Learn these 13 helpful hints before bringing your cat along on your next car trip.

2023-01-05 06:11:33 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of Vytravels.com, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.

So you want to take your cat on a road trip with you?

Not that I expect car travel with a cat to be easy for you or anything. Your cat's requirements take precedence. When making a long car trip with a cat, it's important to be prepared for a wide range of possible reactions.

A cat may be fine riding in the car for up to an hour, but how will they do for 3, 4, or even 8 hours? What about the various road conditions you might encounter when transporting a cat? You should be ready for winding roads and mountainous terrain along the way.

Long-distance travel with cats is fraught with mystery, so it's best to be ready for anything. Here are the most important things I've learned about taking a cat on a car trip.

P S Be sure to read my cat road trip tips for staying in a hotel with a cat if you're taking a long-distance trip and stopping for the night.

Psst If you use the affiliate links in this post, I will receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

How To Travel With A Cat In A Car For Long Distance Road Trips

Long Distance Cat Travel - My Personal Experience

My 26-hour road trip from Montreal to Florida (and back) gave me plenty of practice driving with a cat in the car. ) This would entail roughly 50 hours on the road with the cat and four hotel stays.

While the trip went swimmingly, I picked up some useful tips on how to successfully transport a cat over long distances.

How to Take Your Cat on a Car Trip: 13 Essential Steps

The first piece of advice is to buy a large travel carrier so they don't have to roam around the car.

The best way to ensure your cat's safety during car trips is to use a specially designed carrier. Both you and your cats are in danger if you allow them to roam freely inside the vehicle. Any cat, no matter how well-trained, carries an element of danger.

In response to my cat's meowing for attention, I will admit to releasing him from his carrier. However, this occurrence is extremely uncommon. If he isn't on my lap, he must go back into his carrier. If I notice that he is sad and alone in the back, I will spend a little time with him.

If you need to transport a valuable vehicle, you should look for a secure carrier that can accommodate a It's not like you have a lot of choices. The Amazonian giant carrier is great for car travel with a cat. It has a metal frame and leash for security, and is big enough for my cat to stand up and move around in.


The carrier for your cat should be their fortress. Before putting them in the car, you should take some time to get them accustomed to the area.

I did this by allowing my cat free access to the carrier throughout the house. Leaving him treats, feeding him treats while he sleeps, etc.

I would go so far as to train them to feel at home even when it's locked if given the chance. Give them a treat as you begin to close the carrier. You can help them adjust to being inside the carrier by gradually increasing the amount of time the door is kept shut. (My cat had this problem; he adored it when it was open, but he became frantic whenever I closed it. )

P S Long-distance travel with cats requires acclimating them to two different carriers: one for the car and one for the hotel. We had to use a cat backpack to carry him from the car to the hotel because the carrier is so big. The baby seat was his sanctuary in the car, but his backpack provided the same feeling of security during the night. For our needs, we have opted for the Pecute Cat Backpack. Look at it here on Amazon!


Third, take your cat for a ride in the car to help them adjust to the experience of being the driver.

Long-distance cat travel is best prepared for by acclimating the cat to car rides as much as possible in advance. There's a lot going on when you're behind the wheel, what with all the shifting, noise, lights, and whatnot.

When taking your cat on a long car trip, you should get them used to riding in the car as much as possible. It's one thing to get them used to their carrier at home, but it's another thing entirely to bring it into the car with you.

When we first started taking him in the car, our cat would start meowing like a crazy person and try to escape his carrier. To buckle him back in, I'd have to ride in the back with him. In the end, he picked it up. No other preparation for your trip will benefit your cat as much as giving this procedure time to work.

At first, we would take our cat on short trips as often as we could. To the corner store, the supermarket for an online pick-up, etc. To help him relax even more, we started off by playing classical music in the car.

After a while, he became accustomed to the car ride and would promptly fall asleep.

travel-with-a-cat-in-a-car-cat-in-his-carrier-pocking-head-out Someone is always peaking out to say hello and get some attention.

Make their carrier a warm and welcoming place to be

You want your pet to feel comfortable in their carrier, not like they're being held captive for hours in a freezing metal box.

If you need to take your cat on a long car trip, there are some things you can do to make the trip more pleasant for both of you. In order to provide him with a comfortable and warm sleeping environment, I brought his bed inside and covered it with a blanket.
Even though I never saw him use it, I included a scratcher for him. If you'd like, you can also include some playthings.

Covering the carrier with a blanket is also suggested. Because of this, the room will feel cozier and warmer. If the motion makes them sick, at least they won't be able to see what's going on outside. My cat gets very anxious whenever there is any light coming in the window, so this is a handy way to keep the sun from bothering her.


5 Tips for Keeping Your Cat Calm in the Car on a Trip

You might want to get your cat something to help them relax if they're still nervous about riding in the car. Feliway makes a calming pheromone spray for cats that can be used anywhere. When sprayed in their carrier 15 minutes before leaving, this will keep them calm for the next four to five hours.

You can also try purchasing soothing snacks to give them in the car. (Some people were worried that the spray would make the driver drowsy; we had no such problems.)

Consult your veterinarian about getting travel medication for your cat if he or she requires something stronger.

Find Items on Amazon to Help Your Cat Relax During Car Trips

Six, Cats Can Defecate Without Accident... But Mishaps Do Occur

You can try to train your cat to use the litter box one last time before you leave, but chances are it won't cooperate. Furthermore, you need not worry; cats can hold their urine for up to 48 hours!

Accidents can occur, especially if they're anxious. Keep this in mind and prepare for the worst. We prepared a litter box for our cat by lining its carrier with pee pads. If our cat ever had an accident while we were driving, this would make cleanup a breeze. As an added bonus, it can be used in the event that your cat becomes ill and vomits. Find diaper changes on Amazon.com.

