How to Travel with Cat in Car Without Carrier? (Tips That Actually Work)

Let’s face it, you can’t avoid getting your cat outside the home. According to the International Cat Health Organization, you need to at least visit your cat’s vet once a year.

Moreover, you’ll have to take your cat outside if there is an emergency situation or if you want to go to a trip. Now if you don’t know yet, cats are not very friendly toward car rides.

So, you need to know how to travel with your cat. In this article, I’ll share with you all the tips for traveling with a cat in a car without a carrier.

First, let me start by saying that you need a cat carrier to travel with your cat. It is a must. You can’t avoid getting a carrier.

Moreover, may vets these days don’t like if you bring a pet without a carrier. So, my first advice is, GET A CARRIER RIGHT NOW!

If, for some reason, you are unable to get a carrier right now, then follow the tips here in this article. It should give you a detailed outline on traveling with your cat in car without carrier. However, try to get a carrier as soon as you can.

Why Cat Owners Neglect Having Cat Carrier?

Many new cat owners often neglect the prospect of buying a cat carrier. They don’t think it is a necessary investment.

Some reasons that lead them to this thinking is, cats generally don’t like carriers. They tend to be nervous in a carrier.

Also, it seems a whole lot of work to get your cat in carrier. so, at first glance, it may seem easier to not take your cat in a ride without carrier. But it is very wrong!

The first thing you need to know is, a cat carrier will provide continuous security to your cat from all kinds of outside harm.

It is a necessity for keeping your cat safe. I can’t remember how many times I have heard stories that cat escaped during a visit to the vet. 90% of these accidents occur for not having carrier only.

Within a carrier, your cat can’t run off or escape. So, there is 0 possibility of unsupervised escape of your cat during a travel. Moreover, most vets these days don’t like when you bring the cat over to them without a proper carrier.

Yes, it takes some time to get your cat friendly and used to towards her carrier. But trust me, it’s worth doing the work. Our first priority is to keep out cats secured, right?

SO, I hope I have stated enough the importance of having a cat carrier. Now, if you can’t get hold of  a cat carrier right now, follow these steps:

Step 1: Think About Security

 Use a Sports Bag

The first thing you should be concerned about is security.

It is really very risky to travel with your cat without any carrier. if you only take her in your arm, she might get nervous and escape.

It is not easy to control a nervous cat. And by any chance, if she escapes, you’ll have to face a nightmare to find her. So, my first suggestion is, use an alternative of cat carrier, a sports bag.

Sports bags are a specially made bag for carrying clothes and other equipment from the gym or a sports center. Most of the sports bag is made of nylon material which is very durable with small holes along the side. These types of sports bags can carry your cat safely. There should be enough ventilation through the small holes along the side.

  • Make sure that your sports bag has some kind of holes or mesh sides for ventilation. It is extremely important. Without enough ventilation, your cat may suffocate or even become sick.
  • Also get a sports bag which has a strong flat bottom. These types of sports bags are perfect for carrying cats as they won’t be uncomfortable.
  • You can place a warm blanket, toys etc. inside the bag to make it more comfortable for your cat.

Get a harness

A cat harness is usually used for taking your cat out for walking. It can be a pretty useful tool if you are going out with your cat without a carrier. it really increases the security of your cat.

  • Harness for dogs are not same as harness for cats. Use a harness that is specifically designed for cats only. Otherwise, it might hurt your cat.
  • If you are using harness on your cat for the first time, your cat may get nervous. You have to be very gentle with her. Let her sniff the harness, explore it. Then calmly slide the harness into your cat’s body and secure the buckle. Make sure the harness is not too tight or too loose. If your cat resist, it is better to calm her down and try again. You can take help from a second hand too!
  • After the first time your cat has worn the harness, do not attach the leash immediately. Let her get used to the harness for a while. Of course, keep your cat under supervision all the time. After some time when she seems to be comfortable with the harness, then attach the leash.
  • Before going on a long car ride, practice your cat using harness for short times. Take your cat outside in the park and walk her for half an hour. With regular practice, your cat will soon get comfortable with the harness. After about a month or two, she should get ready for a long car ride. If you don’t practice your cat, then suddenly using the harness may make her nervous and sick during the journey. So, don’t skip this step at all. You can also take your cat to the vet using a harness.

Why not try a cheap basket?

If your cat is docile, it is better if you can carry her in a basket or bed. This option is only good if your cat has a cool temperament. Do not risk it if you are unsure about your cat’s behavior. If she gets nervous, she might jump out of the basket and escape.

  • Even the calmest and quiet cat will try to escape if she gets nervous or afraid. So, use this method with great caution.

Step 2: Make your cat used to the car

Start as early as possible

Introduce your cat to the car as early as possible. It is better if you introduce her when she is a kitten. If there is no carrier, then you need to make your cat get used to car traveling without a carrier. This is not an easy or quick process. It takes both hard effort and patience.

  • Kittens tend to learn and get used to newer experiences much quicker and successfully than older cats. So, try to start the acclimating process as early as possible. It is better to start it when your cat is younger than 1-year-old.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your cat is older. It is still very much possible to train her for car riding without carrier. it will just take a bit more time and effort.

Approach gradually

A car can be a very new and frightening experience for a cat. So, if you do it suddenly, your cat might get very scared and nervous.

So, what I suggest is to go with the slow and steady approach. Slowly introduce your cat to the car.

