Traveling with a cat isn’t the wisest thing to do when planning a road trip. Cats aren’t really fans of traveling; some of them might even get stress symptoms. Most cats, resent being in the car. Misty and princess are my indoor cats; I take them out only to the vet.
Almost two years ago, I put Princess and Misty in their carrier to take them to the vet by car. Once arrived, I noticed that Misty has peed all over her carrier and on her sister too; the poor baby was so stressed that she couldn’t hold it. I then concluded that getting Misty in the car isn’t a good idea, so the only times I put her in the car is when I have to take her to her vet or when it’s extremely urgent.
Then, what I was always avoiding came, I had to move from Nova Scotia to Ontario and take the cats with me. It was a stressful time for me, not the move itself, but the cats move. I did a lot of researches and asked many of my friends and family members:” how to travel with a cat ?” to come up with the right and comfortable way for Princess and Misty to move.
I was confused whether or not to keep them with us in the car or if it would be better to send them in with Air Canada to Ottawa so that my mom could pick them up upon arrival, or should I go with them on the plane ride, though I have no idea how to travel with cat on airplane. After a consult with their vet, she recommended that they stay with us in the car; it would be easier for them, and also it would relieve me to have them close to me and not alone in some airplane. And so was the choice, we just had to make the trip with the kitties work.
Traveling with a cat isn’t easy, and traveling with two adult cats for long distances is certainly not a piece of cake, but you can make it work just like I did. So if you’re wondering “how do you travel with a cat ?” here are few tips I gathered from my researches and vet consults, also from the 1,700 km drive we had from Middleton, NS to Pembroke, with Misty and Princess.
A vet visit beforehand is inevitable:
Traveling with a cat needs a lot of preparations beforehand, starting with a vet visit. It’s important to see the cat’s vet before taking the road, to make sure that everything is ok with her health, that all her vaccinations have been done, and all the checkups indicate a healthy kitty, besides who can give you a better-personalized advice about whether or not to take fluffy in the road with you and how to deal with it than her vet?!
Our vet’s visit was worth the money we spend their, the vet gave us a bunch of natural sedatives for the kitties to help them relax and chill during the trip to make it the most stress-free possible for them.
Accommodate your cat to the car:
If your cat never left home in the car or if it’s been a while, before traveling with a cat you would want to give him or her a try of what it feels like to be on the road; so a few weeks before the trip, schedule short trips of 20 or 30 minutes with your kitty in his cage, so that he or she could get a taste of the ride, and get used to the smells of the cage, the motion, and the sounds.
While you’re riding treat your kitty and repeat the procedure many times as you can before the trip so that Fluffy could have enough time to get used to the car and the road. These short trips are good experimental rides for you too; as you get to know what your kitty needs to have in order to have a stress free road trip, and then adjust.
Get prescription medication for motion sickness, if necessary:
If your cat gets nausea from the rides, which you probably noticed during your mini-trials of traveling with a cat, consult your vet to give you meds to reduce his nausea symptoms, ginger is also a good remedy for nausea for people, and also for cats. You can have it in liquid forms too.
The carrier should not only fit the cats but also makes space for them when they stand up:
When traveling with a cat, you want the travel cat cage to be comfortable for the kitty, you don’t want her to feel cramped, and also you’ll need it to fit a blanket, food, and water, also to travel with cat litter box -their litter box- is so important.
I highly recommend that you don’t let this task to the last moments, as I had to look for the right carrier for my daughters in many stores and when I finally found one I was an hour away from home.
It’s good to buy the right travel cat cage beforehand so that your cat could get used to it, he or she will definitely need some time to get in it. Do not force him! Just leave the door open around him and wait until he voluntarily gets comfortable going into it.
Spray the inside of the carrier and car with Feliway 20 minutes before you’re ready to go:
It’s a product that mimics the pheromones that cats produce when they’re cozy and relaxed in their territory. It would help when traveling with a cat to calm him.
Just make sure that your kitty reacts well to Feliway before you spray it in the car, in his or her carrier and her travel cat bag; as it’s proven that a minority of cats have opposite reactions to this product.
Place your cat in the carrier with the harness on:
While traveling with a cat, it’s important to have a harness or a leash in the cat travel cage, if somehow your cat gets out the cage or decides to jump out the window, it’s good to have something to hold on to.
Allow your cat to stretch its legs:
That’s where the need for a leash or a harness comes in, Your cat wouldn’t want to stay the entire road trip caged and cramped, it’s good to let him or her stretch their legs when you take breaks also it’s a good opportunity to use the litter.
Putting familiar items from the household helps the kitty remain calm:
The best way to travel with a cat in the car is to get a familiar item next to them for them to feel home. I put a blanket they love to sleep in, of course, it’s full of cat hairs, it helped to make them have a scent of home on the road.
Bring a case of bottled water with you:
Traveling with a cat will definitely need you to bring a case of bottled water with you, not only you and your family will drink from it but also your kitty, just remember to bring a dish to pour the water in for the kitty.
John and I forgot packing a dish so we improvised; john cut a water bottle in half to turn it into a bowl for the little cuties to drink from. I noted that they were more into drinking water than eating.
Take regular pauses in the road from time to time:
We took breaks every 2 or 3 hours for the cats to eat a little, drink more and use the litter box. It makes them rest from the rough roads for a while. Don’t let them out the carrier though unless they have their harness or leash on, as they might run away, and please don’t leave your kids or your animals, especially when traveling with cats in car, inside the vehicle alone, it makes them freak out and it’s highly inappropriate!
Make sure the hotel you’re staying in accepts cats beforehand:
We had to drive straight through so that we don’t have to show up in a hotel with our cats, but if you ever have to spend a night in to rest while traveling with a cat make sure you do it in a hotel which policy accepts pets.
Give your kitty the freedom to choose her eating times:
I consulted asked Petcurean’s Pet Nutritionist, Michele Dixon, about the number of times one should be feeding his/her pet when traveling with a cat, she said that it’s up to the kitty to choose, there is no rule that dictates the meal times neither on the road nor at home, in my case her suggest was to check on my Catster for some trip advices.
Now that we are settled in this home, we don’t plan on having Princess and Misty on the road any sooner, and I’m just grateful that we are happily settled and that traveling with a cat experience of ours went better than I expected.