Tips for the purrfect long-distance trip with your cat
Think about it from your kitty’s perspective. When was the last time he went anywhere with you in the car? Chances are, he entered the vehicle with that squinty-eyed look of caution and reserved judgment, only to wake up some time later at the vet’s office missing parts of his male anatomy. Cats are not notoriously good travelers under even the best of circumstances, so confining one in a car for hours on end might seem like a recipe for disaster. Or is it?
1. Tips for moving a cat long distance
Veterinarians say that the best time to introduce your cat to driving is when he’s very young, ideally less than 9 weeks old, but all’s not lost if you’ve missed that boat. Whether it’s his first trip to the vet or a drive from Philadelphia to Denver, start small, and build up to the distance you’re trying to achieve.
Take him to your car – in his carrier – then just sit in there with him for a few minutes the first few times. After a couple of successful “car visits,” turn on the engine so he can get used to the sound of it. When that becomes no big deal, take a trip around the block, then around town, and he’ll be ready to head for the coast before you know it.
2. Make sure he has suitable accommodations
If you’re planning to plunk him in his cat carrier for the trip, consider thinking bigger. A cat carrier is ideal for short excursions, but a dog crate is often better for a long trip, one that’s an appropriate size to fit in your car. Now your feline traveling companion isn’t going to be scrunched up for hours on end in a little carrier, and – even better – he can actually see you the whole time if you buy a cage-type crate. Make sure it’s secure from wobbling or tipping over if you have to come to a fast stop. Securing it with a seat belt ought to do the trick.
3. Litterbox issues when you’re traveling by car with a cat
Even when your cat is emotionally ready to spend a day in the car with you, let’s face it – nature is going to call him. You can fit a small litter pan in a dog crate as well.
Get your cat used to the arrangement in advance of your trip – place the crate with its litter box in the same spot in your home where his traditional litter box always was. Leave the door open. When he has to go, he’ll eventually enter the crate to take care of business, particularly if you begin with his familiar litter box inside. You can switch to a smaller, travel-convenient tray later.
If you have to use the bathroom yourself while you’re on the road, make sure your cat stays in his crate when you leave the car. Crack the windows about an inch for some ventilation. Be as quick about it as possible. Both hot and cold days can be a danger to your pet in a parked car.
Many states have laws that prohibit leaving pets in parked vehicles, so do a little research along your planned route before you depart to make sure you know the rules. In fact, California passed a law, effective 2017, which allows passersby to smash vehicle windows to free pets trapped in hot cars. The interior of a closed vehicle can reach 120 degrees in 10 minutes on an 80-degree day, and if the temp hits 90 degrees, it can reach 150 degrees in the same period of time – not a healthy environment for your cat.
4. All the comforts of home
Another advantage of using a dog crate is that it will be large enough to carry, not only kitty and his bathroom, but his food dish and a favorite toy or two as well. If he has a favorite blanket or bedding, include that, too.
Avoid making any changes to his diet, or he might be needing that litter box a little more than you’d like. Most important: Don’t change his water. He’s probably used to the tap water in your home, so fill multiple jugs full of it to take with you.
5. Make time for the outdoors
You can’t expect kitty to stay in the car for eight hours straight without a break. If he’s not already trained to a harness, begin breaking him in months in advance. When he’s accustomed to being outside on a leash, he’ll probably be very happy to get out of his crate – and the car – for short periods of time. A harness and leash will keep him safely by your side in the event that something startles him and he tries to bolt. Never just attach his leash to his collar. That’s no kind of restraint if a panicked cat really wants to get away. He’ll just wriggle out of the collar and leave you holding a leash with nothing on the other end.
If you’re not comfortable with letting your cat out of your car when you’re on the road, park somewhere and let him out of his crate to explore the car. Make sure all the windows are up. Cats can flatten themselves into pancake proportions and squeeze in and out of the tiniest of openings. Leave the car idling and the air conditioning on if you must, and pack the areas beneath the seats with towels or something similar to prevent him from crawling under there.
6. Don’t forget basic precautions
You might be prepared for anything, but life is famous for its unexpected surprises. Make sure your kitty has an up-to-date ID tag, just in case, and consider getting him a microchip. If he already has a microchip, make sure the information associated with it is up to date as well.
