Travelling with cats long-distance in a car can be really hard for you the owner and extremely stressful for the cat. Car rides with cats require preparation and effort to ensure the transition is smooth and easy. After all, they are routined, pets of habit and anything either than that will cause them to react unpleasantly.
Cats have gotten a bad reputation when it comes to car rides and traveling since their initial reaction is blown out of proportion making people believe that they hate travelling.
This, however, is not true as it gives an inaccurate reflection to cats as a whole. Cats first time reaction to travelling is often bad, aggressive and very daunting since they are not used and they feel threatened.
With these 10 tips below you can use to prepare your furball for travelling as they will be acclimated and conditioned in what to expect. With patience and practice, your cat will eventually enjoy travelling.
1. MAKE SURE THE CAT IS IN GOOD HEALTH AND IS ABLE TO TRAVEL.
You want to make sure you cover every track and fill every gap before you decide to head out on this long-distance journey. Firstly, Arrange a quick consult with your local vet. Allow the vet to do a full body examination to ensure kitty is healthy and is able to travel. Get all the right vaccinations and preventions to protect the cat before travelling to a new location.
If your cat is suffering from any ailment, abnormality or deformity seek advice from the vet in advance and prepare accordingly carrying all medications and essential supplements. When travelling with pregnant cats, it can be tricky so seek medical advice first before you prepare.
You also want to get your feline microchipped. Microchipping is a great way to track your cat in case they get lost or wander away to a foreign area. This is a simple procedure that must be done by a veterinarian. It involves placing a small computer chip under the cat’s skin. This chip can later be used to track the cat’s location.
Alternatively, you can get a personalized cat name tag which will provide some sort of identification if the cat is lost. Check out these awesome, affordable personalized engraved name tags on Amazon.
Now that we covered all the medicals, you also need to be observant to any changes in the cat’s health leading up to the travel date. Monitor behaviour, body language, anxiety or any symptom that is out of character.
2. GET ALL EQUIPMENT AND LUGGAGE.
A visit to the local pet store will probably be your saving grace if you intend on conquering this travel with your cat. If you don’t already have the basic items you should purchase them a few weeks prior to the travel so that the cat can get used to its belongings and imprint their scent. Items that you will need:
- Carrier that is breathable, durable and is the right size to keep the cat comfortable for the duration of the ride.
- Get a good pair of cat seat belts.
- Blankets, depending on the tempreture of the location you heading out to.
- Toys and gadgets that your feline loves.
- Litter box ( different sizes for space purposes ) it’s good to get a portable collapsible travel litterbox.
- Leash/harness to keep the cat safe at all times.
- Food and water dispensers, this is optional but it would be a great addition to your cats belongings and it’s easy to travel with since it wont spill.
- Throw away bags for dirty litter and faeces. Also for emergencies if the cat vomits.
- Cat window perch (Optional)
- Sedatives and medication. Checkout my previous article of safe sedatives to use when traveling.
- Neck chains ( identification purposes ) for cats that are not microchipped.
- Carry enough food for the entire stay depending on how long you heading out for. Carry a combination of wet and dry foods along with treats.
- First aid kit just in case an accident were to happen to the cat. The kit should include basic allergy medicine, band-aids, sedative along with the motion sickness medication. Checkout the RAYCO FIRST AID KIT with an LED safety collar.
3. PREPARE FOR MOTION SICKNESS.
Just like humans cats are prone to motion sickness. The constant changes in speed, direction and swift movements can quickly cause an imbalance in the cats body resulting in nausea, lethargy, vocalizations, vomiting and in some cases defecating. This is normal because the cats body is reacting to the changes of its surroundings.
Since you going to be traveling long distance its wise to seek advice from your trusted vet for a good anti-nausea medication that is suitable for the cat. Be sure to let the veterinarian know about any allergies or underlying sicknesses before you proceed. For information about motion sickness in cats checkout my previous article.
The most common anti-nausea medication used for cats is Dramamine or known as benadryl. This medication is used to ease the symptoms of motion sickness bringing relief. It works to combat the body’s response to the changes in movements, therefore the cats body will experience the movements but will not act on it, preventing vomiting and nausea.
When using Dramamine you must administer the medication an hour before you travel to allow it to be absorbed and work. The dosage of dramamine in cats are a 1/4 of a 50mg pill or 12,5mg to be specific. For bigger cats the dosage may increase to about 15-18mg. If the road trip is more than 10-12 hours than you can administer another dosage, but before you administer the meds consult with a medical professional to speak about your options.
