Updated: Oct 10, 2022
At some point in your cat-ventures, you and your kitty will probably want to leave your backyard. At the very least, you'll need to visit the vet, right?? Chances are you'll need to use a car to get there! So, how does one make it a fun experience, rather than an anxiety inducing one? Keep reading to find out how Aries has successful car-ventures!
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The first time Aries rode in a car was the day I found him at the park. He jumped in my car and we drove 15 minutes to my ranch.
The next time he rode in a car, he had hopped into my cousins trunk which she then closed and drove to Dallas (1 hour away) and she didn't notice till she parked and heard a little "meow". I was in the middle of a shift so my very kind mother drove all the way to Dallas to pick him up and bring him home.
Other than a few times going to the vet, this had been all of Aries car-ventures. Until I decided to move across several states from Dallas to Phoenix. I had packed and prepped everything I needed but I really didn't have much in place for Aries' car safety. He had been harness and backpack trained at this point but I really didn't have much information on car travel with a cat so I went on Amazon and bought this pop-up condo that could be fastened by the seatbelts in the back seat and decided to hope for the best. Because it was a soft-sided condo, Aries had a very easy time just ripping the zipper so he could slip out and sit in my lap. Aries LOVES sitting in my lap while driving. He's very good at it and never bothers anyone as they drive. I knew this wasn't the safest way to travel but as I was already en route, there wasn't much I could do.
Thankfully, my mother rode with us and was able to hold him a lot of the time. He began to wander the car and eventually found a little hiding spot under the front passenger seat. I hated for him to be down there, the floor boards surely would heat up after several hours of travel. But like I said, I didn't really have resources or prior knowledge to prepare for this trip. We arrived safely to Phoenix 2 days later and I decided I'd learn more about car safety with cats.
Reasons for proper car restraints
This one is fairly obvious - if something were to freak out the kitty sitting in your lap and they started to scratch and claw as you try to drive, it could lead to injury and accident. Further, if you get into a car accident, the kitty goes flying and becomes a danger to you, others, and could harm itself! I read once that "a 10 pound cat becomes a 500 pound projectile if they are in an accident occurring at 50 mph". We don't want this for anyone. Best to use some form of safety restraint - you expect everyone else in your car to buckle up, adults and children - why not pets?
In some places, it's against the law to have an unrestrained pet in the car. There can be fines or you could be given a ticket for distracted driving. Check the laws in your area!
Start by letting your kitty sit in the car without the engine running. Let them wander around, explore all the nooks and crannies. Let them explore until they settle down and appear comfortable. If you already have a booster seat, make sure the kitty spends some time in the carrier and reward with treats!
On another day, let kitty explore the car while it's running. Again, follow step 1 and let them explore until they settle down. Make sure they spend time in the booster seat.
For the first drive, keep it short! Around the block, to the post office, etc. Strap the kitty in comfortably and safely, reward with treats, as always!
Increase travel distance and length of time as your kitty becomes more comfortable with car travel!
Aries loves his PetSafe "Happy Ride" Booster Seat! As always, we love to encourage you to get out of your comfort zone in a SAFE way! Enjoy your adventures and go see the world!