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Extended Road Trip with a Cat?

Cat YawnHave you ever considered how to move a cat a great distance, as during a move or for an extended vacation? These are creatures that don’t take kindly to change or even “unfamiliar motion,” so it can be a daunting task. But, doesn’t there have to be a way to move a cat from one place to another?

Flying them is an option to consider, and there are many specialty websites that can organize the whole thing for you. I am concerned, however, about their care during handling, and then of course there’s the whole “flying in the cargo hold” thing, with no temperature or pressurization regulation. I’m sure dogs can handle it, because they are awesome and love adventure. But cats? Layabout, sleep ‘n’ eat cats? Maybe it would be fine if they were young or middle-aged, but an older one? I have doubts they would survive the trip, and I can think of nothing more horrible that the prospect of going to pick up a tiny cat corpse at the airport.

So that leaves car travel to consider, another frightening proposition. Moving far away by car with a dog is easy…that silly sumbitch will sit in the back of a car all day, head out the window, tickled to death. But a cat, for some reason, completely loses it and thinks he’s falling into outer space. So when faced with the choice between a dead, popsicle kitty after a flight, or one that’s shrieking and jammed under your brake pedal, what is a responsible cat owner to do?

The Pet Center
may have some answers. This site suggests that an extended car ride with a cat is indeed possible, as long as you start getting the cat accustomed to the idea long, long before you actually go. A few key points:

  • Cats are most comfortable in the confines of a carrier when in the car. They can avoid looking out the window, and thereby avoid the feeling of falling sideways when they see the scenery going by. To get a cat used to being in a carrier, purchase the one you intend to use for the trip, and stick it somewhere in your house, door open, with a blanket and a small litterbox inside. Before long, your cat will discover this cozy little cat-shack and begin hanging out in there on its own.
  • Try a few intoductory, test runs with the cat in the car when you go out to run errands or go to the store. This lets the cat know that there isn’t impending doom at the other end of the journey.
  • If the cat continues howling like a banshee for more than about 20 minutes, you are one of the unlucky few that has an inconsolable animal. In this case, don’t be at all shy about medicating it to the gills. Consult your vet, tell him how long you anticipate your trip will be, and he can suggest a medication to keep your kitty mellow for the duration. If you have any kind of reservations about the idea of medicating your cat, just remember: A long nap, with dreams of squirrels and laying on a tree branch in an African veldt, is MUCH more humane than several days of your cat feeling the worst stress it ever has in its life.
  • When all else fails, my Mom suggests slipping your animal a Benadryl. This keeps them calm, dries them up, and turns them into luggage. I must stress that I have NOT tested this, and cannot guarantee the safety of your pet. Ask your vet, and, while you’re at it, just get it some real sedatives.

That’s it! A long car ride with your cat doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience for either of you, but it DOES take some planning. The biggest thing is to get your cat used to the whole idea, and it can be smooth sailing for all. Good luck!

There Are 10 Responses So Far. »

  1. Just had to comment, as a person who has traveled cross country with 2 felines with my husband… Most cats are not happy travelers. From CA to NY all we heard was yowling every morning when we set out, but after a max of 20min they settled down. Only an occasional cry when they just want to let you know they’re still miserable. Since we had lovely cloth carriers, by the time we got to NJ our smallest and fiercest kitty had managed to claw and gnaw her way out of her prison and was determined never to be jailed again… Well little does she know that we’re moving again…

  2. That was awesome, Brie, thanks for the post. I am definitely nervous about it, but have faith in his ultimate survival. 🙂

  3. You should just get a dog.

  4. Hah…even though you accidentally posted that three times, I am leaving the dupes there for emphasis. 🙂

  5. Get a dog.

  6. Another vote for a dog

  7. People, people, please. There is nothing I want more than a dog. Just need to get settled, first.

  8. You can definitaly break the cat it, we would bring our kitties for short outings to petsmart and even on the T. Within no time we were taking them for 5 hour rides back home and the cats owned the car – looking out the window, sitting on the head rests, sleeping on the drivers lap. You can totally do it!

  9. Ed does not approve of your insolence.

  10. I’ve actually done two cross country road trips (Tucson to D.C., D.C. to Los Angeles) with my cat, and we are gearing up for a third (Los Angeles to New York). He’s the kind of cat that will eat through the carrier if you leave him in it, so I let him out in the car and keep the windows up. The first few minutes of the first day, he freaks out, but but the end of the first hour, he is relaxing on my lap or underneath the passenger seat, sleeping. He’s gotten so good at it that I wonder if I should join a band and take him on tour. I don’t recommend doctoring animals up with any meds, unless absolutely necessary.

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