The 5 Best Soft Sided Cat Carriers [2018]

PetLuv "Happy Cat" Premium Cat Carrier

Taking your cat on a trip can be a stressful experience. Unless your kitty is unusually bold or is a seasoned travel veteran, she’s probably not going to be super thrilled about the whole “trip” thing. Especially if there are vehicles involved. Cats typically don’t like carriers, and traveling around to unfamiliar locations with lots of strange smells and sounds will put most cats in a bad state of mind. The last thing you need to be worrying about in this situation is whether or not your cat’s carrier is going to hold up.

Having a solid carrier that you can trust makes every travel experience with your cat ten times easier on both of you. But picking a carrier can be tricky. There are hundreds of options floating around on the internet, and most of them look like junk.

Choosing a Carrier

When deciding which carrier will work best for you and your cat, make sure to consider a backpack carrier. A backpack carrier lets you distribute your cats weight over your back and keeps you from having to use too much arm strength while carrying your cat around. That being said, backpack carriers are not for everyone. If you’re set on a handheld carrier, you’re going to need to decide whether you want hard or soft sides.

Hard or Soft?

Picking between hard and soft sided carriers boils down to storage, weight, and cat comfort. Most soft carriers are collapsable, making them easy to store under a bed or in a closet. Hard carriers require more storage space, and they are typically heavier than soft carriers. Also, a hard carrier may also require the addition of some blankets or pads to make it more hospitable to your kitty, while many soft carriers have matting built in. Hard sided carriers are a bit easier to clean up, but they’re also bulky and awkward to carry around. Plus, most soft sided carriers are washable.

A hard carrier may be worth looking into if your cat is on the heavy side or if you are planning on transporting multiple cats together. But if you’re looking for a lightweight, flexible carrier that’s easy to store and that will keep your cat comfortable, a soft sided carrier is the way to go.

To help make your cat carrier selection process a little easier, we’ve assembled five of the best soft sided carriers on Amazon that we could find. Enjoy!

Critical Features of a Soft Sided Cat Carrier 

Here are some of the most important features we looked for when choosing which carriers to include on this list and how to assess them:

  • Includes a Shoulder Strap and Hand Straps
  • Interior Leash Tether
  • Side and Top Loading Options
  • Within the Carry-on Size Guidelines of Most Major Airlines
  • Constructed of Strong, Durable, Waterproof Material
  • Good Value
  • Holds its Shape
  • Easily Storable
  • Well Ventilated
  • Provides a Comfortable Space For Your Cat


Best Soft Sided Cat Carriers


5. Pet Magasin Soft Sided Pet Travel Carrier

  • Dimensions: 18” x 11” x 10”
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs
  • Material: Polyester and mesh with fleece interior base

We included Pet Magasin’s Lambo Backpack Carrier as part of our 5 Best Backpack Carriers list, but their soft sided character is an entirely different animal. While the Lambo was designed to provide your cat with ample space, the Pet Magasin soft sided carrier is much more compact. This carrier is better suited for small cats and kittens than larger adult cats. 

The Pet Magasin has a unique appearance compared to several other characters. However, this comes at the sacrifice of more space for your cat to stretch out in. This shape also makes the carrier somewhat awkward to carry.

The carrier is supported by a wire frame that keeps it from collapsing in on itself. It folds up tightly for easy storage when not in use. There’s one mesh pocket on the back side of the carrier, but no zippered pockets.

One of the features that the Pet Magasin carrier is lacking is the inclusion of a removal fleece pad on the carrier bottom. Having a removable bottom pad makes cleanup after a trip much easier. The Pet Magasin still has a padded floor though, so it’s certainly not going to be an uncomfortable ride for your cat. It’s just a bit less luxurious than fleece.

Check out this video from the folks at Pet Magasin:

>>Check it Out on Amazon!

  • Value:  9
  • Design:  5
  • Strength & Durability:  6
  • Comfort:  6
Final Rating:  6.5 / 10.0


4.  Pawfect Pets Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier

  • Dimensions: 17.5” x 10” x 11”
  • Weight: 2.67 lbs
  • Material: Polyester and mesh with fleece padded mats

The Pawfect Pets Travel Carrier is perfect for a bunch of different of cat travel applications, ranging from a quick trip to the vet to a cross-country flight. Like most of the carriers on this list, the Pawfect Pets carrier is designed for use as an airplane carry-on and is within the size limits for most major airlines. 

The Pawfect Pets carrier is made of reinforced polyester with mesh panels on all four sides of the carrier and its roof. Each of the side openings and the top opening can be used for loading and unloading your cat into the carrier. A zipper pocket is mounted on the long side of the carrier for storage of treats, food, or other small items. There is also a quick access opening on the side of the carrier so that you can comfort your cat with some pets or slip her a quick treat.

You can carry the Pawfect Pets carrier using either the padded shoulder strap or handles. The carrier also includes a name tag for identification of your pet while traveling via airplane.

The zippers on the carrier contain small buckles, allowing you to fasten zippers together to prevent your cat from getting out. There are seat belt buckles located on the outside of the carrier, allowing you to strap your cat in while she’s riding with you in the car.

The carrier includes two removable fleece mats that can be placed on its bottom, giving your cat a comfortable surface to lie down on during trips. These mats are hand washable, so you can clean them if your pet gets a little scared and has an accident during your trip. Plus, the entire carrier is collapsable for convenient storage.

One of the downsides of the Pawfect Pets carrier is that it is only suitable for small cats under 17”. However, this is one of the drawbacks of getting a carrier that is suitable for use as a carry-on. It dramatically limits the amount of space you can give your cat.

