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The 10 Best Soft-Sided Cat Carriers

When traveling with your cat, whether by plane or car, it is important to prioritize their safety. Traditional hard carrier crates are sturdy and secure, but they can be cumbersome and difficult to transport and store.

Soft-sided carriers offer a solution to this problem as they are collapsible, lightweight, and easy to store while still being safe for your cat.

Cats are incredibly agile creatures and can squeeze through seemingly small openings, leading to hundreds of cats escaping from their carriers during flights each year.

Therefore, selecting the right carrier can be a challenging and potentially stressful task. Luckily, you have come to the right place!

We have compiled a list of the best soft-sided cat carriers to help guide you through the process.

BestForPets' (bestforpets.org) detailed reviews will assist you in narrowing down your options and selecting the perfect soft-sided carrier for your needs.

Let's get started!

icon Vet Approved
icon Reviewed & Fact - Checked by

Deborah R. Fletcher (DVM)

Veterinarian

The information provided is current and up-to-date, in line with the latest research conducted in the field of veterinary medicine.

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Reviews

Pet Magasin Soft Airline-Approved Pet Carrier – Best Value

PET MAGASIN Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier

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The Pet Magasin Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Pet Carrier is an excellent choice for cat owners seeking a budget-friendly, airline-compliant soft-sided carrier.

With dimensions of 18 inches in length, 10 inches in width, and 11 inches in height, it is suitable for most cats and small pets.

This carrier is designed with your cat’s safety in mind, with sturdy construction that helps it maintain its shape even when end panels are zipped up.

The carrier is also lightweight, weighing only 2.2 pounds, and comes with a comfortable padded shoulder strap and carry handle for easy transport.

The carrier features a mesh window for ventilation and a clear view of your cat’s surroundings, ensuring their comfort during travel.

Its durable and luxurious materials make it resistant to animal bites and long-lasting. Additionally, this carrier folds flat when not in use and is easy to clean with its waterproof exterior.

Please note that this carrier is not recommended for large dogs.

Overall, the Pet Magasin Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Pet Carrier is a reliable and affordable option that will keep your furry friend safe and comfortable during travel, including air travel.

Pros

Budget-friendly option

Airline-compliant

Sturdy construction for your cat’s safety

Lightweight and easy to transport

Mesh window for ventilation and clear view

Durable and luxurious materials

Folds flat for easy storage

Waterproof exterior for easy cleaning

Cons

Not recommended for large dogs


PetLuv Happy Cat Soft-Sided Cat Carrier – Premium Choice

PetLuv Tuf-Crate Soft Dog Crate Foldable Top & Side Loading Pet

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The PetLuv Happy Cat Soft-Sided Cat Carrier is a top-quality option for cat owners seeking a reliable and convenient carrier.

The carrier features openings on all sides, ensuring excellent light and ventilation for your cat. The closable flaps also provide privacy for your cat’s comfort needs.

The carrier boasts a removable and machine-washable nest that your cat will love, as well as a top and side entrance for easy access.

To ensure your cat’s safety, the carrier is equipped with seatbelt closures, locking zippers, and reinforced seams.

It also comes with comfortable shoulder harnesses and an additional storage compartment, making it a versatile and convenient travel companion.

One of the only downsides to this carrier is its weight, as it weighs 8 pounds, which is heavier than some other soft-sided carriers on the market.

Overall, the PetLuv Happy Cat Soft-Sided Cat Carrier is a great alternative to bulky metal crates that can cause anxiety in pets.

Its sturdy steel frame is fully collapsible and comes with convenient carry straps and handle grip, making it easy to transport and store.

The carrier also features ventilated mesh doors for visibility and views, with locking zippers to keep your pet safe. Please refer to the sizing chart to ensure the perfect fit for your cat.

Whether you’re traveling, crate training, or making a trip to the vet, the PetLuv Happy Cat Soft-Sided Cat Carrier provides a natural and calming environment for your furry friend while giving you peace of mind.

