Can a cat ride in a car without a carrier? Chances are you may be asking this question because you don’t want to ride around with your cat crying all day. Maybe, you don’t know how to put a cat in a carrier.
Is It Illegal to Drive With A Cat Not In A Carrier?
Yes, it is legal for a cat to ride in a car without a carrier, as long as the feline is properly restrained and doesn’t post a restriction to the driver.
However, every state has its own laws pertaining to distracted driving with cats on their lap or loose in the car. Many states now require their dog or cat to be properly restrained to avoid pet-related distractions.
I’m going to share what I’ve found about riding with a cat on your lap or loose in the vehicle. Then we’ll take a look at how to travel safely in your car so you can both arrive safely at your destination.
*This page contains affiliate links to products I recommend. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.
Can You Put A Cat In A Car Without A Carrier?
Most of the laws that I found online pertained to dogs, except for this on the DMV.org website. It basically says that cats can hop around in a car like a dog, which could lead to an accident. For your safety and your feline’s, you should transport her with a carrier and a cat harness. (we’ll discuss this more in-depth below)
Why Your Cat Should Be Restrained
Even if your cat enjoys riding in a car, it can be unpredictable on how they will react if a passing car honks their horn, you hit a pothole or some other unexpected distraction.
The incident could startle your cat and it can cause you to lose control of the automobile. If your cat is riding on your lap, it could suffer extreme injuries in a motor vehicle accident.
Animal Cruelty Charges
Some states like California will charge pet owners with animal cruelty charges if a pet suffers catastrophic injuries. Airbags may save a human’s life, but they can seriously injure small pets.
Cruelty to animals is a Class A misdemeanor and the pet owner can be fined up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 1 year. Check out these animal cruelty laws state by state.
There’s absolutely no reason to put Fluffy’s or your life in jeopardy. I’m going to share some things to help you out. Even if your cat is aggressive or hard to put in a cat carrier.
Use these tips to find out which ones work best for your feline.
Treat Them Like Passengers
Whenever someone rides in your car, whether it’s your child or a friend, you expect them to buckle up for their protection.
Your cat is part of your family and their life matters too. Make sure they are properly restrained to help protect their lives in unexpected accidents.
How will you explain it to your family if your cat gets hurt while driving or worse killed?
It Could Save Your Cat’s Life
The Center for Pet Safety ran a test to examine the effectiveness and safety of pets in crates and carriers. Subaru of America experimented and tested various popular crats and carriers.
The results were amazing and it proved that pet carriers can save lives. It’s definitely an eye-opening experimentation for pet parents.
This is a video of a dog in a carrier, but the results pertain to cats that are involved in accidents as well.
Properly Restrained Means What?
Properly restrained means that your cat is properly secured in a harness, crate or carrier that is capable of protecting the animal during a crash and they can’t disrupt you while driving.
Now let’s take a look at how to protect both you and Fluffy.
Cat Harness for Car
I’m not saying that you have to put your cat in a carrier. Most laws specifically say that a cat must be restrained. Of course, I am not the law and you should do what you feel is right for you and your four-legged friend.
During the research, I realized that most of the accidents happened when a cat or dog made the driver lose control.
You could use a cat harness restrain your cat car. Only use this method if your cat is used to being on a leash and doesn’t mind riding in cars.
Otherwise, your cat could end up hurting themselves.
Take A Passenger
If your cat is not used to riding in cars or cries when they are in the carrier, ask someone to ride along with you. Ask the passenger to sit with the cat in their lap.
You’ll still want to make sure that the cat is harnessed in to avoid any sudden movements if they get scared.
Make sure that the passenger is someone that your cat is used to or likes. If they don’t know the passenger, it could cause them to be anxious and it won’t keep your cat from trying to get away.
Use A Carrier To Transport Your Cat
As you can see from the video above, the right cat carrier can save your cat’s life. I recommend getting a two-door top-load pet kennel, it makes it so easy to put your cat inside. If your cat doesn’t travel with you on a regular basis, here are some makeshift cat carrier ideas to help you get your cat to the vet.
Make sure that you get the right size carrier. Otherwise, your cat will hate being inside and will cry and may even become aggressive whenever she sees the carrier.
Avoid using a homemade cat carrier, as it won’t protect Fluffy if you’re involved in an accident.
How to Put Cat Carrier In Car
If you’re a first-time cat owner, then you may not know how to properly position the cat carrier in the automobile.
Avoid placing the carrier with your cat facing the seats. If you are involved in an accident, your pet will fly headfirst into the carrier door.
Instead, place the carrier in the back seat, the side facing with the seat belt pulled up snugly against the carrier.
This is the position that makes sense for positioning the carrier. It protects your cat from flying headfirst into the seat in front of them.
Plus, they will be able to see the person who is riding in the vehicle with them.
Tips for Long Car Rides With Cats
Cat Collar, ID Tag, or Microchip
Most domesticated cats do not have a microchip unless you’re a regular jet setter.
Whenever your cat leaves the comfort of your home, it’s important to make sure that they have their cat collar with an up-to-date ID tag.
You want to make sure that your cat can be identified if they happen to run away or get lost while you’re driving with them.
You’ll be stopping along the way, especially, if you’re on a long distance car ride.
First Aid Kit for Emergencies
It’s always a good idea to have a first aid kit for emergencies. You could include some toys, bedding, a comb, treats, and other things that can help calm your kitty in case of an emergency.
Don’t forget to include some recent pictures of your cat from various angles, that will help show any unique markings or characteristics to help find your cat, God forbid if she happens to get away from you while traveling.
Pack some cleaning supplies which include an enzyme cleaner for cat urine and vomit. The natural enzyme formula is the safest way to clean up those unexpected accidents.
It is not only great for cleaning up the upholstery in your vehicle but can also be used on hardwood floors, furniture, rugs, pet beds, crates, and leather.
Treats and Water
If your cat is going on a car ride that is longer than 3 hours, I suggest making stops every few hours to give her some treats and water.
Avoid pulling over and stopping in areas where she’ll be exposed to logs of passing vehicles or a bunch of people.
Instead, pull over to some rest areas and try parking away from everyone else.
Portable Litter Box
If you’re planning on driving for more than an hour, don’t forget to take along a portable litter box. One like the Necoichi Pop-up Portable Cat Litter Box makes it easy to never forget it.
Related: Best Disposable Litter Boxes
Traveling with your cat should be a fun experience for both of you. You would never go on a long trip with your seatbelt strapped for protection.
Your cat should NEVER be allowed to travel in the vehicle without some type of restraint. Pets like children should always be restrained in vehicles.
All it takes is a sudden turn, stop or a rear-end collision to seriously injure your pet.
It may take some time to get your cat used to being in a carrier or on a leash. But it’s definitely worth it and the best part is that it can save your pets life.