When it’s time to go on a trip, every owner faces the same dilemma – do I bring my cat with me or not? It can be devastating to watch a cat meow and shiver on the back seat of the car, but sometimes it’s the only option.
The truth is, you probably can’t; all you can do is provide safety and comfort to your beloved pet – you can start by choosing the best cat carrier for car travel.
Read on to learn everything a cat owner should know before taking their cat on a car trip.
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We know you think of your cat as more than just a pet – most people think of them as family members. However, you need to remember that they are, in fact, animals that rely on past experiences. If your cat's first car ride wasn't a pleasant thing to remember – which is the case for most animals – chances are you'll have to put in some work to change her attitude towards car traveling.
Think about the first car ride your cat has gone to; were you there to comfort her? Was it when she left her first home, the place where she was born and everything she’s ever known? Or was it an unpleasant trip to the vet?
You must be wondering where all these questions are coming from, but trust us, these are some important things to consider. Try to understand your cat; imagine if you were only capable of relying on experience and, for example, associated car rides with unpleasant trips to the dentists. You wouldn’t be so thrilled about cars either, wouldn’t you? That’s the same reason why cars make cats so nervous.
Another thing is that cats are creatures of habit; on top of that, they are incredibly territorial. What may seem to you as just another car ride will be a huge deal for your kitty that spends a lot of her time establishing and maintaining territorial boundaries; going out into the unknown can be very scary for a cat.
While it can be done, traveling without a carrier is always a risky thing to do. If she gets too spooked, she might try to hide under the pedals or interfere with your driving in some other way, and if you suddenly step on the brakes, your feline friend might get severely injured.
If you can’t afford to get a crate right now or the car trip is a one-time thing, there are still some ways to bring your cat along. These solutions are far from ideal, but we thought it would be a good idea to offer you some of the safest alternatives.
Once again, we’d like to remind you that, even though these options are better than letting your cat roam around the vehicle as she pleases, they are still only semi-safe and can fail rather quickly. If you’re looking for real safety, then a cat carrier is something you should buy.
Sometimes, despite all your efforts, you won’t be able to make your cat feel comfortable during a car ride. So, what do you do then?
There are two things you could try:
When you’re going on a trip, you look for a comfortable, safe way to get to your desired destination; the same should apply to your cat. With the right carrier, you’ll provide the much-needed security for your pet and make the entire trip more pleasant for both of you. That’s why choosing the correct one is a worthwhile investment.
Let’s see what are the most important things to consider before making a purchase.
When it comes to the size of the carrier, it’s usually recommended to get one that will allow your kitty to lay down, sit and turn around comfortably. However, you don’t want to overdo it, either – the carrier should be about one and a half times bigger than your cat; anything over that will turn out to be too big for your cat. In case of long car trips, you should consider getting one that can fit two travel-size bowls in – one for water, and the other for food.
Having multiple doors on the carrier will make it a lot easier to guide your cat inside; a frightened cat will react better if she feels like she has several „escape routes.“ Ideally, there should be an opening on the side and top of the carrier – getting the cat in and out of it will be a lot less stressful. Another plus of having several openings is that they provide added air circulation inside the carrier.
Some kitties are prone to car sickness or even potty accidents caused by all the stress - that's why you should buy a carrier that you can easily clean. While many fabric carriers come with a removable base, in situations like this, hard plastic carriers are your best bet – they can easily be washed and wiped off; the fabric ones will most likely need to be washed in a machine.
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Editor's rating: 97/100
As far as we’re concerned, the Pawfect Pets carrier is probably the best options out there – both for cat and dog owners. Yes, you read that right – it’s suitable for both, which makes it an ideal choice for those that own a cat as well as a small dog. Of course, we’re not saying you should place them in the carrier at the same time, no matter how good they get along – that’s just a recipe for disaster.
The rounded edges of the carrier give it a more elegant, purse-like shape; who said cat carriers couldn’t be stylish?
We previously mentioned that agitated cats are likely to try and claw their way out of the carrier, which probably made you question if getting a soft-sided carrier is a good idea. However, this particular model promises you won’t be surprised by a sudden visit from your little backseat passenger that managed to tear a hole in the mesh. Not only the mesh, but the entire carrier is made from materials capable of withstanding the damage your kitty’s claws are capable of dealing.
Most importantly, the carrier is airline approved, so in case of an emergency that would require you to fly back home, your beloved pet will stay by your side the entire time, since the carrier fits comfortably under the seat.
