Traveling with a Cat in the Car {Beginner’s Guide}

Article last updated: Jan 28, 2019 @ 4:52 pm

Are you on the road more than you are at home?  If so, then you understand that traveling with a cat in the car is not always a breeze. But fear no more!

In this article, you will learn simple ways to safely transport your furry friend with you wherever you go.  There is no need to worry about scratches on your car seats or a kitty that won’t calm down as soon as the engine turns on.  Following these steps will ensure your cat is healthy and safe while traveling with you in the car.


What to do BEFORE the car ride:

Give your cat time to acclimate to the car

If possible, start training your cat to get used to the car at an early age. This will allow them to feel as if going in the car was normal right from the beginning.

Take your cat and see how he reacts by just being in the car (while the car’s in park).

To make your cat feel more at home and get used to the car environment quicker, it would be wise to bring some toys and treats with you to reward good behavior.

Hey, You!

If comfortable enough (not meowing or stressed), the next step would be to take him/her on short trips.

To ensure safety for your cat and for the driver, find a comfortable travel bag or carrier to transport your cat to/from the car securely.

To secure your cat in a carrier while in the car is optional, but highly recommended. Pets loose in the car can create distractions and can cause accidents.  To avoid injury to your cat, yourself and others, most States require or recommend securing your pets while driving.

Insider Tip: We personally do not keep Yoda in a carrier at all times while in the car because he sleeps the entire way (about 3 hours). He usually lays in the passenger seat or is curled up in a ball on someone’s lap. If awake, he likes to look out the window. He was acclimated to traveling at 10 wks, so before deciding whether to let your cat loose in the car, make sure you know your cat’s needs/reactions to traveling and travel time. We do however keep a travel bag with us in the car for easy transportation and to have it just in case.

It is also highly recommended that whenever you travel, always make sure you have your cat’s identification tag or have your cat microchipped. Having your cat microchipped is the most effective way of finding your cat if he/she escapes or gets lost in the case of an accident.

grumpy cat car

Pack all of the essentials for your cat

This includes water, food, (I also bring treats), toys, a litter box (travel or regular size), plastic bags, a pooper-scooper, and something comfy to lie on/in, like a small blanket or bed.

In addition to toys, I often like to bring Yoda’s pop-up cube for him to go inside and sleep in.

Give your cat a chance to exercise/eat/drink and go potty before hitting the road

Give your cat a light meal if you plan to travel as to avoid any car sickness (if your cat is more sensitive).

Also, make sure your cat takes his/her last trip to the litter box before packing it up.

Play with your cat so he/she will be more willing to lie down and sleep once in the car. We usually have Yoda chase a laser for 5 minutes before leaving, that way he is all worn out in the car and can go to sleep easier.


What to do DURING the car ride:

  • Ensure your cat’s safety and comfort

Cats need to feel secure. There will always be a few bumps in the road or a loud truck that passes by.  In order to keep Yoda calm and feeling secure, we bring his pop-up cube so he can go inside and sleep.

travelling with a cat in a car

By doing so, we are providing Yoda a place to feel secure and comfortable. At the same time, this will keep him away from the driver’s seat or from needing too much attention. Thus, we highly recommend bringing a bed, box, pop-up cube, or something transportable that your cat likes to go in and sleep. This will entice your kitty to keep off your laps or the seats and go lie down and have a nice kitty nap where it’s quiet and cozy.

Make short pit-stops or breaks

Depending on the length of your trip, don’t forget to take a quick break to allow your cat to have a few laps of water and/or have a treat. I would avoid giving your cat a full meal while traveling in order to avoid any car sickness.

At this time give your cat access to the litter box as he/she may need to go potty! Doing this will avoid any unwanted messes in the corners of your car.  

Traveling with a cat in the car – What to do AFTER the car ride:

Do not leave your cat in the car

Even for 5 or 10 minutes, temperatures can soar up to 120 degrees F in your car on a hot day.

It is not wise to take your cat with you in the car to go grocery shopping, or when you need to run errands.

If you travel with your cat, always plan to take him/her with you once you’ve arrived at your destination.

Provide a familiar and comfortable place when you reach your destination

Whether you plan to stay overnight in a hotel, at a friend’s house, or elsewhere, always provide a set-up where your cat knows to go and can feel safe and comfortable.

New places for your cat can cause a bit of stress. I recommend bringing some of your cat’s favorite toys & treats when going on car rides. I try to mimic the set-up as if Yoda was at home, so he knows what’s his and where he can go. 

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Traveling with a cat in the car is not easy but we sure this article helps you travel with your cat in the car. To never miss one of our articles, please follow us on our social media!

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