Traveling with a cat in a car isn’t easy. Besides, it’s not exactly a cat’s natural environment, and you’re going to be pretty occupied as you drive. Cat carriers will help bridge the gap here, but where should you put them? This is precisely how you should approach it.
So, where should you put a cat carrier in a car? Ideally, you should put your cat carrier on the car’s passenger seat, secured safely with the seatbelt threaded through the handle and locked in. This allows you to monitor your cat throughout the journey. Seeing a familiar face can also go a long way towards keeping your cat calm in an unfamiliar environment.
Cats are creatures of habit so can become very stressed during car journeys if they are not used to traveling.
Fortunately, there are several ways you can reassure your cat and, therefore, have a much calmer journey.
At the same time, you must invest in a sturdy cat carrier if you plan on taking any trips with your cat. Securing it properly is, again, essential.
NEVER allow a cat to free roam in the car, as this can be incredibly dangerous for both you and your cat.
Let us now take a closer look at exactly how to go about this particular type of trip.
Besides, this will be required for any vet’s appointment – so it is something to definitely become familiar with. You’ll need this information at some point!
How Do You Travel With A Cat Carrier?
Travelling with your cat is all about keeping them contained, safe and relaxed.
And its easier said then done.
Besides, cat carriers come in a variety of forms, from plastic crates to backpacks!
However, for car journeys, it is recommended that you use a hard-sided carrier as these offer the most stability and security.
When choosing a cat carrier, make sure it is large enough for your cat to stand, turn around, and lay down in, and make sure it is well-ventilated, so your cat does not get too hot.
Furthermore, you should try to refrain from having the heater on in the car, and if you do, make sure it is not directly facing your cat.
NEVER leave your cat unattended in a car for any length of time as cats are very susceptible to heatstroke, which can be fatal.
Most journeys for cats involve short trips to the vet. However, there may be occasions when you want to take your kitty on a longer journey.
For example, you may be relocating to a new area.
If this is the case, there are a number of things you will need to do prior to the journey.
It is recommended that you book your cat in for a vet check-up before any long trip to ensure they are healthy enough to deal with the stress that can come from traveling for long periods.
For cats that suffer from long-term health issues or motion sickness, you will also need to ensure you have a sufficient supply of the appropriate medication too.
Harnesses and leads for cats have become increasingly popular in recent years, as more and more cats transition to being indoor-only pets.
This is a great way to allow your cat some fresh air during long trips.
You can simply stop, put them on the carrier, and both stretch your legs.
Just make sure your cat has been trained to walk on a lead beforehand.
Many cats initially reject harnesses for the same reason they dislike cat carriers – they do not feel in control!
However, with time and patience, many cats can successfully be lead trained, especially if training starts when they are young.
The importance of training is just as important with cat carriers as it is with harnesses and leads.
The more you can train your cat to build up a positive association with the carrier, the more relaxed your feline companion will be on the trip.
Perhaps the most important aspect of training when it comes to cat carriers is to allow your cat access to the carrier at all times.
Don’t buy a carrier and then store it away in the cupboard, only to bring it out a few minutes before you are due to take a trip.
By doing this, you are getting your cat to associate the carrier with scary car trips and nothing else!
Leave the carrier out in a room of your house so your cat can investigate it in his own time.
You can also offer treats whenever he approaches the carrier.
Once your cat gets to the stage where you think he is comfortable with the carrier, you can start introducing him to the car and then start taking short trips.
If your cat becomes stressed at any point during the training, take a step back and start at the beginning again.
It is important not to rush this process but move along at a pace that is comfortable for your feline companion.
How Do You Secure A Pet Carrier In A Car?
The best way to secure a cat carrier in a car is by threading the seatbelt through the handle and ensuring it is firmly locked down. You do not want the carrier to be freely moving around as you drive.
Always ensure your carrier is securely closed and locked so your cat cannot escape – you do not want an anxious cat free-roaming in your car as this could lead to all sorts of incidents.
Bear in mind that most hard-sided carriers have multiple locking points as they are able to be opened both at the front and from the top.
So, it is a good idea to get into the habit of checking that every single clip is fully fastened before you go on any journey.
There is a bit of debate over where you should put the carrier in your car. However, the passenger seat is the most convenient. This allows you to monitor your cat throughout the journey and stop when needed.
It also means your cat can see a familiar face, which will go a long way towards keeping him calm.
