How to Travel Long Distance With Cats

LuvVT18September 9, 2009

Sometime in the distant future, I plan on moving out to Arizona from Maryland. I have two cats and when the day comes to move, I plan on taking them with me in my car and drive (several days) out there. Any suggestions on how to do this? I plan on putting them in two separate carriers and will take them out when we stop at a motel for the night. Has anyone traveled far and done this?

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I moved from MN to TX with two cats who were terrible car riders - plus I had a car with no air conditioning. We put them together in a big carrier. We also gave them some kind of sedative each day before we put them in the car. The heat was kind of a problem - one you probably wouldn't have. They also freaked out in the hotel room and hid under the bed. It was a traumatic trip to say the least. The cats I have now have been in the car a lot so it would be completely different. Do your cats do well in the car?

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 12:02AM
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Carriers are the best way to travel with cats. Some will settle down after awhile, some wont. I dont suggest using a sedative (use Rescue Remedy instead - clear it with your vet before hand) it is less harsh on the animals especially in heat. Make certain you have a kitty box, food and water. Usually cats will hold it until you take a break. Last year I helped my friend take her cats from California to New Mexico and my friend even had harnesses and leashes so the cats could get out and stretch their legs and sniff around before going into a motel or even during lunch breaks. We took the carriers into her room the crates doors were left open so they could use the kitty box if they needed to. Water was available during the ride and they were fed before leaving in the morning and again at night. If you dont have A/C in the car you can place a blanket over the cats if you have a hatchback to keep the direct sun off of them. WHen you stop always park under a nice big shade tree if it is hot. Bring a cheapo beach towel so you can put the cat box down in the motel room and not worry about tracking cat sand all over the floor. Most Motel 6's were the best bet for pets. We did not mention the cats but I have a service dog, I always let the front desk know that he has his own bedding and will not be left unattended in the room at anytime. Those are two of the main concerns - cat or dog messes, including pet hari which is hard to get up, and damage done to a room becasue an animal has sepration anxiety. I would normally not include cats in this but I had a Siamese cat when I was younger who could destroy a room in seconds when he was in a fiesty mood. I think you will be fine. Good luck

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 2:54AM
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thanks for all your suggestions. The harnesses sound like a good idea - especially when we stop for a break. I was thinking about blocking off the back of the car (it is air conditioned) and placing blankets and litter box in the back with the carrier open if they want to sit in there. With it being blocked off, they can't wander up front with me while I am driving. What do you think of this?

I may be traveling in the spring not during the summer. I would worry about it getting too hot inside the car when we stop for a lunch break.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 12:34PM
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i think harnesses are good idea. try to give some ventilation when you stop the car then they will not feel the hotness.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 1:30AM
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I travelled several years ago from California to Rhode Island with two dogs and two cats... a trip that has since been dubbed as the "trip from hell". Lol.

I pretty much did exactly as mazer decribes. Carriers, food, water, litter. I had two small separate carriers, but one large one would probably work too. I would not just block off part of the car and do harnesses, because I doubt it will really make sense to take the cats out of the car at rest stops. The sounds of the traffic can make them nervous, and I don't think they'd really benefit from it. Just my opinion. I would be worried about escape with just part of the car blocked off as well. Maybe a combo of harnesses and cat carriers would work for you? I just think they're safer and relax more in carriers.

My female cat yowled for the first hour, and then was silent the rest of the way. Everyone enjoyed running around the hotel room at night.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 10:35AM
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I traveled from Tx to Mn in a car with 2 cats. I did get some medication from the vet. They were still freaked out. I had a cat box in the back seat on the floor just in case. They sell disposible ones now. We had to spend one night in Motel, of course most don't or didn't allow pets but we brought them in anyway. Kept them in the bathroom most of the night so they could find litter box and didn't hide under bed all night.
Be very careful!!! I had trouble getting one to go back into cat carrier when going to Motel room so I carried him. He freaked out and got away from me. It took about 10 minutes to catch him again, I thought I was going to loose him!! A harness, leash and be sure they have name tags with a phone # just in case one gets away. It might be a good idea to get them used to a harness before the trip. I have one and tried it on the cat I have now when she was very young. Won't move when I put it on her, but maybe that's a good thing for you.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 11:55AM
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I actually just traveled from Florida to Massachusetts with 3 cats in a little 2 door coupe. It honestly wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

The cats stressed out the first hour or so, then the two in the back seat fell asleep. The one in the front with me cried for a few hours but he eventually fell asleep too.

I specifically looked for hotel rooms with the beds that are completely blocked off so I wouldn't have to deal with a cat lodged up in a mattress at 6 am.

They all traveled in their own carriers. I didn't stop for litter breaks or anything during the day but I did put in those little disposable pads that are used for puppies being potty trained into the bottom of their carriers, so if they had accidents, it didn't get messy. I never, ever, ever let them out of the carriers until we were securely in the hotel room, as I've heard way too many horror stories of cats darting away at rest stops. I was traveling with someone, so we would take turns staying with the cats in the AC while the other got food or went to the bathroom or whatever.

I also pushed hard and did the drive in 2 days. For one of those days, we were in the car for 14 hours straight. None of them went to the bathroom in the car but I put out litter and food/water at night and they all ate and went to the bathroom there.

It really wasn't bad at all and I didn't want to sedate them.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 12:52PM
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Fori is not pleased

I did TX to MI with 2 cats. They were in separate carriers, big enough for a small litter box, spot to lie down, and water bowls. One of the cats was a big one (25 lbs) so his carrier was dog-sized. The other cat was dinky. We did it in two days, with one overnight stop. (Tip: don't ask if they take cats at hotels. Just treat the room nicely.)

We lugged the big cat into the hotel without the carrier because it was too big to carry. The little cat stayed in the carrier. HE was too freaked out to leave it even when we opened the door in the room. We didn't know the little cat well. His owner, our neighbor, had passed away shortly before we moved and had never allowed us to get near him before he got hungry from being abandoned. (He turned out to be a great cat.)

While driving, we had to let the big cat out of the cage because he started clawing at the cage and hurt his little feet. Then he was fine. The small cat yowled for a half hour whenever we got moving or went over a bump.

It was delightful.

The next time we moved cross country we took an airplane. Cats in a cat carrier and a dog carrier, goldfish bagged in a cooler. The TSA felt up my big cat. He was fat, but he didn't need to be humiliated like that. They didn't dare touch the little one.

Hmm. I tranquilized my fish. I should have done the cats, at least the little one.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 3:46PM
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Would love to take my cat to our vacation home 24 car hours away. Flying is not an option because he'd freak out when I would take him out of the carrier at security.

He doesn't like car rides -- cries like I'm trying to kill him. Most people say their cats settled down after a few hours. I wish I knew what he would do. I'd hate to get as far as Cincinnati and have to turn back because DH can't take the crying.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 11:13PM
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How about Pet Airways?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2009 at 8:16PM
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I agree with izzie------PLEASE, PLEASE be very careful that your cats do not get away from you at any point!! My sister's neighbor was distraught several years ago when their cat was lost at a rest stop. When traveling to their vacation home, her cat somehow got out of the car when they stopped at the rest area on the interstate. With all the noise and confusion at the rest area, the cat ran off in fear away from them and although she and her husband hunted for their cat for hours around that whole rest area, they were never able to find him. I would be a basket case if that happened to me with any of our cats!! So please be extra careful at all times! Especially since cats seem to be able to move so quickly and become so fearful in places they are not familar with!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 12:06AM
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