Pros

Multiple openings for ventilation and privacy

Removable and machine-washable nest for added comfort

Seatbelt closures, locking zippers, and reinforced seams for safety

Comfortable shoulder harnesses and additional storage compartment

Sturdy steel frame that is collapsible and easy to transport

Ventilated mesh doors with locking zippers for safety

Cons

Heavier than some other soft-sided carriers on the market (weighs 8 pounds)


Delta-Approved Dog and Cat Carrier Bag by Sherpa

Sherpa® Original Deluxe™ Airline Approved Pet Carrier

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The Sherpa Delta Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier Bag is an excellent option for cat owners who frequently travel with their feline friends.

It meets Delta Airline’s specifications and is approved for use on most airlines, ensuring a hassle-free journey for you and your cat.

The carrier bag comes with a patented spring wire frame that allows the rear end of the carrier to be pushed down several inches to conform to under-seat requirements.

It is also lightweight and collapsible, making it easy to transport and store. The carrier features locking zippers for safety and mesh windows for ventilation, ensuring your cat’s comfort and safety during the trip.

The padded carrying handles and non-slip shoulder strap provide comfort for you while carrying the carrier.

Moreover, it features a machine-washable faux lambskin lining for your cat’s comfort and a convenient storage pocket for accessories.

However, we believe that the carrier could be better ventilated, as the interior is somewhat dim, which may cause tension in some cats.

Also, due to the fragility and poor construction of this carrier, a determined cat could easily break through the lattice windows.

Please note that the carrier is intended for safe and comfortable travel, and your pet will not have excess room to move around.

It is essential to choose the carrier size based on your pet’s measurements first and then make sure not to exceed the maximum weight limit.

In summary, the Sherpa Delta Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier Bag is a fantastic option for cat owners who frequently travel with their feline friends.

It provides comfort and safety for your cat during the trip while ensuring ease and convenience for you.

Pros

Meets Delta Airline’s specifications and is approved for most airlines

Patented spring wire frame allows the carrier to conform to under-seat requirements

Lightweight and collapsible for easy transport and storage

Locking zippers and mesh windows for ventilation and safety

Padded carrying handles and non-slip shoulder strap for comfort

Machine-washable faux lambskin lining for added comfort

Convenient storage pocket for accessories

Cons

Could be better ventilated

Fragile construction may not withstand determined pets

Limited space for pets to move around in

Maximum weight limit must be observed


EliteField Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Cat Carrier Bag

EliteField Soft Sided Pet Carrier

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The EliteField Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Cat Carrier Bag is a high-quality option for pet owners who frequently travel with their feline friends.

This carrier is made from durable yet lightweight polyester material, making it easy to carry and strong enough to keep your cat secure.

Featuring mesh netting on the top and sides, the carrier provides excellent ventilation and natural light for your pet’s comfort during travel.

It also comes with a removable padded bed for added comfort and a built-in leash to keep your pet secure.

Moreover, the carrier features a buckle belt loop that allows it to be restrained with a seat belt for car travel, and a side zipper opening that makes it easy to reach and comfort your pet.

In terms of convenience, the carrier comes with two pockets for accessory storage, hand carrying straps, and an adjustable padded shoulder strap that allows for multiple carrying options.

It is also available in six beautiful colors and is machine-washable. However, please note that the carrier’s size may not be suitable for larger cat breeds.

Therefore, it is essential to measure your pet’s height and width before selecting a carrier to ensure a proper fit.

In summary, the EliteField Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Cat Carrier Bag ensures your pet’s comfort, security, and convenience during travel, making it a valuable investment for pet owners who frequently travel with their feline friends.

Pros

Durable yet lightweight polyester material

Mesh netting for ventilation and natural light

Removable padded bed and built-in leash for added comfort and security

Buckle belt loop for car travel and side zipper opening for easy access

Two pockets for accessory storage and multiple carrying options

Available in six beautiful colors and machine-washable

Cons

Size may not be suitable for larger cat breeds, so it is essential to measure your pet before selecting a carrier.


