Cat Safety in Cars – keeping your precious cargo safe from harm!
Cat safety in cars is as important as human safety, yet it is often overlooked. Cats are as vulnerable as children in cars as both are completely reliant on the driver prioritising their safety.
This article explains how to protect your cat’s life during car journeys and how to choose a carrier that protects them both physically and emotionally.
Cats at risk
I’m frequently alarmed at pictures/videos on social media of cats travelling freely in cars (standing on dashboards, laps, passenger seats and back seats looking out of windows). Not only does this pose a massive risk of you losing your cat when a door opens, it also puts them in huge danger should you have an accident (even a minor bump!)
In addition, an unsecured cat carrier in a car is a huge risk (to cat and owner). We all know the risks of going through a windscreen if we don’t wear seatbelts, right?
Most cats are subject to at least one car journey a year (to the vets for their annual vaccination) but others will endure many more journeys for various reasons. Travelling in a car is not a ‘normal’ experience for a cat and is often perceived as stressful and/or frightening. As owners, it is our responsibility to make these unavoidable journeys as safe and as stress-free as possible.
There are 3 ways to achieve this:
1. Invest in a good quality cat carrier (discussed in the next section of this article)
2. Remove the fear that your cat associates with the carrier – learn how to do this by reading this article by More Purrs How to help your cat feel less stressed in their carrier
3. Never travel without a carrier. Even the calmest and most confident cats can scare easily and choose the ‘flight’ response to fear/panic. Cats who are frightened and fleeing a situation are more likely to get run over and, if away from home may easily become lost in an unfamiliar environment.
Key features of good quality cat carriers
With so many different carriers on the market it can be difficult to know which to choose. By ensuring that your carrier has all the following features you will have made a choice that puts their safety and wellbeing above all else.
Car Safety – seatbelts save lives! Make sure you choose a carrier that has a handle for a seat belt to fit through. This will secure the carrier, and essentially keep your cat safe if you have to pull up quickly!
Secure – make sure that the carrier has a good quality locking system to secure the cat inside. Some carriers have a double locking system for extra safety. Don’t take any chances with this, it can be extremely dangerous for your cat if they break free from the carrier away from home. Some carriers might give you the option to add your own safety features as an extra precaution.
Strong and sturdy – choose a carrier that is strong and will support the weight of your cat. A solid/firm base will help your cat feel more secure when you lift the carrier off the ground.
Ventilation – A well ventilated carrier will ensure that your cat has plenty of fresh air to breathe in. Ideally, choose a carrier that balances excellent ventilation and privacy so that your cat feels safely hidden inside.
Size matters – The carrier must be big enough for your cat to stand up and turn around comfortably, even on short journeys! Kittens grow quickly, so don’t waste your money on a tiny carrier (you can always pad out a larger carrier with comfy blankets). Never force cats to share a carrier as it is likely to increase stress and could result in injury to one or both cats! For bonded cats who have always shared a carrier, each should have plenty of room to stand and turn comfortably.
Different types of access – Some carriers have a removable top which is great for 3 reasons! 1) you can easily transform the carrier into a bed at home (which helps your cat become accustomed to the carrier). 2) your cat might prefer to be lowered into the carrier 3) some cats (one of mine included) prefer to stay in the carrier at the vets (typical eh!) and your vet may be happy to examine them while they are inside, just by lifting the lid off! Obviously, it depends what you are going to the vets for, so don’t quote me on this!
Easy to clean – Consider how easy the carrier is to clean. Some cats may have an accident on route, so surfaces that are easy to wipe down are advisable!
Useful online links
Here are a few links that will be useful for you to compare different styles of cat carriers. My advice is always to invest in the best quality carrier that your budget allows as it will need to last you a long time!
Introduce the carrier to your cat today! (don’t wait until you need to go to the vets)
Now that you have chosen the best carrier for your cat, it’s time to make it part of the furniture! Don’t make the mistake of keeping it hidden away in the shed or garage as your cat needs to become familiar with it. If you missed it earlier, here’s How to help your cat feel less stressed in their carrier
For more advice about keeping cats safe and seeing the world through their eyes visit morepurrs.org