>> Check it Out on Amazon!

  • Value:  8
  • Design:  6 
  • Strength & Durability:  7
  • Comfort:  8
Final Rating:  7.25 / 10.0


3.  Mr. Peanut’s Airline Approved Soft Sided Pet Carrier

  • Dimensions: 18” x 10.5” x 11”
  • Weight: 2.9 lbs
  • Material: Oxford 900D polyester and mesh with fleece padded mats

Mr. Peanut’s Soft Sided carrier isn’t going to impress anyone with its unique appearance, but it certainly gets the job done when it comes to transporting your cat. It’s constructed of waterproof materials, and it includes mesh paneling on all four sides and the top for ventilation. Within the carrier is a fleece pad for you cat to lie down on during travel. The pad is removable for easy washing.

In a lot of ways, this carrier is very similar to the Pawfect Pets carrier. The two look very similar in terms of design, but Mr. Peanut’s carrier includes some additional features. The carrier is still top-loadable, but you also have the option of zipping closed a cloth panel over the loading area to keep your cat out of direct sunlight. The straps and trim also have a faux-leather material, making them a bit more stylish than the Pawfect Pets carrier.

Mr. Peanut’s carrier comes with a shoulder strap, padded hand straps, interior leash strap, ID tag, and metal locking clasps on the zippers to make sure the carrier stays closed at all times during travel. It also includes a side pocket for storage of treats, leashes, or other goodies, and it has seatbelt straps so that it can be stabilized in a car seat. It has a capacity of up to 14 lbs. 

>> Check it Out on Amazon!

  • Value:  8
  • Design:  7
  • Strength & Durability:  7
  • Comfort:  8
Final Rating:  7.5 / 10.0


2.  Pet Peppy Expandable Pet Carrier


  • Dimensions: 18” x 11” x 11”
  • Weight: 3.09 lbs
  • Material: Polyester and mesh with fleece interior base

This carrier is pretty awesome! One of the coolest features of the Pet Peppy carrier is its ability to expand laterally using two extendable panels. Each of the panels folds down accordion style, giving your cat some extra room to lie down whenever you’re stationary. This carrier is a very good option for larger cats, especially for owners who plan on taking their cat on occasional airplane rides. Most cat carriers are designed to meet requirements for carry-ons on most major airlines. As a result, carrier size options are pretty limited. This is one of the few options available that gives your cat some extra room to spread out but still can be brought on board a commercial airplane.

The Pet Peppy carrier includes an internal leash clasp, top and side loading capabilities, plenty of mesh panels for ventilation, and pockets for storing treats. It features self-locking zippers, but no buckles or latches that allow you to fasten your zippers together. It comes with a shoulder strap and padded hand straps, but it also includes a fabric side strap that lets you strap the carrier onto a rolling suitcase. As an added bonus, the Pet Peppy carrier comes with a collapsible plastic bowl so that you can give your cat a quick drink during your trip.

The Pet Peppy carrier folds down to a very small size when not in use. This requires separate storage of the fleece pad, but it allows the carrier to be compressed for convenient storage.

>> Check it Out on Amazon!

  • Value:  8
  • Design:  8
  • Strength & Durability:  8
  • Comfort:  7
Final Rating:  7.75 / 10.0


1.  PetLuv “Happy Cat” Premium Cat Carrier


  • Dimensions: 20″ x 13″ x 13″ (Small)
    • NOTE:  Also available in Large size (24″ x 16″ x 16″)
  • Weight: 8.7 lbs
  • Material: Polyester and mesh with fleece interior base

The PetLuv “Happy Cat” Premium Cat Carrier is a different breed of carrier than the others on this list. Rather than complying with major airline requirements for use as a carry-on during flights, the PetLuv carrier is designed for spaciousness, making this the ideal carrier for trips that don’t involve an airport. You can actually choose between two different sizes for this carrier (Small and Large), making it perfect for accommodating larger felines. The Small carrier can hold cats up to 15 lbs, while the Large is capable of holding cats up to 25 lbs.

The PetLuv carrier has multiple roll-down panels on its sides and top, allowing you to provide your cat with varying degrees of privacy. You can leave the panels full open when the carrier is safe at home, or you can roll down the closed mesh panels to give your cat a window to the outside world during trips. Finally, you can pull down the solid cloth panels when your cat to give your cat some privacy during stressful trips.  It’s supported by a strong steel frame, but it’s fully collapsable and can be folded flat for storage. It gives you both top and side loading capabilities, and it includes an adjustable padded shoulder strap.

The carrier design includes seat belt loops, allowing you to strap it into your car. The interior polyester pillow that comes with this carrier is very nice, and your cat will love it. It’s both removable and washable, making post-trip cleanup a breeze.

>> Check it Out on Amazon!

  • Value:  7
  • Design:  9
  • Strength & Durability:  10
  • Comfort:  9
Final Rating:  8.75 / 10.0


Final Verdict 

Based on an evaluation of overall carrier value, design, strength, and comfort, we’ve determined that the PetLuv “Happy Cat” Carrier is the best carrier on the market right now! This carrier works great for most people since it has plenty of space and is very well built. However, if you plan on taking your cat on a lot of airplane rides, you may want to consider one of the other options on our list, especially the Pet Peppy Carrier. It’s compact enough for most major airlines, but you can expand it whenever you’re on the ground to give your cat some extra leg room. Hopefully these tips will help you as you decide which carrier is perfect for your cat.

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