The 7 Essentials Every Traveling Cat Needs
Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Traveling with your cat can be a fun, rewarding experience as long as you have a good mindset and all of the essentials. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my other post "6 Tips for Traveling with Cats" which details how to introduce your cat to the idea of car rides. For this post, we’ll be exploring the necessities and helping you build a “cat travel checklist” that will go wherever your adventures take you.
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Water is crucial for any trip, so you don’t want to forget to pack enough for your cat and yourself. It can be really easy to find a gas station and buy a bottle of water if you need it, but you also have to consider how long you can leave your cat in the car unattended. This is not usually an issue for us (I always wait in the car with our cats to make sure no one is panicking) but if you are traveling alone, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t leaving your cat for long periods of time, even waiting in line at a gas station.
When starting off any trip, you always want to make sure you have enough food to feed your cat everyday and then some. Our cats get fed about ¼ cup twice a day, so if we take a 3 day trip I usually bring about 2-3 cups worth of food just to be on the safe side. Even though we may treat our cats like our kids, that doesn’t mean we can stop and get drive-thru when everyone is tired and hungry - so it’s better to be prepared with a little extra.
#3. COLLAR OR HARNESS
If you’re planning on traveling with your cat, you should consider getting a collar with tags just like you would have to for a dog. If you stop at a rest stop or a grocery store and your cat escapes somehow, having a tag with their name and your phone number on it can really make a difference. My cats wear collars at home in case they get out in the neighborhood, but for traveling I started harness training for a little extra security. They wear their harnesses (with tags attached) when we’re in the car and this way I can walk them on a leash when we hit a rest stop. If we’re just running to get donuts and back, a collar will do just fine - but when we take a camping trip or travel to visit family, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
#4. CAT CARRIER
In some states, it is required that when traveling with your pet in the car, you have to either have your cat restrained (i.e. in a carrier) or at least have a cat carrier on board in case of emergency. The laws are different everywhere, but I always like to have a cat carrier regardless. If we stay at a hotel, visit family, or just need to get the cats from one place to another, having a carrier on board makes this much easier for us. We've tested a lot of different cat carriers over the years and we finally found this one that we love - it’s even TSA approved if we ever wanted to fly with the cats (nope) and it folds down easily.
#5. LITTER BOX
Pretty straightforward, you'll want to have a litter box that's ready to go and easy for your cat to access during the trip. We usually put the litter box on the floor behind the passenger seat (I don't need as much leg room) and we use lightweight litter for easier removal and scooping. I'm obsessed with top-entry litter boxes after years of cleaning up messy trays, so this is the one we use now and it's so much easier to clean. I was worried the cats wouldn't know how to use it in the car, but halfway through our 5 hour trip we heard the sound of litter being pawed around and I wasn't worried anymore. If you keep your cat restrained while driving, be sure to stop somewhere for 10-15 minutes and let your cat explore the litter box.
Most people probably wouldn’t consider either of these things “necessities” but having a small throw blanket with a familiar scent can help your cat feel right at home and can protect your seat from excess cat hair or scratching. Bringing your cats favorite snacks will let them know they are still loved and even though they're probably stressed out, they are more likely to calm down if you give them treats to coax them. We always stock up on Party Mix because our cats are obsessed and also Greenies - for some reason our cats love them and they are great for their teeth. Toys also have a familiar scent and when laced with catnip, they can also make your pet sleepy for the long ride.
Last but not least, if you are traveling out of state for any reason you need to have a copy of your pets vaccination records. You know your cat is happy and healthy, but an out-of-state cop doesn’t know your pet doesn’t have rabies, so you’ll need to provide proof of that. It’s also helpful to have in case your cat needs an emergency vet trip - having those records on hand will make things much easier for an unfamiliar vet.
Now that you have all the essentials necessary to keep your pet happy and healthy, you are ready to explore the great big world with your feline bestie by your side. Do you have anything special you bring along when traveling with your cat? Be sure to leave a comment below, we're always looking for new ways to make traveling with cats more fun!