Let me tell you a horror story. Once upon a time, about three years ago, Pete and I were driving up to New York and took the cat we had at the time. I felt so bad keeping him cooped up the entire trip, so when we stopped at a rest stop for gas, I went over to a grassy area with the cat and his favorite food and decided to let him stretch his legs. Bad idea! He darted out of the harness and leash I had him on and under a truck. I tried, to no avail, to get him out. So I did what any normal person would do. I sobbed in front of the truck’s tire until the owner came out, popped the hood, reached in, grabbed our cat, and returned him.
When I look back now, I realize how dumb I was. That cat had only lived in our apartment. He didn’t know the outside world and he sure didn’t need to stretch his legs. We got him back, thank goodness, but we also learned a lot of lessons about road trips with cats. I figured I would pass that knowledge on to you.
Tips For Road Trips With Cats
1. Get a personalized collar.
Before you even embark on your trip, make sure your cat has a collar with his name on it, plus your name and phone number. You’re going to do your best to make sure your cat remains with you cat at all times, but in the event he runs off, you want to have a way to have him returned.
2. Use a carrier.
Your cat may not love heading in to a cat carrier, but it’s sure better than letting him roam free in your car. Imagine opening the door and your cat bolting into the unknown. It may cry in the carrier, which is the saddest sound in the world, but it beats you crying!
You can actually buckle your cat in, if you don’t like keeping it in a carrier. The pet seat belt might actually be better in case you happen to get into an accident because then your cat will be buckled in instead of the carrier potentially flying across the car. You can and should buckle your carrier in, if you’re leaving the cat in there. Be safe.
3. Pack your cat’s favorite food and treats.
You won’t be feeding your cat on the trip, but you will when you get to your destination. Having your cat’s food with you will make him feel more secure. Changing his environment and food might be too much.
4. Don’t worry about a litter box …
Cats are smart. I’m not sure how their little bodies are wired, but they know there is no way for them to go to a bathroom on a road trip. So they don’t. They won’t go in the carrier, so don’t worry about that. When you get to your destination, have a litter box available and introduce your cat to it.
… 5. Unless you’re staying overnight.
If you’re breaking your trip up over multiple days, you’ll want to pack a litter box to bring into the hotel. Be sure to check with any hotels you might book to assure they are pet friendly. You don’t want to get there and then find out your cat isn’t welcome.
6. Don’t leave your cat alone in the car.
No matter what you do, never leave a cat alone in the car. If you have to stop for the bathroom, make sure a passenger stays in the car with the cat when you go inside, then let your passenger go in while you watch the cat. Don’t leave it alone and do not leave it in a hot car under any circumstances.
Do you plan on traveling with your cat this summer? Let us know your tips for road trips with cats in the comments.