It's time for that vacation you've been planning for ages, and you don't have anyone to take care of your feline overlord... er, pet cat. They're sweet and funny but also demanding and devious, and you know you don't want to leave them with a friend for a week. You'd miss them too much. We understand. To make it slightly easier we've put together a list of tips to minimize the stress for both you and your cat.
Most cats hate car rides... Plan ahead.
It's easier to get a kitten accustomed to traveling. But even with older cats, start with short drives. They may never really like drives, but at least they'll be used to it.
Talk to your vet.
He or she might recommend something to ease motion sickness. Even if your cat isn't usually carsick, a five-hour road trip is not when you want Fluffy to change her mind about that. Also, if your cat has an existing health condition, your vet may be able to give you tips on how travel may affect this condition.
Help your cat get used to the travel carrier.
Carriers are NOT optional. They are a necessity. Clean the carrier and put it out where the cat can examine and explore on their own terms. If you've spent any time watching your feline overlord, you know they're a curious bunch. They like to explore and play, at least when we aren't looking. If you can give them time to get used to and 'claim' their carrier, it's much likelier that they'll be comfortable with it when the time to travel comes.
Bring something familiar.
Your cat may be more comfortable with a favorite toy for the trip, or something that reminds them of home. You are used to traveling in the car. Your cat, unless you've started training them from the time they were a kitten, isn't. They'll be nervous and anxious and likely to lash out because of it. Make sure they have something that makes them feel more comfortable, and it'll make the trip a bit easier.
Remember to bring the necessary supplies.
Food, water, dishes, and even litter and a litter tray for longer trips. Cleaner, paper towels and plastic bags are also helpful items to have, just in case. Adding in band-aids for yourself might also be a wise idea, depending on your cat's temperament.
Do not let the cat loose in the car.
There have been stories of the cat shredding upholstery, getting under the brake pedal, and even cat-related injuries in crashes. Some cats are so exited about the new experience, they're desperate to explore. Some cats are terrified of the moving box on wheels. An anxious or hyperactive cat is dangerous if loose in the vehicle.
Don't be afraid to take a break.
Even if you're still fine driving, make sure your cat is. Fluffy doesn't usually do things she dislikes for hours at a time with no breaks. You might even consider letting the cat out of the carrier. Depending on your cat's disposition, they may even be okay with wearing a harness and leash and going for a walk to stretch. But be sure there's an ID tag and that any microchip details are up to date, just in case.
Allow extra time.
Traveling with a pet can take much, much longer than traveling alone. Try to give yourself enough time to make it to your destination. You'll need breaks for them to stretch, then bathroom breaks and time to get them back into the carrier. Always allow extra time for getting them back into the carrier.
Traveling with cats is like traveling with small, cranky children. They have little idea what's happening.They can't take care of themselves, so you need to be prepared to do it. Keep these tips in mind to keep both of you safe as you travel.