A road trip with your cat is often not the easiest for you or your kitty. Cats don't really like the change of scenery or the bumpy car ride. Your cat might end up so nervous it barfs or pees! Or they might yowl in fear for hours on end. Luckily we know how to travel with a cat without leaving them stressed.
The trick to traveling with a cat is to start preparing before the car ride itself. We've provided you with some important things to keep in mind, from getting your cat used to a crate to keeping them comfy on the road. You'll learn how to travel with a cat in no time — it just takes some patience and extra love.
How to Travel With a Cat
Unlike some dogs, who become excited at the thought of a car ride and spend the duration of the ride with their head sticking out the window, cats despise traveling. While there are always exceptions, the majority of felines dread the thought of being in a car or inside a carrier. And they dread going to new places.
It's safe to say that traveling with a cat isn't usually easy. Many times, you're in for more than just a quick car ride. You also have to factor in noisy traffic, people approaching or walking by the car, pit stops, and anything else unfamiliar to your cat.
To ensure your cat's well-being and avoid excess stress or aggressive behavior, it's important to take several precautions during the trip — and before. Preparing a cat for the upcoming travel is often even more important than the drive itself. So, let's take a look at what you can do to ease your cat's fear and guarantee a safe trip.
Introduce a Carrier
Cats are usually instantly disdainful of carriers. Think about the times they see them: When they are going to the vet, being moved to a new home, etc. Your cat most likely associates the carrier with traumatic and stressful experiences, so it's important to change that before traveling.
- First, pick a carrier that allows your cat to comfortably move around and stand. If your cat is unable to stand, the carrier is much too small. Being confined will make your cat feel even more trapped and vulnerable.
- Put comfortable blankets or things they like inside the carrier, like a favorite toy or cat bed. Think of whatever will make your cat enjoy being inside the carrier.
- Place the carrier somewhere your cat frequents, like next to their cat tree. Your cat will slowly get used to the presence of the carrier and not find it as shocking when they see it. The carrier will become more of a permanent fixture instead of a threat of travel.
- Once your cat gets used to the carrier being around, reward them with treats and pets every time they go near it, sniff it, or rub it. Your cat will soon associate the carrier with these great experiences instead. Bathe your cat in affection and treats when they go inside the carrier.
While your cat will always be wary of traveling in the carrier, these steps will ensure they are less stressed and easier to handle when the time to travel comes.
For many owners, it can be a nightmare trying to get a freaked-out cat to go into their carrier, leading to scratches and your cat hiding in a tough-to-reach spot. This method ensures that your cat has no problem being inside the carrier.
Maintain a Routine
Cats are creatures of habit. They don't like change. Cats don't even like when their cat tree is moved or you skip petting them in the morning, so of course, a disruption like moving or traveling will be completely upsetting for them.
An important tip for maintaining your cat's sanity during travel is to ensure there are not many changes leading up to the travel date. Continue feeding them at the same time. Keep their litter box in the same spot. Play with them at the same time each day. And cuddle with them at night, per usual.
The goal is to create a sense of normalcy for your cat so they aren't stressed and confused before the traveling begins.
Get Them Calm and Ready
Before you start traveling, prepare your car for your feline passenger. Spray Feliway or another similar cat diffuser product in your vehicle. Even better, try some spritz of CBD catnip spray to keep them relaxed.
You can also provide your cat with CBD cat treats before the road trip. CBD is a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid found in hemp. That means it won't get your cat high.
Instead, CBD interacts with the receptors in your cat's endocannabinoid system (ECS) to benefit your cat's overall well-being. This includes their mood, helping them feel soothed, calm, and relaxed. Give them the CBD treats 30 minutes before the car ride.
Pay extra close attention to your driving speed, avoiding extra bumps, sharp turns, and abrupt stops. This can shake around the cat carrier, even move it. Your cat will be more terrified the more agitating the ride is.
Also, be aware of the noise level. Don't honk your horn or blast the radio. Keep the windows up, if possible, to avoid extra ruckus from other vehicles and traffic. Don't yell at other drivers or anything else that will make your cat feel tense and afraid.
Make Sure Your Cat is Secure
The safest way to travel with your cat is to make sure they are secure inside the carrier. Put a seat belt around the carrier to make sure it doesn't move around. Bring a blanket in case your cat prefers to have the carrier hidden in the darkness. This might help them calm down a bit more.
Only let your cat out of the carrier if they are not completely terrified. Scared cats might get in the way, hiding on the floor of the car near the pedals. They also might pee on the seat or crawl into another unsafe area.
If your cat seems confident enough to come out, make sure you keep an eye on where they go. Maybe even keep them on your lap, if possible. Always put your safety first and keep your eyes on the road!
Add in a Moving Box
If your cat seems totally fine in the car, bring along a cardboard box. Cardboard boxes provide safety and security for cats, giving them a sense of comfort. This will also keep your cat from crawling around on the floor of the car.
Avoid Leaving Your Cat in Hot Cars For Extended Periods
Cats are most comfortable at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Luckily, humans prefer a similar temperature. But, cars can get pretty hot, so always be aware of the temperature inside your vehicle. Keep the AC on if it gets too hot, and plan pit stops to get fresh air if necessary.
Bring Items That They're Familiar With
When traveling with a cat, it's essential to make them feel as comfy as possible during the ride. Bring along their favorite toys and blankets to make the surroundings a bit more familiar. Your cat will appreciate having their scent around them since everything else is so unfamiliar.
You can also bring their favorite treats, but cats under stress might not be in the mood for food at all. It also might cause them to vomit if they get extremely nervous.
Final Thoughts - How to Travel with a Cat
There are some cats that live life on the road, accompanying truckers across America. And some cats that love lounging in RVs while their family travels from park to park. Cats are surprisingly adaptable and adventurous creatures.
But if a cat has been inside your home its whole life, transitioning to a car ride can be scary. Cats love routine and become very attached to their territory, making a sudden road trip frightening and overwhelming.
The trick is to get your cat familiar with the carrier's presence while not disrupting the rest of your routine. Don't move their litter box or food, and don't change the time of day you play with them or give them dinner. Let them get used to the carrier without changing anything else around them.
And make sure your car is cat-proof! Keep your cat secure and comfy throughout the trip, providing them with a blanket and familiar toys. Make sure the temperature is safe for their health. And don't drive too recklessly.
You can even try giving them CBD cat treats beforehand to make sure they relax before any road trip. We care about your cat's well-being and want them to feel as soothed as possible during moments that would otherwise leave them stressed out and terrified.
While the ride may never be the favorite part of their day, you can make it better for your cat. It's not too hard to make it as smooth as possible! It'll be over before both of you know it.