Tips on How to Bring Your Cat with You on a Car Trip

How to Travel with Your Cat

Does Your Cat Travel Well?

I have met cat owners who say cats do not like to travel and should be kept at home with a caretaker coming in daily. That may be fine for those of us with the resources and friends available to do that, but people do travel and people have pets and travel is sometimes necessary.

If you have never taught your pet to travel, think how traumatic a road trip would be? This Hub provides ideas that have worked well for me and my cat who travels often with me wherever I go by car. He is a cat with a very large territory and a few homes he loves.

For short duration trips of overnight, I leave the cat at home and have someone check, but if i travel away for a week or more, kitty comes along and believe me he enjoys some of the destinations as much as I do, if purring and coming to sit in my lap and lounging around like royalty is any indication!

Each cat is different.

I have traveled with a cat who was "Hell on Wheels". A drive with him rattling his carrier as if he was the Tasmanian Devil himself, was one unforgettable trip. Quite distracting to say the least!

When travelling with his owner, he gets to roam loose in the car, something I do not recommend. This cat has stepped on the automatic window control and almost exited the vehicle at full speed on the highway. If not for the fast reflexes of the passenger who grabbed the errant feline by his tail just in the nick of time. He could have caused injury to himself and quite possibly an accident. He is a bit of a rogue, so perhaps he doesn't represent a majority of pets, but it is a warning.

Another cat I made journeys with, cowered silently in a corner of her carrier feeling very unsure and frightened. I felt sorry for her since the trips were long.

So when my latest cat became my pet, I resolved to help him enjoy his travels. The little fur ball made his maiden voyage when he was still a little kitten and he travels silently and seems to take travel in stride. He is relaxed and sleepy. I like to think he regards his carrier as a way to time travel to all his different destinations. Upon arriving home from one of his favourite places, he will often go back to his carrier and look inside as if to figure where did that other place go to?

These are my tips for happy travels with cats:

  • Start familiarizing the kitten with your vehicle as soon as you can so the vehicle isn't a scary place. Take him/her into your vehicle in a carrier (so it doesn't escape) and play quiet music, talk to the cat and let them familiarize to the scents of the car. Turn on the motor and run it for a short while. Make the first time fairly simple and short. Make no sudden moves or loud noises. Give the pet a treat right after.
  • Initially, only do small trips in town and never leave a pet alone in the vehicle for any length of time. Summer is especially hazardous because heat builds up in an enclosed vehicle. Plan your trip accordingly.
  • Time your trip so it coincides with the natural cycle your cat sleeps...most cats just love snoozing the day away. I usually plan the start of trips around 9:00 am to 10:00 am
  • Play with your cat/kitten before you leave to use up energy so it will want to snooze after you start the trip.
  • Feed the cat more than, but at least an hour before leaving ( so it has time to use the litter box). Remove drinking water about a half hour before leaving so the pet doesn't suffer needlessly. Keep an eye on the pet so you know that it has used the litter box before you leave. I find my cats do not use the litter box or eat on a trip... though that is known to happen.
  • Pay attention to your pet once in a while by talking to it and if possible orient the carrier so it sees you or someone familiar and doesn't panic.
  • Upon arrival, make the litter box immediately accessible and have food/water available in the new environment. After a brief look around to assess risks , the cat will use the litter box and enjoy food and drink.
  • Praise the cat as he or she exits the carrier and make a bit of a fuss so they feel at home at the destination.

I also take out the carrier at least a day before departure, sometimes longer, so the cat does not associate the carrier with an immediate departure. I put in a tempting blanket and some toys and often he will go take a nap in that welcoming environment, making it a place of safety and relaxation!

A contented and comfortable cat travels like a pro!
A contented and comfortable cat travels like a pro! | Source

When Accidents Happen...

I have to add this great hint offered below on the comments from Boogie's mom, who travels with cats.

She has offered a great idea:

Take along "Ziploc bags and plastic gloves" to take care of the odd accident since no one is perfect and cat's do hack up hair balls quite regularly.

Thank you Boogie's mom!

Other Hubs relating to Cats

I have written a few more Hubs on cats. One of the funnier ones is the time I hurt myself and then had problems almost being tripped by my loving cat.

The other is about how I keep my cat fit and slim.

Update...

I have acquired a larger vehicle and a small puppy crate which I will introduce to my cat . This larger area may make travel even more comfortable for my pal. I will be trying it out shortly and I will add our experience here later. Stay tuned...

