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Hard-sided dog and cat carriers are built to be leak-proof and escape-proof. Check the door to the pet travel carrier to be sure it closes properly. Most airline approved pet carriers will have releasable cable ties, which should be attached to all four corners of the kennel door.
Above all else, you want the cat or dog to have the ability to stand in place, as well as turn around and have enough ventilation.
Soft-sided carriers are more flexible, but generally not suited for larger pets. Again, be sure your dog or cat has enough room to stand up and turn around inside.