We have a cat named Sapphire Samurai. He is impossible to crate without an extra pair of hands. Even at 20 he manages to stick his legs out in such a way that he cannot be put into even the biggest cat carrier. This makes going to the vet difficult.
Sam, as we call him, isn’t alone in not using a crate in a vehicle. However, we do team up. I hold the cat and someone else drives. It’s not a perfect solution, but it works. If we got into an accident…even a little one…that wouldn’t be the case. A cat carseat may be in our future.
Distractions: An animal in the car is probably going to cause some distracted driving. Driving solo is worse, and the worst is not having the animal secured. The animal could potentially come between your foot and the brake pedal, which is a good way to get into an accident.
Crates: These are a wise choice in driving some animals. However, not all crates are alike and not all are safe in a vehicle. The crate shouldn’t be able to slide around and should be secured. Even a hard stop could send the crate flying otherwise. This is dangerous for the pet, the driver and the passengers. Talk to your vet about the best crate, both type and size to make sure your pet is safe.
Carseats: You may be rolling your eyes, but this is sometimes a better idea than a carrier. There are many types and can fit many sizes of animal. They are mostly used for dogs, but a small dog carseat may work with a cat.
Cross tethers: It’s the law. If an animal is riding in the back of a pickup, it has to be cross tethered. This prevents the dog from jumping out of the bed while the truck is in motion. Just tying the animal to the bed isn’t enough, because it could jump, dangle and strangulate. I see so many dogs who *aren’t* cross tethered and I worry about each one.
About hanging the head out the window: Even if the dog is secured there are dangers to letting it stick its head out of the window while the car is in motion. One is the ease with which debris can hit the eyes. A bug or piece of dust hitting an eye at 60 mph is going to do some damage. The other problem seen by vets is the fact that the wind dries out the dog’s eyes. It might be wise to forego the open window routine.
Hot cars: Granted this isn’t while driving, but it is something that gets done. Never, ever leave a pet (or a person) in a car while you run in and get something. It doesn’t take long for a car to become an oven. Cracking the window only helps passersby to get the pet out faster. If you do this, you can expect to come back to a police officer and a broken window.