Petmate Single Door Collapsible Soft-Sided Dog/Cat Crate

Petmate Portable Pet Home, Small, Dark Taupe

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The Petmate Single Door Collapsible Soft-Sided Dog/Cat Crate is an affordable and practical option for cat owners who need a carrier for vet visits or road trips.

This carrier is made of durable, water-resistant polyamide fabric that can be compressed and unfolded in seconds.

Featuring two mesh windows for ventilation and privacy covers, this carrier provides a comfortable and cozy space for your cat. It also comes with stowage compartments for treats and a foam pad that adds extra comfort.

However, it is important to note that this carrier may not be suitable for air travel as it is relatively fragile, and a determined cat may be able to tear open the entrance.

Additionally, the largest size may not be spacious enough for larger cats. This carrier comes in three sizes, but it is most suitable for pets up to 8 inches in height and 17 inches in length.

In terms of convenience, this carrier can be set up anywhere and conveniently folds into a carrying case. It also includes a sheepskin pad, 4 ground stakes, and a convenient carrying case.

In summary, the Petmate Single Door Collapsible Soft-Sided Dog/Cat Crate is a practical option for cat owners who need a carrier for short trips or vet visits.

However, it may not be suitable for air travel, and it is important to measure your pet’s size before purchasing.

Pros

Affordable and practical option for short trips or vet visits

Durable, water-resistant polyamide fabric that can be compressed and unfolded in seconds

Two mesh windows for ventilation and privacy covers

Stowage compartments for treats and foam pad for extra comfort

Conveniently folds into a carrying case

Includes a sheepskin pad, 4 ground stakes, and a convenient carrying case

Cons

Not suitable for air travel as it is relatively fragile

May not be spacious enough for larger cats

Entrance may not be secure enough for determined cats


PetAmi Airline Approved Soft Pet Travel Carrier

PetAmi Premium Airline Approved Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier

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PetAmi Premium Soft-Sided Pet Carrier is our top recommendation for pet owners seeking a lightweight and safe carrier for their cats, dogs, and other pets.

This pet carrier is available in multiple colors, allowing it to stand out in a crowd, and has been approved by airlines for in-cabin use, making it a convenient option for air travel.

The carrier measures approximately – Small: 17 x 10.2 x 11.2 inches (L x W x H) / Large: 19.5 x 10.2 x 12 inches (L x W x H), with a weight capacity of up to 18 lbs, making it suitable for most small and medium-sized pets.

Before purchasing, pet owners should measure their pet’s length (neck to base of tail) and height (floor to top of shoulder) to ensure a proper fit.

This pet carrier is designed with safety in mind, featuring safety buckle zippers and a safety strap to prevent escape. The carrier can also be strapped to a car seat or luggage for added security during travel.

Pet owners can feel confident that their pets will travel in comfort, thanks to the well-ventilated design for optimal airflow and the soft, cozy sherpa lining that allows pets to relax and rest.

The carrier also includes a foldable bowl to keep pets hydrated during travel.

This airline-approved pet carrier is easy to use, with dual-sided access and a side zipper opening, and a detachable strap for convenience.

It also includes an easy identification name tag, making it a convenient pet carrier for all your travels.

Pet owners can trust the quality construction of this pet carrier, made with durable high-grade polyester, which is available in two sizes and multiple colors.

The only drawback is that if your pet is larger than the average domestic cat, this carrier may be a bit small.

Pros

Secure fastening

Stylish hues

Airline-approved

Included water container

Cons

Too small for large canines


Katziela Pet Carrier with Removable Wheels

Katziela Rolling Pet Carrier - Airline Approved Dog Carrier with Removable Wheels

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The Katziela Pet Carrier is an excellent option for pet owners seeking a comfortable and convenient pet carrier for their cats or small dogs.

This soft-sided pet carrier is designed with both pet and owner comfort in mind, featuring dual mesh panes on each side that allow pets to observe their environment and a telescoping handle with wheels for easy transportation.

