Traveling with a cat can be a bit of a challenge, to say the least. Cat owners know how independent their cats can be—and driving with a cat for long distances can cause your four-legged companion to develop quite an attitude. However, there are times when traveling with a pet is necessary.
To help make your pet travel experience a positive one and ensure pet safety, it’s important to follow a few simple tips for driving with a cat.
Pet Travel Tip #1: Get Your Cat Checked at the Vet
Before you take your cat on a long-distance trip to a new city or state, be sure to take them to your veterinarian first. There are a few reasons to do this:
- You may need to update your cat’s shots before taking them to a new state so you can meet that state’s requirements.
- If your pet has any health issues, you need to know about them before putting them in a confined space for several hours. Your vet can recommend steps to accommodate any health issues they discover.
- Your veterinarian can check your cat’s microchip and registry data to ensure it’s up to date.
- Short trips like a visit to the vet can help your cat get used to driving before putting them in the car for a longer trip.
At any rate, regular visits to the vet are a part of proper pet care. So, even if you’re not planning on driving with a cat, you should take them to the vet for a checkup on a regular basis.
Pet Travel Tip #2: Get a Cat Carrier
While cat owners may want to give kitty the freedom to roam the car during a trip, this isn’t safe for the cat. What would happen if you got into a car accident while driving with a cat roaming freely? Also, the distraction of a roaming pet can increase the risk of an accident.
It’s best to protect your pet with a cat carrier designed for use in the car. Many top-rated cat carriers have safety features designed specifically to ensure pet safety in case of a car crash.
When driving with a cat in a carrier, be sure to place the carrier in the back seat (especially if it’s a soft-sided carrier). This helps to keep the carrier from getting crushed by deploying airbags. Remember: vehicle airbags are meant to keep humans safe, and are designed for the mass of an adult person. Cats, because they’re so small and light, may get seriously hurt by airbags when they deploy.
When you leave the car, you should also be sure to take your cat and cat carrier with you. Cars can get very hot in the day, which can be extremely harmful to your pet. Even with the window cracked open, it can be dangerously hot in a car. As the American Kennel Club (AKC) notes, “The inside of a vehicle parked in 70-degree weather can reach 100 degrees in just 20 minutes. On very hot days, temperatures inside parked cars can climb to 140 degrees Fahrenheit… cracking a wind changes these figures very little.”
So, an important part of proper pet care and safety is never leaving your cat in the car.
Pet Travel Tip #3: Check/Update Your Cat’s ID Tag
When moving to a new home with your cat, you should make sure to check their collar tags to verify that they’re still readable, have your new contact information, and that the collar is still secure.
Should you accidentally lose your cat during the trip (for example, they run away when you’re walking them), their pet ID tag will be the easiest way for others to know that you’re the cat’s owner and how to contact you.
If your cat is picked up by animal control and taken to a pound, your pet’s microchip data (if up-to-date) can help identify your pet and provide your contact information.
Pet Travel Tip #4: Take Frequent Breaks on Long Trips
Driving with a cat can be highly stressful for your kitty. It’s important to plan on taking frequent breaks (at least one every 2-3 hours) so your pet can stretch their legs, get some food and water, and do their business. Being able to stop and get out of the crate every now and again is vital for minimizing the stress long-distance travel puts on your cat.
You should prepare for these breaks by getting a harness for your cat so you can put them on a leash. Unlike a collar, which simply secures around the cat’s neck, a harness will secure around several parts of your cat’s body—helping to ensure that your pet can’t slip out on accident. This makes it easier to take your feline friend for a walk without losing them.
Practice putting the harness on your cat at home so they can get used to the idea—and so you won’t have to struggle with a recalcitrant feline in the back seat!
Pet Travel Tip #5: Pack Extra Treats and Toys to Keep Kitty Entertained
Car trips can be especially boring and stressful for cats. To help alleviate some of that stress and anxiety, be sure to pack a few extra treats and toys in the car (or in their cat carrier, if it has pockets).
The longer you expect your trip to take, the more treats and toys you’ll want to pack. Also, consider planning out a couple of extra stops at pet stores if you can’t keep all of the supplies you need for your cat in the car.
Pet Travel Tip #6: Check for Pet-Friendly Hotels along Your Travel Route
The last thing you want to do is leave your cat alone in the car. When you’re looking for accommodations, be sure to look for hotels that are pet-friendly and will let you take your cat into the hotel with you. This way, you don’t risk leaving your cat outside in a hot or cold car.
When planning your route, call up the hotels you want to stay at (or visit their website pages) and check if they allow guests to take pets inside with them. Even if you have to keep your feline companion in a cat carrier, it beats leaving them in a car!
Need more help and advice for driving with a cat? Or, do you need a professional service to help your cat move from one city to another? My Pet Cab is here to help! Simply call us at (877) My-PetCab to get started.