By Jazmin Santacruz

I love cats and have wanted to adopt one (or two, or three) since my one-and-only cat passed away 15 years ago. However, my husband and I agreed that we would hold off on getting animals until we were done having children, or at least until two or three of our children grew old enough to care properly for them.

Since my youngest is only eight and a half months old, and only one out of our four kids is old enough to care for a pet, my husband believed my desire for a cat was still in check. And although that might have been true yesterday, this morning was a whole different story…

Meet our new kitten, Meow-Meow Valkyrie-Kane Fi-Fi Kitty-Kitty (“short” for we-haven’t-named-you-yet-so-everyone-calls-you-by-a-different-name).

MMVKFFKK is one of three kittens in a litter from my sister-in-law’s cat and she came over with my niece last night for an impromptu sleepover with my oldest daughter. Although we were able to return my niece to her mother this morning, this little kitten stayed behind and can be found in what is now her favorite corner of our home, as well as in a tiny little corner in our hearts. It seems that this was my niece’s plan all along…

We have now learned that although caring for a pet is pretty easy while you’re at home, we are now curious about what we’re going to do when we need to leave Kennewick for an extended period of time. Like today for example, we are driving to the Walla Walla area to spend the day with my husband’s family. Or next weekend, we are flying to Miami for a fun weekend with friends. What does that mean for MMVKFFKK? My oldest is certain that leaving her at home is not an option. “I think she is too little to be alone and roam around all day. Besides, we don’t know if there are any things that she can die from.” “What if she gets lost because she doesn’t know this house that well?!”

Of course, for us the answer is obvious, we take MMVKFFKK back to my sister-in-law’s and pick her up on our way home during both trips. But what do you do if you’re traveling with only your cat or dog as companions? Maybe you’re going off to a college situated on the other side of the country and you’d rather drive than chance putting your cat on a plane. Or perhaps it’s a cross-country road trip adventure… the type no dog-loving owner would dare take without their dog.

During those types of trips, it may be necessary to leave your beloved animals in a parked car for a bit. Knowing what the law says, in addition to taking precautions, will keep you from getting a ticket and ensure that your fur baby makes it to your destination alive and safe.


According to Where Is It Illegal to Leave Your Pet Alone in the Car?, the Animal Legal and Historical Center has the information you need to know about state laws protecting pets in parked vehicles. For example, in the State of Washington, RCW 16.52.340 prohibits you from “leaving or confining any animal unattended in a motor vehicle or enclosed space if the animal could be harmed or killed by exposure to excessive heat, cold, lack of ventilation, or lack of necessary water.”

Additionally, under that law, “an animal control officer or law enforcement officer (under the above circumstances) has the authority to remove the animal” and can charge you with a Class 2 civil infraction.

And don’t forget about local laws! In addition to state law, various counties and municipalities have enacted similar laws concerning pets in parked cars (Sorry! You’ll have to look those up yourself because there are too many).


Let’s be honest. Even if there isn’t a specific law regarding leaving pets in vehicles, leaving animals in the car for long periods of time during dangerous conditions is just not right and can constitute animal cruelty.

So, to keep yourself safe from punishment and your pets alive and well during your long treks, Where Is It Illegal to Leave Your Pet Alone in the Car? has some great tips:

  1. Only consider leaving your pet unattended in your vehicle when you’re certain the weather conditions will not endanger your pet’s health.
  2. Park in the shade.
  3. Use a sunscreen for your windshield to block as much sunlight as possible.
  4. Get a spill-proof bowl for the car and keep it full so that your pet always has access to fresh water.
  5. Anytime you leave your pet alone in the car, set the alarm on your phone for 10 minutes. Return immediately when the alarm sounds to check on your pet.
  6. Use a pet temperature monitor, so you are always aware of the temperature inside your vehicle. These monitors will also send you text alerts if the environment becomes uncomfortable for your pet.
  7. Have a remote-start system installed in your car, or carry a spare key. This will allow you to leave the air conditioning or heat running. **Always set your parking brake if you leave your pet in a running vehicle! ** Also note that leaving an unattended vehicle running may violate the law in some jurisdictions.

If you have any other tips or tricks, let us know in the comments below!

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