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18 hours in a U-Haul??

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
My fiance and I are preparing to move 18 hours across the country in the dead of winter. Great idea, right??
Anyway, we plan to take the trip straight through, with only obviously bathroom breaks and food/gas stops. Gizmo is a 3-year-old cat who has lived in 4 different homes, so I don't expect the move itself to be an issue -- she is great at getting used to new places. However, it's getting there that worries me -- it has never been this far of a move. She is actually great in the car -- usually just curls up and goes to sleep. This is probably because she's been on tons of car rides, but again, we've never made anything longer than a four hour drive. The U-Haul cab is going to be very small (it's supposed to fit three adults, so I figure two adults and a cat carrier will be tight). I want to give her the option of letting her use the litter box, but I doubt she would do it. I've read to let them go free in the vehicle with access to a litter box during stops, but I wouldn't want to leave her in the car for more than a few minutes (it's going to be cold) and I know that wouldn't be enough time for her to be comfortable enough to do that.
I really don't expect her to have an accident in the car, although we'll be prepared for it, my real concern is that she will just not go for the entire time. She's never gone anywhere outside of her litter box, and has even made herself sick before by holding it (while living with a territorial roommate-cat), but I'm not sure how long it was that she was holding it before she got sick. My question is, how long is too long for her to be without litter box access? Or food, for that matter? Would we make her sick by not letting her have either for that long of a time?
Also, I'm not sure how stressful such a long ride will be for her, especially in a truck that isn't ours. Would you recommend going the tranquilizer route?
Surely someone has done this before, so any advice would be appreciated!
post #2 of 8
My three cats travelled 24 hours in a plane from England to New Zealand and were clean and dry on arrival. In fact, they would have spent more time than that as 24 hours was just the flight... possibly another hour prior to takeoff and certainly another after they landed.

They had access to water but no food. I packed them in the boxes with their blankets and they were wide-eyed, but ok when they arrived.

Hope this helps!

post #3 of 8
I would not recommend tranquilizers. I have had several bad experiences with tranquilized cat during a move. One cat broke loose from his carrier and ran around inside the car, all over me, clawing me to ribbons.
Rescue remedy might be better. I have not used it on a cat, but it worked well for me on a long flight, which I was terrified of making.
post #4 of 8
I guess spraying Feliway would also help her....
She will probably sleep the whole time... You can talk to your vet about giving her Clonazepan - it will not tranquilize her, but it will get rid of the anxiety, and calm her down. She will function normally, etc; just won't be anxious... Just a thought.
post #5 of 8
I made a move cross country in September: two adults and 4 cat carriers in the front seat of a 26' moving truck. It was about 18 hours drive in total, including pit stops.

The cats were a little stressed, but I talked softly to them and offered them a little wet food (more for the water than the food) at the midway rest stop. I never left them alone in the truck - we took turns using the rest room and/or getting food/drinks.

No tranquilizers used, none needed. I got the cats accustomed to wearing harnesses with leashes starting a couple of weeks before the trip, they wore them throughout the trip. I was able to ride with a pillow on my lap and three of the 4 cats took turns coming out to sit on my lap and look out the window at the endless highway going by. (Ferris my semi-feral came out for a brief snuggle with some reassurrance from me, but then went right back in.

They had puppy pads in the carriers just in case, but never had an accident. I took up their food and water dishes in the middle of the night (around 3-4 a.m.) the night before we left, they went into carriers around 9 a.m., we left MA at 5 p.m. and they were in their carriers until we reached our destination at 11:30 a.m. the following morning. They got food, water and litter box use in an enclosed room when we "landed" at the new place, and I left them alone for several hours while we moved stuff in.

I also ran feliway diffusers in the room and used feliway spray in the carriers the morning that they were loaded into them (about 30 minutes prior.)

They were a bit stressed more due to the strangeness and strange smells of the new home than due to the long ride although they were happy to be let out once we got here, and they have happily adjusted pretty quickly to their new home.

So altogether, they spent about 26 hours in their carriers with no litter box use, and just one little taste of wet food about 15 hours into the experience - and Ferris refused his, so he went without anything. No ill effects, all four got through it just fine.

Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
post #6 of 8
When I was ten, my twin sister, me, my mother, and my father all squeezed into the (yes, it is a three-seater) front of a U-Haul and drove across the country.

Four years ago, my spouse and I drove 32 hours with the cats in the car before we stopped at a hotel.

So, yes, you CAN do this.

I'm pretty sure neither of the cats used the litter box in the car (although they did in the hotel). We did stop at gas stations and let them out (one at a time) of the carriers with the doors closed. We did NOT leave them alone in the car at any point.

Since your cat is a calm traveler, this should be much easier for you than it was for me. I'd offer her water at least once and bring a tiny litter box and give her a chance to use it, but I wouldn't expect her to use it.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for all of your advice -- that definitely makes me feel more at ease! We were planning on using Feliway but I expect her to sleep most of the way anyway. Was just worried about the whole "holding it in" thing, but based on your experiences I think she should be ok for that length of time. Geez, our little move sounds like small potatoes compared to some of you!
post #8 of 8
My vet recommends putting shredded newspaper in the bottom of the carrier for travel... it gives the cat something to nest in, and if the cat does go to the bathroom, it's absorbent and makes it easy to clean up.
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