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Traveling Cross Country

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I'm new here, although I've been reading for awhile. I recently accepted a job offer in Dallas TX and, as a result, have to move my 2 cats and dog from Milwaukee WI. My cats have traveled before but not that far or for that long. I'm really worried about them and am looking for some advice as to how to make the travel and the move less stressful for them. What is the best way to travel safely with cats?
So far I have planned:
I have a larger than necessary carrier for each of them that I was planning on putting some blankets and a small litter box or puppy pee pads on one side.
I got some Acepromazine from my vet. My male (Tigger) gets really stressed riding in the car and the Ace really helps calm him. My female (Tora) rides easier but the Ace keeps her from being obnoxious with the crying. My vet says it should be fine to give them the Ace for 2 days (the length of our trip) in a row but I am worried about any negative side effects from this. Does anyone have any experience with this?
Should I feed the cats prior to our departure? Should I feed a full meal or a partial meal? (Like give them their wet food before we leave and small bit of dry food in the carrier for them?)
Should they be ok in their carriers for 6-8 hours if they have access to a litter box? I'll let them out of the carriers at the hotel.
Aside from the obvious, (not leaving them in the car unattended, not letting them out of their carriers in the car while moving etc) anything else I need to think about or get in order before we go?
I appreciate any advice and tips. I'm really worried about this trip and stressing them out, poor little guys

post #2 of 8
It sounds like you have everything covered. If your cats get car sick, I wouldn't feed them too much right before the trip. Otherwise, I would give them a normal meal before going incase they get too stressed to want to eat. (The last thing you need is a cat who gets hepatic lipidosis from not eatting on the trip)

post #3 of 8
Since Charlie's a show cat, we have travelled 5-6 hrs at a time before stopping. I usually let Charlie eat a small amount before we leave, but then when we are set up at the show, he's fed then.

No litter box in the carrier when traveling. If we stop for more then 1/2 hour to eat lunch/supper, then he's allowed to come out of the carrier till we start on the road again.

I usually just wait till we are settled in the hotel before feeding, etc. So I would not worry about litter pan or food during the drive. But I would be sure you have an extra couple of towels for the carrier, paper towels and plastic bags in case they do do in the carrier or make a mess.
post #4 of 8
I just transported 2 cats on an 11 hour trip last Saturday. I had a very large carrier where I put a small litterbox (small cardboard box lined in plastic with a small amount of litter) that held both cats very comfortably with room to spare. The carrier was a soft sided mesh where they could easily see out all sides. They were curious about their surroundings and often looked out the window.

The vet warned me about Ace: some cats can get ill from it and will exaggerate any car sickness that they might have. If yours have never had it, give them a dose in advance to see if they get sick from it.

I did not with hold food before hand and 1 of them got car sick about an hour into the ride. I had a full roll of paper towels and other towels in the car with me so could clean it up. What I failed to bring was plastic garbage bags (oops). I wish I had brought a change of bedding for the kennel so that I could swap that out.

I had a small bowl with bottled water. When we stopped for a break, I gave them a little bit of water. They didn't drink it. They also would not have eaten any food had I given it to them. Once out of the car at the end of the journey they both ate and drank.

The thing that scared them the most was when I tried to crack open a window. They would start to meowl once in a while (first out of fear and later out of boredom). I just opened the door a little bit and stuck in my hand to pet them. The moment my hand went into the carrier, they calmed down. There was 2 of us in the car so the driver never had to do this. The carrier also had a zipper opening so I didn't have to open the door fully. They seemed to destress a lot when we pulled over for rest stops. We'd both leave the car for our personal health breaks, but they were never alone for more than a few minutes. Our one solid rule was that we never opened up the car door when the carrier door was unzipped.

They were anxious for the first hour or so then got bored. By about hour 8 I could tell that they were frustrated by the boredom of the ride. We played music for them and noticed anything with brass instruments (like horns) made them anxious. Piano music had a more calming effect on them.
post #5 of 8
You might also want to get some Feliway and spray their carriers and around the car a bit. It might calm them down some.
post #6 of 8
Hennessy did fine for a trip just less than 7 hours... He eats at night and we left in the morning, so he wasn't hungry. No litter in the carrier, he'd just make an awful mess.

He did better than I did, really...

Driving into a blizzard is not fun!
post #7 of 8
I just moved from Washington (state) to Maine with six cats and two dogs (it took six days). I drove across in a pickup with a camper on the back. The cats were in their carriers, I put a small handfull of food in the carrier but no water. They were in their carriers for 8-11 hours a day with no breaks. I let them out at night and left out plenty of food and water and a clean litter box. They werent sedated and it went super well. One cat did pee in the carrier so if you can let them out for the night after 6-8 hours I would suggest it. They didnt really eat or drink much the first night but by the third night they were pretty much back to normal. I let the dogs out for a potty and drink break ever five-six hours, you could stop more often, every four if you wanted to but they should be fine if you wait a little longer. The dogs also didnt eat much while we were traveling but once they settle in they'll be fine. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions! Good luck with the move/new job!
post #8 of 8
Hey, we picked up our kitty Ares from a breeder who lived 1000 miles away. Here are a few things we did:
He wasn't freaked out by the carrier, since we sent it to the breeder months before, so that the carrier sat out was played in by Ares and his littermates. (If your cats are not used to or not crazy about carriers, I would recommend spraying them with Feliway, and leaving hem out in a play area. Place a few favorite toys/treats in there to entice them into the carriers and to create positive associations.) You might also want to try a few short car rides with them in the carrier to get them used to it.
We also placed a disposable litter box with litter into the trunk, along with a scoop. We stopped every 3-4 hours to give him food, water, and a litterbox break. (If you attempt this, make sure all of the car doors are closed and the windows are shut.) We ensured he had a toy or 2 in the carrier, and rotated them out with different toys for interest. Not knowing how he would react to the trip, we purchased Rescue Remedy (which is supposed to calm cats) which can be rubbed on the ear, but he was super relaxed, so it was unecessary. If you do want to use sonething like Rescue Remedy, I would try it at home PRIOR to the trip to see how your kitt(ies) react.
You didn't mention whether you would stay overnight in a hotel. If you are planning to, I would recommend booking in advance, as finding a hotel that takes pets can be difficult.
If you do stay in a hotel, I would take up the litter box, toys, etc to the room, and spray some Feliway in prominent areas of the room. Then bring them up, and once you let them out of the carrier, be present to see how they react to the new surroundings. If you go out, I would put kitties back in the carriers, and also make sure you put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door, so that the hotel staff will knock before entering the room. Hope this helps!
Good Luck
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