-sided cases, so it’s best to try them out a few times in the house before taking them outside.
Which Should I Choose?
If you need to spend a lot of time traveling in the car or have a large, heavy cat, the hard-sided carrier may be the better choice. If you only take your pet out on the occasional vet trip, or you want something easy to carry so you can keep your cat with you while you travel on foot, the soft-sided carrier is the one you want. These carriers are more comfortable for your cat as long as they’re not too large and they are easier to carry while still providing excellent safety, ventilation, and visibility.
One of the first things you want to look for when choosing your soft-sided carrier is the size. We recommend choosing the largest you can find as they tend to be a little small for full-grown or overweight cats. Larger carriers also tend to be more durable and provide your cat with better visibility than smaller models.
Durability is extremely important as most cats don’t like to travel and will attempt to dig or scratch their way out. We recommend inspecting any brands you are considering to make sure they use a thick, durable material that can withstand your cat’s abuses.
Before you settle on a brand, we recommend inspecting it to ensure it’s easy to clean. If it has a pad, make sure it’s removable and machine washable. The material should be water-resistant and be wiped clean with a damp rag.
When choosing your next soft-sided carrier, we highly recommend our pick for the best overall. The EliteField Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier Bag is extremely durable, comes in several colors, and is machine washable. Our pick for the best value is another smart choice: the Pet Magasin Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier Bag is attractive, extremely sturdy, and folds up for easy storage.