Planning a road trip this summer? You might be glad to know that road tripping with your cat is not only an option but can be a great bonding experience. You won’t have to find a catsitter and your kitty won’t miss you, but as with everything, it’s important to be prepared!
1. Give your kitty a chance to get familiar with your car.
Start by taking your kitty out to the car, sit in the back seat together and give her a few treats, pet her, brush her. Give her a chance to sniff and explore the entire car. Bring her carrier out to the car and place it where it will be when you travel. Play some soothing music. Maybe take a few short rides around the block, nice and slow so she can get use to the movement and so that you can see how she is going to respond to life in the car.
2. Talk to your vet about medications.
If your cat does not respond well to your test drives talk to your veterinarian about options to treat the anxiety or motion sickness. If you are planning a cross-country move, the distance may be too overwhelming for your cat, but with a carefully prescribed relaxant or herb to take the edge off of your cat might be the best idea depending on the length of your car ride. Your veterinarian has a variety of options that can help soothe your cat on your journey.
3. Offer your cat food and water before you hit the road.
Offer your cat food and water before you head out on the open road. Give kitty time to use the litterbox after she eats. If your cat gets motion sickness, keep the feeding to a light snack. (NOTE: If your cat is likely to get very ill in the car, it’s better to withhold food and water starting about 8 hours before you hit the road. If you have a cat like this you may want consider other options and talk to your vet.)
4. Keep your cat in a carrier.
It’s not safe for your cat to be free moving around your car. She could get under your feet and impare your driving and if you have an accident she could be seriously injured if not in a cat carrier. Carriers provide a safe, quiet space for your cat and will help relieve any anxiety she may feel. We hear stories all the time of cats being lost on road trips and at rest stops, a cat carrier is really important for so many reasons.
5. Prepare for messes.
It might be a good idea to line your cat carrier with disposable liner or some old towels that can be thrown out or washed. This will make an ‘accident’ much more manageable and easy to clean up while you are out on the road. Be sure to bring along a few trash bags for soiled towels.
6. Bring a kitty leash for pit stops.
Map out pit stops along your route about every 2-3 hours so that you can give your cat food, water and a chance to use the litter box. If you have a kitty harness and leash your kitty can even step outside and stretch her legs. If you’ve never used a cat harness or leash please be sure to test it at home to make sure she can’t wriggle out.
7. Make sure your cat has tags and a microchip.
Your cat should be microchipped, expecially when traveling, if your cat is already microchipped make sure the information associated with the microchip is up to date. Your cat might not normally wear a collar and tags at home but when you’re traveling, it’s important to make sure that she is covered should she be spooked and run away.
8. Bring fun toys.
It’s a good idea to bring along some new and exciting toys that your cat has access to play with when you travel. This will help to keep her busy and happy. You can make your own toys and swap them out so she always has something new. Your cat will soon associate fun new suprise toys with road trips.
9. There’s no place like home.
Our pets often feel the same emotions that we feel. Your cat may feel homesick while traveling so consider adding an old t-shirt that smells like you or their favorite blanket. The scent of your home and familiar objects will help make the car feel more like home.
10. Drive safely.
Loud music and sudden stops will make travel more stressful on your cat. Take it nice and slow, giving yourself an extra wide follow gap so that you don’t have to slam on the brakes. Keep music down low and if you can, play something mellow and relaxing. Speak words of encouragement to your cat periodically so that she knows you are thinking of her.
It’s a good idea to bring along your vet’s information and to look up information for animal emergency care at your destination. Animal Poison Control can be reached 24 hours a day at (888) 426-4435 so be sure to program your phone with any and all information you may need on your travels. If your cat gets lost, make sure you have a current photo of your cat to make posters and if you need him, you can always call Henry, the cat who helps find lost cats.
Safe and happy travels to you and your cat. Enjoy your kitten companion and enjoy the ride.