I’m in the driver’s seat of my human’s car today because I have lots of things to tell you kitties about traveling with your human! Today is National Pet Travel Safety Day, and I wanted to pass along some cat travel tips I’ve learned in the year and a half I’ve been going places with my human. I am wearing my first tip — a cat harness with an ID tag that includes my human’s cell phone number! That way, if there is an accident or I somehow get out of the car, it will be easier for someone who finds me to locate my human. Plus they’ll know my name! I am also microchipped.
Here is an important Don’t: Never let your cat move around freely in the car. Come with me and I will show you why!
This is my favorite place to hang out in my human’s car… but it also where she needs to put her feet to make the car go, and more importantly, to make it stop! A lot goes on when humans are trying to drive, and it’s dangerous if they can’t fully concentrate on the road. As we cats know, we are very distracting! You will have lots of time to get your human’s attention when the car isn’t in motion, so let her focus on her driving.
Here is another Don’t, but I doubt anybody would try this: Humans should never just put a seatbelt on their cat. Seatbelts only work on human adult and older child bodies.
Here is a combination of Do’s and Don’ts: Yes, we cats should be closed up in a carrier when we are in the car, and yes, the carrier should be secured with a seatbelt. But don’t put the carrier in the front seat! If your human is in an accident and the airbags are deployed, they could injure or even kill us kitties! So the front seat is actually a very dangerous place for us. Instead put the carrier in the backseat area, and secure it with a seatbelt there.
I have a couple of things to say about carriers too. When my human is going short distances with me, like to the pet store, I go in my Sleepypod Atom pet carrier, which is the carrier I fly in. But it is a soft carrier, and does not really protect me all that well if there is an accident. It is really better for us kitties to travel in something more sturdy. This hard plastic Pet Taxi is very old, but a lot tougher. There are other, nicer carriers like the regular Sleepypod, and you can also find some really safe, durable pet carriers for less if you do some research. But I don’t think humans should skimp when it comes to keeping cats safe when they are in the car.
If you are traveling in the car for several hours or several days, do consider getting a crate or kennel that’s large enough for a small litter box. To be honest, we cats actually prefer more closed in spaces — we feel safer. But if we’re cooped up for a long period of time, it’s nice to have somewhere to relieve ourselves. I read an article somewhere that says cats usually won’t use the litter box while they are in a car, but that’s not true for me! When I went to Las Vegas in 2014, and Livermore last November, I did use the litter box that was provided for me.
Here are a few more Do’s for you humans:
- Make sure the temperature in your car is comfortable for your cat, especially at the height of summer and winter. It gets hot here in the summer, so my human always blasts the air conditioning when I’m in the car. She likes it warmer, but my comfort comes first.
- Pack a travel kit for your kitty, if you are going somewhere for the whole day or for more than a day. You should have pet first aid, treats, water, a litter scoop, and pet wipes and paper towels in case there’s an accident (not the car crash kind — the other kind).
- Never, ever leave your cat in the car! Even if it seems mild outside, it can get hot enough in a closed up car for her to die of heatstroke. If you are traveling with your cat in a crate or kennel, you also need a carrier to bring her in and out of the car. My human always takes me into rest stop restrooms, the gas station convenience stores when she is buying snacks for herself, and she usually eats drive through meals when I am with her. If she wanted to stop at a restaurant and have a sit down meal, she would pick one with an outside patio so I could accompany her.
And here is one last Don’t:
Kitties, never try to drive your human’s car! You are not long enough to reach the accelerator and brake pedals and steer at the same time. Plus, you probably don’t have a driver’s license and you could get thrown in jail if you are caught.