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 and make a bit of a fuss so they feel at home at the destination. carrier
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!
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 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...