Identify veterinarians in towns along your route so you’re never too far from one in an emergency, and be sure to take his rabies vaccination documents and other health records along with you. Make advance reservations in cat-friendly hotels and motels.
By Regan This post may contain affiliate or referral links. Read disclosure here.
Say you’ve got a case of wanderlust or have gotten a great new job in a brand new state. Exciting! You start looking for a new home in your new state and hire movers or rent a U-Haul, but you also have a cat or two. Now, what do you do?
Moving long distance with cats sounds like a nightmare! Your cat throws a fit just going a few blocks in the car on the way to the vet; there’s no way they will handle hundreds or even thousands of miles in a car.
Or will they?
One of the biggest reasons people give for surrendering their cat to a shelter is that they’re moving, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Moving cats long distance can seem daunting to many people. How often do they need to eat? How is my cat going to use the litter box? Where can I stay with my cat?
Don’t fear. I’m here to help tell you how to move with a cat long distance.
At the end of July my family, including our two cats, moved from Colorado to Massachusetts. Yes, 1900 miles over five days with two adults, two kids, and two cats. Trying to figure out the logistics of it all was making my head spin!
But guess what? The anticipation was far worse than reality and our two cats, Orion and Pete, were traveling champions! Here’s what we did to make the long trip easier.
Visit the vet
Before you head off to your new destination I would recommend a visit to your vet. Your vet could have some helpful tips for moving long distance with cats and they can also prescribe some sedatives if you think your cat may need them. There are pros and cons to using sedatives so discuss it with your vet and come to the decision that works best for your cat. You know him or her best.
Use a cat carrier
It may seem easier or more kind to let your cat stretch and roam freely in the car, but it’s best to keep them contained in an appropriate cat carrier. This way the cat won’t be injured in the event of an accident, escape from the car, relieve themselves in the car, get stuck under a car seat or worse, at the driver’s feet.
In a carrier, your cat will likely shut down and either relax or sleep most of the way. I highly recommend using a sturdy carrier such as a hard plastic cat carrier. They will give your cat more protection and room.
Created On: July 12, 2014  | Updated: September 2, 2017 | View Our Disclosure Policy
Most times when you are planning a road trip, the cats aren’t normally ones to go along for the ride. I can count on one hand the amount of cats that I’ve met that actually enjoy the car. My cats loathe going in the car. Misty and Princess are indoor cats and the only time they leave is when they have to go to the vet. About two years ago, Misty and Princess were in their carrier on their way to the vet in my car. When we arrived at the vet and went to take them, we discovered that Misty had urinated all over the carrier and her sister, Princess. The poor girl was stressed out! I knew then and there that I would only take Misty in a car only if I absolutely had to.
Well, that time came last month. We were moving from Nova Scotia to Ontario and the cats were coming. I swear I was more stressed about moving the cats than I was about the actual move itself. I researched and talked to friends and family about how to make the move as easy as possible for Princess and Misty.
I debated whether or not to have Misty and Princess in the vehicle with us or have them fly with Air Canada to Ottawa and then my mom could pick them up at the airport. After discussing with the vet, she thought that going in the car with us would be easier on the two of them. Not only that but it made me nervous to have them alone on a plane without me close by. That settled my internal debate. The cats were joining us and we’d just have to tough it out.
Today I have a few tips to share on how to travel long distances with cats. Some are from my own research and talking to our vet and others are from our personal experience making the 1,700 km drive from Middleton, NS to Pembroke, ON with our two adult cats.
1. Visit a veterinarian BEFORE you travel. You’ll want to make sure that your cat’s vaccinations are up to date and get them a check-up to make sure they are healthy enough to travel. Plus, your vet is an excellent source for advice on how to make the trip easier for your cat! Our vet recommended a natural medication to help them relax on the drive. She listed a variety of options to help them calm down and make the experience as easy as possible for them. It was worth the money to know they were healthy and get medication to calm their anxiety for the drive.
