According to the National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, 45.3% of American families own a cat. With such a high number, it’s no surprise that cat owners carry their cats with them when they travel.

Road tripping can be a great bonding experience for you and your cat. So, before you go on a road trip, think about your cat’s behavior. It is preferable to keep them as relaxed as possible when traveling.

Pet Van Lines has put up a list of suggestions to help you and your cat have the greatest, safest, and most enjoyable long-distance transport possible.

How to Get Ready for a Road Trip with Your Cat

  1. Get the right carrier
  2. Prepare your cat for the drive
  3. Bring cat toys
  4. Plan pit stops
  5. Things to pack

Getting the right carrier

Your cat should not be allowed to roam freely in your car when you’re on the road. They could get under your feet and affect your driving. If you don’t keep your cat in a carrier, your cat could be seriously injured in case of an accident.

Get your cat a good carrier that will create a safe, peaceful environment for them and will help relieve at least some of their anxiety.

The cat carrier should be wrapped or covered with a disposable liner or old towels that can be tossed away or washed. This will make a bathroom problem much more manageable and quicker to clean up while you’re on the road.

Spend some time training your cat to enjoy their carrier before the travel day approaches to make restraint stress-free for both you and your cat.

Preparing them for a car drive

Start by bringing your cat out to the car before you leave. Sit in the back seat with your cat and offer them a few goodies before petting and brushing them.

Allow your cat to explore and roam the entire car until they’re comfortable. Then, place them in their carrier and allow them to get used to it.

Turn on some relaxing music. Take a couple of short drives around the block, slow and steady, so your cat gets used to the movement and you can observe how they’ll react to being in the car.

Bring cat toys

When traveling, it’s a good idea to bring their old toys or, if possible, some new and exciting toys for your cat to play with. This will keep them occupied and delighted.

You can swap them out so that they have something new to play with all the time. The more entertained your cat is during the car ride, the more they’ll appreciate the road trip.

Plan pit stops

Make pit stops along the way to give your cat food, water, and a chance to use the litter box every two to three hours or so.

Your cat can even stretch their legs outside if you have a kitty harness and leash. If you’ve never used a cat collar or leash before, make sure you test it out at home to ensure your cat can’t escape.

Pre-Book Cat-Friendly Accommodations

When traveling with cats in a car over long distances, overnight stops will be necessary for you both to get some rest. Planning these accommodations ahead of time is essential for a successful road trip.

Car, tent, or trailer camping can offer lower costs and more flexibility with where you can stay. Most campgrounds or parks allow pets, although be aware of potential pet fees. 

You can also look for pet-friendly hotels or vacation properties along your route. Inquire about pet fees and policies, as some locations may not allow you to leave your cat in the room alone.

Before you book, consider if you want to do any activities that your cat cannot do, such as grocery shopping or going out for dinner. If you need to leave your cat, a trailer or hotel room would be your best option. 

Avoid Leaving Your Cat in The Car

While leaving any pet or person in a car is not advisable, cats are especially vulnerable to overheating and stress. 

Cats do not have sweat glands like us, so you should not leave them in a car if it is 70 degrees or more outside, even with the windows down. 

In cooler temperatures, like a summer evening, you could leave your cat in its carrier with the windows cracked for a short time. However, it is still a risk, and it would be best to find a pet sitter or kitty daycare in advance if you know you will need to leave your cat unattended.

Things to Pack

List of items for cat transport

Make sure to bring a litter box with litter your cat is already used to, a scoop, small garbage bags, and gloves for cleaning. You can also prepare for accidents by packing wet wipes, rags, cleaning supplies, pee pads, and odor-neutralizing solutions.

Your cat’s regular food and water bowls can help them be more comfortable. You should also have harnesses, leashes, nail clippers, medications, vaccination records, and identification tags.

To ease your cat’s stress, remember to pack their favorite toys, blankets, treats, and some catnip. If you have a more anxious cat, consider swaddling products or pheromone wipes and collars to help them.

Moving Long Distance With a Cat

When driving with a cat for longer periods, avoid feeding them right before you head out to prevent nausea and vomiting. You can stop to feed them small amounts of food or treats throughout the trip.

Some cats feel motion sickness on bumpy or winding roads. Elevating their carrier or bed to window height can help. 

If you notice beforehand that your cat feels especially nervous or unwell in the car, speak with your veterinarian about sedatives or tips specific to your feline friend. 

Moving with multiple pets that do not get along can be very stressful, so try to keep as much distance between them as possible. Additionally, make sure your cat is secured before opening any doors.

Having a carrier your cat is comfortable in is vitally important, especially when moving a long distance. Packing and preparing for accidents is also essential due to cats’ habit of marking their territory if they feel nervous.

How to Help Your Cat Adjust to a New Home?

By the time you arrive at your new home, your cat should see their carrier as a safe space. Use this to your advantage while they adjust by leaving it out for them to retreat. Feel free to feed them or let them sleep in their carrier in the beginning.

Expose your cat to the new space slowly, starting with a small, closed room. Do not force them to leave their carrier before they’re ready. Once they feel comfortable, they will explore the space and slowly build their confidence.

When you notice your cat wanders the room freely, you can begin to introduce them to the rest of the home in stages. Make sure to leave the doors of their first room and carrier open, allowing them to retreat if they wish

Cat Transport FAQs

  1. Is it OK to travel long distances with your cat?

With proper planning and preparation, cats can be excellent travel companions. Getting them accustomed to traveling requires patience, but it will be a positive experience for them in the right conditions.

  1.  How do cats go to the bathroom on road trips?

Cats will use their litter box even in a car! Bringing the same litter you use at home will help them feel comfortable doing their business on the road.

  1. Is it stressful to travel with a cat?

Preparing your cat for the journey ahead of time can alleviate stress for you and your feline friend. It also helps to pack anything you may need for accidents and emergencies.

Trustworthy Long-Distance Pet Transport Company

Taking the advice above will guarantee that you and your cat have a safe and enjoyable trip.

If you’re looking for ways to transport your cat safely, Pet Van Lines is happy to assist you. Let our team transport your beloved cat in a stress-free ride, with the assistance of a caring professional and a spacious SUV or minivan.

Fill out our online form or call us at (832) 729-7192 to schedule a transfer or learn more about the places we service.

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