Traveling with your cat? We’ve got some tips! (2024)

Help make their ride as comfortable as you can.

Traveling with your cat? We’ve got some tips! (1)

When you think of traveling with a pet, cats often take the back seat. Canine counterparts are thought of as good travel companions, but you can train your kitty to enjoy (or at least tolerate) a road trip, too!

Cats are known to be creatures of habit. That might explain why travel can cause stress in your feline friend. Cats prefer routine and the safety of their own home, and they aren’t always a big fan of change. But a little time, patience, and a lot of treats can help manage change-related stress.

Tips to successfully travel with your cat

Traveling with your cat? We’ve got some tips! (2)

1: Crate training

While traveling may be stressful, a crate can help calm your kitty. The main hurdle of crate training a cat is helping them see the crate as a good, happy place.

Too often, the crate is only used for transporting a cat to and from a veterinary visit. No wonder they’re not a fan! But you can change this feeling by setting the crate out so it becomes a part of their everyday space. Place a favorite blanket or toy in the crate, and make sure the door of the crate is securely fastened open so it won’t accidentally swing shut and frighten your kitty.

Next, using your cat’s favorite treats, put a few in front of the crate and in it. This encourages them to approach it on their own (and provides them with a reward for doing so).

Continue to use treats to encourage your cat to willingly go in the crate and stay in there. Once kitty is comfortable going in the crate and lying in it all on its own, start closing the door for a short time.

This training will take time. At first, your feline friend may be afraid of the sight of the crate ― it may take a few days to warm up to it. And it will take even more time for kitty to feel comfortable staying in the crate.

Once your cat is crate trained, it’ll be much easier to take them on planes or shorter car rides. Just be sure to always stock the crate with toys and treats! You’ll want to take short drives (down the block and back) for your kitty to get accustomed to being in your car.

Traveling with your cat? We’ve got some tips! (3)

2: Make your car a comfortable place for your cat

While a crate is a great option for shorter road trips, it’s not ideal for a trip longer than six hours. Your cat needs access to water and litter, and anything more than six hours is a bit unfair.

To give your cat a little more room, try a large dog crate. This way, they can move around and access water and litter as needed, and they're still contained so you don’t have to worry about them roaming around your car.

Only let your cat wander freely about your car as a last resort. Try keeping them harnessed or leashed to prevent them from hiding under seats or pedals, crawling into hiding spots you can’t reach, or escaping your car altogether.

As with crate training, your kitty needs a little time to get used to your car. A few weeks before your trip, let them roam around inside your parked car for a little while. And always offer treats so they know the car is a good place.

On the day of your trip, bring toys and comforts such as a blanket or bed. Place a litter box, or disposable litter bags, somewhere that’s easy to access. (If you can, avoid feeding them before the car ride to reduce their need to stink up your space.

Be extra careful when opening or closing car doors when your cat is loose. The last thing you want is for him to dart out a door and get lost in an unfamiliar place. Make sure your cat is wearing an ID tag so if there is an escape, they can be easily returned to you.

3: Ask your vet if medication is needed

If you’ve tried training your cat, but traveling is still super stressful, talk to your veterinarian. They may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication or mild sedative. Not only will this help with your cat’s stress levels, but it’ll also make your trip much more enjoyable.

If you don’t have a veterinarian, schedule an appointment at our Vet Centers now. If you need help finding a vet that's closer to you in proximity, start by reviewing our list of local veterinary clinics.

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Traveling with your cat? We’ve got some tips! (2024)

FAQs

Traveling with your cat? We’ve got some tips!? ›

A few weeks before your trip, let them roam around inside your parked car for a little while. And always offer treats so they know the car is a good place. On the day of your trip, bring toys and comforts such as a blanket or bed. Place a litter box, or disposable litter bags, somewhere that's easy to access.

How to make traveling with a cat easier? ›

Wiping the inside of the carrier with artificial pheromones such as Feliway might help make being confined easier on your kitty. If it's a longer car trip – think more than 6 hours, you can try using a small dog crate or pet pop up tent in your back seat to allow room for a litter box and more comfortable bedding.

How do you prepare to travel with a cat? ›

Cat owners need to prepare the following before travel:
  1. ensure your cat is microchipped.
  2. ensure your cat's rabies vaccination is up to date.
  3. allow at least 30 days after your pet's last rabies vaccination before returning to a vet for a blood test to check it has worked.

How long can a cat travel without a litter box? ›

Cats often do not want to eat, drink, or go to the bathroom while traveling. If traveling for multiple days, provide a portable litter box to allow them to use the bathroom when not in motion. A cat should not go more than a couple of days without eating or going to the bathroom.