2. Make sure you have a big enough carrier for the cat to stand in. You don’t want them to feel cramped and you’ll also need room to put a blanket, food, water and their litter. My suggestion here is don’t wait till the last minute to find a carrier. I was stressing and driving all over the place to find a store that carried the right size carrier. I eventually found one, but I had to go an hour out of my way to get it!
3. Put familiar items from home in the carrier with your cat. I put in a blanket that my cats love to sleep on. It’s their blanket only (and full of cat hair) and I wanted them to get the scent of home while on the road.
4. Buy a case of bottled water before you head out. Not only can you and your family drink it on the road, but the cats will be thirsty too. Remember to bring a dish to pour the water in! John and I forgot to pack one for Princess and Misty and had to improvise. John cut a water bottle in half to make it into a bowl for the girls to drink from. I noticed them drinking more water than eating.
5. Make frequent rest stops. We stopped every 2 to 3 hours so the cats could use the litter, drink more water and eat a little. Plus, it gave them a break from the bumpy roads. I don’t recommend taking them out of their carriers though. It would be too easy for the cat to run away. Please don’t ever leave your cat (or child or any other animal for that matter) alone in a vehicle!
6. Call ahead to hotels along the way to make sure your cats are welcome. We drove straight through to avoid having to bring the cats to a hotel. However if you do need to stop for the night somewhere, you’ll want to know which hotels will allow your cats to come into the room with you.
7. Let your cat dictate how often he/she eats. I asked Petcurean’s Pet Nutritionist, Michele Dixon, about how often should my cats be eating while traveling. She said that it’s a personal preference and there’s no set way of feeding either at home or on the road. The cat will dictate how often they want to eat. She suggested checking out Catster for some cat travel tips.
If you want to make sure your cat is eating healthy, try one of Petcurean’s cat food products. The GO! FIT + FREE is a protein-rich, lower carb cat food that contains premium-quality meat proteins. In fact, the first six ingredients listed are all meat! Out of all the GO! recipes, FIT + FREE has the most meat. They also contain zero grains or gluten and are recipes formulated for cats with food sensitivities. They help to keep your cat strong, healthy and of course, fit! For a dry food, try GO! FIT + FREE Grain Free Chicken, Turkey + Duck Recipe. For canned food, try either FIT + FREE Grain Free Chicken, Turkey + Duck Pâté or FIT + FREE Grain Free Chicken, Turkey + Trout Stew. Visit Petcurean to learn more about their pet food and other important information about health & nutrition.
Now that we are settled in to our home, we aren’t planning any road trips with the cats! Princess and Misty seem to like it here and are happy. I’m just grateful that the trip went better than expected and we all arrived in one piece!
Have you ever traveled with a cat? If you have any tips, please share!
Connect with Petcurean on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.
Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.
You Will Also Love
If you liked this post, you will also love these ones!
Cats are not the easiest pets to travel with as they are creatures of habit and prefer the familiarity and safety of their home. Where possible, it is always better to leave your cat either at home with a sitter or at a boarding cattery but sometimes travelling is necessary, either a family moves home or decides to take an extended trip and would like to bring the cat along.
Whatever the reason for your cat travelling, make sure the cat is microchipped and the details are up to date so that if he or she manages to escape, they can be quickly reunited. Have a second contact, in the event that you can not be reached.
Travelling with a cat always requires a carrier which are available in all shapes and sizes. It is a good idea to get your cat used to being in a cat carrier before actually transporting him. A useful method is to leave the carrier out, with a blanket, some treats or toys and let your cat explore himself. As he becomes familiar with the carrier, shut the door for short periods.
Cats who do not travel well may be lightly sedated before travel. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on this.
Do cats get motion sickness?
Yes, some cats are affected by motion sickness. Typical symptoms include drooling, vomiting, defecating, excessive vocalisation.
Desensitisation can help your cat overcome travel sickness by slowly acclimatising your cat to travel.
- Start by leaving the cat carrier out in the home with a familiar blanket and one or two cat toys and treats. Allow your cat to explore the carrier, with the door open. He may want to sleep in it or just sit and observe the world.
- Once your cat is used to and comfortable in the carrier, shut the door, for short periods.
