Taking care of your cat while travelling by car

You may come across many dealers and car companies, saying “We know cars, cats in cars”, but taking care of cats in the car can be a daunting task. While your cat might enjoy the ride, you have to be very careful about taking the right care your companion while driving to ensure that they don’t hurt, sick or feel trapped.

Here are the top ways to take the right care of your cat, when you regularly take your cat out for a drive.

Talk To Your Cat’s Vet

Before taking your cat for a journey in the car, it’s vital that you talk your cat’s veterinarian and learn some basic tips to travel with a cat in the car. Also, check out what to do if the cat becomes carsick.

One of the best ways to get your cat used to the car travel is by taking the cat out for small drives. Practice driving short distances with your cat to acclimate them to the car.

Acclimatize Your Cat To a Cat Carrier

If you are planning to use a cat carrier for your cat, then it’s important that you acclimate your cat to the carrier. Take the carrier out well in advance, clean it up and put it in the living area.

Place a clean towel in the travel carrier, which smells either like you or your cat. If you leave the travel carrier open, and allow your cat to explore it, your cat will become a little acclimatized to it, and won’t be too stressed during the travel period.

Disposable Litter Trays

As it’s not practical to take your cat’s usual litter box with you we would recommend to take a few disposable litter trays with you.

Don’t Leave Your Cat Should You Park Your Car

During hot weather, the temperature in a parked car can skyrocket within seconds, even when you have parked your car in the shade. A car can get hot enough to cause a heat stroke or worse to your cat. And don’t forget that while your cat might have been fine travelling in the car with you that may not apply without you as it no longer feels safe without its companion.

Even during winters, the temperature can plummet enough that your cat feels the freezing cold inside the car.

Feed Your Cat Before the Journey

Ensure that your cat has eaten a light meal four to five hours before you start the journey. This should hopefully mean that your cat will have used the litter box prior to starting the journey thus making the journey more comfortable for yourself and your cat.

If you are going for a long ride one of the disposable litter boxes as well as feeding sessions will of course be necessary. If you are only travelling for a couple of hours or less it’s best not to feed them during the journey as this could lead to motion sickness and vomiting.

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20 thoughts on “Taking care of your cat while travelling by car

  1. When I had to move with my cats I had a full size pickup truck with a cap with window. The window let me see in while driving and having the space meant I coud put them in larger carriers so they would have room to move about. This helped ward off motion sickness. I would recommend a travel kit with wipes,extra towels and and pheromone spray like Feliway. My move was only a three hour drive but those supplies came in handy.

  2. Important article, thanks. I think it is really important that the cat is in a carrier and stays in the carrier, and the carrier is secured with a seatbelt or through some other means. I know some of my friends with cats let their cats wonder around the car freely. In case of a bad accident, much like a driver without a seatbelt, the chances of a serious injury or worse go way up compared to a cat being in a carrier.

  3. I recall actually moving house via a very long journey on a train with a cat, children and necessary things. Poor kitty had to be hid between the backs of the seating in her wicker basket, cat box. It wasn’t a nice journey for any of us, we were leaving with very few items, but unlike some people you hear of that abandon their “pets” she was in our family and in it for the long haul. At one point she reached out and touched a posh woman’s ankle, but for the life of me I cannot recall how we got out of being found out (knowing me I probably said did you see that huge moth?) and the journey took days, but we arrived safe and sound, together like I said for the long haul, family.

    1. Oh wow! That must have been quite a journey… and glad to hear she was part of the family. It happens to often that pets get abandoned. 🙁

  4. I set up a board in the back seat, with pillows, to absorb shock. Covering the crates with a sheet helped, to block “motion” on the sides and the back.This seemed to help with the car sickness. I would also use dog crates for the cats, with water bowls, food dishes, and little litter boxes. A litter locker was helpful to scoop poop.

  5. My childhood cat always travelled loose in the car, she loved looking out the back window, or side ones, and if it was really hot she had first dibs on the cold air in the footwell of the front passenger seat.

    When we went back to the farm each summer, we had a favourite petrol station where we would always stop once in each direction: along with the kids and adult icecreams we would ask for an old sweets packaging box with a “baby” (5 cent!!!) scoop ice-cream in it.

    They would always bring it out to where we were parked in the shade with the cat to say Hello to her, and watch her devour her favourite from the box: French vanilla.

    “Endora” was placed only once in a cat cage, she hated it and yowled all the time (the first three hours of the trip), then she got the catch loose, looked out the (closed) window and started to purr. The cat cage was never used again.

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