How to Keep Your Cat Safe in the Car
In a recent blog post, I described ways to keep your dog safe in your vehicle; this time around, I want to focus on how to keep your cat safe in the car. And even though it’s a lot less common to see a cat riding unrestrained in a vehicle on the road, it’s no less important that you keep your feline companion – and your fellow drivers and passengers – safe on the roadway.
The Discomfort Zone
Understand that whenever you take your cat for a ride, you are taking them into a Discomfort Zone. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, “cats are highly attached to territory, and movement away from that secure base [should not be] undertaken lightly.” They continue by noting that “human transportation can be a very stressful experience for all concerned, in part because the cat is no longer in control of its own experience.” So it helps to understand the stress and don’t underestimate your cat’s will to escape it. In fact, your cat might just look for any chance to jump out of the car. This can be true if you lower your window at a restaurant drive-thru or exit your car for a quick run inside the convenience store.
As with dogs, however, you won’t have to worry about that happening if you keep your cat restrained in the car.
Keep Your Cat Restrained
Any pet allowed to roam free in the passenger compartment of a vehicle can be a dangerous distraction. Because cats are naturally curious explorers and tend to be more nervous in moving vehicles, it’s likely they will be roaming the passenger cabin while you are trying to drive. And because cats can contort themselves into surprising positions, they might get entangled around your feet, keeping you from being able to apply the brakes.
So keep your cat restrained when riding in the car. Use a crate and keep it secured in the back seat area. You can purchase straps that will keep the crate from becoming a projectile during a crash or sudden stop.
Train Before You Restrain
Unfortunately, cats usually only get to ride in the car to go to the vet. No wonder they don’t get too excited to see that crate come out! But what if your destination wasn’t always a stressful one? What if your cat got to go to the pet store and ride in the shopping cart? Or maybe just go out for a drive around town and come back with no vet stop? If you spend time occasionally training your cat to trust your motives and relax in the carrier when in the car, she just might tolerate the experience better even when visiting the vet. (The best time to begin this training, naturally, is when the cat is very young.)
Take Your Cat with You When Leaving the Car
As with dogs, especially in hot summer months, it is critical to NOT leave your cat in your car. I noted in another blog post how your car can become a veritable oven in mere minutes – and in surprisingly mild temperatures on a sunny day.
When you reach your destination, remember to keep your cat in the carrier or leash her before opening the door. Again, an agitated cat might literally jump at the chance to escape the car once the door is opened. Disoriented, she might just end up in a busy roadway. (As a further precaution, make sure your cat is wearing a collar with an ID tag before you go anywhere.)
Bottom Line: Keep Your Cat Safe in the Car
Cats are not natural travelers. But if you must take your cat along for the ride, the best way to keep your cat safe in the car is to keep her restrained throughout the journey. Of course, if traveling with your cat stresses you out, too, and you need to be away from home for an extended period, call us. We specialize in in-home cat sitting. You can contact us at 317.224.5243.
If you are looking for a pet sitter in Indianapolis, Carmel, Zionsville and nearby areas in Central Indiana, you’ve come to the right place. At Ask Linda Pet Sitting, we specialize in cat sitting, dog sitting, dog walking, and professional in-home pet care. We are not veterinarians, but we follow pet safety procedures and are trained for pet emergency situations. Above all, at Ask Linda Pet Sitting, we believe in education and proactive pet health. Linda is the only NAPPS certified pet sitter in Indianapolis, and is also a certified pet First Aid/CPR/Wellness instructor. Want to learn more? Ask Linda!