Best Soft-Sided Cat Carriers – Top Picks & Reviews 2020

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Every year, hundreds of cats break out of their carriers while on airplanes. This is pretty close to the worst-case scenario for you and your cat when it comes to travel. We’ve done the research to make sure you can find a cat carrier that balances utility and safety.

Finding the right cat carrier can be an exercise in trial and error. You have to sort through reviews to find ones that apply to your cat’s size, temperament, and needs, while trying to pick the most economical choice. We’ve put together this list of the top 10 best soft-sided carriers to help make that process a little less painful. Our in-depth analysis of popular cat carriers will help you figure out what you need from a carrier. Whether you need a carrier for emergency vet visits or an upcoming flight, you’ll find your next cat carrier on this list.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
PetAmi Premium Airline Approved PetAmi Premium Airline Approved
  • Airline-approved
  • Included water dish
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Pet Magasin Airline Approved Pet Magasin Airline Approved
  • Low price point
  • Lightweight
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Katziela with Removable Wheels Katziela with Removable Wheels
  • Premium construction
  • Detachable wheels
  • PetLuv Premium PetLuv Premium
  • Huge windows
  • Comfortable padding
  • Smiling Paws Pets 4-Way Smiling Paws Pets 4-Way
  • Solid construction
  • Airline-approved
  • The 10 Best Soft-Sided Cat Carriers – Reviews 2020

    1. PetAmi Premium Airline Approved Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier – Best Overall

    PetAmi Premium Airline Approved Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier

    Our overall best pick is the PetAmi Premium Soft-Sided Pet Carrier. It’s a lightweight carrier that can safely tote your pet anywhere you need to go. The included water dish is a handy thing to have around on long trips. This cat carrier is available in many colors, which helps it stand out from the crowd. While no pet carrier is indestructible, this one resisted the anguished clawing of a Maine Coon kitten who didn’t want to go to the vet. Since its airline approved, it’s small enough to fit under a standard airplane seat. The only downside to it is that it can be a little bit small if your pet is larger than the average house cat.

    Pros
    • Secure zippers
    • Stylish colors
    • Airline-approved
    • Included water dish
    Cons
    • Too small for big pets

    2. Pet Magasin 001 Airline Approved Cat Carrier – Best Value

    Pet Magasin 001 Airline Approved Cat Carrier

    This is a great cat carrier if you’re looking for something for quick trips to the vet. If you participate in animal rescue and need to have a few cat carriers on hand, this one’s a great choice. The low price point makes these a great carrier to have on hand for emergencies. It’s incredibly lightweight, yet sturdy enough to be secure for all but the most claw-happy of cats. The washable fabric makes cleanup a breeze. The Pet Magasin 001 cat carrier is airline-approved, but it lacks some of the features that would make your cat comfortable on a long trip. Unless your cat is a jet-setter, this no-frills solution is a great value for your money.

    Pros
    • Variety of colors
    • Low price point
    • Lightweight
    Cons
    • Only one door
    • Very basic

    3. Katziela Pet Carrier with Removable Wheels – Premium Choice

    Katziela Pet Carrier with Removable Wheels

    Most carriers are focused on the comfort of your cat, but the Katziela Pet Carrier is designed for both you and your cat. With the wheels off, it’s an airline-approved pet tote. With the wheels on, it’s the most comfortable way to move your cat. Your cat will love having the option to look out on their surroundings through the dual mesh windows on each side. Between the wheels and the telescoping handle, you’ll find this cat carrier as easy to carry as a piece of luggage. Kitty will enjoy a smooth ride, and you’ll have a free hand to open doors or carry other luggage.

    Pros
    • Premium construction
    • Detachable wheels
    • Easy to move
    Cons
    • Price

    4. PetLuv DC-N Premium Cat Carrier

    PetLuv DC-N Premium Cat Carrier

    The PetLuv Premium Cat Carrier is almost a playpen for your cat. The big side windows take up most of the carrier and offer your cat a great view, even while lying down. This often helps reduce travel anxiety. The removable bed is quite cozy. It’s a bit heavy, but the trade-off is that this is large enough to fit most cats. It folds truly flat, so it’ll easily fit in your closet or under the bed when not in use. The frame is sturdy enough that you can drive your cat around in a crowded backseat on moving day without worrying for their safety.

    Pros
    • Spacious
    • Huge windows
    • Comfortable padding
    Cons
    • Not for airline travel
    • Can be hard to carry

    5. Smiling Paws Pets 4-Way Soft-Sided Carrier

    Smiling Paws Pets 4-Way Soft-Sided Carrier

    This is the first expandable carrier that made our top ten list. The soft sides zip out to give your cat more room to stretch out. This is an airline-approved carrier, so once you get onto the plane, you can zip the front portion out a bit and let kitty stretch. If you have more space to spread out, it can expand on all four sides. The mesh walls of the zip-out part are reinforced pretty well, but they won’t hold up to a cat who’s wild about getting out, so you’ll have to know your cat before risking potential escape. The shoulder strap is well-padded for your comfort.

    Pros
    • Lots of space
    • Solid construction
    • Airline-approved
    Cons
    • Escape risk
    • Fairly heavy

    6. Petseek Extra Large Cat Carrier

    Petseek Extra Large Cat Carrier

    If you need a cat carrier for a large cat, this is your pick. If you have two cats who like each other, consider this option. It’s essentially a cage made of fabric and mesh. This carrier is a little on the heavy side, especially if you were to put two cats in it. having multiple entrances makes it really convenient to get your cat friend packed away. The mesh walls aren’t super sturdy, so this style of carrier isn’t for you if your cat protests being put in a carrier. The frame supports for this carrier is made out of metal, rather than plastic, so it’s a lot sturdier than some of the other large carriers. It doesn’t include a pet bed like most other carriers do.

