The Hervey Foundation for Cats

8 Tips for Taking Your Cat on a Long Car Trip

8 Tips for Taking Your Cat on a Long Car Trip

It’s summertime, and some of us may be preparing to spend some time at the cabin or a summer home. If you are gone for a long period of time, as a cat owner, you should know it is not fair to leave them for extended periods even if you have someone come to feed them. Unless you can guarantee they are being played with and engaged by the person feeding them, the loneliness can be very hard on them.

So, what is the solution? Bring them with you (if you can). If your plans involve spending a long period of time at another location, where you know they would be safe, why not bring them with you? They may not love the trip, but there are some tips you can follow to at least take the edge off for them.

Talk to the Vet

First things first, talk to your vet. Long car trips are extremely stressful for cats, so make sure they are in good health before going on a trip. The stress can exacerbate an otherwise hidden health problem, and you don’t want to be stuck outside the city with an animal in need of health care. Veterinarians also may be able to help you learn how to deal with car sickness in your cat if the issue arises. 

Don’t Make a Long Trip Their First

In other words, take your cat on a few smaller trips to acclimatize them to the car and get used to the idea of being transported in this way. A cat that has never been inside a vehicle will feel overwhelmed and may enter a fight or flight mode. 

Plan Your Stops Along Your Trip

If you are going to be in the car for longer than two to three hours, you need to plan out some additional stops. Cats will need to eat, have some water, and use a litter box periodically and by planning these stops, you can prevent accidents from happening in your car. Cat urine is not an easy smell to remove from cloth seats. 

If you are planning to stay overnight at a hotel or motel, confirm your booking ahead of time. Spending the night in the car due to an overbooked hotel would make a terrible situation for a cat. 

Pack Food, Water and Medicine

Just in case anything happens, you need to be sure you have enough supplies to keep your cat happy and healthy. If your vehicle became stranded, and your cat required daily medication, having it in your trunk or glove box can save the day. Extra food and water can come in handy in a number of situations.

Exercise Before the Road

Tiring out your cat with exercise is an excellent way to encourage them to sleep while in the car. If they are tired, they feel less stressed and more inclined to shut their eyes and doze off for a while. 

Make Sure You Have a Safe Cat Carrier

Cat carriers are designed to keep your cat safe while out in the world, and while in the car, strapping them in can save their life in the event of an accident. Run the seatbelt over the front and top of the carrier if you can. Additionally, keep your cat in the carrier during the trip. Free-roaming in a vehicle can put a cat in a seriously dangerous position in the event of an accident. 

Never Leave a Cat in a Hot Car

Even if just to run into the store, you never know if something may arise that lengthens your time inside the building. Keeping a cat in a hot car, with the windows rolled up, is the most dangerous position you can put them in. Even if you crack the windows the car can still heat up to a dangerous level. Remember, your furry buddy is coated in exactly that – fur. They will get warm quickly.

Have Fun!

Don’t forget to have fun. Taking your cat out on a new adventure can be a learning experience for them, and they will look to you to keep them safe in their new surroundings. If they are stressed, give them lots of attention and reassure them things are okay! Sniffing plants and finding new places to explore are all part of what makes cats the curious creatures they are.