What To Carry In Your Car For An Unexpected Cat Rescue

You guys!

Have you ever been out and about and, perhaps you see a cat and think, “If only I had the ability to help him right now…”

Well, I’m about to get you ready to do just that! I’ve spoken with three experts in the rescue field and am about to share with your their tips for what to carry with you in your car in case a rescue is needed.

This kit sucks for rescue. Shoes will not help you help a cat. Read on to find out how to pack your kit.
This kit sucks for rescue. A sparkly bathing suit and sunblock will not help you help a cat. Read on to find out how to pack your kit properly.

First up, we have Shawn Simons, the Headmistress at Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats in Los Angeles, a rescue with a heck of a story and a special focus on trapping feral cats in the LA area. Here’s her advice:

I would always carry is a towel.  It is a very good way to grab a sick or injured cat while protecting yourself. Make sure you have a carrier to put the cat in. A humane trap may be useful but I find successful trappings often need a bit more prep, although a hungry cat may not need it. If you are trapping, our kits always include newspaper, tuna, can opener and a trap cover (like a blanket or large towel). We use baby food a lot for semi ferals. For night time, you’ll need a flashlight, of course. Also if you are not able to get straight to a vet, flea meds and clavomox would be good to have on hand.
Towels: A necessity!
Towels: A necessity!
Next up, we have a list of things that you might keep with you, provided by Liz Houtz, the Community Cats Program Manager at Tree House  (who happened to be the person that helped trap Louie and Sprinkle, the two “fosters” here that never seem to want to leave.) Here’s Liz’s list for what to bring with you when you plan to trap a feral kitty:
  • KMR kitten replacement milk
  • Kitten feeding bottle
  • Hot water bottle to keep kittens warm
  • Towels
  • Canned cat food and tuna for trapping
  • Can opener
  • At least one carrier (medium) and one trap
  • Newspaper for traps
  • Wire ties for broken carriers
  • Flashlight
  • Trap covers
  • Tarp to protect car
  • Duct tape
  • Trap divider

And finally, we have Tammy from Feral Fixers, an organization in DuPage County, Illinois that focuses on trap-neuter-return programs and works to support colony caretakers by providing traps and spay/neuter resources to help control the feral cat population. She says:

One of the most frustrating parts of rescue is not being able to go somewhere yourself. But having volunteers who CAN go there and do what needs to be done is priceless! We make it a habit to learn whatever we can about our volunteers so that we can call on them in a pinch and they come thru time and time again! A drop-in carrier, two towels, a small throw, some canned food – stinkier the better and a small sample size bag of dry food that you can shake to stimulate interest in food are the very basics and all can be stored and carried in that carrier. One towel to go in carrier, other towel or throw to drop on top of the cat to wrap and drop in carrier and then the throw to go on top and cover whole carrier to keep it quiet and safe. Just the very basics for cat pickup.

The Can Opener:  A Must Have for Resscues and The Already Rescued, Well-Fed House Cat
The Can Opener: A Must Have for Rescues as well as  The Already Rescued, Well-Fed House Cat

And there you have it! The basics (and then some) of what to carry with you so that you’re prepared in the event of a much-needed rescue! A hearty thanks to all of these wonderful experts in cat rescue. As a follow up to this article, we’ll be talking to Tammy again regarding how to know if kittens really NEED rescue and what exactly to do if you see some out and about.

Stay tuned!




  • Awesome advice, Crepes! Thanks for such an important and informative post! We’ll get our humans on this right away!

  • Thanks for this great info, Crepes. The mom doesn’t carry any of this stuff in her car, but we’re gonna make sure she starts.

  • This is SUCH a helpful post! I have a dog rescue “kit” in my car but was never sure what to bring for a cat rescue. I do have a question, though: I live in a very rural part of Iowa, and almost every country house has farm cats. My husband refers to them as “ditch kitties” because they are constantly running around in the ditches by the side of gravel roads. I am always worried they are going to be hit by cars, but the one time I tried to help one, it turned out to belong to a farmer down the road…who was not so happy with me. 🙁 I hate leaving cats where they might be hit by cars, but…what would you do? Not to mention that in general, these cats are not spayed or neutered…

    I am brand new to your blog, by the way – my husband and I attended your photography session at BlogPaws and checked out your YouTube channel later that day. LOVE IT! I love that most of the videos, while lighthearted and fun, end with an adoption-friendly message (the kitten season one was my fave!). I wrote about your session on my most recent blog post if you’d like to check it out 🙂

    • That’s great! Thanks for attending and for visiting my blog and web series! We hope our work brings the adoption message to people who don’t know much about it. That’s our goal!
      it’s really hard to know quite what to do in that situation you mentioned. I would like to leave this open for any rescue experts to step in, because it’s a great question. One of the things you can look for in cats that are out and about is the ear tip – if the left tip of the ear is cut, it means they’re part of a feral project and are already spayed/neutered. As far as that farmer goes, would he be more happy if his cat was hit by a car? Probably not.

