If you’ve clicked through to this article and your first thought is “why on earth would I want to car train my cat? What the fudgsicles does that even mean?” – bear with me, I promise there’s method to my madness! I accidentally car trained our CEO, Romeo, and then purposely car trained our COO, Anubis, once I realised the pawesome benefits that came along with it.
Car training your cat is a GREAT idea for several reasons, the biggest being less stress for your kitty, less likelihood of kitty having an oopsie poopsie whenever you need to take them somewhere and overall, less headaches for you.
This article will be broken into two parts as there is a lot to cover. In part 1 we will be covering the preparation phase and what you need to purchase to get your cat and car organised for your expeditions. In part 2 I will discuss the actual car ride and how to get your cat comfortable with being in the car, and in other people’s houses. Before I jump in though, there is a video below that shows you all the items in this article that you will need before you get going on your adventures.
Okay ready? Let’s do it!
Step 1: Get a cat backpack
Pet carriers are sooooo last year. If you’ve read any of my other blogs in The Catspot then you’ve probably recognised a trend, the cat backpack makes an appearance in all my blogs. Why? Because it is the best and most comfortable place for your cat to chillout when you are taking them from point A to point B.
Cat carriers offer your cat two options; a) to crouch or b) to lay down, with crouching overwhelmingly being the option of choice. Either way, I don’t know about you but neither of those options scream EXCITING ADVENTURE, or comfort, to me. A cat backpack will allow your cat to look around and take in the view. Your cat can sit up or lay down and as a bonus – a backpack frees up your hands when taking your cat to and from the car.
Once your kitty is comfortable enough just being in the bag while you’re in the car, you can even unzip it and give them a little more room to sprawl out on the journey.
We use this backpack and LOVE it for a couple of reasons. It was the biggest backpack we could find (that didn’t cost a bomb), it has a top and front flap and it has pockets! It might not be the sexiest bag on the market but taking you cat out and about can feel like you’re commuting with a child – and having extra pockets to put stuff in, is a must.
Step 2: Buy a Cat Harness (I don’t know if you’ve heard but we make the best ones EVER)
A cat harness is your next item to check off the list especially if you plan to unzip the backpack while your kitty is in the car. All our harnesses have a D ring clip that you can connect to a pet seatbelt or to the harness clip built into the cat backpack. We will touch on the pros and cons of the backpack harness clip vs. a pet seatbelt in the next section and in part 2. Most cats fit into our XS harnesses, with larger kitties requiring a size S or M depending on the breed. We can also make special kitten harnesses, but we do recommend that kittens under the age of 5 months are secured inside the backpack for their safety, and yours, until they are a natural at car rides.
Step 3: Buy a pet seatbelt
Once your cat begins to become comfortable with car rides, a pet seatbelt is a great way to give your kitty a little more flexibility to travel in a way that suits them. For example, we like to open the front flap of the bag and let Sir Romeo Blue hang out on the back seat. He also has more freedom to navigate to his kitty litter as he pleases (see Step 4).
We purchased our pet seatbelt at our local Pet Stock but most pet stores, and even woolies and coles sell them too.
Now that Romeo is a pro on car rides, he knows the drill - the moment we get in the car, he gets comfortable on the back seat ready for a good nap. But for kitties that are just starting out, we recommend letting them scope out the car and get a good look around while all the doors are shut and before you start the engine. Letting your cat or kitten have a good sniff around and learn that there is a kitty litter available to them in the car is a good way to help prevent any unwanted accidents.
Step 4: Prepare your portable litterbox
At this point you might be wondering why I even came to know anything about travelling with cats. Well, it started when Romeo was a kitten, I felt bad leaving him at home all alone and then a (not so revolutionary) idea occurred! Why not take him with me?! This was followed by a second thought… what if he needs to use the toilet? I didn’t quite fancy the idea of taking his current litter box with me for logistical (and hygienic) reasons, so I decided to start looking into portable options. I found a few portable kitty litters online, but they were going to cost approximately $80AUD, which seemed like daylight robbery to me, so I decided to create my own.
I purchased the pet carrier pictured below for $20 from K-MART but Target (and probably Big W) sell them too. Either way, make sure the carrier you buy unzips the whole way down on at least one side and also has a top entry so your cat can get in it on the move. While you’re out buying your carrier, you also want to purchase a basket that will fit inside the carrier (also available at all the aforementioned places). Then, literally pick up your existing kitty litter liner, fit it into the basket and slide it into the carrier. VIOLA! You have your very own portable kitty litter.
This litter will be your saving grace when your cat wants to go pee pee (or poo poo) in the car, or at your destination. You can safeguard against your cat soiling themselves by showing them where it is in the car before you take off. We will explain in our next article how to know when your cat wants to use their litter – so stay tuned!
BONUS: Step 5
As an additional extra, and to earn you extra brownie points with your kitty, pack some of your cat's favourite treats and toys. Our boys love Dine Creamy Treat sticks which are easy to give when you're travelling in the car, and freeze dried chicken or kangaroo from Raw Meow for when we reach our destination.
So, there you have it! 4 steps, 4 items, most available at your local K-MART, Big W or Target (except for the cat backpack which you can find on eBay or other online stores). And of course - don't forget your cat's favourite treats and toys! In Part 2 I will explain in more detail how we set our boys up in the car and the different seating configurations you can use. I will also explain how to know when your cat wants to use the toilet and how to help them use it.
Tell us what you think of this article, if you have any extra tips for us or if you want any more information, by dropping us a comment below or contacting us here!
Hi Taylor, Just to let you know Karnak’s pirate bandanna arrived today and he loves it (as do I- my husband just rolled his eyes ha ha ha ) Love your site – I trained my previous Russian to walk outside and think I’ll give Karnak another go- he wasn’t too happy when I tried before but now I have read your article I’m going to have another try. I’ll order a harness soon for him.
Love your stuff!!!