The most common Side-effects associated with the use of dramamine is drowsiness, dry mouth and decreased appetite.
Is an alternative sedative used in cats to treat nausea, motion sickness and irritability. This prescription med helps to block out the cats alertness which inhibits the imbalance caused in when traveling. This medication can help with vomiting and nausea but will not help for pain.
The pill lasts for 6-8 hours and must be used under strict doses to prevent overdose and harmful effects. Side-effects include low-blood pressure, decreased breathing and discoloration in urine. This medicine is only available with a valid prescription from an authorized medical professional. Speak to your local vet for more information and in choosing the right medication for the cat.
For cats that are extremely anxious and stressed especially if it’s the cats first road trip you can use anti-anxiety medication like Gabapentin, Buspirone, Alprazolam or Lorazepam which will help with fear, anxiety, and stress.
Alternatively you can go for natural herbs such as
or pheromone collars and sprays. This will help soothe the cat for the full duration of the ride providing rest. Another awesome product that will work really well is an anxiety jacket which compresses the cats body, calming them down. Here are my list of reccomend sedatives that are most effective for travel.
Ways to help prevent motion sickness in cats
- Withhold foods 6-8 hours before the car ride and provide light snacks and treats that are easily digestible with water. Making the cat travel on an empty stomach is better for cats that are prone to motion sickness since this reduces or eliminates the risk of vomiting, upset stomach or defecating. Learn more on how to feed cats while traveling.
- Distraction works very well in preventing travel sickness as the cat loses focus on the changes in movement and environment. You can try toys that are attractive and have movements which will keep the cat engaged and focused. You can also cover the cats carrier with a breathable dark cloth to help the cat stay at ease. The covering of the carrier helps to provide a safe haven so the cat feels protected and relieved.
- Make sure the cat as a flow of fresh air for easy breathing which will help to relieve nausea.
- Keep the car quiet, since loud music and excessive noise can cause headaches and nausea which are contributing factors.
4. THE CAT MUST BE RESTRAINED
When travelling it’s extremely important that your feline is properly restrained and safe before you set in motion. Cats roaming around in the car without restraint is an accident waiting to happen as this can be a distraction to the driver.
Cats react differently to car rides and if it’s your cats first time traveling they might react in an undesirable way as they are not used to the motion of the vehicle, the sound of the engine or being confined within the vehicle. They will jump around in panic and this can be harmful in some cases fatal if they jump out the window while moving.
Therefore its important to get a good restraint mechanism that will protect the cat. There are several ways which can be used to restrain cats. You can use a carrier, leash, pouch or harness. The safest and most common way is to use a cat carrier that is durable and comfortable to shelter the cat for the entire duration of the ride.
When choosing carriers there are namely two types to choose from, hard or soft carriers. Both types of carriers have different features, quality and are used for different activities.
But for travelling I recommend getting a hard carrier as the hard outer shell will protect the cat on impact in case there is an accident. You can also choose from a variety of hybrid carriers that are hard and soft providing both protection and comfort.
Here are my 2 top recommended cat carriers that are perfect for travelling, road trips, adventures and can be used daily.
The 360 view pet carrier and car seat
- Comes with booster seat frames, perfect for any size pet.
- Can be used as a car seat and carrier.
- Mesh exterior to allow good airflow.
- Easy to install and simple to wash.
- Provides shade from direct sunlight.
- Strong structure for protection and can easily attach to a leash. Get yours now from Amazon.
2. Foldable Travel Cat Carrier
- Easy to travel with.
- Easy to clean.
- Hard exterior provides protection.
- Collapsible, space efficient and would be a great addition to your cats belongings. Get yours now from Amazon.
Once you decide on a carrier make time to get the cat used to the carrier, do this in advance so the cat will have enough time to be acclimated to the carrier. If you already have a carrier, perfect! but now you need to properly secure the carrier to the car seat.
- Get a good pair of cat seat belts to add extra support to the cats Carrier.
- Choose whether to place the carrier on the backseat or the backseat floor. The backseat is most commonly used.
- Secure the carrier to the backseat of the car using the car seat belts and the cat seat belts. This should give a tight grip and should hold the carrier in place. If you using a soft carrier this can be tricky since the seat belts wont offer much support, in this case a leash or pouch will be better.
- Cover your cats carrier with a lightweight cloth that is breathable to help calm kitty. This simple trick of covering the carrier can help ease the cats anxiety and provide a level of protection from the change in environment.