This pet travel carrier is lightweight, easy to carry, and has plenty of useful features to make pet travel comfortable and pet owners’ lives easier.

It is also designed to meet TSA and most airlines standards, making it an excellent pet carrier for air travel.

Pet owners can place this soft-sided carrier comfortably under the seat in front of them due to its airline-approved design.

The pet carrier also features plenty of ventilation, with mesh windows on the sides, front, top section, and rear.

Full zippers allow for easy, comfortable access, and the carrier comes with front and back pockets and a safety leash inside to clip onto a collar, ensuring the pet’s safety.

Inside the carrier is a removable small mattress pad for pets to sit or sleep on comfortably.

A removable board underneath keeps it firm, and pet owners can remove it for machine washing, making this pet carrier easy to maintain.

The carrier’s four-wheel design and double telescopic handle provide easy maneuvering, and the handle remains easily accessible in an upright or 45-degree position.

Pet owners can trust the quality construction of this pet carrier, made with durable polyester and backed by Katziela’s satisfaction guarantee.

Overall, the Katziela Pet Carrier is an excellent pet carrier that offers pet owners a comfortable and convenient option for transporting their small pets.

Pros

Premium construction

Detachable axles

Simple to transfer

Cons

Price


Smiling Paws Pets 4-Way Soft-Sided Cat Carrier

Smiling Paws Pets - Airline Approved Pet Carrier - for Small Pets

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The Smiling Paws Pets' carrier is a unique and innovative option for pet owners seeking an airline-approved carrier for their small pets. This carrier is designed to fit under all airplane seats, making it an excellent choice for air travel.

It’s extra small and adhering to even the strictest airline carry-on size requirements, so pet owners should measure their pets before purchasing.

The carrier is packed with features, including an internal leash, safety self-locking zippers, reinforced rotating metallic clips, a soft machine washable pad, superb air circulation, and thickly padded shoulder strap and handle grips for pet owner convenience.

The carrier can be extended on all four sides, creating comfortable space for pets to reduce anxiety during travel, making it an excellent carrier for small pets, such as cats, puppies, and rabbits.

This expandable cat carrier is designed to comply with TSA and IATA requirements, making it an airline-approved carrier that complies with USA and international airlines’ under seat in-cabin dimensions (max 9″ height) for soft pet carriers for cats and small dogs.

The carrier is made with upgraded materials, making it perfect for rambunctious animals. Every inch of this tote is reinforced with A-grade metallic clips, high-quality rods, safety self-locking zippers, and an internal leash.

The internal fabric is laminated and leak-proof, making it easy to clean and maintain. Pet owners can travel with ease, thanks to the thickly padded shoulder straps and handle grips for easy handling during travel. The carrier is also portable and collapsible, making it easy to fold for storage.

Overall, the Smiling Paws Pets’ carrier is an excellent option for pet owners seeking an innovative and convenient carrier for their small pets, with its unique 4-way expansion and top entry design, airline-approved size, and upgraded materials.

Pros

Abundant territory

Solid architecture

Airline-approved

Cons

Escape risk

Fairly weighty


Petseek Extra Large Cat Carrier

Petseek Extra Large Cat Carrier Soft Sided Folding Small Medium Dog Pet Carrier

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Pet owners in need of a carrier for their big cats should consider the PetSeek Extra Large Comfortable Pet Carrier . This carrier is also an excellent option for pet owners with two cats who enjoy each other’s company.

The carrier features a fabric and mesh enclosure and is designed to hold pets up to 55 pounds, with dimensions of approximately 24×16.5×16 inches.

The carrier’s inner part is a foldable steel support structure, providing a sturdy and collapsible design.

The carrier is made from oxford fabric, which is wear-resistant and easy to clean, and nylon mesh that is ventilated and resistant to tearing.

The carrier also features a superior quality design, ensuring pet owners can trust the carrier’s durability and reliability.

