How to Transport a Cat By Car Long Distance

Are you planning on going on a long distance drive, but have nobody to look after your cat? Maybe you just feel the need to take the cat along. Either way, how to transport a cat by car over a long distance is what we are here to figure out right now.

Get a Good Cat Carrier

When it comes down to it, perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when transporting your cat long distance by car is that you need a good cat carrier. You cannot have your cat roaming free around a car while driving; this would pose a serious risk to your own safety and ability to properly drive your car, plus it is not safe for the cat either. You don’t want to end up hitting the brakes due to traffic and have the cat flying around the car. Let’s talk about some factors to think about when choosing a cat carrier for long distance car travel.

How do you travel by car with a cat

For one, you do want to go with a hard shell cat carrier, not one with soft walls. Now, soft wall cat carriers might be smaller, lighter, and easier to transport, but these really are not the main features to look for in this regard. A good hard shell cat carrier will help keep your cat safe. A soft walled carrier won’t be able to absorb the same impact in the event that you hit the brakes. Moreover, hard shell cat carriers tend to be a bit roomier and specially designed for things like car travel. A soft sided cat carrier is not ideal for long distance car travel.

Do make sure that the cat carrier in question is more than large enough to easily accommodate your cat. Sure, those mini carriers that have just enough room to fit the cat are fine for short trips to the vet and back, but that is about it.

cat carrier

When it comes to long distance car travel, you want there to be plenty of room for the cat, at least so it can easily stand up and turn around, and maybe even do a bit of pacing back and forth. Remember that you want to have enough room there, potentially for some toys, a blanket, a water dish, and maybe even a small litter box.

Next, make sure that the cat carrier which you get has good ventilation. You want your cat to get plenty of fresh air in there, plus having good ventilation also means letting light in. On that same note, having some slits present will allow you to see inside of the cat carrier so you can keep an eye on things.

Finally, make sure that the cat carrier in question has good bedding. You want something really soft, thick, and plush, so your cat has a comfortable place to sleep on while you travel. Not only will a soft layer in the bottom help keep your cat comfy, but it will also ensure that the impacts created from driving will be absorbed instead of transferred to your cat.

Get the Cat Used to the Carrier and to the Car Before the Trip

Now, cats can be a bit fearful and wary of new things which they have never seen before, and yes, this can include both the cat carrier and the car itself. Therefore, you  do not want to stick your cat in a carrier, and put that carrier in the car, for the very first time the day of your trip. You can use patience and bribe your cat with snacks if needed. However, the main point here is that you do need to get your cat accustomed to being in a car and inside of a carrier well before you take the actual trip.

get your cat accustomed to being in a car and inside of a carrier

If you have a cat that is fearful of the carrier and of car travel, it will make a lot of noise, it will be anxious, and chances are that it is going to urinate or defecate in the car too, simply due to being afraid and nervous.

Remember Food and Water + Some Other Essentials

The next tip to keep in mind when it comes to transporting a cat long distances by car is that you are going to need to bring some essentials along. Just like with people, cats need essentials too. So, what do you need to bring with you to keep your cat healthy, happy, and content for the duration of the journey?

Just like us humans, cats need food and water. Therefore, be sure to bring along your cat’s water and food dishes, as well as lots of fresh water, and yes, their food too. Bring your cat’s favorite treats, so when it gets nervous or anxious, you have something to calm it down.

Cats tend to be pretty active in the grand scheme of things, and in terms of long distance car travel, your cat is undoubtedly going to get bored. When cats get bored, they start causing trouble or making noise. So, it is absolutely recommended that you bring a long a few of your cat’s favorite toys so it can keep busy for the duration of the journey.

Something else to keep in mind is that cats need to go to the bathroom, so you will probably want to get a small litter-box and put it inside of the cat carrier. Moreover, cars are tight spaces, so you also want to bring along the proper items for immediate disposal of used litter. Scoops and bags are the minimum here, because cats can really stink things up, especially in a cramped space like a car.


The bottom line is that transporting a cat in a car is really not all that hard.  But you do want to take the proper steps and precautions, and have the right items with you too. It all starts with a good cat carrier.

( Check out our full guide on best cat scratching post here )