Having a pet is a big responsibility, but it is one that many of us choose as we form such lovely bonds with these little furballs. Roughly 32 million American households own a cat, with numbers increasing all the time.
There comes a time in every cat parent’s life when they need to make a trip to the vet or take the kitty to a friend’s house whilst you’re away. You may think it is as simple as scooping them up and placing them in the car.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about driving with your cat in the car (see also ‘Should You Buckle In A Pet Carrier? – A Guide‘).
Table of Contents:
Benefits Of Keeping Your Cat In A Carrier
Placing your cat in a carrier whilst you’re driving will not only benefit you, but it will also help to keep your feline friend calm and secure.
Although your cat may not like having to go in its carrier, it’s beneficial in the long run.
Keeping You Safe
Firstly, keeping your cat in a carrier or with some sort of seat belt is super important to prevent an accident.
As you are probably aware, cats can be mischievous creatures and don’t often follow commands as dogs do.
If your cat starts wandering around the car, it can distract you from the road and lead to an accident.
Pets that aren’t used to being in the car may freak out and panic which could also lead to an accident and probably a few scratches.
Keeping Your Cat Safe
Pet carriers were designed to keep pets safe. When a cat is roaming loose in the car, a sharp break or unexpected turn could cause them to go flying and hurt itself.
Besides the physical injuries they could sustain, they could also become mentally traumatized.
As cats are inquisitive and like to get into small spaces, they could even become trapped in your car or get their paws stuck somewhere they shouldn’t.
If your cat has a bad experience in the car, it will make them highly reluctant to get back in, which can be a pain when it’s time to go to the vet.
When a cat is allowed to roam freely inside the car, this means they have a higher chance of escaping at the start or end of your journey.
This could lead to them running off, becoming lost, or facing fast streams of traffic. All of these issues can be solved with a simple cat carrier.
Keeping Your Pet Carrier Secure
Once your cat is safe and comfortable in their carrier, it is important to make sure the carrier doesn’t fly around the car as you drive.
If you don’t want to put the carrier on the back seat, then put it in the footwell behind the passenger seat. This way you can keep an eye on your cat and there is still space on the seats for passengers.
Tips To Travel Safely With Your Cat
To make your journey easier, follow these simple guidelines to keep both you and your pet happy when traveling in the car.
Choose A Good Quality Carrier
Plastic carriers are the safest type of carrier for your pet as they are sturdy, easy to clean, and much more comfortable than wire mesh carriers.
These carriers should be around 1.5 times bigger than your cat to keep them cozy with enough space to move around.
Good ventilation, a little privacy, and a sturdy steel mesh door are all desirable qualities that your cat carrier should have.
Get Them Used To The Carrier Prior To The Journey
Getting your cat used to their carrier is essential for smooth journeys and fuss-free preparations.
Leaving the carrier in a place in your house with some treats inside is a great way to encourage your cat to explore the inside of the carrier.
Place a blanket or cushion in there to encourage your cat to spend some time in the carrier or have a nap. This will make them feel more relaxed later on.
After a while, experiment with closing the door for short periods of time to get your cat used to being shut in there.
This process may take time but it’s well worth it to avoid being scratched and bitten as well as causing your kitty a lot of stress.
Our top tip is to always be armed with plenty of treats as these will make things a lot easier.
Make The Carrier Cozy
Placing a blanket in the carrier is a great way to make it feel more like home.
If they have a particular blanket or piece of textile they like to sit on, putting this in the carrier can help to calm them down as it will have their scent on it.
Water is essential for your pets, especially on a long journey.
You don’t have to put a bowl of water in their pet carrier, but water should be offered to them on a regular basis to make sure they don’t become dehydrated.
Put A Collar On
In the unlikely event that your cat manages to escape, it’s best to have some kind of identification on them.
A collar with a tag containing your details is the best way to do this. If your cat doesn’t like wearing a collar, you can take it off when you’re safely at home.
States That Require You To Restrain Your Pets
These states require you to restrain your pets by law, this could be with a seat belt or pet carrier.
If you do not follow these rules and you are caught, you will face a fine or even imprisonment as it will be classed as cruelty to animals.
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
States That Have Implemented Distraction Laws
Distraction laws are implemented in these states to prevent accidents from occurring as a result of having your pet in the car.
They do not require you to restrain your pet inside the car, but pets in truck beds shouldn’t be able to jump out or fall out.
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- Washington D.C.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Legal To Have A Cat In The Car?
It is completely legal to have your pet in the car with you. However, there are certain rules and restrictions that are implemented by state laws to ensure the safety of road users.
Double-check with your state’s policy to avoid paying fines and breaking the law. Always check you are in accordance with the laws when traveling to other states.
The Bottom Line
In some states you can drive with your cat loose in the car, although this is highly unadvised as this could lead to a traffic accident or the injury of your cat.
Placing your cat in a safe and reliable cat carrier is the best way to have a calm and happy trip!