How To Prepare For a Long Travel With Your Cat

Reviewed By Kyoko •  Updated: 10/10/20 •  9 min read
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You might not get the idea yet (maybe you do), but cats hate being stressed out. They do not travel well even under good circumstances and could easily get nervous seeing unfamiliar people and places. They prefer sticking to their routine ways of doing things instead. Traveling with your cat can be fun and also a great way to bond with her. However, you simply can’t cage a cat traveling long distance in a carrier like you’re going on short trips to the vet clinic or to get some groceries and expect all to go fine.

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You’ll definitely run into trouble on the road unless you take proper precautions and make plans before embarking on your trip

There are other options to consider if it’s going to be too much work for you to handle. You could hire a licensed pet sitter that will watch and take care of your cat from time to time to make sure she’s doing okay. You can also consider boarding your cat in a cat-friendly boarding facility. If neither is an option and you must journey the long distance with your feline companion, then the steps below will give you tips for long distance travel with a cat.

Get Your Cat Familiar With Your Car

Long car travel with cats can be problematic. The easiest and best time to start getting ready to travel with a cat across country is when she’s still very little. Right from the very first moment you bring her home always take her with you on short rides, treat her with some special goodies and get her used to the experience. Soon she’ll overcome the fear and start associating car trips to fun and more treat time. However, if you missed doing this while she was still a kitten, there is still a way to remedy the situation. You can begin by bringing her with you to your car in her carrier. Spend some quality time together, talk to her, caress her furs, you can even bring in some of her favorite toys so you can both have a fun playtime together. During the next car visit, turn on the car engine to get her used to the sound. After a few other successful sessions, you can decide to have short and slow car trips to know if she’ll respond differently to a car in motion compared to when it was just in a place with the engine on. With more car rides every now and then, this phase will help you learn how your feline friend will react to long travels.

Pay Your Veterinarian a Visit

Before you think of hitting the road for a long car travel with cats, having a quick chat with your veterinarian is crucial and totally advisable. This is to make sure your kitty is healthy and has all proper vaccinations. A cat traveling long distance might also require a certificate of health while crossing some states, so remember to pack them and her shot records as well. Also, if you haven’t microchipped your cat, now might be a good time to discuss it with your vet. Microchipping your pet will save you a lot of stress as this will help reduce the amount of trouble you’ll go through in finding and identifying your cat if she goes missing in transit. Looking at a different scenario, you tried a few drives with your furry friend to get her acclimatized to her soon to be new home (just for a few hours of course), only for the both of you to go through a horrific experience. Consulting your vet will go a long way to solve this problem. You can simply ask for steps to take for a more pleasant driving experience with your cat. There are varieties of medication for motion sickness or anxiety that can be prescribed to help her relax while you travel. Although it is possible you might end up not having any need for the drugs, but looking on the bright side it doesn’t hurt to have a plan B as you travel with a cat across country.

Get a Comfortable Cat Carrier

It’s true you’re worried sick that your cat will get bored and lonely as a result of spending long hours caged in a carrier. It might seem like a good idea to let her roam around your backseat freely without feeling imprisoned. But think again! Allowing your pet ride with you without proper protection might lead to a tragic accident that could cost her life. Acquiring a comfortable cat carrier is the safest and best option here. It is imperative you don’t make the mistake of getting just any type of carrier for long car travel with cats. For a cat traveling long distance a big and comfortable carrier is advised, one she can easily stand in, move around in, stretch, and lie down comfortably. The carrier should also allow for sufficient ventilation to prevent discomfort due to heat. Interestingly, the holes make her feel safe as she sees you through them throughout the trip.

Getting a big and comfortable carrier for your cat is not enough, you should make sure it’s safely attached

When your furry animal is inside the carrier, always secure it with a seat belt so it doesn’t keep sliding around. Also, try to place it away from sunlight.

Ensure Your Car is Fit For Travel

You simply can’t stress this enough. You’ve checked to make sure your cat is healthy and microchipped. You made sure her carrier is well cleaned and ready to go, you even remembered to get an ID tag for your pet in case she goes missing. But you forgot to check the car you’ll be traveling with to know if the tires are well pumped or if the engine is in a good condition for long miles. People tend to over think the whole process, trying to figure out the best possible ways to give their furry friend a nice trip without considering how time-consuming and stressful it’ll be to have their car breakdown in the middle of the road. Before moving forward with your plans, visit a professional mechanic for a complete car checkup to save you from a lot of road trouble.

Research Cat-Friendly Hotels

This might not seem like a big deal, but not all hotels allow you bring your pets. Before you travel with a cat across country, research a few hotels to find out the ones that accept cats so you don’t end up getting thrown from one hotel to another after a long and tiring journey. After you must have gone through a few hotel websites you should give them a call letting them know you plan on staying with them and that you’re calling to confirm if they allow cats since you’ll be coming with one. Cats have a very high sense of smell and they tend to fall homesick when they are in a new environment where everything smells different. To help your kitty feel at home, you can include her favorite blanket or bed she’ll sleep in to make her feel calmer. Nothing will make her feel more relaxed than the smell of home.

Take a Few Breaks While You Travel

You might want to keep driving in order to get to your destination on time without having breaks. Maybe driving for 6-7 hours have become used to you and you’re thinking your cat could do the same and hold on for that long. The truth is your cat can’t stay that long with you in a car without a break. This could affect her badly as she might start to feel uncomfortable and tired as a result of sitting in one spot for long hours. Cats can also become bored easily sitting for too long. After a few hours’ drive, look for a convenient spot to park and let your kitty out of the carrier for a while. Do not let her out of the carrier to walk around places that are unfamiliar without an ID tag and a leash. Practice a few times at home before traveling to know how she would react to being leashed. If you feel it’s not a good idea to let your cat outside the car when you stop for breaks, you can simply take her out of the carrier and allow her to play around the car for a while before you continue the trip. Make sure all windows and doors are closed and ensure your car is properly ventilated by leaving the air condition on. Also, while making each stop, carefully park your car where the sunlight won’t shine directly and overheat your cat.

Add Cat Supplies to Your Travel Checklist

Going on a long distance travel with a cat is no different from traveling with your baby. You’ll have to pack several baby stuff to ensure your baby is well taken care of. The same thing goes for your feline friend, you’ll need lots of cat items to make sure she enjoys the trip and doesn’t get bored. Here are some items to pack if you’re considering a long distance travel with a cat.

In order to achieve all this, you’ll need to be patient with your cat. Although it can be a little scary and stressful at first, with the proper planning it can turn out to be a memorable experience for the both of you.


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Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!

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