Ashton: I’m starting this post with a disclaimer. I didn’t have to get into a carrier for this at any time. Photos of me are from my last trip to the vet, and empty carriers were used for examples. That’s a very GOOD thing!
When you get in the car to drive, you buckle your seat belt, don’t you? (If you don’t, just say yes and start buckling up. We’d like you to be okay in case you are in an accident.) Your cat should buckle up, too.
Of course, you can’t put a little seat belt on your kitty, but you can make sure that the cat carrier is secure so that it doesn’t shift or fall in case of an accident or even a sudden stop. It’s not hard to do. In Ashton’s photo above, you can see that her carrier is buckled into the front seat of the car. Here’s the rear view of her carrier buckled in.
Notice how the seat belt runs up over the center seam of the carrier. Most carriers don’t have a slot to secure the seat belt, but putting it up over the center seam of the carrier and then tightening it prevents the seat belt from sliding down and slipping off entirely. If you click to biggify the photo, you’ll also see Ashton looking out of the top of the carrier.
A lot of us prefer to keep a cat carrier where we can see it, and where the cats can see us. That usually means the front seat. If you have a cat carrier in the front seat and your car is a model year 1993 or newer, make sure your air bags for the passenger seat turn off. This works differently for different cars, but usually operates by weight. In many cars, a light displays to indicate the airbags are disabled.
If you aren’t sure about the airbags, or if you have trouble buckling the carrier in your front seat because of its size, move it to the back seat instead.
Sometimes, even in the back seat, it’s difficult to secure a carrier with the car’s seat belts. This is especially true when you are transporting multiple carriers and there isn’t enough room between them to latch the seat belts. In this case, you can use bungee cords to help. You can get a container of assorted length of bungee cords at your local home improvement store.
All cars built since 2002 are required to have LATCH anchors for child car seats. You should be able to use these to help secure the cat carriers using your bungee cords. They may look something like this. (Minus the need to run the vacuum cleaner in the car. We are sure your car is much cleaner than the catmobile!)
Latch one end of the bungee cord into the anchor.
While the car seat straps are usually designed to go up and over your car’s seat back, you can often find a way to feed the bungee cord around the side of the seat. Feed the other end of the bungee cord through the side of your car seat or wherever it fits to get it from the anchor and onto the front side of the car seat.
This gives you something much like a seat belt, but much more flexible, and with a hook at the end.
With one on each side, you can latch them to each other, or hook them to objects inside the car to keep items secure in your seat.
Including, of course, cat carriers. This elastic is actually a little bit too loose for securing this single carrier, but it works for the purpose of demonstration. You want it to be nice and taut so the cat carrier doesn’t shift in case you have to brake suddenly.
If you use just two bungee cords, they will probably meet and hook right in the middle. If you use more to get a combination of lengths that gets the correct tightness, the hooks might fall in awkward locations. This is the view between the front seats of the single carrier.
You can fit multiple carriers, too. This is the secret to how three carriers are secured side by side for transports in the back seat of our relatively small car.
No matter how many of you have to travel at once, you can all travel safely with a little bit of ingenuity. Remember: always buckle up for safety!