Advance gradually and step by step.

Don’t make any sudden transitions. Remember, slow and steady wins the race, or in this case, being slow and steady is the key to train your cat.

  • Bring your cat to the car when it is in the garage, not running. Spend some time with your cat there. Let her explore the car, sniff around. Do this couple of times a week. After some weeks, take short car rides with your cat. Don’t make the ride too long. 5 to 10-minute ride should do the job. If you see promising behavior from your cat, treat her. Otherwise, be patient. It takes time for cats to get used to a new experience.
  • First run the engine and get your cat used to the sound of the engine. Most of the cats get scared by the constant roar of car engine. So, it is very important that your cat is comfortable with the car engine.

Always remember to take safety precautions

You can never be too secured. I have heard stories that even to calmest cat has gone berserk during a car ride.

It can be very risky if your cat is without a carrier in the car. So, if you can’t afford a decent carrier, get something alternative like sports bag, basket etc.

You can also use a harness and leash to strap the cat around a seat.

You don’t want your cat to go under the feet while you are driving, or it may cause serious accident.

Don’t have a car? Get a public transportation

If you don’t have a car, it is better to use a public transportation when going out with your cat either to a vet or to some place distant.

However, remember, most transport systems require that you take your cat in some kind of a carrier.

So, check on the with the transportation system before going to the ride. If they require a carrier, you can take your cat in a basket or sports bag.

It is recommended not to use a harness while you are traveling with your cat in a public transportation.

Also, remember to take short rides with your cat in a public transport before going on a long road journey.

You can also ask a friend for a ride. I am sure your friend won’t mind!

So, these are the steps you need to take for traveling with your cat in car without carrier. however, it is not a permanent solution. You need to invest for a decent cat carrier later on. It is an absolute must.

Why you should get a cat carrier?

Most vets don’t approve cats without a carrier

Taking your cat outside home without a proper carrier is extremely risky. Most vets and the staff don’t like when someone bring their precious cat without a decent carrier.

Be prepared to get some resistance in the vet office if you don’t have a carrier.

  • Call ahead and ask the vet if you can bring the cat without a carrier. Be specific why you can’t get a carrier right now and ask permission.
  • If your vet must require a carrier, think of an alternative solution. Get a sports bag or basket or box and improvise it as a carrier. Make some holes for ventilation around the side and put some blanket and your cat’s favorite toy inside. Take your cat to the vet inside this DIY carrier. it should work for the time.
  • Look if there is any vet around your area who does house calls. It can save you from the risk of taking your cat outside the home without a carrier.

Carriers provide the most safety outside home

Every vet around the world recommend carriers for a reason. They are the greatest security your cat can have outside the familiar environment of home.

  • Cat carriers make sure your cat can’t escape from the car. With a decent cat carrier, the possibility of your cat escaping is really zero.
  • With a cat carrier, your cat can’t roam around the car. As a result, you can pay complete attention to the road and avoid any unfortunate accidents.
  • Your cat can’t bolt out of the window or jump out of the car if she gets nervous or scared.
  • You can never predict the behavior of a cat. Even the most quite cat can become berserk if she gets scared. So, it is really not worth the risk to take your cat outside without a carrier. it is thousand times better if you can invest on a good cat carrier.

Cats can get used to carriers easily

If you are afraid that your cat might not get used to a carrier, well you are wrong.

Yes, it is true that cats don’t like carriers right off the bet, but you can surely train your cat to get friendly with the carrier.

I have written a detailed article on how to put your cat in a carrier. you are more than welcome to read the post and know everything about training your cat to be in a carrier. Here are some short trips:

  • Make the carrier accessible by your cat all the time. Don’t just bring the carrier out when you want to go to the vet.
  • Try to introduce your cat to the carrier gradually. Try feeding her inside the carrier.
  • Make the carrier an interesting place for your cat. Keep your cat’s favorite toys, kibbles, catnips etc. inside the carrier. You can also place a warm blanket inside the carrier to make it more comfortable.
  • Take short rides with your cat inside the carrier. practice it for some times. It will make her ready for a long car ride.

So, if you are thinking of getting a cat carrier, Congratulations! I have written a detailed buyers guide on the best cat carriers in the market. I strongly urge you to read that article before buying the carrier. it will surely save you a load of money and confusion.

Homemade cat carrier

If you are on a tight budget, you can surely make a decent cat carrier out of a cheap cardboard box. This type of homemade carrier is only suitable for short car rides. Here are the steps:

  1. At first take a good quality cardboard box. Make sure the box is big enough for your cat. There should be enough space inside the box for your cat to move around.
  2. Make some holes along the side of the board for ventilation. Make at least two holes each side. It is better if you can paste a mesh outside the holes for extra security.
  3. Place a warm blanket on the bottom of the box. Keep some of your cat’s favorite toys inside. Now, it’s time to gently introduce your cat with the new homemade cat carrier.

If you want more ideas on homemade cat carrier, click here. Don’t forget, homemade cat carriers are cheap but they have their limitations. It is always recommended to invest on a proper cat carrier.

I hope the article has given you the basic knowledge to travel with your cat in car without carrier. I tried my best to state the importance of having a decent cat carrier throughout the whole article. This article is only for those who can’t afford a cat carrier right now.

Let me know about your travel with your cat without a carrier in the comment section below!

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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