Editor's rating: 92/100
Here we have something completely different – a soft-sided cat carrier that expands on both sides to give your pet enough room. We said that too much space is a bad thing, which is true, but if your cat is on the larger side, it will appreciate the extra room for stretching and will, in fact, feel a bit more relaxed – feeling constricted in a small space would only make her more anxious. Of course, if you think that would be too much space for your cat, you can keep the sides closed; in that case, the carrier looks a lot like a duffel bag.
Another way to use this expandable model is to place two cats in it; however, you need to be careful when you’re putting two cats in the same carrier – this should only be an option if you know they get along well and don't stress about the car traveling that much.
Because the sides, as well as the top, are made out of a mesh, it will provide excellent airflow throughout the carrier which is, as we said, one of the essential features in cat carriers.
The carrier is also airline approved, so it’s suitable for both car and airplane travel; you won’t need to buy more than one carrier depending on the means of transportation.
Editor 's rating: 95/100
The Sherpa Deluxe cat carrier is a model that’s been around for years now, and there’s a reason for it – it’s an airline approved, sturdy, and affordable, so it seems pretty understandable why it’s been a choice of many pet owners around the world.
The mesh opening on the sides of the carrier will provide excellent air circulation for your pet; this is an essential feature if you're planning a long-distance car ride, especially on a hot summer day. On the other hand, if your cat requires some privacy, there’s no need to bring a blanket to cover the carrier – it’s already equipped with roll-down flaps that can be opened or closed according to your pet’s mood.
Like we said earlier, it’s necessary for the carrier to be secured in the back seat of the car; that’s why this model has a convenient seatbelt strap. If you ever wish to bring your cat on a plain with you, this model is approved by most airlines, which is a huge plus. The spring wire frame will allow for the carrier to be slightly pushed down (by a few inches) so that you can place it under your seat.
Editor 's rating: 88/100
When it comes to exciting designs, the Necoichi models take the cake. Their cat carriers are not only simple to use and durable but cute-looking, too.
The main advantage? It’s big enough to fit two cats and a portable litter box comfortably; that’s a serious comfort level if you ask us. We know what you’re thinking right now – where am I supposed to store a cat carrier that big when I’m not using it?
Luckily for you, the manufacturer thought about that and made an entirely collapsible carrier, so when you’re not using it, you can quickly fold it and store it anywhere in the house; once you do need it, it will pop-open (pretty much the same way a pop-up tent would). And despite its size, it remains as lightweight as possible.
One of the main issues might be the price; the difference between this model and our budget pick might not seem drastic, but it still exists, and while there are undoubtedly some more expensive carriers on the market, this one is our favorite. Of course, we completely understand if you’re not willing to spend this much on a cat carrier – there are plenty of other options out there, but in case you are – the one to keep your eye on is the Necoichi's Portable Cat Cage.
Editor 's rating: 85/100
If the car ride you’re planning won’t be a long one, then you should probably opt for this carrier by SportPet Designs – it is sturdy and durable, but it won’t provide a lot of space for your cat. That’s the only reason why we wouldn’t recommend it for longer trips – your cat just won’t have enough room to move around. It would, however, work well for a kitten, even during long car rides, giving it plenty of space and a substantial air flow due to the many openings on all four sides of the carrier.
The plastic is, as we said earlier, always a better option for nervous cats, because there’s no way for them to claw their way out, and if they get car sick or have a potty accident, it will be easy to clean the entire carrier. Another advantage is that it will protect your kitty far better than a soft-sided one in case something falls on it; of course, we hope it won’t get to that.
One of its most striking features is its large side-opening doors; your cat is more likely to feel comfortable walking into a carrier on her own with an opening that big.
You have to realize that the first few car rides probably won’t be a pleasant experience for either you or your feline friend; it’s up to you to make your cat feel as safe as possible by providing an adequate cat carrier. While it won’t magically improve your cat’s attitude towards car trips, it will make the entire experience a lot more comfortable and, most importantly, safer.
In our opinion, the best one is the Pawfect Pets Pet Travel Carrier; coming up in close second place is the Premium Airline Approved Expandable Pet Carrier by Pet Peppy – both of these cat carriers offer fantastic design and comfort features, that will make car travel a lot easier for you and your pet.
Meta description: Cats are not fans of cars, but with the best cat carrier for car travel you can make the experience more pleasant for both you and your beloved pet.
My name is Evelyn, creator of PlaywithMeow!, I created Play with Meow to connect, share and inspire other cat lovers around the world, hoping we all utilize this community to make a better life for our cats.