How to prepare your cat for a long car ride? ›

Traveling on an empty stomach minimizes the risk of nausea and vomiting. Feed a small meal when you arrive at your evening destination. Offer water at any rest stops you make during the drive. Line the carrier with an absorbent “puppy potty pad” in case your cat needs to urinate or defecate during travel.

How long can a cat be in a car? ›

If it is a short trip, under 6 hours, then your cat will be just fine staying in the carrier the entire time. If it is a longer trip, especially if it is over a several day period, you may want to let your cat out of the carrier periodically to get a drink of water and use the litter box.

How stressful is traveling for cats? ›

Cats can easily become frightened and bolt out of a carrier, a vehicle or out of your arms and be lost in an unfamiliar place, with tragic results. It is safer to keep the carrier closed during the entire travel period to avoid problems and allow the cat out once you have reached your destination.

What is the best sedative for cats for travel? ›

Gabapentin is a medication that can be used for several purposes, including seizure control, anxiety relief, sedation, and pain management. It's a common cat sedative for grooming, travel, vet visits, and other short-term events. Gabapentin is generally considered safe in healthy pets, with minimal side effects.

How do cats go to the bathroom while traveling? ›

Bringing a travel litter box along on a road trip is a must. Your cat needs a place to go, and you definitely don't want that place to be your back seat. Bring "The Porta Pawty" Travel Litter Box and use your cat's normal litter to keep their mess contained.

How long can cats hold their pee while traveling? ›

Generally, cats can hold their bladder for several hours, but it's important to provide them with regular opportunities to use the box, especially on longer flights.

How do cats pee when traveling? ›

You can also use a larger crate that has room for a litter box. Most cats will not use the box while in the car, but at least it is available to them if needed. In a carrier, you can line the cage with pee pads in case of an accident. Bring spares in case you need them.

Should I cover my cat's carrier when traveling? ›

If you have a top opening carrier, lower them in bum first. If you are struggling, wrap them in a towel and back them in – you can leave the towel in the carrier with your cat. During transport, cover the carrier with a blanket to help your cat feel secure.

What medicine is good for cats on car trips? ›

Manage Anxiety With Gabapentin: Gabapentin is a wonderful anti-anxiety medication for cats and dogs. It's one of the safest medications out there. The most common side effect is mild drowsiness, which can be a benefit when traveling.

Are car rides too stressful for cats? ›

Motion sickness in cats is a common problem. While many dogs can be “trained” to comfortably ride in cars, it can be much more challenging for cats to overcome their anxiety.

What is the best way to travel with a cat in a car? ›

Your cat should always ride in a carrier when traveling in the car. No matter how well behaved your cat is, it is safest for them to travel in a carrier. You never know when something might spook your cat, you have to brake quickly, or God forbid, you're in a car accident.

Where is the safest place for a cat in the car? ›

For safe transport, put your cat in a hard-shell carrier in the back seat of the car. Secure the carrier with the seat belt. You can also push the passenger seat all the way back, sandwiching the carrier between front and back seats.

Can a cat roam free in a car? ›

Only let your cat wander freely about your car as a last resort. Try keeping them harnessed or leashed to prevent them from hiding under seats or pedals, crawling into hiding spots you can't reach, or escaping your car altogether. As with crate training, your kitty needs a little time to get used to your car.

How do I make my cat calm in the car? ›

The 12 Ways to Calm a Cat in the Car
  1. Use a Familiar Cat Carrier.
  2. Get Them Used to the Car Next.
  3. Use a Pheromone Spray.
  4. Stay in Your Cat's Eye Line.
  5. Talk to Your Cat.
  6. Play Calming Music.
  7. Pet Your Cat if Possible.
  8. Tire Your Cat Out Before Travel.
Apr 5, 2024

How to travel with a cat for the first time? ›

Because cats don't often tolerate change as well as other pets, experts like Dr. Moon-Fanelli recommend acclimating the cat to their carrier by including treats or catnip and comfy blankets and toys. Pet parents can also take their cat on short trips to get them used to traveling.

Can you train a cat to enjoy traveling? ›

Cats can certainly learn to enjoy car travel. The best time to teach them is when they are very young.

How do you transport a difficult cat? ›

How to put your cat in a carrier
  1. Place one hand on their chest, behind their front legs and the other hand supporting their bottom.
  2. Slowly, but confidently, place their head in, with the hand on their bottom gently pushing them forward into the carrier.
  3. Close the door behind them.
May 22, 2023

Is it difficult to travel with a cat? ›

Contrary to popular belief, cats can make excellent travel companions. Yes, they are creatures of comfort who value their territory and routines, but with a bit of mindfulness and advance preparation, it's fairly easy to have them join you on any journey… even one that takes hours, days, weeks, or longer!

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