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Tips For Traveling In A Car With Your Cat
Traveling with a cat takes a bit more planning than traveling with a dog. Since the majority of cats are not leash trained or don't walk well on a leash, it is usually not as simple as just loading up your cat and hitting the road.
Cats in the car take strategy and planning to keep you and your cat safe, secure and happy. You need to make sure you have an adequate space for your cat, medical records, medication, food, water, and other supplies.
Here is the best way to plan for car travel with your cat.
Head To The Vet's Office First
If you will be traveling out of your home area or out of state with your cat, you want to make sure that you have a copy of its current vaccination and medical records readily available. Your vet's office will usually gladly supply you with a copy of the records.
Also pick up any prescriptions or special diets for your pet, making sure that you have enough to last the entire trip. You can often get your vet to call in a prescription to an out of town vet or to an out of town pharmacy but it may be a bit harder and could possibly cause a gap in your medicating schedule.
You also may want to discuss your travel plans with your vet and see if he or she has any further suggestions or ideas for making your cat comfortable.
Have Identification On Your Cat
While the tips here take every precaution to make sure your cat is secure, it is best to have some type of identification on your cat. While a collar with a tag will work, you may also want to have your cat microchipped.
Microchipping adds an extra layer of protection for you and your cat. Collars can break and fall off. A microchip, buried just under the cat's skin, can identify a pet's owner and help you get your beloved pet back. Most shelters and vet's offices have a scanner.
Purchase A Sturdy Crate
You next need to purchase a sturdy crate for your cat. It is extremely important to keep your cat contained inside a secure crate fro the entire time your are driving. This is for the safety of your cat and for you. A cat running around a car or van may get underfoot, distract the driver or get into a spot where it is difficult to extract it.
Make sure your cat is in the crate with the door closed and locked any time anyone gets out of the car. All it takes is an open door or window for your cat to jump out and either run and hide or get hit by a passing car.
If you must open the crate, make sure all doors are closed and locked until your cat is back inside the crate.
Having a crate that has a side and top opening also may help with tending to your cat during travel.
Find A Secure Place For the Crate
Obviously the cat should travel inside the vehicle with you. You can place the crate or crates on a seat or in between two back seat passengers. Make sure that the crate is sturdy and secure and won't tip over if there are sudden stops or turns.
If it is an option, you can even use the seat belts to help keep the crate in place and secure your cat.
Attending To Your Cat's Needs
Your cat may not want to eat or drink while they are moving in the car. There are travel safe dishes that can be attached to the door of the crate if you want to offer food.
It may be best to wait until your cat is in a secure building or hotel room to try to offer food, water and litter box.
Litter boxes and bathroom needs are the other big issue for your cat.
I recently traveled about 10 hours with my cat who has kidney failure issues. Because of his medication needs, I felt that keeping him with me while I visited out of town relatives was the best option.
Because of his kidney issues, he ended up urinating several times in the crate. I had a towel under him and would change out the towel at rest stops (and only when the doors were closed). This worked okay (just be sure to have a garbage bag to keep the wet towels in) but next time I might try putting one of the house training pads underneath my cat. This way I can just dispose of the pad and give him a fresh one. I plan to put it over the towel he is laying on so he still has a soft place to sit.
Finding Cat Friendly Hotels
If your trip will take more than a day, you will likely need to do some planning in order to find a hotel that will accommodate you and your cat. There are many pet friendly chain hotels that are close the interstate. Some well known names include:
- Comfort Inn and Suites
- Holiday Inn
- Courtyard Marriott
- Quality Inn
- Motel 6
You will likely want to map out your trip and pre-plan where you will stop and go ahead and reserve your room. Some but not all of these hotels allow pets so you want to make sure you've secured a room that will work for you. You can check out other pet friendly hotels here: http://hotels.petswelcome.com/chains/
Traveling In A Car With A Cat Can Be Done
While traveling with your cat can be a bit more complicated than traveling with a dog, it can be done. It takes planning and patience. Remember to try to reduce the stress of your cat. Being in a crate makes them feel calmer because it invokes a denning instinct.
You can also drape a towel over the crate to help your cat calm down.
If you are worried about traveling with your cat or have before and your cat was particularly stressed, you can talk to your vet about anti-anxiety medicines to help keep your cat calmer while you travel.
Happy and safe travels!