Make Traveling By Car with a Cat Easier
Don't Allow Mr. Tabby To Roam Freely in the Car
Cats don't ride in the car as often as dogs, but there are times when it is necessary. Perhaps he needs a trip to the vet. Or maybe you're moving. Cats are curious by nature. So if they are not freaked out by the ride, they are likely to explore. This exploration wouldn't be so bad if Mr. Tabby stayed in the back seat. But how likely is that to happen? For both your safety and for the safety of your feline friend, it is best if he isn't allowed to wander around freely in the vehicle.
Options That May Work for Some Cats
Trying to keep your cat from getting under your feet when you drive can be difficult, and even dangerous. He needs to be restrained somehow. A seat belt used for dogs probably isn't going to work unless your kitty is used to wearing a harness.
Another option is to use a vehicle divider to keep your pet in the back. The problem with this option, however, is most barriers are designed to keep dogs in the back, not cats. So there are often gaps that Mr. Tabby can crawl over, through, or around.
So the best restraint to use for Mr. Tabby is a pet crate. If your cat is not used to one, this option can be difficult too. But it is the best and the safest option. If you are planning to travel soon, start practicing now to get him used to it. There are some great tips at the end of this article. But first, let's look at the various pet carrier options starting with the least expensive and working up to the safest.
Just a Plain Old Box
The least expensive is obviously just a regular old cardboard box. Cut holes in it so Mr. Tabby can breathe and see out. Make sure the holes are small enough so he can't squeeze his head out. And make sure the holes are spaced far enough apart so he can't tear from one hole to another, making a bigger hole. Secure the box closed as well as you can. Tape is an option but can be difficult to tape up and then open again. A couple of bungees purchased in the automotive section of a department store may be a good option. A product called kennel straps may help to keep the box closed too. Kennel straps are used to secure a pet crate in the vehicle, so they also provide a measure of safety. Even if you don't use kennel straps, you should still use the seat belt of your car to secure the box onto the seat.
Cardboard Pet Carrier
A box is an inexpensive option, as well as an option to use when the trip is an emergency last moment decision. But a cardboard pet travel carrier is better. Your cat might still be able to get out of a regular box, but the cardboard pet carrier is more difficult. And it is not expensive. Like a regular box, you should use the safety belt of your car to secure it in the seat. This way, if you have to make a sudden stop or swerve, the box will not go flying.
Soft crates are another option. The problem with one, though, is it does not provide as much safety. You can probably secure most soft carriers with the seat belt of your car, but not all of them have frames that are strong enough to keep from bending. Still, your Mr. Tabby might be much more comfortable in a soft crate than a box.
Small Travel Kennel
A much better travel option is a plastic kennel. Some have a seat belt slot on the top, specifically so that you can secure it in the car. If not, use kennel straps. A plastic crate generally allows your cat to see out better and it is highly unlikely that he will be able to get out of it.
Crash Tested Pet Travel Carriers
The best and safest option is a crash tested pet travel carrier. There are a select few quality brands, but my favorite is made by Sleepypod. It is a soft crate, but strong enough to be secured with the seat belt. In a crash, the carrier absorbs the impact of your pet, whereas in a plastic one your pet will hit hard resistance. The Sleepypod also allows Mr. Tabby to see out.
No matter which transport method you choose when Mr. Tabby has to go for a ride, it helps if you can get him used to being carried around in a box or travel carrier first. Use it at home. Put your cat's food and some toys inside. Let him explore it on his own terms rather than force him inside. And when you think he is ready, close it up and carry him around in it. Then when you're ready, put it in the vehicle and secure it with kennel straps and/or the seat belt. This way, both you and your cat can travel in safety.
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Pet Travel Safety Experts since 2006
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