5. CREATE A CAT-FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT WITHIN THE CAR
Since your travel is going to be long and tedious. You need to understand your cat will feed off that energy and can be affected in a negative way. Therefore you need to create the perfect scenery by creating a perfect cat-friendly home within your vehicle to help calm the cat while traveling.
If the cat is going to be traveling in a carrier than try to create a comfortable, entertaining and peaceful surrounding inside the carrier. Include the following:
- Favourite toys and gadgets
- Treats and water
- Litter box, if the carrier is big enough.
- Stuffed animals
For cats that are going to be traveling without a carrier you must have them restrained by a leash, however I strongly feel that you should invest in a good carrier.
You can setup a cosy bed in the backseat. A good tip is to put the seats down and setup the bed on the flat surface. This way there is much more space to create a fun- filled environment with toys, litter box and a bed.
It’s also very helpful to position the cat near a closed window for them to have full visual of the scenery while driving. Cats love window watching and this could be a good distraction, keeping them occupied.
When preparing for a road trip, note that every cat is different and each has its own personality therefore you need to set up accordingly.
Timid and docile cats are very fearful and fragile. you need to make sure to exclude anything from the surrounding that will cause uneasiness and anxiety. These character of cats don’t like loud sounds and are easily frightened , remember to turn the radio down and keep the noise down.
Aggressive cats are normally friendly but are known for taking play too far. The best way to handle these cats when travelling is to avoid unnecessary interaction. Make sure they comfortable and not interfered with. Create a surrounding that is simple yet provides for their basic needs. They are normally very moody so be observant to the cat’s body language without causing interferences.
Friendly and playful cats are a burst of energy. They are curious and very people orientated. They enjoy playing and being active, for this kind of personality you need to provide a warm scenery filled with toys, gadgets and lots of human interaction , even a quick snuggle or cuddle would be great.
6. SEDATIVES AND CALMING HERBS.
Traveling is always difficult for cats as they are instinctively designed and trained to routine specifically their own territory. Anything either than routine will result in them responding and acting in an unfamiliar way. Not all cats will do bad when traveling but for the few that wont adjust properly it’s best to get a good sedative.
Melatonin is an awesome sedative for feline use that can be bought over the counter. It stimulate the brain to secrete an hormone to induce sleep. It’s safe to use on cats and it helps the cat rest for the duration of the travel.
- Its helps relieve stress and anxiety.
- Promotes sleep and rest, perfect for cats that are new to traveling.
Melatonin works well in cats but must be used at the right dosage according to the cats weight.
|Cats under 10 pounds||1-3 mg|
|Cats over 10 pounds||3-5 mg|
The dose must be given 30 minutes before the travel for it to work effectively. This sedative comes in drops, pills or chews depending on your preference choose accordingly. Check the latest prices of the MELAVET MELATONIN HEALTHY CHEWS.
Other natural options include calming herbs like chamomile, valerian and catnip which I’ve mentioned above.
Products to Chose from
1. Calming treats
2. Drops, HEMP OIL DROPS
4. Pheromone spray.
5. Calming collar like the 3-in-1 SENTRY CALMING COLLAR
7. SPEED, TEMPERATURE AND PRECAUTION
It’s very important to travel safely and reach your destination on time. But when traveling with cats you must take into consideration that they are not like dogs they wont do well with changes in speed and the swift movements when taking turns. Therefore try to drive more carefully and with caution.
A speed between 22-30 mph( 35-55 km/h) is safe to drive with within the city and between 60-80mph(80-120 km/h) on freeways. It’s always best to travel during the day along with another person so that both can rest in between, to ensure a safe travel.
Driving at a slower speed can also lower the chances of the cat getting getting motion sickness. It can prevent nausea, vomiting and anxiety.
During the travel, you must pay attention to your furry friend as they might not be comfortable travelling such speeds. Its always good to adjust your speed accordingly so that you don’t end up with a difficult to handle, pet. At times you may need to give them some assurance with positive reinforcement like a comforting touch or soft words of assurance.
Another factor which should be taken into consideration is music. Cats in fact do enjoy music but not the type of music humans listen to however a simple youtube search can set you up with really cool cat-friendly music. Always be considerate to the volume since cats vocalize sound one octave higher than humans.
When driving it’s also important to control the temperature of inside the car. You can either switch on the Air conditioner or leave the windows down. The safe option is the use the AC since windows that are open could be a hazard if the cat isn’t in a carrier. For cars, without an AC you could unwind the windows to a certain point that is safe or you can get a good cooling pad. I recommend the KALINCO cooling pad that is perfect for travelling and is affordable.