Safety is a top priority with this carrier, featuring three locking zippers for the three access points to prevent pets from opening and one clip inside for additional security.

The carrier’s convenient design includes three access points for pets, including a top and front entrance, providing pet owners with easy access to their furry friends.

Additionally, the carrier includes a fleece pet bed that is machine washable, ensuring pet owners can maintain a clean and comfortable environment for their pets.

Overall, the PetSeek Extra Large Comfortable Pet Carrier is an excellent option for pet owners seeking a durable, spacious, and convenient carrier for their big cats or medium-sized dogs.

With its sturdy and collapsible structure, superior quality design, and safety features, pet owners can trust this carrier to safely transport their furry friends on any journey.

Pros

Abundant territory

Windows and vents

Metal supports

Cons

Lacking airline approval

Heavy

Not inclusive of a mat


Paws & Pals Airline Approved Pet Carrier

Paws & Pals Airline Approved Pet Carrier - Soft-Sided Carriers for Small Medium Cats and Dogs

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The Paws and Pals carrier, designed in a cargo bag style, falls short when compared to other carriers on the market.

While this plush cat carrier is suitable for pets that meet the size requirements and do not have a tendency to claw at the mesh and closures, the fabric and lattice are not particularly durable, and there are better options available for the price.

Additionally, the carrier lacks a zippered top, which can be inconvenient as it makes it necessary to use the front door to place your cat inside.

Nonetheless, the Paws and Pals carrier is suitable for travel with small pets and can be used as a cab or taxi to take your pet wherever you go.

It is ideal for dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, and other small-sized animals and works better than portable crates, kennels, backpacks, and slings.

The carrier is designed for safe pet transportation, featuring safety seatbelt buckles and light-reflecting strips.

The newly redesigned 2019 version of the carrier features a sturdy reinforced frame, ensuring pet owners have a reliable and durable carrier.

The Paws and Pals carrier is compliant with most airlines and TSA rules and regulations, making it an airline-approved pet carrier that conforms to under-seat dimensions of most airlines.

The carrier folds flat for easy storage and features durable and easy-to-clean materials that are machine washable, water-resistant, and leak-resistant.

The carrier also includes a Velcro handle, a removable cushion padded shoulder strap, a firm hard baseboard, a removable fleece pad bed with a raised bumper, mesh screens and roof, side pockets, two secure entryways, and a zippered mesh window.

Overall, while the Paws and Pals carrier may not be the most durable or spacious option for transporting pets, it is a viable option for pet owners seeking a reliable and cost-effective carrier with safety features, convenient design, and easy-to-clean materials.

Pros

Lightweight

Low priced

Cons

Very tiny

Not robust

How to Choose The Best Soft-Sided Cat Carrier

Soft-sided carriers are typically less expensive, lighter, and simpler to store than hard-sided carriers.

Obviously, plush carriers are not as durable or scratch-resistant as hard carriers, but as long as you get your cat used to them, you shouldn’t encounter too much difficulty.

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a good soft-sided cat carrier for your feline friend, including dimensions, safety, and quality.

1. Cat’s Temperament

It is essential to consider how your cat behaves when confined to a limited space.

If your cat uses her claws and fangs to express her displeasure at being confined, consider a cat carrier with solid walls instead of mesh-heavy carriers.

2. Travel Plans

If you plan to bring your cat on an airplane, you will likely need the smallest carrier she can fit into.

If you plan to take your cat on a road trip, consider a larger carrier. If you only plan to make brief visits to the veterinarian, size is less important. However, you will need a carrier that is easy to sanitize in the event of an accident.

3. Quality

If the carrier is made of flimsy materials, a determined cat will use its claws to escape, tearing it apart.

The most commonly used materials for carriers are nylon and polyester, but the mesh ventilation openings should be the most durable because they are the most susceptible to wear and tear.

4. Ventilation

Get a carrier with enough ventilation to keep the cat cool and a clear view of the outdoors. It should also allow some light in.

5. Wheels and Handles

It is important to have a carrier that is comfortable for both you and your cat.

