When I made the decision to move from Florida to Missouri with my 7 cats, I can’t deny I was worried about how they would tolerate a 2-day road trip and some 20-plus hours in the car. As it turns out, with some planning and preparation, the travel went off without any major hitches! Here are some tips and tricks I learned that you might find useful if you’re planning a long drive with your cats in tow.
Pre-Trip Vet Visit: One of my cats requires daily medication for a heart condition. Before our trip, I consulted with his cardiologist to see if I needed to take any special precautions for him. I also got copies of all of my cats’ records and current vaccination information. Some states will require health certificates when you cross state lines with a pet. (However, on my drive from Florida to Missouri, I was never asked for them.)
Carriers & Crates: This is a must! Not only is it much safer for you to have your cat confined instead of distracting you while you drive, he will also be more comfortable and likely feel more safe if he’s nervous about the ride. Since I was taking a long trip and my cats are all used to (and enjoy) car rides, I opted for larger crates, doubled them up two cats per crate and included a water dish and litter box for each one. However, a small hard carrier is just fine, and chances are your cat will not use the litter box on the road.
Windows: It’s best to keep your windows rolled up. Your cat will probably already be nervous and the noise and wind will further irritate him. Also, make sure he’s not sitting in direct sunlight where he’ll get overheated.
Food: Withhold food the morning of your trip. Many cats get carsick, and this will make cleanup a lot easier. They’ll be much less likely to need to poop in the car, too! (If you’ve ever been trapped in the car with a cat that just pooped, you know you don’t want that to ever happen again!)
Take Breaks: Just like we 2-legged animals need to stop and stretch our legs, it’s nice for your cats to get breaks, too. Stay inside the car with the doors closed if you let your cat out of his carrier. Resist the urge to take your cat out of the car on a road trip. It’s just too risky to have a nervous kitty loose near the highway. He could very easily bolt and the results could be devastating.
Motels: If you’re driving more than 10-12 hours, plan to stay at a motel. There are plenty of pet-friendly motels (some won’t even make you pay a pet deposit!). Before you let your cat loose in the room, check for any hiding spots he might run to. I like to set up a disposable litter pan on a large black trash bag. When we’re ready to leave, it makes clean up a breeze, and doesn’t leave too much mess for housekeeping after I’m gone.
With a bit of planning, you too can safely and easily travel long distances with your cats! One last thing – we’ve all heard the dangers of leaving pets alone in cars. As tempting as it is to stop at a interesting restaurant or shop while you’re on your trip…don’t ever leave your cat alone in the car. It’s simply too dangerous.
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