While you love your feline companion, the thought of traveling in a car with your cat for hours is not something most pet parents look forward to. Is it safe? Is it even possible? Is it a good idea?
While it’s not one of the best ideas in the world, sometimes you don’t have a choice. Luckily, if you prepare ahead of time, you shouldn’t have much of a problem traveling in a car with your cat.
There’s a lot to consider, and research is critical. In this blog, we’ll give you our top 10 tips on traveling with your furry friend on a trip for long hours in the car.
The 10 Tips on How to Road Trip and Car Travel With Your Cat
1. Purchase a Durable Cat Carrier
While your cat needs to be comfortable during a long car ride, it’s also essential for the cat to be safe. The first step in making both of these things happen is to purchase a durable, roomy cat carrier.
You want the carrier to be big enough for your cat to turn around in but not too big, where your feline will slide and slip around when the car is in motion.
Once you’ve chosen a durable cat carrier, make sure that you secure it in the back seat with a seatbelt for added stability. In most states, it is illegal to let your cat or dog run free inside the car when you’re on the road. Not only can a cat running around the car end up injured, but it’s also a distraction to the driver, which could put your life and the lives of others at risk should anything happen.
2. Let Your Cat Get Used to the Carrier at Home
Cats are suspicious by nature and get scared easily in new situations. Once your cat carrier is delivered, put it in the middle of the room and let your cat get used to it. Let the cat walk in and out, explore the carrier, and even sleep in it if it wants to so that it comes to see the carrier as a safe space.
This is especially important if you’re using a carrier that you’ve used to take the cat to the vet. Don’t be afraid to use treats, favorite toys, and favorite blankets to lure your cat to the carrier and help make it a place the cat doesn’t mind being in.
3. Spend Some Time in the Car with Your Cat
Once your cat is used to the carrier, take the carrier with the cat inside the car. This is crucial if you’re taking your cat on a trip in the car for the very first time. Put the cat in the carrier and spend some time together in the car without the car being cranked. Once the cat is used to being in the car, you can start the car so that the cat can get used to the vibration and sounds of a running car.
At this point, keep the car stationary, so your cat can become accustomed to the sounds. Once it seems relaxed, try taking a short drive around the neighborhood to see how the cat reacts.
4. Keep Your Cat Safe with a Harness and Leash
Before you even take your cat out of the house, purchase a harness and leash to take your cat from the house to the car and anywhere else you go where the cat will be outside. While most cats don’t take kindly to being on a leash, it is the best way to ensure your cat doesn’t dart away from you and become lost or worse.
You’re going to have to let your cat out of the carrier to use the bathroom, and having the cat on a leash ensures this isn’t as difficult as it would normally be. Before you leave on your trip, you should put the harness and leash on your cat and get it used to walking along with you.
5. Find Pet-Friendly Hotels Ahead of Departure
The last thing you want is to end up at your destination and not be able to find a hotel or any other pet-friendly accommodations. Plenty of hotels allow pets; however, you need to call ahead of time and book your accommodations to ensure they have a room.
6. Never Leave Your Cat in the Car Alone
You probably already know that it’s illegal in every state to leave a pet in a car unattended, even if you leave the windows cracked. Not only is it illegal, but it’s also something you should never do.
While every state has laws concerning how long you’re allowed to leave a pet unattended in the car, even going in for a bathroom break at the local McDonald’s shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. The news is full of stories about cats that have died in hot cars when left unattended; don’t let your cat be a statistic.
7. Visit Your Vet Beforehand
Make sure to take your cat in for a checkup before leaving on your trip. Let your vet give your cat a checkup to ensure it’s in top shape to make the trip and is caught up with all its vaccines.
Taking your cat to the vet for a checkup before you head out on a long trip is a great way to give yourself peace of mind that the cat is ready for the journey and will be healthy and happy.
8. Consider Microchipping
Even if you have a leash and harness for your cat, you should consider having the cat microchipped before you leave for your trip. If your cat escapes the leash, it’s still possible that someone will find it and take it to be scanned so you can be reunited with your feline friend.
You might also consider taking pictures of your cat and ensuring the cat’s name, address, phone number, and other information is on its carrier and any crate you use to transport it. Make sure to put the words “live animal” on the side of the container.
9. Plan for the Unexpected
As with anything else, you need to plan for the unexpected. If you’ve never traveled with your cat before, or even if you have, you know that the unexpected can and will happen. Just in case, it’s best to check with the airline you like the most to see their pet policy if the worst should happen and you have to fly back home immediately.
10. Take Your Time
The biggest thing you can do to help prepare your cat for traveling in a car is to take your time with the process. If you have the time before you leave for your trip, take your cat on a few test drives.
Remember, this might be new for you, but it’s new for your cat, so be patient, don’t yell at your cat, and always pamper it when you reach your location.
Traveling with your cat can be aggravating, exhausting, and more than a bit overwhelming. Luckily, there are ways that you can prepare your cat for the trip that will make it easier on you and your feline companion.
From getting your cat used to being in the carrier and a moving car to having your pet microchipped for safety’s sake, these tips will help you make traveling with your cat in the car not only bearable but perhaps pleasurable.
Featured Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock