This post is sponsored by Sleepypod

For most cat parents, putting a cat into the carrier is stressful. We may try to train our cats to accept the carrier, we may try to manage our own energy so that our cats don’t pick up on our stress, we may use calming remedies such as Stress Stopper and Feliway, but the reality is that, while all of these help, it’s still going to be a challenging experience for most of us. But have you ever given any thought to whether your cat’s carrier is safe, should you get into an accident? Do you know which carriers are safe and which aren’t? Do you know what the safest place in the car for your carrier is?

According to the Center for Pet Safety, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit research and advocacy organization dedicated to companion animal and consumer safety, pet travel carriers can offer distraction prevention, which is important to prevent accidents. However, proper pet passenger restraint is critical for successful crash protection. Carriers that are not structurally sound or have insufficient connection strength can directly affect the safety of the pet, and they place human vehicle occupants at risk of injury, should an accident occur.

In 2015, the Center for Pet Safety performed an independent study of carriers that claim “testing,” “crash testing,” or “crash protection” in their marketing materials. The purpose of the study was to

  • Independently evaluate the current-state travel carrier products and carrier connection products that claim “testing”, “crash testing” or “crash protection.”
  • Examine the safety, structural integrity and crashworthiness of carriers where the manufacturer makes no claims of “testing”, “crash testing” or “crash protection.”
  • Determine top performing carrier brand(s).

CPS does NOT use live animals in their testing. They use crash test dummies that simulate the dimensions, weight proportions and articulations of a feline or canine body.


The study results may surprise you. Most of us would probably think that hard-sided carriers are safest in a crash, right? But that’s not necessarily true.

Top performing carriers

In July of 2016, CPS published the first Crash Test Protocol and Ratings Guidelines for Pet Carriers. The Top Performing Carriers from the study were the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed with PPRS Handilock and the PetEgo Jet Set Forma Frame Carrier with ISOFIX Latch Connection. Additionally, later that month Sleepypod voluntarily certified their entire carrier lineup with Center for Pet Safety.

If you’re not in a position to purchase a new carrier right now, Center for Pet Safety Founder Lindsey Wolko has this advice for you: “Don’t use the seatbelt to strap in the carrier. Place plastic carriers and soft-sided carriers on the floor of the vehicle behind the front driver or passenger seats.” Wolko admits that it’s counterintuitive, but the two crash test videos she shared with me, one for a soft-sided carrier (featuring Crash Test Kitty), one for a hard carrier, offer convincing evidence. Warning: even though the videos use crash test dummies, they may be disturbing to watch for some readers.

For more information about the Center for Pet Safety, and to support their important work, please visit their website.


Sleepypod: Safety Matters

Sleepypod understands how important your pets are to you, which is why safety is their top priority. Their Pet Passenger Restraint System (PPRS) is a safety system designed by Sleepypod to secure a pet in a vehicle and restrict harmful movement resulting from a sudden vehicle stop or frontal collision. Every Sleepypod carrier and harness includes PPRS components and features to improve pet passenger safety.

In addition to participating in CPS’s survey, Sleepypod has their own Safety Test Program, which requires that every single one of their products meets the highest standards. All of their tests are performed at accredited testing and research locations.

Sleepypod has recorded multiple auto accidents without injuries to pets using one of its carriers or safety harnesses. All accident information was voluntarily shared with Sleepypod by its customers.

Sleepypod will even replace or offer a replacement discount on any carrier damaged in an accident, regardless of the brand.

For more information about Sleepypod’s carriers, and to purchase, please visit their website.

FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, which means that I was compensated to feature this content. Regardless of payment received, you will only see products or services featured on this site that I believe are of interest to our readers.

16 Comments on How Would Your Cat’s Carrier Fare in a Car Crash?

  1. Thanks for this post! It may yet save many lives! We drive a lot with our cat. He happens to be a bengal cat, like the cat model in the pictures. Reading this post and watching the videos made me realize how unsafe his hard plastic carrier was. Luckily there is one reseller in Finland, so I ordered a Sleepypod Air. I have to say that it smelled very bad for the first couple of days and we had to keep in in the balcony. After that, our cat has been happily inhabiting it, and travelling in a car is much less stressful for us humans. The cat never stressed about being in a car in the first place! 🙂

  2. Most interesting article, Ingrid… automatically assume “won’t happen to me” ,,,,in my case I have a disused, good condition, push chair (buggy as you people call it) that the cat carrier goes onto and push it down to the local vet, but sometimes it IS necessary to go further afield for veterinary assistance, and that does mean a car ride… usually – rightly or wrongly (probably the latter) I have carrier on my lap facing me (husband drives, I’m the passenger!) and so far…. it’s worked. Stressful enough for cat and human without having car crashes but of course it does need to be thought of.

    • None of us want to think about topics like this, Margaret. What you’re doing may work, but think of it as the same as having a child on your lap. In the event of an accident, that could be disastrous.

  3. I went to the site to take a look at the study. All carriers tested were described as ‘dog sized’. I wonder if that makes a difference when considering cats. As far as the Sleepypod, Amazon sells them for $195.00 and up. I have 3 cats and can’t spend that kind of money on 3 carriers.I wish I could.Thankfully, my cats are in the car only once or twice a year.

    • I don’t think it makes a difference in terms of the impact a crash would have on the carriers, regardless of size. I believe the real issue is structural integrity.

  4. I have been thinking about carriers a LOT lately since I will be moving cross-country from Long Island NY to Sun City Arizona with 5 cats! My girlfriend will be in my vehicle with me and her husband will drive the u-haul. I have been looking to get a couple more carriers (top loading) too. I want to make sure they are all safe and comfy with enough room for them. I am still researching (cannot afford 5 pods).

  5. I worry so much when I have to take one of my cats to the vet. An accident is always on my mind too. I also wonder how well the carriers hold up in the case of a tornado. I always put my cats in the carriers when we have to take cover.

  6. I am so glad this was addressed. I always worry about an accident with my cats in the car. Now I know NOT to strap them in and put their carriers on the floor. I am going to get at least one pod maybe two. Thanks for this important information

    • Hi there,

      I definitely don’t see where it is that it says not to strap in or safety belt the carrier! The sleepy pod has a place where you can put the seat belt through, and so does the large, hard carrier that I use to transport my pet (tried sleepy pod but at 13 pounds my cat cannot comfortably stay in the SP for very long–can’t stand up.

      My vet told me to never drive with my cat in the carrier without putting the seat belt through the tab at the top for this purpose. To be safe I hope you do the same thing!

  7. Those videos are disturbing, especially for my human, who travels a LOT with me! She worries a lot about me… probably too much because I sense it, and it’s no doubt one of the reasons I don’t like car travel that much. I’m actually much calmer on the plane (and so is she!)… and incidentally we have a Sleepypod Atom for my plane travel.

    • I find the videos very disturbing, too, Summer. You kitties are so good at picking up on our stress, and it’s so hard to not worry about you!

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