Travel season is upon us and road trips top the list for many. Whether it’s for vacation or a cross-country move, traveling with cats can be a bonding experience, but has it’s own set of challenges, right? Here’s a guide to help us travel with our cats in style.
Preparation is key:
Be Sure They Have ID – collars with their ID tags and microchipping are the two most common ways to ensure if anything happens on the road, they’ll be able to make it back home. Check out this article on Pet IDs and the many options available to connect with our pets, should they get lost.
Familiar surroundings – If we relax and have fun in the car together, our cats will have positive associations for the trip ahead. Bring her carrier, favorite treats, and toys. Give her a chance to explore the entire car and hang out together. Take a few rides around the block together leading up to the trip. The more familiar kitty is with the whole process, the less stress she’ll be under when the actual trip begins.
Chat with the Vet – Sometimes our cats love the change of scenery, and sometimes they can’t get used to the feel of a moving car. Get advice about the best medication options for anxiety and motion sickness. EcoBalance can be a great remedy for mild anxiety and is a soothing place to start, before going straight to heavier medications.
Be Prepared for a Messy Ride – No matter how certain we are about rest stops and anxiety medication, messes can happen when traveling with our cats. Bring some old towels, trash bags, and cat-friendly cleaners or wet wipes just in case.
Pack the Leash – Not many of us walk our cats on a leash, but for road trips, it’s an essential item for letting them get out to stretch their little legs, get some fresh air, and most importantly, do their business. Many have tried to have a litter box in the car, and sometimes that can help, but you are going to need options. The leash is what it comes down to. Testing it at home will ensure kitty can’t wriggle out on the side of the road or in a parking lot.
Pack Home Sweet Home – Toys, a favorite blanket or cloth that smells like home, the usual food and water dishes; these are important factors that keep small parts of the trip comfortable and consistent. Switch out the toys often to keep things new and fun, while also keeping the environment as familiar as possible.
On The Road
Cats in the Carrier While Driving – Some imagine traveling with cats is the same as traveling with dogs who want to stick their head out the window. Or they picture our furry friends calmly sitting in the back seat. A long road trip is not the time to find out. The carrier is a calm, safe place for the drive that keeps out cats out of our way while we’re driving. Plus, we have an easy way to get them to and from hotel rooms and restaurants. Remember to restrain the carrier so it feels stable going around curves.
Offer Food and Drink Before the Car Ride & Along the Way – Before the trip and each day prior to getting on the road again, offer food and drink. If anxiety is part of their experience on the road, our felines are not going to feel like taking much in throughout the day. And when the day is over, they’ll be getting used to new surroundings and recovering from a hard day. Offer food and water often, but be sure they have the option after a good night’s rest when their stomach will be most able to digest.
Air and Temperature – We can crack the windows about an inch to keep air circulating. And we should be cognizant of where the sun is. Carriers can heat up fast, and if the sun is on them for even a few minutes, it can become especially uncomfortable for kitty. Also, the ASPCA recommends that when we are traveling with cats, we never leave them in the car, even for a moment. Use that leash or carrier to keep them comfortable and close at all times.
Drive Safely – Road trips are fun and exciting. They also carry the same dangers as any other drive. In fact, they can be more dangerous because they are surprisingly exhausting and can cause distraction throughout the day. We need to remember to pull over for breaks every two to three hours and keep our phones out of sight unless we are at a complete stop. Plan on keeping the music low so we are respectful of our chosen road trip partners and we should remember to watch them for any signs of illness that warrant taking an extra day off from driving or a check-in with a vet along the way.
Final Thoughts on Traveling with Cats
Road tripping can be so much fun! If we take these simple precautions, we’ll be making sure our cats have the opportunity to really enjoy it too. And, because we can’t prepare for absolutely every possibility, we should remember to keep a few essentials on us at all time, whether we are on the road or not. It’s a good idea to pack important phone numbers and resources.
- We can include a list of emergency animal clinics along the way.
- Animal Poison Control can be reached 24 hours a day at (888) 426-4435 so we can program that into our phones.
- And we should keep current photos of our cat available, just in case we get separated and need to launch search efforts.
Our furry friends are such an important part of our lives and our drives. Traveling with cats has a special set of guidelines and best practices, but if we take care to give them the attention they are due, we can make it a fun and memorable bonding experience.