Is It Illegal To Leave Your Cat In The Car?

Is It Illegal To Leave Your Cat In The Car?

If you are on the road with your cat because they need to go somewhere with you such as the vet or a move to a new home you might need to stop to some other places while on the way there.

However you might need to leave them in the car because you don’t really have a choice due to whatever place you’re going not being pet friendly. So, is this something that you can do and not get in trouble for?

How Long Can You Leave A Cat Alone In A Car?

My suggestion is to never do this because it’s a really bad idea not to mention illegal in certain circumstances which I get into more detail in the next section.

Don’t leave them alone overnight or even a few minutes. If you had a baby would you leave them unattended in the car? A cat isn’t exactly a child but it’s the same concept here.

Is It Illegal To Leave Your Cat In The Car?

In a lot of states it’s against the law to leave your cat in certain circumstances or any animal in general unattended in a car and you could get fined up to 2,000 dollars for it or even jailed for up to 1 year depending on the state that you live in and how severe the damages are to the animal.

They all ban pets in cars unattended for the same reason – extreme temperatures and general safety of the animal. Depending on the weather your car could either act as an oven or a refrigerator. In these conditions your cat could potentially die even in a short time. Here is what “Animal Legal and Historical Center” says about this.

Approximately 28 states have laws that deal with animals left in unattended vehicles. Most of these laws provide that, for a person to be in violation the law, the animal must be confined or unattended in a parked or stationary vehicle, and the conditions have to endanger the animal’s life.

Here Is A List Of States Of Their Laws And Charges:

Arizona
If it is really likely for an animal to die in certain conditions they are not allowed to be left unattended or confined in a vehicle. Class 1 misdemeanor.

California
Animals are not to be left alone and confined in a vehicle that endangers their well being from heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation or food and water or other circumstances that endanger their life. First time offense: 100 dollar fine per animal. If the animal is injured: 500 dollar fine or jail up to 6 months.

Delaware
Animal is not allow to be left in a standing vehicle that is either too hot or too cold to be left in. You will be issued a warning. Subsequent offenses are Class A Misdemeanors.

Illinois
You are not allowed to leave your pet in a vehicle for a long period of time where it is too hot, too cold and does not have proper ventilation and does not have protection against hot or cold temperatures or other types of protection. Class B and Class C Misdemeanors.

Maine
The charges vary including maintenance, care, medical treatment and other charges.

Maryland
Prohibits you from leaving your pet inside of a vehicle in a way that endangers the animals life. You will be fined 70 dollars.

Massachusetts
You are not allowed to leave you pet inside of a car where it is reasonably expected that their life could be endangered. The first offense you will be charged 150 dollars, the second offense will land you a 300 dollar fine and a third offense will be 500 dollars.

Minnesota
You are not allowed to leave you pet inside of a vehicle in a way that endangers there health or well being. Considered a petty demeanor. You could also be charged 25 dollars.

Nevada
It is prohibited to leave your pet inside of a vehicle in extreme heat or cold temperatures or in anyway that endangers there health or well being. Considered a misdemeanor.

New Hampshire
It is considered animal cruelty to leave your pet inside of a vehicle or any enclosed space where it is too hot or too cold to be in and damages their health or is a threat to their well being. Considered a Class B Felony.

New Jersey
You cannot leave your pet or any other creature in a vehicle where the conditions are considered inhumane an affect their health or well being. You could get fined between 250 to 1,000 dollars.

New York
It is against the law to leave your pet in a vehicle or a confined space that is not properly ventilated and is too hot or too cold and endangers their health and is a threat to their well being. Your first offense will land you a fine between 50 to 100 dollars. A second offense will be 100 to 250 dollars.

North Carolina
They are not to be left inside of a vehicle in a way that is likely to cause suffering injury or death caused by heat, cold lack of ventilation or any other threatening circumstances. Cruelty provisions may apply.

North Dakota
You cannot leave a cat or dog inside of a vehicle that endangers their health or safety. Guilty of an infraction.

South Dakota
None provided.

Rhode Island
Owner or person cannot confine an animal inside of a vehicle that endangers there health or well being by exposing them to extreme temperatures without lack of ventilation or any protection against heat and cold or any other protection that the animal may need. Imprisonment for up to one year or a 1,000 dollar fine.

