Car Travel with a Cat

By Tom Hewitt
Edited by April Jones

Many cats do not like being in a moving vehicle because it’s an unusual and
disorienting experience for them. Even short trips, such as going to the vet, can be
problematic because the cat might act out in a way that could be distracting to the
driver and potentially dangerous.

  • If you have a kitten, you might consider driving with it a few times for short periods to
    introduce it to the experience of riding in a car so that it won’t be upset later in life
    when it’s transported. If your cat is mature, though, and unfamiliar with the experience,
    there are steps you can take to ensure your own safety and your cat’s wellbeing:
  • Place your cat in a cat cage when you drive. Let the cat explore the cage freely prior
    to the trip so it can get used to it—perhaps place a favorite toy or a treat inside so
    your cat will associate the cage with something positive. You can also give your cat
    treats before, during, or after the trip to help make the experience more pleasant.
  • In the days prior to leaving on the trip, you can lay a towel or blanket where your cat
    sleeps, and then place that in the cage as well. The cat’s scent will be on the towel in
    the cage, helping your pet feel like they are in a familiar environment.
  • Make sure your cat has access to food, water, and a litter box in the hours prior to
    leaving, especially for long trips.
  • If your cat tends to become upset during car trips, try giving it a sedative to help
    make the experience less stressful.
  • For long trips, let your cat out of its cage periodically to let it stretch its legs. Also,
    remember to bring food and water, and bowls or containers to hold them.