It’s absolutely no secret that most cats just do not like to travel. In fact, most cats love to just stay at home where they feel safe and have many places to hide from danger.
My cats will even run at the first sign of their cat carrier being pulled from my storage closet. They probably associate the carrier with going to the veterinarian’s office for appointments they hate going to. And I can’t really blame them either.
If you can avoid traveling with your beloved feline companions in the first place, then, by all means, avoid it. However, there will be certain circumstances that will make traveling with your cat unavoidable such as when you move to a new home in a different city.
Here are a few tips to help make traveling with your cat a better experience for all passengers including your furbabies.
1. Make Sure You Have a Sturdy Cat Carrier
Always make sure you have a sturdy and dependable cat carrier that they can go in when they need to, such as when making pit stops. Or when the air conditioner in your car suddenly stops working and you have to roll the windows down. This is a lesson I, unfortunately, had to learn the hard way.
One summer, I was going to move to Minneapolis from my home in southern Minnesota. The air conditioner in my car had just died so I rolled down my window about 10 inches or so. My cat carrier was one of those carrier bags from Walmart with screened windows and a zip-up door. Bad Idea!
Long story short, my cat managed to rip the carrier open and since she absolutely hated traveling in the car, she jumped out of the car window that I had opened to let in some fresh air. It was a horrific event that actually turned out to have a happy ending. You can read more about it here.
But since the day that happened, I upgraded my cat carrier to one of those tough hard plastic carriers that you can find almost anywhere. Needless to say, lesson learned.
2. Make Sure To Bring Their Favorite Toys
Another great tip is to make sure that you bring along some of your cat’s favorite toys for the trip. Doing so may help calm them down a little since the toys are sure to smell like your home which is what they were most comfortable in.
It will also give them something to do if they get bored. And if you will be traveling a very long distance, this is bound to happen.
You can actually purchase entire cat toy sets instead of buying them all individually, which can become quite expensive.
3. Bring Some Cat Treats
You’ll also want to bring along your feline companion’s favorite cat treats. This will help in moments of stress when they refuse to eat regular cat food.
You can also use their cat treats to reward them for good behavior such as when they sit back and enjoy the ride without wearing out your eardrums.
4. Bring A Litterbox and Extra Litter
This goes without saying, but bring a litterbox. You can put it behind one of the front seats if you’re traveling in a car or put it in the back if you’re driving an SUV.
I put mine behind the front passenger seat because it doesn’t slide around so it provides a sturdy and safe place for my cats to use the litterbox. It also allows me to monitor their bathroom activity so I can make sure they are actually using the litterbox and not holding in their waste, which is very unhealthy.
And also, because you have your litterbox in a moving object, there is probably going to be some spillage of litter. So to help ensure that you have enough litter for the trip, bring some extra litter along just in case.
You can also buy a special travel litter box. Most of these are easy to clean, highly portable, and some are even collapsible.
5. Bring Plenty of Food and Water
Another sure-fire tip is to always make sure you have enough food and water with you. If you’ve ever traveled with a cat then you know that they spend the first part of a trip letting you know just how bad they don’t want to be in your car. You’re going to hear about it from them. I can almost guarantee it.
They will easily wear themselves out by “freaking out”, and it’s going to make them hungry and very thirsty. Don’t worry if your cat refuses to eat anything at first. This is completely normal and is not a cause for concern.
The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to have regular pit-stops where you actually stop the motion of your car so they can eat, drink, and use the litterbox when your car isn’t moving.
This will make it much easier for them, and also allow you to monitor their activities so you can be sure they are eating and drinking and pooping on a regular basis.
6. Be Careful When Opening Doors and Windows
When traveling with your feline companion in any type of highway vehicle, please make sure you put your cat back in their carrier before you open any doors and windows.
Like I mentioned above, this is a lesson that I learned the hard way. Cats are sneaky creatures, and they can find a way out of your car, they will. Make sure they have a collar that has a way to store their identification on it.
7. Never Leave Your Cat In The Car Unattended
Please, please do not leave your cat alone in the car. This can make things a whole lot worse. Make sure you are prepared ahead of time with all the snacks and beverages you need, and use the pay-at-the-pump feature when filling up your gas tank.
8. Don’t Blast The Volume On Your Car Radio
Your cat’s ears are fragile, and blasting the volume on your car radio could damage their ears. Is your cat yowling terribly loud? I feel for you. I know what that sounds like.
However, blasting your car stereo will surely do more bad than good. However, you can still put music on. Just be sure it’s not playing too loudly.
I’ve also found that playing certain types of music either calmed them down or made them more agitated. For example, when I played rock and roll, they freaked out. But when I played mellow country music or smooth jazz, then they calmed down quite a bit.
9. Show Your Pets Some Love Along The Way
Every once in a while when you have a much needed pit-stop, take some time to calm your cat’s nerves with some petting and soft talk. This would also be a great time to give them some praises and cat treats. The key here is to just show your cat some love so they calm down a little.
10. They May Need Special Medication
If all else fails, you may need to bring your beloved feline companion into the vet to see if they need some medication that will calm them down. This may make a big difference in trip quality.
Also, the veterinarian can give your cat medication for motion sickness if they need it. Consult your veterinarian if you think this may be a solution for you.
I have never needed to use these medications for my cats, so I cannot comment as to their effectiveness. Just know that medication is definitely an option if all else fails.