Can a Cat Ride in a Car Without a Carrier?

Can a Cat Ride in a Car Without a Carrier

Generally speaking, a cat can ride in a car without a carrier. Most state and national laws do allow cats to ride in cars outside of their carrier. But it’s not generally recommended. In circumstances where your cat becomes agitated and causes disruption, it could also put you at risk of driving distracted. 

To fully understand the ramifications of having a cat ride in a car without a carrier you should fully understand the legal jurisdiction of the places you plan on driving from and to.

Learning what it’s like to travel with a cat in a vehicle is another must. Especially for the inexperienced cat owner planning for a first-time car ride.

Do Cats Like Traveling in Cars?

As cats are generally territorial and routine-based creatures, car travel is not something they tend to enjoy.

Unlike dogs who typically settle well into the back of a vehicle, cats often find the whole experience; the sound of the road, the vibrations of the engine etc, far from comfortable. 

Obviously, there are exceptions. Travel with your cat frequently as it grows from a kitten to an adult in a car and it’ll probably be well-used to the adventure. Sometimes it’s just a matter of time, exposure and adaptation. 

The length of the car trip can impact this answer also. Long trips where a cat doesn’t get to roam around or play can be more stressful than shorter ones.

While the destination – particularly if its a veterinarian clinic – isn’t likely to do anything for the long-term association your cat will make with a car moving forward.

Attempting to make a cat like traveling in a car can be tricky. Getting them used to it as early as possible in their life is key. As well as making the environment itself as nice as possible for your pet.

Related – If you have a really chill cat – check out these car window perches.

How Do You Transport a Cat in a Car?

The best and safest way to transport a cat in a car is in a carrier. Doing so prevents your cat from moving around the vehicle and potentially disrupting the driver. It also keeps them as comfortable as possible. 

Carriers also ensure your cat is protected in the case of abrupt braking or a collision. Hard case carriers are a robust choice in this case but soft case carriers have plenty of advantages too.

Placing your cat safely in a carrier before positioning it in the vehicle should always be your top priority.

While it’s possible to transport a cat without a carrier, it’s not recommended.

An unsecured kitty can become a danger to both themselves, and others in the car in the event of an accident.

Even if they are well behaved, there’s still a possibility of injury from unexpected airbags or trapping under pedals.

A good way to get a cat used to car transportation is through carrier or crate training. Place your cat inside a carrier in a motionless car starting out, gradually building the time up.

You might also want to feed them meals in the car also. Doing so can help make car transportation all the more easier as they grow more comfortable in the environment.

What Can I Use Instead of a Cat Carrier?

What Can I Use Instead of a Cat Carrier

If you don’t have a carrier, here a few ideas on what you could use instead:

  • Plastic storage tub: make sure you bore plenty of air holes in the container for your cat to breathe. Line with a towel or pet blanket. Cheap DIY-option that allows your cat to stay comfortable but also see out.
  • Cardboard box: Soft, durable, and quick enough to set-up, again you’ll need to cut out plenty of air holes. Make sure it can handle the weight of your cat though
  • Laundry basket: Not ideal but can make for another cheap solution. Baskets have enough holes in them which means you wouldn’t have to modify the design..

A cat carrier is always the best option though. They’re purposefully designed with cat travel in mind.

These other options may not prove reliable or safe enough to be valid alternatives. It’s something you’ll need to evaluate based on the best option you have in front of you.

RelatedWondering if it’s safe to put to cats in a carrier? <Please read that post.

Where Should I Put My Cat Carrier in the Car?

It’s probably best to place a carrier in the back or rear of a car. Doing so means you won’t get distracted by the movements of your cat while driving.

Your cat will probably be less agitated also, shielded from the windscreen, and the sight of oncoming traffic.

As long as your carrier is secure and can’t move however there’s no definitive rule here. Fixing a carrier in place with a seatbelt is a good way of ensuring it stays stable.

That’s another reason why a specifically designed cat carrier is often a better choice than some of the aforementioned DIY-options too.

Another reason the back is a good spot to place a carrier is that it’s often cooler and better ventilated. A breeze from the front of a vehicle can stop your cat from becoming overheated and panting with discomfort. As well as providing more shade from the warm rays coming in from the windshield.

In Summary

Although it is possible for a cat to ride in a car without a carrier it’s not ideal. Carriers ensure both you and your cat are as safe as possible while out on the road – and that’s what really matters.

In short; a well-designed carrier is the best option for transporting a cat over any DIY-based effort. They’re a lot more comfortable for your kitty too!


Image credits – Photos by Karly Jones and LongX Music on Unsplash

Teach your Cat to Love Riding in the Car –


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