6 Tips for Traveling with Cats
Updated: Feb 5
If you love your cats like family, there may have been times when it was difficult to travel without them. Perhaps you sent them to a boarding kennel or entrusted a friend or family member to keep watch over them until you return. However, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find a way to bring your light-footed friends with you. It isn’t easy starting out, but with a little practice your cat can become your favorite travel buddy. Here I've put together some of my best tips for a great experience!
**Disclaimer: you may stumble upon affiliate links within some of the posts. If you're not familiar with affiliate links, they're a way for me to make a commission when you click on a link or make a purchase - such as when I post about my favorite pet care products or the best travel gear - but don't worry, this comes at no cost to you, it's simply a way to keep this blog up and running. I would never include links to products that I wouldn't use or support!**
1. Carrier or Free-Roam. Traveling with your cat can be a rewarding experience, if done properly. The first step is to decide if you want your cat to be confined to a cat carrier for the trip or if he/she will be able to roam the car freely. This mostly depends on your cats personality: is he/she timid or independent? Will he/she distract you, if you’re the one driving? This is a very important decision and there are lots of things to consider, especially the risks of getting into an accident. No matter what you choose, always keep a cat carrier with you for safety purposes.
2. Go for a test drive (or two). Has your cat ever been in a vehicle before? Chances are, he/she might be terrified by the loud, scary, moving machine. My cats are usually mellow, but I get the claws as soon as they hear the engine running. Don’t attempt to start the car yet (unless you like having tiger striped claw marks!). If your cat is easily frightened, wrap him/her up in a blanket before trying to get him/her into the car. Once inside, start small: let him/her relax, keep an eye on out, and let them wander around the car. There will be lots of new smells and it may take awhile for him/her to sniff everything and determine if it’s safe or not. Your cat may not be completely adjusted just because he/she seems at ease; try letting your cat wander around a few times on separate days to get him/her used to the idea. Then, you can try to get him/her acclimated to the sound of the running car. Eventually, you can take short trips to get him/her used to the feeling of driving but remember - getting your cat used to being in the car takes lots of patience and coaxing. Some cats are natural born travelers, while others are more timid. It all depends on the cat and it’s your responsibility to make sure that he/she is completely comfortable - look at you, responsible pet parent! :)
3. Pack extra food & water. Just as you would take emergency items for yourself, be sure to pack extra necessities for your furry friend. When it comes to food and water for your cat, be sure to take more than you expect you’ll need. Better to have too much than too little when it comes to the important stuff of course.
4. Pack a litter box. Even if you know nothing about cats, everyone knows what comes out the other end. This can be a bit inconvenient during a road trip, so make sure you’re prepared. I usually buy a new litter box before my trip and then pack it with the rest of my cat’s necessities, including a big resealable bag full of litter. You can also purchase litter box liners for easy cleanup, just be sure to dispose of them properly.
5. Consider a harness for frequent stops. This is 2 tips in one; first, be sure to make frequent stops to allow your cat to breathe fresh air and stretch his/her legs. Second, think about harness training your cat to make it easier to walk him/her at rest stops. Training your cat to use a harness can have a lot of benefits for both you and your cat, so it’s definitely something I would recommend looking into. This is the beginner harness that I used for Seely and I also purchased a retractible leash to allow for a bit more freedom. For more info, read this post about harness training your cat where I lay out the steps needed to get your cat feeling comfortable and ready to take on the great outdoors.
6. Scope out Pet-Friendly Hotels. If you plan to stay at a hotel during your trip, it’s best to plan this in advance to find the best hotel that allows pets (hopefully for free). There are several websites that can help you find pet-friendly hotels and get you started. Since there are lots of Red Roof Inn’s on my way to visit my family, we usually book a room there and they allow one pet for free. Just be sure to read the fine print on hotel websites - sometimes they charge a fee per animal, but sometimes it will just be on a per room basis.
When traveling with your cat there are lots of important things to consider, so be sure to research everything thoroughly and make sure you’re prepared for anything and everything. I hope this post helped you and convinced you that it is possible for you to have a great traveling experience with your best friend and furry pawed co-pilot.
Have any of your own tips to add? Feel free to comment them below!