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Driving across the country with my Cats

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi Everyone,

I'm new around here, and I'm glad I found this place! I've been looking for experienced cat people to help me.

I'm moving in 3 weeks to Denver, Colorado so that means a 15 hour drive for my dear cats. The poor things have only been down the street to the vet twice, and that seemed to be traumatizing for them in itself.

I'm wondering the best ways to travel with my cats, and keep them happy & worry free? I typically just put them in the cardboard throw away cat carriers, but I was considering getting one of the large dog cages, so that they could both fit in there together (they're siblings). Not sure if this would maybe put them more at ease??

I'm also wondering if there's any risks etc to giving them calming pills?

Any advice/thoughts would be much appreciated! THANK YOU!!
post #2 of 9
Hi and welcome.

The idea of a large dog crate is excellent. There would be room for a litter pan and water. Have a nice soft towel or blanket there for them to curl up on. Also you could put a blanket over the carrier so they would feel more secure and be less stressed than if they could see everything moving past, etc. You could stop every couple hours or so to stretch and spend some time talking to them or seeing if they want something to eat.

I have heard some horror stories about sedatives so I wouldn't advocate that. Apparently they can affect some cats very negatively and they may go a little berserk when the drug wears off.

It's certainly not the same thing but we go for drives with our cats and we have a harness on them (we don't put them in a cage), and a litter pan and water dish. We use the harness so we can attach a leash before opening any doors or windows just to be on the safe side.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hmmm...not a bad idea [the harness].

I'm just worried because they really do get VERY UPSET when they're in the car. They meow non-stop, which that alone will drive me crazy after 15 hours of that...they start panting, they have wild eyes. I feel so awful...I don't know that I could watch them go through that for hours.

But, at the same time, I'm very worried about giving them drugs.
post #4 of 9
If you have time before your long drive I would suggest going for practice drives. I might be relocating in the next month and the drive would be about 20 or so hours. I was thinking a few trips building up the length of time might help.

For me Lucky refuses to be in the carrier. The last time she was in it she threw herself around in there wailing and hitting her head on the door, she ended up cutting her nose pretty bad. So now i but the harness on her with the leash and put the loop of the leash through the seatbelt in the back (this limits how far she can move). Rambo on the other hand doesn't like to have free reign of the car...he prefers an enclosed space and wants to stay in the carrier.

Keep me updated on how it goes...(fingers crossed for you), and hopefully you'll have some advice for me!
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
That's not a bad idea. Take them on some drives get them used to being in the car.

I hope the best for you also !!! Moving sure is hard when you have animals with you who have no idea what's going on
post #6 of 9
Taking them for drives to get them used to the car is an excellent idea. Also keeping the cage covered will help to calm them. (You don't have to cover the whole cage - perhaps just up to the front door of the cage so they feel like they are in a little cave. )

You may find that they will make a fuss for awhile but will settle eventually.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Would most people recommend NOT giving them pills to calm down?
post #8 of 9
I moved 7 cats and 5 dogs from Houston to Kansas City. We flew up 2 of them, drove 2 more separately and made the final trip with 3 cats and 5 dogs. With all the stops necessary for the dogs, the final drive took us 16 hours.

What saved us was having a big cargo van. We had a huge dog kennel (big enough to fit a greyhound) and put 2 cats in there with a litter box. We put the third cat (she had never met the other cats) in her separate large cage.

When we would stop to take the dogs for walks, we would pile back in the van, close all the doors and let the cats wander free for a while. We actually had a small cat tree in there for them to climb and stretch out. We never let the cats run loose when we had to open a door for any reason. They didn't eat at all but drank a little bit.

I didn't give these cats pills although I did pill the ones that I flew up.
post #9 of 9
I drove last month from northern Colorado to San Diego with my two cats. We were in a compact car, and I had a passenger, too. And their carriers were stuck at the very top of the stuff in the back, so there wasn't a lot of room. I had a carrier for each of them, and a litterbox. I gave each of them a carrier because it was better space-wise than a large one, and because they each hate their carrier, but don't mind the others' carrier.

I put their harnesses on them (and their tags on their harnesses, just in case), so I could grab them if they were doing anything bad. I let them both roam around the car, after we were on the road. They were upset at first, obviously, but Rowan settled down pretty quickly, and napped in the litterbox about 80% of the time, and napped with Bella in his carrier the rest of the time. Bella needed comfort and attention most of the time, but I think that most of her nervousness was seeing the landscape through the windows. She was so much better after the sun went down. The only problem we had with her was trying to nap under the clutch, which was when the harness came in handy.

When we stopped and both got out of the car, I made sure to have the kittens in their carriers. We watched them, and if we were going to stop soon, shut them in their carriers when they went in to nap. If I was just getting gas, I had my passenger deal with keeping them in. They never even pretended that they wanted out of my door, though.

I had a dish of water in one carrier, and some food in the other. Rowan ate, drank, and used the litterbox during the drive, but Bella didn't. She may have had some water, but she was pretty upset. After the drive, I kept them in my bedroom (there was already a cat in the house, so I wanted to introduce them properly anyways), and we all settled right down to go to sleep. They were both just fine the next morning. I put them in their carriers (so I could finish packing my car) at about 5 AM MST, and we got out of the car at about 2 AM Pacific, so that's about a 22 hour trip. I probably should have done it in two days, but I didn't want the expense of a hotel, or the bother of trying to find a pet friendly one outside of Vegas.

I've posted pictures of the trip in a recent thread, so if you click on my name, and look through my recent posts, you'll probably see them.
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