We all need to take some time off once in a while and so do our cats! What better way to spend your holidays than with your best friend? Whoohoo, your first road trip with a cat! It’s going to be lots of fun!
But then, it starts to go through your mind how this isn’t going to end well. There are a bunch of things that can go very wrong the minute you get in that vehicle. “What if my holiday turns out to be a real nightmare?”
The first time I started packing up for a road trip with my cat I didn’t think it was necessary to double-check stuff. I just thought that I got this and that this can’t be a hard thing to do.
However, once we started driving, all hell broke loose. All of a sudden, I needed every single item that I didn’t bring with me because I thought it was unnecessary! So I made myself a mental note for the next road trip I take with my cat to always check things twice.
If you also had a bad first experience traveling with your pet, don’t get discouraged. All you need to do is prepare well and be ready for anything that’ll be thrown at your feet. Trust me, I’ve been there and done that. Learn from my mistakes!
If you’re riding in a car with your furry companion for the first time, I can only assume how excited you are. I was through the roof once I found out I could bring my cat with me on vacation.
However, once that feeling of joy settles down and you start thinking about the actual journey, it can set a totally different mood. You start to wonder how is your feline going to behave on this road trip.
How to travel with your cat?
“What should I pack up? Do I buy her stuff when we get there or do I bring all of her belongings? Is she going to be car sick or need to use the restroom? Will she love the road trip or hate me for taking her with me? I’m losing my mind!“
Once you calm down, you start to think more logically. You make a conclusion that you need a list of all the things your cat will require. Thankfully, I have prepared it for you. But before we start, you need to know a few things.
Felines are similar to humans in terms of reacting to new stimuli. For instance, one of my furbabies, Simba, absolutely adores road trips. On the contrary, I can’t say the same for my other cat, Ivy. She’s the total opposite and she’ll act like I’m kidnapping her!
Perhaps it has to do something with the vet visits we’ve been making lately. Maybe she thinks she’s going to get jabbed by the doctor. Either way, it’s safe to say that the car is in a chaotic state once the ride’s over.
As every pet parent, I was worried these drives were going to negatively affect her, especially on longer trips we take on holidays. Therefore, I made an essential list of all tips and tricks to make the road trip with my cats more relaxed and enjoyable.
It might take you a few tries and a couple of double-checks to fit everything you need in this little checklist of yours. You’ll remove some and add a bunch of other things. And oh, don’t worry, you’ll definitely have a feeling like you forgot something!
1. Safety first
The most important thing would be your cat’s safety, especially if she’s traveling for the first time. When felines aren’t acquainted with a new space, they can easily get stressed out.
All of a sudden, she’s out of her comfy bed and in a huge moving thing with a roaring engine. Besides that, she can get freaked out by the background noises coming from the street, such as dogs barking or cars honking.
If you have a silly cat as I do, she’ll probably start bashing things around to try and escape back to her humble abode. The bad news is that it really takes her some time to figure out that it’s not going to happen.
So by the time she’s done being berserk and all over the place, you’re exhausted with scratches and cuts all over your body and face. Even though she’s settled, your cat might still be showing clear signs of distress.
This can definitely tug at your heartstrings and make you wish you could just turn around and go back home. However, to avoid this road trip with your cat getting ruined, make sure you put her in a carrier. Trust me when I tell you, these are lifesavers!
Cats like to hide somewhere when they’re scared. A basic, appropriate-sized plastic carrier will do the trick all while giving her some space to turn and move around. Also, you won’t be worried about your pet receiving fresh air and you can peek through those tiny holes to spy on your cat anytime you want.
This way, you’re putting her safety first, but yours as well. Once safe and sound in this transporter, she won’t have the opportunity to dig out holes instead of your eyes and cling onto your skin as if it was a curtain!
2. Get comfy
Is a road trip a totally new thing to your cat? You might want to consider this before heading on a long journey, especially if it involves a couple of hours of driving at high speed.
Felines are delicate creatures and a sudden change of environment can startle them. “But now I know to bring the carrier with me, so everything should be fine, right?” Well, it should, but it doesn’t guarantee a trip with no accidents.