      I think there are some excellent questions here in this thread and I’d like to approach the experts again to have them answered for a future post. Stay tuned! – Alana and Crepes.

  • Crepes, Great post.The Canadian Cats have an excellent question. What if you have an injured cat or dog? I live in a rural area. Cats (and dogs) do get hit by cars. I try to never leave an injured or dead animal (could be someone’s pet) laying in the road. The tricky part is to not cause an accident or scare a hurt animal away into the woods.I have put on my blinkers and called the local police/fire department for traffic control.This is possible in the area I live. The city would have it’s own set of challenges.

    In addition to all of the great information here is what I also carry:
    A shovel and small rake. This is to have a good flat surface to get the animal off of dirt. Both heavy work and rubber gloves. Several flat boxes (soda can, bannana, etc). If an animal is bleeding I lay trash bags in the box followed by a towel. Second towel, blanket, or rug to cover. Can also place 1/2 of a carrier over the box to prevent escape. A tarp and large trash bags. Dog muzzles in several sizes. I do not want to be bitten. A belt can work in a pinch. Several medium to large folding crates.

    If the animal is a wild animal I will use the shovel to place the body off the road if it is safe to do so. When I return home I wash the tools with soap and bleach to diseinfect.

    It is great you have volunteers who have access to sub q fluids and antibiotics. I do not. I do go to a veterinarian hospital that also has a 24 hour emergency room. Because I am a regular client I do not have to pay the emergency room fee ($300.00 plus). As a regular I have brought (and adopted) many injured to them for treatment.
    Thank you for a very useful and informative post. In memory of Oakley the Ginger Boy.

    • Sorry! It wasn’t a volunteer who had the fluids – it was the rescue. That’s why I asked Canadian Cats if they meant a wild animal – it’s difficult to say because if you’re going to approach an injured animal, especially if they are feral or wild, it might be dangerous to the person doing the rescuing. In the case of Oakley, we were very careful to make sure he wasn’t hostile before grabbing him. This took a few minutes of slowly approaching, feeding, petting with the back of the hand, etc. It’s important to be cautious if an animal is injured. In another case, I had a cat run up to me screaming and hop in my car, clearly not aggressive. It really depends on the animal.

  • This is a great post! The head peep keeps a collapsible, hard-sided carrier in the car and a towel, but the rest of this list is a good idea, too. She was really lucky when she rescued Ashton that Ash was injured enough that she couldn’t climb out of the shallow bin that was in the trunk of the car that day. A healthy kitten would have leaped right out.

  • Gweat posty Crepes. Dat’s a lot of weally good infurmation. Hope yous have a pawsum day.

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Lexi

  • Excellent list of things needed for a rescue.

    Now, what should we carry with us for an injuried animal that we come across. First aid kit and towels…plural are two that come to mind right away. Can you suggest more?


    • Do you mean an injured cat? Or other injured animal? for instance, the kitty that sparked this article for us was very injured. We used the towel to get him into the carrier and then brought him right over to a person who had supplies on hand for SubQ fluids, pain meds, and other things until the vet was open first thing in the morning.

  • These are great tips! Once, when the humans were at a pool party, someone saw an injured cat wandering around, and the first thing my human did once she saw where the cat was, was ask the hosts for a towel to catch her. Fortunately, it was a docile, sweet kitty and my human was able to hold her in the towel like a baby while she was getting checked out at the emergency vet. She wound up going to my human’s boyfriend’s work (which was a vet clinic at the time), where she was healed and found an awesome home.

  • That’s very good advice! Just this morning we saw a cat on our walk, pretty sure he was a stray. Despite my vicious barking he wanted to follow us. Mom had no idea how to rescue him if she could. Love Dolly

  • Thank you for the excellent information! It’s definitely good to be prepared. Also, after I read Layla Morgan Wilde’s comment about Feliway I asked my vet about it, and she said you can also get Feliway in wipes that would be really easy to carry in a kit and wipe down the carrier with just before “rescue”. Thanks, Crepes (and Layla!) for this useful information.

  • mom usually has a carrier in the hatchback along with a box of supplies….food, treats, towel, paper towels, hand sanitizer, bowls and water. it has come in handy more than once

  • I’ve printed this out so I can start gathering the things I would need to rescue a cat or kittens. Thanks so much for this post; I think it is very helpful.

    • So glad you found it helpful! We didn’t think of it either until it happened to us! – Crepes.

  • Being prepared can make all the difference. There a big difference between a feral kitten rescue and adult lost cat rescue. When I founded Annex Cat Rescue in 1997, our rescuers always had traps ready but these days I recommend, a soft sided carrier that folds flat for space, spray bottle of calming pheromones like feliway, leather gloves, bottles water, treats. I love the tiny pet first aid kit we got at Blogpaws too 🙂

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