Can A Cat Ride In A Car Without A Carrier

Can A Cat Ride In A Car Without A Carrier

If you’re going on a long road trip with your cat she should be secured and preferably placed in a cat carrier throughout the journey. But can a cat ride in a car without a carrier? Yes, it’s possible for a cat to ride in a car without a carrier as long as she should be properly restrained with a harness and causes no hazard or distraction to the driver of the vehicle.

Why your cat should be properly restrained while inside a car?

According to, a private organization that consolidates driving-related state laws, cats should be placed in an appropriate-sized carrier or secured with a cat harness. While driving and traffic laws may vary from one state and country to another, it’s always the best option to take the safe route and that is to secure your pet cat and properly restrain her for the following reasons:  

An unrestrained cat may distract the driver 

Cats are easily startled and sudden brakes or other unprecedented movements and noises can jerk them off their seats. Most of the time, when a cat is startled it will jump off and start to hiss or run around. Her behavior can be very distracting for the driver or you for that matter.  Your cat may also tend to jump on your lap or may even scratch you. All of these scenarios are bound to happen if your cat is not properly restrained in a carrier or a cat harness because she can easily roam inside the car. 

You may be charged with animal cruelty 

Having an unrestrained cat in your car can put you behind bars if she suffers fatal injuries during sudden stops or worse when your car figures in a car accident.  States like California considers animal cruelty a Class A offense and you can be even jailed or incur a fine.

To secure them from harm and injury

Your cat is no different from your kids and family members so she should be secured and protected from harm while riding a car. You’ll never know when there’ll be sudden glitches or sudden movements that could put your cat off-balance and endanger her life. 

Proper treatment for passengers  

It’s standard procedure for everyone to put on their seatbelts while in a car so why shouldn’t your cat?  Just like everyone else, your cat should be given proper treatment accorded for passengers, thus, she should be properly restrained as well. 

By being properly restrained your cat’s life may be saved if there will be sudden movements or an accident. If there’s an airbag in the passenger seat then the cat should be in the backseat while if the passenger seat doesn’t have an airbag she may be in the front passenger seat, assuming that she’s the only passenger in the car. 

What to do if your cat isn’t used to being in a carrier or a car?

If your cat is mostly just indoors then a car ride or a road trip may not be taken well.  She may feel stressed, tend to become aggressive, and may have a bad case of motion sickness. In many cases your cat may be drooling in the car as well. Also, your cat may not be used to being in a carrier especially if you haven’t trained her yet to do so.  The best thing to get especially an aggressive cat into the carrier is to ask a family member or friend to ride along with you and for them to carry the cat or have her sit on their lap.

For added security, your cat should be secured in a cat harness and most importantly, the one holding your cat should be someone that your cat knows or likes because a stranger may cause her to become anxious as she won’t recognize the scent of that person at all. 

You may also try these tips so your cat will get used being in a carrier:

  • wash the carrier thoroughly so it’s odor-free and try to make it an inviting place for your cat by placing her favorite blanket inside it
  • spray the carrier’s interior with Feliway Calming Spray so your cat will associate familiar scents with it
  • place the carrier near a place that your cat frequently hangs out like near her bed or scratching post and leave its door open for your cat o explore anytime
  • put your cat’s favorite toys inside the carrier as well as cat treats and food so she’ll start hanging out inside the carrier
  • give your cat some time to get used to the carrier and in a matter of days to a week she’ll eventually adapt to it and be able to have positive association by being in a carrier

If your cat isn’t too fond of car rides then here are tips that you can try:

  • be sure to train her first with being placed inside a carrier as discussed earlier 
  • it’s also advisable to train her with a cat harness and leash which takes at least a few days to weeks but it’s doable with positive reinforcement techniques like giving her treats each time she behaves properly 
  • try to take her first on short car rides such as around a few blocks then gradually make the trips longer if you’re preparing for a long road trip in the future
  • place some of her favorite cat toys in your car and always have plenty of treats around 
  • if you notice that she tends to become anxious during the car rides you may use Feliway Spray to calm her down

Tips in using the carrier to transport your cat

Having the right carrier is essential so that your cat is comfortable while inside it. Here are some tips to remember when using a carrier:

  • go for crash-tested carriers that are proven to protect your cat in case of accidents 
  • make sure that you use the right size of cat carrier so that your kitty will have enough space inside for her to move around 
  • a homemade carrier is a big no-no!
  • position the carrier in the back seat of your car with the side facing and the seatbelt positioned snugly against it as this position will allow her to see the other passengers and will protect her from flying headfirst into the front seats

Some recommended cat carriers include the following:

  • Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed – crash-tested cat carrier and considered as one of the most attractive carriers but also quite expensive 
  • PetMate Two Door Kennel –  features a reinforced top-loading door
  • Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe Airline Approved Pet Carrier – this carrier features a spring wireframe and can be pushed under the seats and a suitable carrier for nervous cats 

What to prepare if you’re going on long car rides with your cat?

Here are the essential things to prepare if you’re going on a long road trip with your pet kitty:

1. Your cat should be micro-chipped and has a cat collar with an updated ID tag

You’ll never know what will happen during a long car ride so always be prepared for the inevitable.  Your pet may sneak through an open door and disappear so to make sure that your pet cat will be easily tracked and found she should have a cat collar with an updated ID tag and should contain your contact information and the microchip is a big help in tracking her down should she become lost or separated while on a long car ride.

2. First aid kit 

It’s a good thing to have essential supplies like cat food and treats as well as first aid kit supplies just in case your pet cat will encounter some minor injuries during your road trip. It’s also advisable to bring along her beddings, toys, and some recent pictures should your cat wander off during the trip. 

3. Cleaning supplies 

Be sure to bring along cleaning supplies like an enzyme cleaner should your cat accidentally urinate or vomit inside your car during the trip. 

4. Treats and water

Cat treats are essential for your pet cat so be sure to bring a substantial quantity and don’t forget to bring water, too.  If the road trip is a long one be sure to stop at a rest area and give your cat some treats and water. Avoid stopping in crowded areas as your cat may be agitated or become anxious. 

5. Portable litter box

A portable litter box is equally important if you’re going on a long car trip with your cat. It’s a hygienic way to dispose of your cat’s poop or urine and avoid circumstances that your cat will get stressed as well. 


Bringing your cat along on a car ride can be a very enriching experience for your cat because it allows her to explore new sights, sounds, scents, and other places. To protect her from harm and injury she should be placed in a carrier or a harness.