The first time I went on an adventure like that with my furry friend, I paid close attention to her behavior. Although she got considerably comfortable in her carrier, Ivy still wasn’t totally used to the new space. That’s when I realized that I need to take things at a slower pace.
No, I’m not talking about driving under the allowed limit as if walking on eggs. I’m saying you should get your cat used to driving in the vehicle, even if this isn’t her first time. The doctor is just a couple of minutes away, but your vacation might take a couple of hours of driving to the destination.
What I did was use lots of treats to bribe her. I scattered them around the car without starting the engine. I turned the ignition key only when she felt comfortable enough to just lounge on the seat. If this goes well with your feline, the next step would be driving around the block for a short amount of time.
This way, you’re not risking her losing her mind in the middle of the road trip. It also guarantees no emergency stops and breaks because she’s meowing so loud in the back. If she’s just a kitten, exposure to new surroundings and experiences can be a great way to socialize her at a young age.
3. Calming remedies
Perhaps you have a cat that’s usually nervous even without the noise of the engine and the strange sounds coming from the street. This can be tricky because her anxiety will definitely be at its peak now.
However, don’t get discouraged and give up on your road trip thinking it’s a mission impossible. Thankfully, there are lots of medications and calming remedies to give to your pet before the drive to your location.
Keep in mind that this really shouldn’t be your main option. You should opt for this only when you’ve exhausted all of the other strategies. Also, make sure you play it safe and don’t make this decision on your own because it could easily come back to bite you.
Before heading on this adventure, talk to your veterinarian about the travel sprays and see what they recommend. After all, medically speaking, they know your feline best. And if you’re skeptical about using a calming spray, there are other options.
For instance, my pet absolutely hates the sound of a spray can. So I figured why make her even more uncomfortable than she already is? On top of all the anxiety Ivy’s already feeling while in the car, this would be like adding fuel to an already raging fire!
So I did a bit of research, talked to my cat’s doctors, peeked into different pet shops, and asked for people’s recommendations. There are some cat-appropriate treats that have a relaxing effect on nervous pets. What better way to calm down a guzzler?
However, you must be aware that felines can get car sick, especially if they’ve had something to eat before the trip. Go for some calming treats that have a long-lasting effect so you can feed her a couple of hours before heading.
4. Pack up!
As if you didn’t already know this. Some people hate this part while others love it. It doesn’t matter if you’re either one of those because both types have something in common: forgetting stuff.
Don’t you just hate when you’ve zipped up all your bags and then you see something you left out? It wouldn’t be such a big deal if it was a piece of clothing or something you can go without.
However, when it comes to your furbaby, you need to have everything sorted out and in one place. I know how important it is to bring everything with you on a road trip with your cat.
This includes her favorite toys to help her relax a bit during the drive. Don’t expect her to play with them the minute she hops in her carrier. They’ll serve her as more of a comfort blanket. Felines rely highly on their sense of smell and sniffing a familiar toy may help calm her down.
Next to toys, make sure to bring some food if it’s a longer trip. No one likes to be hungry and the same goes for your greedy feline. However, give her lunch when you stop the car or take a quick break outside so it doesn’t end up all over your seats.
Probably the most important thing would be to bring her meds if she’s taking any. I was so happy because I remembered to bring them the last time I went on a road trip with my cat.
Thankfully, nothing happened but the place we went to didn’t have a vet’s office nearby! You never know when you’re going to need them.
5. Bring a loo with you
Just like you sometimes can’t wait to get to the restroom, your pet might have the same urge! Felines can go from 24 to 48 hours without urinating. However, it’s not recommended to wait this long until she can relieve herself.
But where will she do her business if she’s stuck in the car? That’s where her litter box comes to the rescue. You probably already packed it and put it in your trunk because she’ll need it once you get to your destination.
But what if she has to go while you’re driving and can’t make any emergency stops? To avoid this from happening, make sure you’re familiar with your pet’s routine. Try to head on the road trip after she’s done her business.
Still, your furbaby might have trouble holding it when all the anxiety kicks in. Some felines will urinate out of fear. You’re lucky if you can recognize the signs when she’s about to do that. So it would be best to bring a covered litter box with small doors.
Also, it’s important you bring a clean litter box. Let’s face it – it doesn’t smell like roses even when it’s completely clean! Trust me, you don’t want to be stuck in a car with a used kitty bathroom for long!
