Even Happy Cats Don't Travel Well

If you are thinking of traveling with your cat.

Don’t! If you can possibly help it.

Cats are known to be very noisy and unsettled travelers.

Even happy cats do not travel well.

Granted you may have "the" one in hundreds that thinks traveling is great fun, however there are many more hundreds that think “the car, oh no.”

I had the privilege of traveling from the east coast of Florida to the west coast of Florida with my 3 male Tuxedo cats, each in their own crate.

I knew they were not great travelers from our trips to the vet, however I felt certain they would settle down after a bit.


I did not think of getting any medication for them as I was certain all would be well.

That was a very wrong move on my part.

One or all of them continually cried and howled all the way.

I turned up the radio, I sang to them (more reason to howl) and I cried with them.

After five hours in the car with no let up on the howling, I was driving across the Skyway Bridge, when the thought occurred to me, should I stop and jump off the bridge or should I throw them one by one over the bridge, crates and all.

Needless to say I did neither, but trust me the temptation was great.

There are cats that do enjoy a ride in the car. I currently have one now.

My Smokey (an orphan kitten I raised) was in the car from the time he was 2 days old. I had to take him to work with me each day in order to feed him. Between going to work with me and frequent trips to the vet, he became very comfortable in the car and to this day (he is 5 now) he doesn’t mind car trips.

The important thing is, if you are thinking toward the future, with thoughts of traveling with your cat. You need to start when your cat is a kitten.

Taking little trips around the block or over to a friend’s house will get kitty used to the car and it will not be fearful.

Whenever you take your kitten or cat out in the car be certain to have it in a crate or some sort of a container. No matter how wonderful your cat or kitten is in the car, do not let it loose. There is no way to know what will spook your cat.

Cats have been know to jump on the driver, get under the brake or gas petal and cause an accident. A few have even jumped out an open window.

If you are planning a trip and are going to take kitty, make certain you do several practice runs before you start on your trip. If kitty cries for longer than 20 minutes, is quiet and drooling or is going bonkers consider getting a tranquilizer from your vet for the cat.

If you feel like I did and thought the cat (cats) would calm down, trust me, it probably will not. It is far better to have a somewhat sedated cat then one that is all stressed out (not to mention you.)

If you are going to get some sedation, get it early enough so that you can try it out. Some medications will work on one cat and not on another. You need time to see what works and what doesn’t.

There are several things to keep in mind when getting ready to take kitty on any lengthy trip. Kitty needs to get used to the crate and needs to get used to having a collar or harness on (harness preferable.)

A good idea is to have the crate in the house, its door open, a few cat treats and a few toys inside and maybe a blanket or towel on the bottom. Let kitty get used to seeing it and hopefully going inside it. Possibly feed kitty a time or two inside it so she will get the feel of it.

Cats usually feel safe in small enclosed spaces. However, make certain the crate is large enough for kitty to move around and sleep comfortably.

It is important that you have identification on the cat (your name, address, telephone/cell phone number,) just in case kitty plays Houdini and escapes.

That is why a collar or harness is important, attach a leash to it (this may sound dangerous,) but sometimes a dragging leash is the only way someone can catch your cat if it is scared and is running a way. In fact, have several leashes in case one gets left behind.

It is not necessary to have food or water in the crate while traveling, a healthy cat can go for several hours with out food or water.

Do not open the crate door in the car if a window or door is open, cats are great escape artists. If you do open the crate door keep your hand on the leash so kitty doesn’t crawl into an unreachable space in the car.

This is one time you have to be smarter than the cat and be prepared for anything. It is times like these that you cannot trust your cat, no matter how calm it may seem.

If you are traveling and will be staying in a hotel or motel be certain when you make your reservations that animals are accepted.

If you are staying in a hotel or motel and are planning on going out for dinner, lock the kitty up. Put kitty in its crate or in the bathroom with the door shut and a note on it. One never knows when the maid may come in and out will go kitty. Many a trip has been ruined because the cat or dog ran away.

The smart thing to do is to tell the desk that you do not want any type of room service, unless you are present. However, don’t depend on that order being carried out, still lock kitty up.

When traveling with kitty there are many things you should take along with you to make the journey a little more pleasant:

  1. Water from home or bottled water for kitty
  2. Kitty’s favorite cat food and treats
  3. Extra paper towels and zip lock bags, plastic bags
  4. Old towels to clean up accidents, liquid soap
  5. Kitty’s medical records in case of an emergency
  6. Baby wipes, small brush and dust pan for litter clean up
  7. Litter box and litter
  8. Extra leash and collar or harness
  9. Flea preventative and small first aid kit for kitty
  10. Enough calming medication for trip back home

It is also a good idea to use wadded up paper towels or newspaper in the bottom of kitty’s crate under its blanket or towel in case kitty has an accident while traveling.

Once you get to your hotel or the place where you are staying, put out kitty’s food, water and litter box. If the cat doesn’t want to eat or use the box at that time, don’t worry. As soon as everyone settles down for the night, kitty will eat and use her bathroom.

It states in the “cat rule book” that cats need to make "them" (meaning you) worry a little bit considering what you have put the cat through.

What are your alternatives if you do not want to take kitty with you.

First of all, that is a great idea. Kitty would rather stay home, seeing the world is really not on a cat’s agenda.

The best idea is to find a neighbor, friend or relative that would be ever so happy to stop in once or twice a day, feed kitty and clean her box. That would make kitty happy.

If that is not possible there are bonded “pet sitters” that will take care of your cat, bring in the mail and keep an eye on things. Your vet can give you a name or two of qualified sitters and pet sitters are also advertised in the yellow pages. It is a good idea to check references as a safe guard.

The other alternative is to board your cat in a kennel that either caters to cats or has a cat kennel far enough away from the dogs that kitty won’t be upset.

If you go the kennel route check it out before hand. You will also need an up to date medical record to show kitty’s shots and history. Do not take kitty to a kennel that does not require this.

Your cat will be the happiest if you can find someone to care of it at home. Cats really do not like changes and home is where his/her heart is. Have fun on your trip and let kitty enjoy the benefits of home.

Sometimes life decides that you will have to board an airplane and fly with Kitty. This requires a whole new set of things to do to get the cat ready to travel.

If you are faced with that decision and fly, you must please read my article Flying With Your Pet

In this article I will try to cover as many of the ins and outs of "pet airline travel" as I can and hopefully make it a "pleasant" experience for both of you.

If you are in need of a pet carrier for Kitty, a new litter box or just looking for some interesting toys, may I suggest you click on Shop at PETsMART and see what is available.

Enjoy your pet and if possible leave kitty home to guard the house.

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