We’ve all been on the road at some point and looked out the window at the car next to us to find a dog looking back at us with its tongue hanging out in pure bliss. Most dogs love car rides, especially if they can stick their head out the window and feel the wind in their fur. Unfortunately, the same can’t be told about most cats. Some cats love to go on adventures with their humans, but most become anxious and stressed anytime they’re placed inside a car. Still, traveling with our pets is sometimes unavoidable, whether you’re moving houses or going through a temporary evacuation. For whatever reason you’re going on a trip with your furry friend, here are a few dos and don’ts for traveling with a cat.
- Talk with your veterinarian before planning your trip. If your cat doesn’t handle stress well or has certain medical conditions, it might be best to find other accommodations, such as being boarded or having a friend take care of them. Your vet will also have helpful tips about preventing or treating stress that a car ride may cause for your cat. If your cat doesn’t handle car rides well, but your trip is unavoidable, then consult your vet about medications that will allow your pet to travel without becoming too stressed or anxious.
- Keep your cat in their carrier. A cat loose in your car could easily cause an accident, especially if they’re anxious or stressed about the ride. Do your best to make the carrier experience a comfortable one. Make sure they have enough room to stretch out and relax. Some carriers come with comfortable padding, but if yours is hard metal or plastic, try putting down some of your cat’s favorite towels or blankets. Maybe even include a soft toy if your cat has a favorite.
- Take frequent stops. Compared to a dog, it’s a lot harder to tell when cats have to use the bathroom. Make sure to make a pit stop every 2 to 3 hours to offer your cat some water and the litter box. If they’re hungry, you can offer them food as well, just make sure they don’t overeat to avoid your cat getting car sick.
- Play with your cat before leaving could help. Your kitty will never travel better than when they’ve burned off all their energy and are ready for a nap. If you’ve got a long trip ahead, this may only help for the first few hours, but it is sure to make short trips a breeze.
- Make sure your cat is wearing a collar with an easy-to-read tag. Also, check with your vet to make sure your cat’s microchip is up to date. Ideally, your cat will never leave your sight during your trip, but every cat owner knows how slippery their kitty can be, especially when frightened. When it comes to our pets, it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry.
- Take precautionary measures entering and exiting your car. Your cats should always be on their carrier when opening the door or transporting them to the vehicle. Cats are notoriously slippery and could easily become frightened and scratch you if they’re being held in your arms. Having a reliable carrying crate makes the experience safer for everyone.
- Don’t leave your cat alone in the car. In a matter of minutes, your car can heat up to life-threatening temperatures for your cat. Even with the windows open, the heat can reach dangerous levels that can cause health problems such as organ damage.
- If it's the very first cat's car trip, don’t ride for long-term. Taking your cat around in the car a few times before the trip helps them adjust to all of the sights, scents, and motions of riding in a car before they have to be stuck in a vehicle for hours.
- Don’t let your cat onto the dashboard or around the driver’s floorboard where the brake and gas pedals are. These areas are extremely dangerous for your cat and can easily cause an accident. The safest place for a cat is inside a carrier that has a seatbelt in place.
- Don’t change up your cat’s food and litter during your trip. As a general rule, cats don’t respond well to change. If they’re already out of their comfort zone by going on a trip, changing other aspects of their routine can easily make them feel overwhelmed.
Traveling with cats can be easy and sometimes even fun. Just be sure always to keep your cat’s safety and comfort at the forefront of your travel plans. If your furry friend isn’t having a good time, then it’s probably best to limit your kitty’s travels when necessary.