How to Safely Transport Your Cat in the Car
Cats are usually homebodies. They don’t need to go out to use the bathroom, and they prefer to stay at home. But sometimes you need to take your cat in the car – if you’re moving, going to the vet, or going on a road trip. So what’s the safest way to transport them?
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Get a carrier
First thing’s first: make sure you have a carrier. The carrier should be just large enough for the cat to stand up and turn around. But don’t get one too big – otherwise the cat could be thrown around inside the crate and get hurt if you have to brake suddenly. It’s best to put a familiar-smelling item in the crate too, like a small blanket, and leave the crate out and open for your cat to explore for a few days before traveling.
Prepare your cat
Pick up your cat’s food and water dishes a few hours or the night before you travel. This way, you won’t need to worry as much about having a litter box inside the crate.
Plan your stops
Determine how long you’re going to be traveling. If you’re only driving to and from the vet, there’s not a whole lot of preparation necessary. But if you’re taking an eight-hour road trip to move to a different state, consider making stops for your cat to use a portable litter box.
Remember: you should never open the car doors or windows while the cat is loose in the car. Cats are quick, agile escape artists – the last thing you want to do is lose your cat at a rest area four hours from home. Also, in case you haven’t heard it a million times before, never leave your cat alone in a hot car.
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Hitting the road
When you finally get into the car, place the crate somewhere it won’t slide around. This can be on the floor of the car or on a passenger’s seat – but if it’s on the front passenger’s seat, make sure the airbag is turned off. Also, if you are placing the crate on a seat, buckle the seatbelt around the crate so it won’t tumble off and onto the floor when you brake.
Watch for warning signs
If your cat is meowing during your trip, that’s normal. Eventually, one of two things will happen: you cat will stop meowing and fall asleep, or he or she will begin panting. If your cat is panting, stop the car immediately, care for your pet, and contact your veterinarian. Panting is extremely abnormal for cats and can be a sign of extreme stress (i.e. your cat is having a panic attack).
Safety is the most important thing when traveling with any animal, so make sure you are taking the proper precautions when transporting your feline friend.
Meg Thomson is a writer, photographer, blogger, and activist. When she isn’t writing, Meg can be found immersing herself in television scripts, adopting and playing with animals, or updating lists of her dream travel destinations (the list never ends). Meg believes writing is power, and equality is essential. She is determined to make a difference in the world, one word at a time. See more articles by Meg.