How to keep your cat safe when travelling by car

Do you plan on carrying out a road trip? Here’s an even tougher question; do you plan on taking your pet along with you? For most cat owners, bringing pets along on their out-of-town trips is usually the only option.

If that is the case with you, below are some tips to help in making the travel experience a little less stressful and safer.


1. Make out time to get your kitty acquainted with being in a carrier

Leave the carrier or transporter out and start conditioning your kitty to get comfortable going in and out as well as closing the carrier door. Work up to taking the kitty (inside the carrier) out of the car and then for a brief trip down the road.

Ensure every step of the process is gradually done because even simply turning on the car's engine can upset a cat who hasn't experienced such before.

2. Get an ID for your cat

Irrespective of how careful you are, accidents can still happen and your pet can get lost or escape. The most secure form of identification is to have your cat micro-chipped. This is a fast procedure your veterinarian can carry out.

Besides microchipping your cat, it is also advisable to have an identifiable collar on your cat.

Cell phone numbers and emails are the best ones to have on the identification collars rather than the phone number to your cellphone at home, so you can always get reached when on the road.

In case of an unforeseen circumstance or accident, it may be possible that the cat carrier or your pet gets separated from you. Mark the cat carrier with “Live Animals” as this will make observers know that an animal is inside.

You could also want to permanently mark your mobile phone number on the carrier, in case your cat gets lost or misplaced.

When creating copies of your pet’s records, always ensure to make three copies:

  • One remains in the vehicle.
  • Another copy remains with you.
  • A third copy should be put in a plastic bag or weather-proof folder and secured to the carrier.

3. Pack a travel bag particularly for your cat

The bag should consist of a supply of all medications your cat is presently on, bowls, food, plastic bags, water, travel-sized litter box, little scoop, grooming supplies, pet wipes, toys, treats, and towels.

4. Keep your kitty in a well-ventilated carrier

Even if your cat is very well-behaved and calm, it is not safe to have it loose in the vehicle. A loosed pet in the car will act as a form of distraction to the driver and can end up causing a car accident.

Furthermore, in case a car wreck does occur, a loose pet has a greater chance of getting injured and thrown from the car. Line the cat carrier with a well-ventilated towel and pack some additional towels in case that one gets too soiled.


5. Secure the kitty carrier on the floor of the vehicle’s back seat

The safest and best carrier to use when travelling with cats is a plastic kennel-type carrier. Do not place the carrier in the front seat due to the danger of the airbag. It is best to place small carriers on the floor behind the driver or passenger seat.

Do not place the carrier on the seat and fasten it with a seatbelt. Pet safety centers in the United States warn that unless the pet's carrier manufacturer has provided crash test videos showing the structural potential of the carrier, the seatbelt may end up crushing the carrier during an accident.

6. Never leave your cat in a parked car

During hot weather, the temperature in the car can easily skyrocket. Even a vehicle parked in the shade with its windows open can still get very hot to cause heatstroke in your cat.

In case the weather is cold, the temperature could plummet enough, thus causing your cat to freeze.

7. Feed your kitty about five hours before leaving

When travelling with cats, always ensure that your kitty has eaten a light meal four to five hours before embarking on your trip. Also, make sure that your cat has utilized her litter box to make the car trip more comfortable.

In case you are going on a long trip, you will have to give your cat the right to use a litter box during the ride. Do not feed your kitty in the car, as this could end up upsetting her stomach.

A little water is okay to keep your kitty hydrated. You are not doing your cat any good if you allow her to eat so much food just before travelling. As soon as you arrive at your destination, carefully inspect your cat’s emotional and physical state.

Write down anything that looks strange, complete with time, date and pictures. In case something is not right, get your kitty to a good vegetarian, and get sufficient documentation of the information for that visit.

8. Create a relaxed set-up for your pet at your destination

Whether your destination is grandma's house or a hotel room, set your cat up in a safe, small area so she does not escape and can also get her bearings. It will get stressful arriving at an unfamiliar location, thus create a comfortable and relaxed set-up so your cat can feel secure and relaxed.

9. Beat the heat

Keep the cat carrier in an area where it can receive proper air circulation. Avoid area with direct exposure to sunlight or any other cargo spots in the rear part of the vehicle that may trap heat. Always travel during months with slighter temperatures when possible.


10. Do not leave your pet in the vehicle

In case you stop, ensure you turn off the engine and take the cat's carrier with you (or use a leash and harness in case your pet is into that). Do not leave your vehicle's engine running either, it is an easy target for robbers and thieves and you may lose both your cat and your car.

The supply checklist for travelling with cats

It is advisable to determine what you should bring before your road trip so you are prepared for any unforeseen situation. Below is a supply checklist you should always take with you when travelling with cats (increase quantities if multiple cats are involved).

  • Food and snacks/treats
  • Freshwater, if possible bottled or brought from home
  • Bowls
  • Clean cat litter
  • Clean litter pan
  • Groom or brushing tools
  • Any medications
  • Pet first-aid kit
  • Extra collar and tag
  • Extra leash and harness
  • Extra towels or blankets to replace stained materials
  • Poop bags
  • Copy of vet records
  • Picture of your cat


Road trips are typically not as convenient or quick when travelling, however, they can bring a unique and fun experience to your travels. A road trip is also a better option for travelling with your cat.

Pets are renowned for making road trips fun and exciting for their owners. The only duty you have to play is to ensure they are safe and secure. With the right procedure and checklist, you can always have a safe road trip with your pets.



Improve your cat's quality of life with these simple tricks which you can implement immediately.