Awww...this is THE cutest kitten!!!

More by this Author


Comments 14 comments

Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 6 years ago

Taking care of a cat seems to require the same love and techniques as taking care of a baby ! Great advice here, now I feel more at ease to own a cat and bring it with me when I go for holidays.


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

I guess common sense applies. Cats need to feel comfortable in their surroundings and feeding and allowing them to use the litter pan before a trip is also sensible. These tips have worked for me and my cat and we have done quite a few road trips with the car lasting around 5 hours with very little fuss and he is no worse for the wear ready to investigate at his destination!

Yes, it does seem like taking care of a baby! They can't speak so there is a lot of thinking for them involved, but they do enjoy holidays with you, if you can get them adapted to travel young enough! Happy travelling if you decide to own a cat!

Thanks for commenting!


crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 6 years ago from Washington MI

Great tips, I initially take mine out in a carrier than let them roam in the car our they will scream. The trips are usually more than 10 hours or I would leave them in the carriers. I put them in the carrier before i roll down a window or open a door. Both my cats are pretty good travelers. They started when they were just babies. I did have one (Sully-RIP) who did not travel well. She had this high pitched meow that was so sorrowful it made me cry. IT took several hours for her to calm down, but I use to feel so guilty.

Enjoyable hub :)


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks for the extra hints, because as we all know, each pet is different.

I like the idea of letting them roam in the car before the trip...but I might regret if I tried it with mine, since he is cool with the routine we have! He may just decide to protest once we get going! Not fun!

Those are long trips you take with your cats! I am not sure how mine would weather that long...so for longer trips than 5 or 6 hours perhaps that would be a good idea.

We travelled once with my Mother's cat and the car broke down and we had to get it to the garage...we didn't have a carrier...so the garage put a big sign on the window.."Beware of cat!" (she was hiding amongst the baggage) We all made it to our destination!


Stacie L profile image

Stacie L 5 years ago

Yes, i've taken cats on trips most of my life and they all have their own personalities..good hub!


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Hi Stacie L ! Glad to meet another traveller with cats! I am glad to have a cat that relaxes during the trip. I did make a big effort to get him used to the car from a little kitten; I think that has made a big difference.

He gets lavish praise and attention at the end including treats...I am sure that helps too...lol!

Thanks for commenting! Cheers!


Boogie's mom 4 years ago

Our cat has traveled with us many times in the car and on the boat. In the car, I keep a stash of plastic gloves, ziploc bags and papertowels. This comes in very handy when motion sickness sometimes set in. I can clean up with my husband keeps driving.


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Hi Boogie's mom! Thank you for a very good tip! I have only had one incident over the years, so never thought of this.

I will be adding ziploc bags and plastic gloves to my travelling list. I will also add that to the hub and credit you! Thank you so much!


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Thanks for a great hub with great tips! Up and sharing.


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Hi Vocalcoach! My cat is a seasoned traveller and he settles down for a good long nap on my trips. Certainly makes the trips pleasant for both of us!

Thank you so much for your comments and the share! :)


Deb Welch 3 years ago

Good Hub. I travel for hours with my cat in her carrier with harness & leash. We went to Canada last summer and stayed at a pet friendly hotel - that worked out very well. I was planning a road trip to SC and I was going to purchase a large soft crate for the backseat belted in place with a small box for litter. I think that would have worked as long as you get out now and then - walk around. Thanks - I still may drive to Florida with her. Useful & Interesting.


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

It is good your cat is harness trained. Mine does not use the litter box until after the trip (he refuses to have anything to do with it) so I do have to be careful about how much water he has before and time departure for the time of day he likes to nap anyway.

I always give him priority when I get to my destination and let him know where his litter box , food and water is and as soon as he has scoped the place he sets about having a snack, drink and after awhile, a pee. Then he usually wants some quality time and goes back to exploring.

It is great if you can get your cat to use the litter box in transit. I imagine on a longer trip they would.

Good luck on your trips! I enjoyed your comments!


eurozulu profile image

eurozulu 3 years ago from Harrow Middlesex

We are quite lucky i think with our cat as he just goes straight to sleep.


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

That is excellent. Your cat is a good traveller. I try to plan my trips around my cat's nap time to make sure part of his trip is spent sleeping as well.

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