To help your case, there are dozens of types of scented litter you can choose from. It can definitely help with masking the odor until you’re able to stop or reach your destination.
You could also pack up a harness and a lead if your pet’s used to it and likes going for a walk. You can use this to take her out to potty or just stretch her legs. However, don’t be out for too long as new surroundings can easily overwhelm your feline.
6. Stay hydrated!
One of the most crucial things for all living beings is to stay hydrated. Humans and their four-legged companions have one thing in common – both can last without water for up to three days.
Of course, you’re not going to hike through a desert with your pet. But still, stress caused by the sudden change of environment can cause your feline to be extremely thirsty. Well, I know what you’re thinking.
“My cat hates water and she’s never thirsty. Her water bowl is always full! She despises anything that has to do with it and even shakes her paws when they’re wet!“
It’s true that felines aren’t really fond of water but they can crave it in situations like these. Therefore, make sure to pack up a portable, fresh bottle of water just in case. If she refuses to drink from it, you can always buy one of those traveling plastic bowls.
Keep in mind that lapping up water will bring out another urge in your feline. That’s why you have to pay close attention to the previous tip we talked about!
Even with all these options available, my furry buddy still didn’t want to take a sip. I started to worry because it was a long drive. That’s when I remember I packed some raspberries and other fruits to snack on. You might wonder what this has to do with your kitten.
Well, if your fluffy baby likes to nibble down on everything as my cat does, raspberries can make a great treat for her. She’ll have something to do and they’ll keep her hydrated throughout the trip. However, don’t get carried away with these as they still have natural sugars in them.
7. Take breaks
No one likes to be cramped up in a car for a long period of time. You’ll probably want to take a few quick stops here and there to stretch your legs.
However, the same goes for your feline companion. Especially if she’s been in that carrier for too long. Quick breaks will allow both you and your pet to refresh and have some water and snacks. And of course, don’t forget about the potty break!
Taking a breath here and there will be beneficial for your cat if she’s riding the car for the first time. You can’t only give her calming treats or spray her down with some travel sprays and expect her to comply.
If your pet’s a curious one, these stops could be an additional way to have more fun on your road trip. I always used to do a five-minute walk with my Simba on a harness and a lead. She’s just an adventurous spirit and beams of joy because of that!
But remember my other cat who’s not a fan of traveling? Too many stops wouldn’t be acceptable for her in that condition. She’d probably become even more alert with all the doors opening and closing shut and I’d be trying my luck with starting the car all over again.
So make sure you make all the right stops when necessary and don’t make them so often. That is unless you need to take an emergency break, of course.
8. Never leave your cat in a hot car!
During the road trip with your cat, your car is on and you have air conditioning the whole time you’re traveling. Hot summer roads can be a fun thing to experience with wind in your hair.
However, maybe you’ll need to take a quick stop and leave your pet by herself for a minute or two. This can be completely safe for her but it can also turn out to be quite a disaster.
Even if it’s not too hot on the outside and the temperature actually suits you, you have to know that it’s a completely different thing in a heated car. If your cat’s trapped in it for longer than just a couple of minutes, it could feel like she’s in an oven!
So the best case scenario would be taking your cat with you. However, if that’s not possible, make sure you leave the air conditioning on and don’t make her wait too long for you! Heat strokes are very dangerous and can be lethal if you don’t address them on time.
Packing up for a road trip with a cat can be both exhausting and enjoyable. I hope this article will make things easier for you, so everything goes smoothly.
Now you know everything you need to bring with you on your road trip with a cat. However, there’s much more to a seemingly simple journey than just a couple of bags.
If you thought that all you needed to do was pack your stuff and bring your pet with you, you’re wrong. There are a bunch of things you need to keep an eye on to make sure everything goes well.
Whether you’re going on a ride for the first time with your feline or you already have some experience, it’s always good to have a small reminder like this. Take it from me; I was totally inexperienced when we embarked on this journey but hey, it turned out great!
Make sure you double-check all of your belongings and make your cat comfortable. This will help you a ton with avoiding any possible accidents. The most important thing is to stay safe and have lots of fun. After all, I guess it’s not a mission impossible!