How to Plan a Successful Road Trip With Your Cat

By Jenny Green

Road trips cats and their owners can enjoy together

How to Plan a Successful Road Trip With my Cat

You're setting off into the wild blue yonder with your kitty by your side. Your cat will appreciate not being separated from you while you're away, especially if you take her needs into account when planning the trip. For your feline fur baby to relish her time on the road, start preparations several weeks ahead of your departure and consult your veterinarian for advice, medication and anything else your cat might require on the road.

Taking cats on the road

You already know that cats are as different from each other as people are. Some are great travelers, others less so. To find out how your cat might react to a long road journey, take her on four or five short car rides of an hour or so in duration two or three weeks before you plan to leave. That way, she can get used to riding in the car. If your cat experiences anxiety or motion sickness, ask your vet for something to alleviate the symptoms. Also ask him to insert a microchip if she doesn't already have one and to provide a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection if you'll be traveling in certain states.

Travel distances with a cat

Providing kitty doesn't develop motion sickness and seems happy and healthy, you can take her on a road trip of two days or even longer. Book pet-friendly motels or hotels for overnight stays. When you arrive, check the room for hazards like insect or rodent bait and for holes big enough for a cat to slip through.

For trips of up to six hours, your cat should be fine staying in her carrier the entire time. On longer trips, let her out regularly to exercise, drink water and use the litter tray.

What you'll need for a road trip with your cat

Prepare a checklist of everything your cat needs to be happy, healthy and safe while on the road. Here are some ideas:

  • Cat carrier: Neither kitty nor you is safe if she's free to roam around the car while you're driving.
  • Old towels or disposable liners: For kitty to stay clean in her cat carrier, and for your car to stay fresh, change her bedding when it's soiled.
  • Two harnesses: On longer trips, put a harness on your cat to keep her safe while exercising and take a spare in case one goes missing.
  • Water: Whenever you exercise your kitty, also offer her water. Bring the same water your cat usually drinks at home because cats can be fussy about their water.
  • Litter box and cat litter: Another reason for rest stops is so your cat can relieve herself. In case she's reluctant to use a litter box, bring some plastic bags to pick up and dispose of waste.
  • Food: Bring your cat's regular food if you're traveling for longer than six hours. She'll appreciate something familiar to eat.
  • Toys: Kitty toys are a comfort and something to play with if she gets bored.

Cat carrier

For her safety and your peace of mind, your cat should stay in a cat carrier while you're driving. If she can stretch, turn around and stand up in her current carrier, it's the best one for your journey. If not, buy a larger travel carrier, but not so large that you can't fit a seat belt around it. In the case of an accident, your cat is safest if she's strapped in.

About the Author

A graduate of Leeds University, Jenny Green completed Master of Arts in English literature in 1998 and has been writing about travel, gardening, science and pets since 2007. Green's work appears in Diva, Whole Life Times, Listverse, Earthtimes, Lamplight, Stupefying Stories and other websites and magazines.