Car Travel With Your Cat
Traveling in the car with your cat can be a smooth ride with a little planning and preparation. Here are the cat car travel tips that I use regularly with my therapy cat Kali-Ma. We happily travel together often in the car. If you take time to use these cat care tips you too can enjoy the ride with your cat! 🙂
Before You Take Your Cat Outside
I always advise anyone taking their cat outside of their home to do it safely. You can read an in-depth blog I wrote about this here: Enjoying The Outdoors With Your Cat. It is critical that your cat is protected before you step outside the door.
Protect Your Cat First
- Microchip your cat: This is critical should your cat get away from you. It will be an invaluable method of your cat finding its way back to you.
- Flea-Tick-Heartworm Prevention: Do not take your cat outdoors unprotected. I use prevention year-round. If unprotected your cat can suffer serious illness and discomfort from insects and parasites.
These are the minimum requirements that I recommend. It’s imperative that your cat is safe and protected while outside, even if it’s for a short time.
Before You Put Your Cat In The Car
Before you get in the car with your cat it is important to be prepared. Your cat needs to be secure inside the vehicle and not able to run loose causing distractions while you drive. My cat does not like anything covering her so she prefers the pet care booster seat as shown in the photo.
This secures her in the bucket type seat with a leash inside it. She can lay down or sit up. It also has a safety belt that fastens the seat to the car seat. If your cat prefers to be covered then I advise a cat carrier that can be secured with a safety belt. I have both options available on my shopping page: Shop Kali-Ma.
Before you put this item in the vehicle I highly advise allowing your cat to acclimate to it. When I bought mine I put it next to some of Kali-Ma’s favorite toys with some catnip inside. (If your cat doesn’t like catnip you can a try cat pheromone spray). I left it there for a few days for her to get used to. Eventually, she laid inside it and then I knew it was time to try it out in the car.
Short Car Rides First
If the only place your cat has gone in the car is to the vet, then it is not likely that a car ride is going to be a welcome experience. I suggest taking short car rides with your cat around town. You may not realize it, but cars are very noisy and it takes a cat time to get used to them.
Learn What Your Cat Likes For Comfort
My cat doesn’t like to sit in the sun in the car. So, I transfer the pet booster seat to the back car seat where the windows are tinted on hot sunny days and she sleeps like a baby in it.
My cat also likes country music. (It is not my favorite at all! LOL!) They played it for her while she was in foster care before I adopted her. So, I play it in the car and it always soothes her ride if she is stressed.
There are things you will learn about traveling with your cat over time. Short car rides can teach you this. It is highly inadvisable to put a cat in a car and expect a smooth ride with no practice.
It’s like getting behind the wheel of a car and driving with no training. It requires time and patience for you and your cat to bond in the car. Give it time and lots of practice trips.
Kali-Ma also likes a clean car (much like she prefers a clean house). She doesn’t like trash bouncing around the car making noise.
Here are some cost-effective tips for keeping your car clean: How To Clean Your Car from Home Viable. Even when you have your cat in a car seat you can get cat hair in the car. It’s also a smoother ride when you have “just” the cat in your car from my personal experience.
If Cat Car Travel Just Isn’t For Your Cat
In the event that your cat is just not a car traveler then make an appointment with your vet. Some kitties just never take to it no matter what you do. Perhaps something happened in their history, or they just do not like the noise.
In those circumstances, your vet can give you medication for long distance trips or advise you what over the counter medication and dosage can make your ride easier. Every cat is different so it is best to seek your veterinarians advise should you choose this method.
Long Car Rides With Your Cat
Should you have to travel with your cat longer than an hour or overnight you will require to plan accordingly. Here are some additional requirements to consider for your cat car travel tips:
- Food and Water: Pack your cats food and water that it consumes at home. Do not change the type of food. If your cat drinks bottled water, then bring some. If it drinks tap water then bring that. Feed your cat the same time that it eats at home or as close to it.
- Litter and Accessories: I personally use a disposable litter box, however various travel litter boxes are available. It is important to use the same litter that you have at home. Don’t forget the scooper and extra bags to dispose of the litter.
- Bedding and Toys: If your cat has a special bed or a cat scratcher then bring it. Also, bring along a couple of their favorite toys.
Cats like consistency and familiarity. They do not like change. So, keeping their food routine the same is important. Feed them at the same time on the road that they eat at home. Having their belongings around them with their scent also goes a long way to give them a sense of peace and tranquility.
When you travel a long distance it is important to stop for breaks every couple of hours. Your cat needs to rest from the movement of the vehicle. If your cat needs to use the litter box or eat, it is very rare that it will do it while the car is moving.
Allow the cat to drink, eat and rest without car movement. I walk my cat on a harness and leash. You can learn how to teach your cat that here if you are interested: Teach Your Cat To Walk On A Leash. I also have a stroller that is her “safe place” outside of the car. These things help her relax and make the long rides easier.
A car ride with your cat can be an enjoyable experience. Kali-Ma and I do it so often now that it has become second nature.
I talk to Kali-Ma while I drive and rest my hand on her next to me. She is a great comfort to me and we enjoy cat car travel together. With planning, preparation, and patience you too can have a smooth ride with your kitty.
Until next time….Happy Tails to you! 🙂