Vermont
You cannot leave your pet inside of a car in a way that endangers their health or well being. Imprisonment for up to one year or a 2,000 dollar fine.

Washington
You cannot leave your pet inside of a vehicle in a way that endangers their health or well being by extreme heat or cold and without water and a lack of proper ventilation. Class 2 civil infraction.

West Virginia
You cannot leave a pet inside of a vehicle where it is likely the animal health or life could be endangered. A fine between 300 and 2,000 dollars and/or jail time for up to 6 months.

So as you can see, a lot of states take this type of thing very seriously. There are also countless other counties in states even ones that don’t mention pets in vehicles that have similar laws but there are too many too keep track of to list here. Breaking their laws could result on cruelty charges.

Pet Theft

This reason alone is why I would never leave my cat unattended in a vehicle even just for a few minutes. You’re risking your pet getting stolen. This happens to many pet owners and is increasing each year. Most of the time pets are stolen is due to money reasons.

If your cat is a purebred they may steal them and flip them for a profit. The most common breeds that are stolen are Bengal, Domestic Short-hair,  Russian Blue, and Siamese Cats so I would be even more cautious about pet theft if you have these types of cats.

Your cat could also be stolen for other reasons such as selling to a breeder. In this scenario they would want a cat is unneutered.

What To Do If Your Cat Is Stolen

If your cat is stolen for some reason I would call the police and see what they could do about the situation. If you’re cat has identification such as a microchip you may be able to get them back to you a lot easier.

The chances of getting your pet back are however quite small which is around 14%. If you want more information on this you can read my article “What To Do If Your Cat Gets Stolen“.

What To Do If You’re Forced To Leave Them In The Car

There are a couple of ways you could get around this. The best way being bringing a friend along. If you need to go do something. They could just wait in the car with your pet thus avoiding getting in trouble with the law. Another way is getting a backpack carrier for your cat.

You could just put them in the backpack and do what you need to do. Just make sure it is pet friendly. You can go to my article “3 Products That Allow You To Bike With Your Cat” where I list some that I think are worth getting.

Another way you could make it so your cat doesn’t get stolen is if you cover the carrier. If the thief doesn’t see whats in your car it will be a lot less likely for them to get stolen on you. That way you can leave them in the car and your cat will be a little more safer from theft.

How To Keep Your Cat Safe In The Car

If you have to leave them in the car for some reason you should really follow these steps to make sure that they are comfortable and safe.

Park In The Shade
If you park in the shade this will make it so it’s a lot less likely for them to overheat.

Turn On Your Cars Air Conditioner
If you cannot park in the shade it would be wise to leave your air conditioner on so they are comfortable as possible.

Use A Sunscreen On Your Car Windows
This will help block out as much heat as possible.

Get A Non Spill Dish
You will want to do this so they have drinking water at all times. Its hot so it will make sense.

Get A Pet Temperature Monitor
This a really valuable tool to have when you are not only in your car traveling with your cat but in a RV camping as well. You can put these in your car or RV and if the temperature gets too high it will notify you through your smartphone. You can find one here on amazon.

What To Do If You See A Cat Alone In A Car

If you happen to see a cat alone in someone car especially if it is extremely hot or cold out side you should really do something about it before they get potentially killed. Here are some things that you could do to help them out.

Call Animal Control Or Police
Call animal control or the non-emergency number for the police department and wait by the car until either one of them arrive. You might also want to write down their license plate number and the model of their car.

Notify Store Manager
You could also help by letting the store manager know where the person is parked and have them make an announcement over the intercom to find the pet’s owner.

Rescue Laws

Under certain laws, law officials can forcibly break into a vehicle to save the animal or animals if the conditions are extreme enough. This is usually however limited to fire fighters, authorized humane officers, animal control or first responders.

In certain states however go beyond this and allow anyone to save a trapped animal. these states include, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Kansas, Indiana, Vermont, Massachusetts, Oregon, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Final Thoughts

If you need to leave your cat in the car I think you can do it just be very careful about it and don’t make your pet visible in the car so someone doesn’t break into your car and steal them on you.