    Pros
    • Plenty of space
    • Vents and windows
    • Metal supports
    Cons
    • Not airline-approved
    • Heavy
    • Doesn’t include a mat

    7. PetAmi Airline Approved Dog Purse Carrier

    PetAmi Airline Approved Dog Purse Carrier

    While this carrier is advertised as a dog purse, it works really well for cats, too. If you’re a cat person who likes the purse dog aesthetic, this is for you. It’s small and lightweight, and available in really cute colors and patterns. If your cat tolerates a leash and can be buckled in, you can unzip one side just enough for your cat to stick his head out. This carrier is not airline-approved. It’s on the smaller size, so if your cat weighs more than 12 pounds, look elsewhere. If you’re willing to sacrifice size and sturdiness to have a prettier cat carrier, consider this option.

    Pros
    • Stylish
    • Compact
    • Lightweight
    Cons
    • Not sturdy
    • Too small
    • No pet bed

    8. Paws & Pals Airline Approved Pet Carrier

    Paws & Pals PTCR01-LG-PP Airline Approved Pet Carrier

    This duffel bag-style carrier is unimpressive compared to other models. Both available sizes are fairly small; the small only has a 7-pound weight limit, while the large can hold up to 12 pounds. The fabric of the carrier itself isn’t very sturdy, nor is the mesh. If your cat meets the size requirements and isn’t prone to clawing at the mesh and zippers, it’s an okay choice. It doesn’t have a zippered top, so you’ll have to use the front door to get your cat in, which can be a chore. For the price, you can do better.

    Pros
    • Lightweight
    • Low cost
    Cons
    • Very small
    • Not sturdy

    9. Siivton Airline Approved Pet Carrier

    Siivton Airline Approved Pet Carrier

    Another expandable option, this soft-sided travel carrier by Siivton has a few flaws. The mesh on the side panels is made of fabric, instead of the plasticky material the top flap is. An industrious cat will make short work of these. If your cat doesn’t usually try to claw their way out of carriers, this one will work great for you. While it is airline-approved, you’ll need to squish it down to get it under an airplane seat. It zips out in four directions so your cat will have plenty of space to roll over and walk around a bit. Having the option to zip out the walls means there’s no extra storage, so you’ll need to find a different place to hold any cat supplies you’d usually travel with.

    Pros
    • Comfortable interior
    • Expands for lots of room
    Cons
    • Big for airline travel
    • Mesh isn’t tear-resistant

    10. AmazonBasics AMZSC-003 Soft-Sided Travel Carrier

    AmazonBasics AMZSC-003 Soft-Sided Travel Carrier

    AmazonBasics products are known for being a knock-off of the most popular items around, and this carrier is no exception. This is a pretty simple carrier that does exactly what it’s supposed to without a lot of flair or bells and whistles. There are other carriers that give you more for a lower price, but this is a dependable choice. It’s a duffel-bag style that’s mostly mesh, but the sides are rigid enough to stand but not too rigid. This one has three different sizes available, maxing out at a 22-pound weight limit. The fleece padding is machine washable and seems comfortable enough, according to our test cat.

    Pros
    • Roomy
    • Lots of windows
    Cons
    • Uncomfortable strap
    • Not a good value

    Buyer’s Guide

    When buying a soft-sided travel carrier for your cat, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Size is the biggest concern.

    Measure the cat

    You need to measure your cat from the tip of their face to the base of their tail to know exactly how large of a carrier they need. A cat should be able to stand up and turn around in a carrier. you also need to know how much your cat weighs. If you haven’t been to the vet lately to weigh your cat, you can use your own bathroom scale to get a pretty close approximation of your cat’s weight. Just weigh yourself, and then weigh yourself again while holding your cat. This may not be the most precise way to weigh your cat, but it will help you judge whether you need a small carrier or large carrier.

    Your cat’s temperament

    The other thing to keep in mind is your cat’s temperament. How do they typically act when confined in a small space? Do they try clawing their way free, or are they more likely to sit down and accept their fate? If your cat uses their claws and teeth to show their displeasure with being stuck in a carrier, you may want to consider one of the models that has more solid walls as opposed to the mesh heavy ones.

    Travel plans

    The last consideration is what kind of travel do you anticipate doing with your cat. If you intend on taking your cat with you on a plane, you’ll likely want the smallest possible carrier that your cat can fit in. If you’ll be making a road trip with your cat, you can look for something larger. if you only expect to make short trips to the vet with your cat, size doesn’t matter that much, but you will want a cage that is easy to clean in case of accidents.


    Conclusion

    Overall, the PetAmi Premium Airline Approved Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier is our top recommendation. This carrier prioritizes the comfort of your pet while also making it easy for you to carry them around. The Pet Megasin Carrier Is an absolute bargain compared to all of the other carriers that we’ve tested. They’re a great emergency solution for anything that can come up. The PetLuv Premium Cat Carrier is our recommendation for long trips. Your cat will love having the extra room to move around.

    We hope that our detailed reviews have simplified the decision-making process for you. While we can’t predict with 100% certainty what cat carrier will be the best for your pet, one of our top three choices would do nicely for just about any cat that we have met.


    Featured Image: Pet Magasin 001 Cat Carrier, Amazon