Padded shoulder straps and comfortable handles are great and prevent the carrier from accidentally falling, which can be traumatic for your cat and even cause injuries.

Wheeled carriers are very convenient, but they tend to be bulkier and heavier.

6. Size

To choose the right size cat carrier, you must first measure and weigh your cat.

Your cat should be able to stand and turn comfortably in their carrier, and the bottom should be able to withstand their weight without collapsing.

Your cat will feel safe in a compact space, so the carrier should not be too large or too small.

A general rule of thumb is that the carrier should be 1.5 times the dimensions of your cat.

7. Security

Security is important for your carrier, but the level of security needed depends on how you plan to use it.

For brief trips to the veterinarian, a basic carrier is sufficient, but for longer flights on airlines, you’ll want one that is as escape-proof as possible.

Durable materials, secure closures, and sturdy bases are desirable features in a pack designed for extended trips.

8. Points of Access

Getting your cat into and out of their carrier can be one of the most difficult aspects of traveling with them, especially if they are not used to it.

Having multiple entry points gives you more options for moving them into and out of the carrier, thereby reducing the likelihood of painful scratching.

9. Cleaning

Traveling can be distressing for cats, and they may soil their carrier. Your carrier should ideally be machine-washable and feature replaceable inserts or cushions.

FAQs

1. Are cats more comfortable in soft carriers?

Yes, cats are more comfortable in soft carriers because they are designed with ample padding and breathable materials, providing a comfortable and relaxing space for cats to stretch and snooze.

2. What type of pet carrier is best for cats?

Plastic is the healthiest material for your cat’s carrier, surpassing material or cardboard, and is more pleasant than wire mesh. Plastic carriers are also much simpler to sanitize.

3. Is a soft or hard pet carrier better?

While soft carriers are durable, your cat’s claws and fangs can readily damage the material. Soft-sided carriers provide less protection than hard-sided carriers.

4. Do cats prefer hard or soft carriers?

A properly sized rigid carrier provides sufficient space for the cat to spin around and stretch while still providing a sense of security.

Most permit the removal of the top. If soiled, they are simple to sanitize. Furthermore, they are more durable than the preceding carriers.

5. What is the most comfortable way to carry a cat?

You can position her so that the crook of your arm supports her hindquarters.

She should finish up safely cradled or perched on one arm like a rabbit, while the other arm serves as a seatbelt for the cat. Never allow a cat’s legs to dangle, as this can cause her to feel unsupported and insecure.

6. How big should soft cat carrier be?

Your cat’s carrier should be no more than 1 1/2 times its dimensions.

This will provide sufficient space for your companion to recline flat, stand, and turn around. If the cat carrier is too large, the cat will be unsafe during car journeys due to movement.

7. Can you wash a soft cat carrier?

Yes, you can launder a soft cat carrier with tepid or chilly water, but no detergents are necessary. Alternately, you may use a disinfectant or chlorine solution, as well as body wipes, to sanitize every surface of the carrier.

8. How long can a cat ride in a carrier?

When traveling with a cat, it is important to ensure that a cat carrier is available. Without much traffic, a seven or eight-hour journey is possible. The cat must be permitted to leave its carrier every four to six hours.

Conclusion

The Pet Magasin Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Pet Carrier is the greatest soft-sided cat carrier for the money if you’re on a tight budget.

The carrier has airline-approved cushioning on the inside and a mesh window for adequate airflow and light. It folds flat for convenient storage.

The PetLuv Happy Cat Soft-Sided Cat Carrier offers everything you’d want in a premium carrier: windows all around for ventilation (complete with closable flaps), a machine-washable bed, seatbelt loops, locking zippers, and comfy shoulder straps for carrying.

There are numerous cat carriers on the market, and selecting the best one might be difficult.

BestForPets (bestforpets.org) hopes that our in-depth reviews of the best soft-sided cat carriers have helped you narrow down your selections and choose the best one for your needs!

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Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher

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