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driving across country with my cat

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi I have a question, My husband and I are moving from Cali to Florida and we are driving. My question is what do I have to do to make the ride for my cat as comfortable as possible? I have a soft carrier for her. What do I do about her using the bathroom? Do I take the litter box with me and should I leave her in the carrier or let her chill in the back seat? Please give me some tips. This is our first time driving with our cat. Thanks
post #2 of 12
I drove from northern Colorado to San Diego with my two kittens a few months ago.

I had a passenger, so I felt comfortable with my cats out of their carriers. I couldn't strap the carriers in, anyways, so it wasn't any less safe. I had both cats on harnesses, so they were easy to grab, and could be leashed when we had the doors open. I had a carrier for both of them, where they started out, and their favorite litterbox.

Bella just hates being in the car. She really hated the altitude changes, and she is a bit unnerved by the landscape changing so quickly. She cried a bit, and needed lots of snuggles. Rowan was pretty calm. After wandering around in the car, and sniffing things, he went to sleep in Bella's carrier. After he woke up, he moved to the litterbox, and slept there for most of the trip. I thought it was weird, but he was really calm, so I didn't move him. Rowan ate and drank, and used the litterbox, but Bella was too stressed to. I think she might have had some water when we stopped for a while, but it was a very trying ordeal for a kitten who hates to drive the 4 minutes to the vet.

The harnesses were great, it helped me drag Bella out from under the clutch, and keep her away from it in the future. I probably would have had her on a leash if she hadn't been asleep in all of the urban areas. She got a bit restless in the middle of nowhere in Utah. She slept a lot by the heels of my feet, and in Rowan's carrier. I also had their information on their collars, with my phone number and their rabies tags, since we were crossing state lines and I didn't want to be hassled if I got stopped at one of those ports of entry thingies. I also had their papers from the vet at the top of my pile of stuff.

The cats tended to already be in one carrier or the other when we stopped, so we just shut the carriers and left the windows cracked when we had to stop for food or the restroom. Once, Rowan was in the litterbox, but he wasn't even thinking about moving.

You said that you're moving with your husband, but if you're taking separate cars, I really wouldn't recommend letting the cats run around loose. I know that I couldn't have controlled them on my own.

Some people recommend test drives to get the cats used to the car, but I've found that cats either ride well, or they don't. Rowan is actually the first cat I've ever had who enjoys travelling. On short trips, he'll stand up on a seat and look out the window.

Edit: I didn't use tranquelizers (that looks like it's spelled wrong...). The kittens were growing so fast, it would have been impossible to work out the proper dose ahead of time, and they can make cats go nuts. It just didn't seem like it was worth the risk.
post #3 of 12
IMO for a long drive/trip its better to have a hard-sided carrier - not the soft kind.

And make frequent stops to use the pan. NEVER let the cat roam free in the car - far too dangerous!

I don't feed/water my cats till they get to a show or hotel. Some cats can't eat food and ride - they throw up. Most times they fall asleep within 1/2 hour of driving and sleep most of the way.

A blanket/towel over the carrier will keep them quieter too.
post #4 of 12
We moved half way across the country with our 15 cats- and surprisingly it wasn’t as bad as I thought! Infact...everyone slept most of the way.

I like to use a larger crate if possible for long distance trips so the cat can have access to a litter box and have a bit more room to stretch. They are also nice to keep the cat in if you are at a hotel to ensure your kitty doesn’t accidentally get out. For safety reasons, I do not suggest letting your cat roam lose in the car at all as there is just too great of potential for something to go wrong or the cat to get out. It was a lot less stressful knowing where everyone was and that their carriers were safely strapped in incase something happened.

I also prefer hard sided crates for longer trips, partially because they are much easier to clean up if there is an accident. I added an absorbent pad on the bottom of the crate to help with this as well and keep my cats dry.

If your cats are a bit more nervous you could look into trying something like Rescue Remedy to calm them down. A few of my cats were on medication when we moved and it did not interfere with those.
post #5 of 12
The only type of experiance that I have with moving cats is when I take Tybby on the train which is only two hours. The only thing I can advice is to keep them in a carry case (mine has a towel in it which makes him more comfatable and if possible have the case near you I put mine next to me on the train I guess you could put yours in the passenger seat so that they can see you. Tybby finds it reassuring if I talk to him to. I agree with what has been said cats either like travelling or don't I am lucky that tybby doesn't mind it.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
thanks everyone for the advice, I will let you guys know how it goes. wish me luck
post #7 of 12
i just drove five days from alabama top portland oregon. if you do a search on posts by me you can see what worked for us. but I have a very mellow and tightly bonded to me cat. she never bolts, hates the outdoors, but i still used a harness when I opened the car. Essentailly she told me what she wanted and I followed her instructions. She is now in the house for a week and snuggly happy. it was rougher for me than her.

post #8 of 12
When my parents moved from North Carolina, they got a Large, hardsided, dog carrier (for their 2 cats) and put a small litter box in there with them, and some towels, put them in the back of the SUV, and away they went. No problems. I think they may have put some water in there too, but otherwise, nothing else, they just rode. I always try to have a small litterbox of some sort (even a shoe box ) because one of my cats goes potty pretty much everytime she gets in the car.
post #9 of 12
If you are in a car with a back seat and have it available, I suggest buying a partition that cages the back seat in.

