Help make their ride as comfortable as you can.
When you think of traveling with a pet, cats often take the back seat. Canine counterparts are thought of as good travel companions, but you can train your kitty to enjoy (or at least tolerate) a road trip, too!
Cats are known to be creatures of habit. That might explain why travel can cause stress in your feline friend. Cats prefer routine and the safety of their own home, and they aren’t always a big fan of change. But a little time, patience, and a lot of treats can help manage change-related stress.
Tips to successfully travel with your cat
1: Crate training
While traveling may be stressful, a crate can help calm your kitty. The main hurdle of crate training a cat is helping them see the crate as a good, happy place.
Too often, the crate is only used for transporting a cat to and from a veterinary visit. No wonder they’re not a fan! But you can change this feeling by setting the crate out so it becomes a part of their everyday space. Place a favorite blanket or toy in the crate, and make sure the door of the crate is securely fastened open so it won’t accidentally swing shut and frighten your kitty.
Next, using your cat’s favorite treats, put a few in front of the crate and in it. This encourages them to approach it on their own (and provides them with a reward for doing so).
Continue to use treats to encourage your cat to willingly go in the crate and stay in there. Once kitty is comfortable going in the crate and lying in it all on its own, start closing the door for a short time.
This training will take time. At first, your feline friend may be afraid of the sight of the crate ― it may take a few days to warm up to it. And it will take even more time for kitty to feel comfortable staying in the crate.
Once your cat is crate trained, it’ll be much easier to take them on planes or shorter car rides. Just be sure to always stock the crate with toys and treats! You’ll want to take short drives (down the block and back) for your kitty to get accustomed to being in your car.
2: Make your car a comfortable place for your cat
While a crate is a great option for shorter road trips, it’s not ideal for a trip longer than six hours. Your cat needs access to water and litter, and anything more than six hours is a bit unfair.
To give your cat a little more room, try a large dog crate. This way, they can move around and access water and litter as needed, and they're still contained so you don’t have to worry about them roaming around your car.
Only let your cat wander freely about your car as a last resort. Try keeping them harnessed or leashed to prevent them from hiding under seats or pedals, crawling into hiding spots you can’t reach, or escaping your car altogether.
As with crate training, your kitty needs a little time to get used to your car. A few weeks before your trip, let them roam around inside your parked car for a little while. And always offer treats so they know the car is a good place.
On the day of your trip, bring toys and comforts such as a blanket or bed. Place a litter box, or disposable litter bags, somewhere that’s easy to access. (If you can, avoid feeding them before the car ride to reduce their need to stink up your space.
Be extra careful when opening or closing car doors when your cat is loose. The last thing you want is for him to dart out a door and get lost in an unfamiliar place. Make sure your cat is wearing an ID tag so if there is an escape, they can be easily returned to you.
3: Ask your vet if medication is needed
If you’ve tried training your cat, but traveling is still super stressful, talk to your veterinarian. They may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication or mild sedative. Not only will this help with your cat’s stress levels, but it’ll also make your trip much more enjoyable.
If you don’t have a veterinarian, schedule an appointment at our Vet Centers now. If you need help finding a vet that's closer to you in proximity, start by reviewing our list of local veterinary clinics.