For no reason should you put the cat in the trunk as this position is dangerous and doesnt have any airflow. During the day a car can become really hot exceeding 100° on a hot day by no means should you leave a cat in the car even if you need to stop by the store for a few minutes.
8. SCHEDULED BREAKS
Driving is one of the most difficult ways of traveling especially when you traveling long distances. Therefore its essential that you take regular breaks to re-energize, grab a quick meal, bathroom visits or to get blood flowing for both feline and feline parents.
For every 2-3 hours of driving it’s best to take 10-15 minutes break. You could probably take a walk with the cat to view the scenery, take cool selfies or even rest. It’s also very important to allow the cat to relieve itself and to come out of the carrier for water and a quick snack.
Some pet owners like to feed their pets before they travel so that feeding time in the car becomes easier, however, that’s not so with cats. Feeding your cat a proper meal before their travel can cause the pet to become nauseous and could lead to vomiting and defecating.
If you traveling a really long distance, the proper way to feed your furry companion is with small portions of dry food. Snacks are ideal as long as you not overfeeding the cat. Remember to hydrate properly at scheduled intervals as well.
9. OBSERVE THE CATS BEHAVIOUR & BODY LANGUAGE.
Now that we’ve covered the essentials that are required for your journey it is important to be observant and take note of your cat’s behaviour and body language.
Look for any behaviour and vocalizations that are not in the norm, if your cat is acting out and becomes tense you might want to look into it, for instance, some cats become aggressive and very difficult to handle, while some may become nauseous and weak.
Often when cats are exposed to a new surrounding they will respond by being aggressive as a defence mechanism while some may isolate themselves and become much quieter. During this experience you must offer emotional support and never leave kitty in want for your love and affection.
Just make sure to be extra vigilant since cats like routine, anything out of routine could trigger aggression or other uncommon behaviours. For safety purposes it’s also best to carry the cats medical records or identification in the case of an emergency it would be easy for a veterinarian to treat the cat.
10. LITTER BOX AND FEEDING DISPENSERS
Like every living being, bathroom time can strike at any moment its part of being alive. Its always good to prepare in case of any emergencies. A Cat Litter box is essential when travelling long distance to make sure you avoid any messy situations.
Cat litter boxes come in a variety of sizes which can be chosen to suit your travelling needs and space requirements. It’s not ideal that you purchase a new litter box since cats like familiarity.
Along with the litter box, you can pack a few zip lock bags with clean litter as some cats are fussy and won’t use the litter box if it’s messed. It’s also best to change the messy litter as cats waste smells really bad and can make your travel unpleasant.
If you do intend on buying a new litter box make sure you do so few weeks before the travel so that you will have time to introduce it to the cats routine. When choosing a cat litter box its important that you chose one with enough room and comfort to support your cat, often people go for the cheapest item only to find out that its low quality and must be replaced often.
Therefore do research on good brands and read reviews so that you can be aware of what to expect. A good option is the A 4 Pet Portable Cat Travel Litter Box.
On the other hand, feeding dispensers are often neglected as a ‘must-have’ until all the water or cat food spills out damaging your car seats. There are many food jars, bowls or even container packs that can store the cat’s food but the dispenser works best. The 4-in-1 portable food and water dispenser is a pure delight when travelling. It’s hassle-free and very easy to carry.
Now that you’ve completed the steps to overcome your long-distance journey with your cat, the rest will be much easier if the kitty co-operates. Once you’ve reached your destination make sure to book into a hotel or resort that are pet-friendly specifically cat friendly since most accommodations dont allow cats.
It’s of utmost importance that your temporary home also provides for the needs of your cat. Its won’t be nice to enjoy your stay while your cat is uncomfortable and miserable
You want to make sure you follow the normal routine or some sort of arrangement that your feline is familiar with. Something you can adhere to for the duration of your stay. Cats are really smart and they can adapt to change if it’s done properly. Always watch over them and give them the attention they require. Track feeding times and never neglect them of your love and affection.
Cats are known to be curious and very energetic pets. They thrive on the active life and the hassle. They love being on their paws, discovering new things and finding new ways. Therefore when travelling with cats you must be patient and and give the time to adjust. Travelling is extremely stressful for cats and your presence and understanding is what will help them get through it.
1. How long can cats travel in a car? typically 6 hours, but you can travel for longer distances provided you take regular breaks for the cat to stretch and breath a little, followed by snacks and water.
2. Are car rides bad for cats? No, cats don’t like travelling yet they don’t hate it either. They are just not exposed to travelling as much. There are ways to teach and nurture your cat to enjoy travelling.