I traveled across state and they loved having the stretching room of the back. I was able to strap in their two story cat bed against one door and their litter box against the other. They still had room for both of them to sleep in the middle. I did have to build a "floor" from the seat to the partition as there was about a half a foot gap and I didn't want them trying to get under the seat. But, this gave them more room to stretch about. Also, I attached food dishes to the cage so they would stay put.

Also, disposable litter pans are great for their vlaue on these trips. Usually made of cheap plastic or thick cardboard, you can toss them away right afterwards. I used their x-large litter box as a base and placed a large hefty bag over that and then put the disposable on top of it. No mess to clean!

It worked really well this way. I didn't worry about them getting under my feet while I drove, and they were able to enjoy the view.
post #10 of 12
I drove from Michigan to Texas about a month ago with 3 cats. We used pillows and clothes to block off the drivers seat so that they couldn't get underneath it or squeeze in by the sides. We allowed them to come into the front since there were 2 of us but never allowed them on the drivers lap. We had an SUV so there was a lot of room for them to play in the spaces between boxes. Make sure everything's tied down or boxed in tightly so that things don't move around and squish the cats. If you plan on stopping on the way (which we did for one night) make sure to find a pet friendly hotel. 2 of my cats are decent travellers and one hates it. After 2-3 hours she got use to it and sat in my lap most of the way. We boxed the liter box into the rest of the boxes so that it was stable and they would use it while we were driving. I also had a really deep tuperware dish for water and put just enough in so that it wouldn't slosh all over the place. They drank but they didn't really eat much. After the first couple hours your kitty should calm down Good luck!
post #11 of 12
I will be doing much the same in less than three weeks now. I have an Astro van. I took the bench seats out and I'm making a raised sleeping area for myself [traveling alone]. Next to that, I'm making a large cage out of those coated metal cube panels. I already had four packs of them, so I have those and zip ties. the litter box will go in the cage, as will food and water.

After my last experience of moving [NY to Chicago, three years ago] with them, I noticed ho messy my backseat was. Food and water everywhere. This time, I found a water bowl by Lixit that doesn't spill. It's a full water container with an opening for drinking out of... I found mine at Petsmart.

I also have harnesses on them, and will jury-rig a line along the ceiling so they can run while safely attached to their leashes. I may or may not let them roam free while I'm driving... there's plenty of space for them behind my seats. The previous move was in a small sedan. Not fun, at least for me.

I'll be sleeping in the van [duh, if I'm making a raised sleeping area], with them, and bringing snack foods and lots of bottled water. I'll stop and get food to go as well, but probably won't eat in any sit-down places... it just depends... I won't leave them in the van in full sun.

Wednesday will begin the two week countdown to Move Day. Well, the 14th is the day the movers come... I'll probably leave the 15th... though it depends on how i feel about driving part way after the movers leave. I may only get through IL.

Hope your move goes well. I think the only huge problem for me is my van. I took it in to a different shop this morning so it could get some minor [hopefully] things tweaked. It's old... over 100K miles on it... I don't expect perfection, but hey, I do expect it to NOT die on the freeway.

I'll post pics in my own thread as I get the back area done. I'm also jury-rigging screens on the flip-out windows... as the space is large enough for a cat to get their head through... not good.

post #12 of 12
Hi there! I have brought my cat, Sherbert, for rides in the car before with me, but they weren't THAT long-the longest was about an hour. I had his leash/harness on, AND his collar with his tags, and I kept him in the carrier for the most part...I put newspapers in the bottom of the carrier, so that he could piddle in there, and then when he DID, I just had Mom stop, and took out the newspapers, and then put more in type thing...I would take him out every once in a while and pet him, while he tried to explore and look outside of the window...He would MEOW a LOT, but he was alright in it...of course, this was a short travel compared to what you will be doing, right? I also think that the different ways that the cats will react to the rides will depend on how you go about having them travel with you. You should also have some practice, and increase the time in the car gradually, giving your cat a chance to get used to the car... Hope that I helped!
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