If your cat still seems overly stressed, you can cover the carrier with a towel or blanket; preferably one with a familiar scent, as cats have a very keen sense of smell.
It is important to note that many car seats are slightly slanted, so consider placing something underneath the carrier, such as a rolled-up towel, so the carrier is on a flat surface.
This will help your cat to feel more secure during the trip.
You should always strap the carrier in with a seatbelt to prevent it from moving around during the journey.
The best method is to wrap the seatbelt around the carrier and then thread it through the handle.
When driving, you should also try to keep the environment as quiet as possible so as not to add any additional stress on your cat.
This means ensuring the radio is turned down low or off, keeping windows closed to reduce traffic noise (unless it is particularly hot, of course), and ensuring car heaters or air-con fans are not directly facing your cat.
You can also consider using pheromone sprays like Feliway, which are designed to mimic a cat’s natural pheromones, as these will help your cat to feel safer and calmer.
Feliway is very affordable, has countless positive reviews, is vet-approved and you can get it easily online from Amazon.
- FELIWAY is vet recommended, and the #1 selling solution: FELIWAY Classic may help cats adjust to challenging situations, and curbs stress related unwanted behaviors such as urine spraying, scratching, and general fearfulness
- 9 out of 10 cats show an improvement in urine spraying*
- FELIWAY Classic Spray makes vet visits, travel, new environments, and loud noise (thunder, fireworks, etc) less stressful for your cat
- FELIWAY Classic is a drug free solution that mimics cat’s natural facial pheromones, which may help your pet feel calmer in common stressful situations
- Great for on the go use, or spot treatment at home; you can spray calming pheromones directly onto objects such as your cat carrier or car (do not spray directly on your cat or his or her scratching post as it will deter scratching)
And all you need to do is spray a little bit into the carrier approximately 15 minutes before the journey.
It’s simple yet very effective.
If you are planning on going on a particularly lengthy journey, you can purchase large travel crates for cats, which offer more space for your cat to move around, and also allow you to put a litter tray inside.
Due to their size, these crates are better off being put on the backseat of your car as there is more room.
Again, you must ensure it is securely strapped in with the use of a seatbelt.
If the seatbelt doesn’t reach all the way around the crate, you can use an elastic bungee cord to secure it in place.
Do not place your cat in the boot of your car as your cat will likely become highly stressed by the noise, as well as the lack of light and air.
Whatever the carrier size, you should ensure that there is plenty of bedding inside so your cat is comfortable and make sure there is access to drinking water when needed.
Cats can become dehydrated very quickly in warm environments, so you must monitor your cat during journeys, especially in hot weather.
Always remember that it is your responsibility as the owner to ensure your cat remains as calm as possible during any car journey.
And always offer a treat when you have reached your destination as a form of positive reinforcement.
Do I Need A Cat Carrier For The Car?
Cat carriers are essential for any journey with your cat. NEVER allow your cat to free-roam in the car as this could lead to all sorts of issues and potential accidents.
You may have seen YouTube videos of cats sat in the passenger seat of a car or even sleeping on the dashboard, but it is important to remember that these cats have had years of intensive training to get to this stage and are the exception rather than the rule.
Most cats will become frightened in this situation and may try to escape the car or even find themselves under your pedals which can cause serious accidents.
Cats can even become aggressive if they feel there is no way to escape a scary situation and may attempt to bite or scratch at their owners while driving.
This is a normal defensive tactic for cats that are under intense stress, even if they are usually docile in their home environments.
Or they may poop in the carrier. That’s another possibility too.
Do not worry too much if your cat becomes vocal during a car journey, as this is just your pet’s way of expressing his displeasure at being restrained in a carrier.
It is still much safer than leaving your cat to run freely in the car!
Regularly offer reassurance throughout the journey by talking softly to your cat, and you should both arrive at your destination safe and sound.
Somewhere safe, and somewhere you can keep a close eye.
That’s why the passenger seat is ideal for the cat carrier.
If you have another person in the car, sure you can put your cat’s carrier in the back; but ensure that person is sat next to them too.
Oh, and that they are firmly locked in with a seatbelt secured around them.
At the end of the day; this is quite a stressful experience for a cat.
They could do with some support – so keep them close!
Transporting your cat or need to keep them in the carrier? Then my other guides may be of interest:
- How To Transport A Cat By Car On Long Distance Journeys
- Where To Put Cat Carrier In A Car
- Why Do Cats Poop In Their Carrier?
- How Do You Clean A Cat Carrier
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.