As always, you should provide your cat with access to a litter box at each location.


7. Invest in portable litter boxes for cats and use regular cat litter...

When taking a cat on a road trip, the question of where to put the litter box is a pressing one. You can't just let it out to urinate on the lawn like a dog.

If you want to buy a litter box, you probably want one that can be covered. You can buy portable litter boxes for cats, but we just used a small plastic container with a lid. Wrapping it up like this makes it simple to transport from the car to the hotel. You can either leave it out for your cat to use, where the odor will be unpleasant to you, or you can simply cover it up.

Bringing the same litter from home for the litter box is another helpful cat travel tip. Several factors contribute to this: small travel litter kits typically include low-grade litter, for example. It's not as effective at covering up odors and may be dustier.

But the most important fact is that your cat isn't used to it. Don't add changing their litter to the long list of new experiences they're having. Keep in mind that you should maintain as much stability as possible. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to use the same litter that you use at home. Given that your feline friend has become accustomed to it and appears to enjoy it, there's no reason to switch.

I even cleaned out the old litter box before bringing it in the car with me. ) But this way, he could tell it was his just by the scent.


What Do You Do During Restroom Breaks, Number 8

It's not uncommon for people to ignore your requirements when you take your cat on a car trip. However, they shouldn't You should plan for your cat's bathroom breaks, but you should also plan for your own. When we urinate, unlike cats, we can't (and shouldn't) hold it in.

When taking a cat on a car trip, you might have to leave it behind if you're sharing the ride with other passengers. Several considerations are necessary. Does it feel too hot or too cold outside? And if left in the car by themselves, will they panic?

We didn't give the cat a second's alone time in the car when we first started driving with him. Since there were two of us behind the wheel, I could stop for a bathroom break while my co-driver stopped to refuel. Then we'd switch places, with me staying in the car to attend to the cat's basic needs (hydration, nourishment, etc.). while my significant other went to the restroom Neither of us felt like we were waiting for the other at any point thanks to this method of communication.

The cat became more accustomed to the car by the end of the trip, allowing us to leave him for short periods of time when we needed to use the restroom simultaneously. If it was particularly warm, we'd make sure to open a window. True, it wasn't like it was minus 40 degrees outside while we were driving.

Get your cat used to riding in the car with you before you hit the road by yourself. Carrying them inside in a duffel bag or a cat backpack is another option. As such, the Pecute cat backpack is one of our favorites.


The importance of giving your cat water while traveling on the road is emphasized in tip number nine.

Make sure you bring enough water for both you and your cat, as well as a bowl (you can get a foldable bowl on Amazon for this purpose) to serve it in. Our feline companion was not interested in quenching her thirst with water during the car trip. He never seemed interested in it when I offered it to him; he always seemed preoccupied with events outside.

While it's acceptable for them to abstain from alcohol during the day, it's imperative that they get enough sleep at night. Cats can and do suffer from dehydration.

On our trip, I made sure my cat had plenty to drink by stocking up on Purebites' chicken in water. To ensure they are drinking enough water, you can stock up on wet food to give them once you arrive at your destination.


Ten. Keep your cat's essentials in a bag you can easily access.

You've thought of everything, and maybe even have a special overnight bag just for your cat. However, you should also bring a small bag for easy access items. Everything you might need to care for your cat while driving is conveniently stored in this bag. It's up to you whether you want to keep it in the front passenger seat or have it stored in the trunk.

Everything you and your cat will need on the road and at rest stops should fit in there. A couple of treat varieties were packed in my small bag. ), water, his bowl (which collapses), his harness and leash, a bottle of Feliway, and a toy This is also where you should keep your cat's vaccination records and any medication he may be taking.


Don't ignore your cat for 8 hours if you're traveling with it; it's not good for them.

This may seem like common sense, but some cats will sleep through the entire trip if you bring them along.

Our cat does get lonely later in the day, I've noticed. Meowing and moving around in the carrier, he would eventually become restless.

Even if I didn't take him for a walk at each stop, I'd still pet him and offer him something to drink. But he rarely paid attention to me because he was preoccupied with the world around him.

So, instead, when we were on the road, I would open the carrier whenever he was quiet and pet him. Being reminded that we cared and receiving some form of human contact was very meaningful to him. He rarely goes this long without occupying one of our laps, but today was an exception. Then he'd settle down and go back to sleep.

If he was really fussy, this is also where I'd remove him from the carrier and let him sit on my lap. Understanding your cat's wants and needs is the key here.

Don't go too long between pit stops if you're driving with a cat.

Stopping for a rest is essential, even if your cat refuses to get out of the car or you haven't yet seen any signs that it will drink water.

You must not keep them cooped up in the vehicle for too long before stopping and allowing them to stretch their legs.
I'd aim for a stop every three hours at most, but I'll also be attentive to your cat. They should be taken out earlier if they start to get antsy. Provide them with food and water, and perhaps the litter box, as well.

In the end, my cat only felt comfortable in his carrier in the car and refused to leave. After a while, I stopped taking him on walks and offering him water because I realized he wasn't interested. Still, I'd pay him a backseat visit and pet him whenever I could.

The Best Rest Stops to Make With Your Cat on the Road 13 Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Road Trip with Your Cat

There may or may not be rest stops suitable for a cat, depending on where you're traveling. These exits and entrances from the highway were brief detours for travelers between Montreal and Florida. You could use the restrooms, and there was usually a sizable grassy area with picnic tables.

The harness and leash allowed me to take my cat out onto the grass. This is a great place to stop the car and give your cat some fresh air, water, and food.

The only drawback is that they might not have access to a gas station. That means you'll still need to make a separate stop.

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