Heading out on the open road this Memorial Day Weekend? Or just interested in taking your favorite feline with you on more adventures? Here are some tips and tricks to helping make your next road trip more enjoyable - and safe - for your cat!
Acclimate your cat to their crate or carrier.
Cats love familiarity. Giving them a safe, familiar space to go and hide or rest is absolutely necessary. Allow your cat to get used to the carrier a few weeks to a month before travel, enticing them into the carrier with treats until they seem at ease with longer periods in the crate.
Layer the carrier with a towel or blanket that smells of home to increase their comfort levels while traveling.
There are many styles of cat carrier out there, some which your cat may like more than others. The space dome travel backpack, pictured above, is a cat carrier and backpack in one, making the carrier portable and easy to carry while providing your cat with a window.
Bring a litter box.
While you might think your cat would be A-okay with doing their business behind a bush, it might be a different story for them. Cats are creatures of habit, so it's important to keep up a litter box routine for your cat. One option for easy litter clean up for travel is a collapsible travel cat litter box. You can line it with litter box liners, fill with litter, and when your cat's done its business, the litter box folds flat for convenient storage. Another option is disposable cardboard boxes for easy litter clean-up. But be sure to bring some cleaning supplies in case of any accidents in the car!
Take baby steps!
Practice makes purrfect, after all! Try driving short distances with your cat to acclimate them to the car and get them used to the motion and sounds.
Doing some dry runs ahead of time can also help a cat adjust to motion sickness. Most cats can travel without getting car sick, but if you find your cat is extremely sensitive to travel, ask your vet about anti-motion sickness medications.
It's also recommended that you give your cat (or dog) food and water three hours prior to leaving for your trip so he has some food in his stomach but isn't stuffed.
Make sure your cat is healthy and up-to-date on immunizations and flea control.
There are many disease-carrying fleas, ticks, and other animals your cat can potentially come in contact with, especially when exploring the Great Outdoors. Be sure to do some research about the area you're visiting about required shots and papers for traveling.
Make sure your cat has proper identification tags, a harness, and a leash.
If you plan to walk your cat outside of the car and carrier, make sure to find a durable, well-fitting (and comfortable) harness that your cat can't easily escape. Even the calmest of cats can get spooked by something unknown in the environment and run. It's better to be prepared.
It's advisable that you do a bit of leash training before you leave on your trip so that it is not an added stressor for your cat.
Bring a water bowl you know your cat likes.
Cat owners the world over know that cats are notoriously picky about their water bowls. A lot of it has to do their sensitive whiskers touching the sides of the bowl. In any case, you want to make sure that your cat is properly hydrated! One way is to ensure that they will drink from the bowl you fill up.
Package food and litter in pre-portioned plastic baggies.
Travel-sized meal bags can be measured out and tucked away for later for a quick and easy meal. When traveling, litter can be a mess and smell, so using doggie bags to scoop litter into to be thrown away makes it much easier. Even a day's worth of litter can be put into zip bags for when it's time for a fresh litter box.
Pay attention to your cat's needs.
While this seems obvious, sometimes the excitement of the trip can distract you from paying full attention to your cat. Be sure to keep an eye on their body language for signs of stress or fear. If something seems to much for them, return them to their carrier.
Once your furry family member gets used to traveling, your trips will be as smooth as can be!
Do you take your cat with you on your adventures? What are some tips you would share with anxious first-time cat travelers?