- Next, introduce small car trips. Just a quick drive around the block but gradually increase the length of time. This can also help if your cat associates car trips with the veterinarian.
- If the cat learns that not all car trips mean a trip to the vet, they may relax a little.
Other ways to help make the trip less stressful may include spraying the carrier with Feliway before travel. You may also want to place an old t-shirt of yours in the carrier, so your cat has a familiar (and safe) scent. Some cats also travel better if their carrier is covered over.
Sometimes even with the above methods, your cat will continue to suffer from motion sickness. If this occurs, withhold food for 3 hours before your trip, but continue to give your cat access to fresh, drinking water.
Your veterinarian may be able to prescribe your cat anti-anxiety or anti-nausea medication to help.
From time to time, you will need to take your cat to the vet.
If your cat does not travel well, you may want to consider choosing a vet who does home visits although home visits are not practical in emergencies.
Long-distance (flying or driving)
If you are travelling a long, long-distance, for example, moving to another state/across the country, you may decide to fly the cat or drive the cat yourself. Flying has the benefit of being faster and can be a better option if you are travelling thousands of kilometres. Airlines have various rules and regulations in regards to flying cats; these may include a minimum age, the cat must not be aggressive and in good health. Most airlines will require that the cat is placed in a special hold, but some will allow the cat to travel as hand luggage (check with your airline first). When flying with cats, planning is important. You must book your cat in ahead of time.
However, you may prefer to drive your cat. Again, a sturdy cat carrier will be a requirement. NEVER have your cat loose in a car, it is a danger to you, your cat and other motorists/pedestrians. The carrier should have a blanket that is easily washable in the event of accidents.
Make sure your cat has access to clean, fresh drinking water and food. Never place a cat in the boot of a car. The carrier should be placed either on a rear seat, or the back of the car in the case of a station wagon. Make sure there is plenty of ventilation around the cat.
NEVER leave a cat unattended in a car, even in the carrier. The temperature can quickly rise (within minutes), leading to heatstroke and possible death.
If you are travelling abroad, your cat will require a “pet passport”. The cat will be required to have its full vaccinations, including rabies (Australia requires a blood titre test before entering the country), be microchipped and in many cases, treated for worms. Again, there are specialist companies who can assist you with shipping a cat overseas.
Travelling the country in a motor home is becoming more and more popular, and many cat owners take their pet with them. As the cat will be spending a lot of time on the road, a large but collapsible dog cage is a suitable method of keeping your cat confined, but not too cramped. It should be large enough to accommodate a litter tray, food and water bowls and a cat bed. Secure the carrier so that if you need to brake suddenly or take a sharp corner, it won’t tip over or move.
Training your cat to walk on a leash can be helpful so that when you do have stops, your cat can stretch his legs without the risk of him escaping.
Traveling with a New Cat
By Valerie Trumps
Most new kitten parents are apprehensive about leaving their tiny felines with pet sitters when taking a road trip. So why not take her with you?
Traveling by car is the perfect opportunity to bond with your new kitten while showing her the world. Fellow travelers along the way help to socialize her, and taking care of her needs while traveling creates a strong trust bond. All you need are a few tips to ensure her comfort and make the trip enjoyable for both of you.
Comfort is Key
You like to be comfortable while traveling, and little kitty is no different. Kittens spend a lot of time sleeping, and the motion of the car will lull her into long naps. If you’re driving with a passenger, let your kitty lie on your copilot’s lap* on top of a towel for protection from sharp claws kneading in sleepy bliss.
Solo travelers will need to use a carrier for kitty’s safety, and a cushy blanket in the bottom will keep her cozy. Light, mesh carriers may be torn up in her attempts to escape, so get a hard plastic carrier with peepholes low enough for your kitten to see you while you’re driving. On the other hand, a durable soft sided carrier with a shoulder strap can be easier for taking her with you when you stop for meal or sight-seeing breaks.
Keep her carrier in the front seat, with the seat belt to hold it in place beside you, and offer your fingers through the holes to reassure her that although she is not allowed to roam around in the car, you are still close by.
Kitty Needs Pit Stops, Too
Since she spends most of her time napping while the car is rolling, extra pit stops just for kitty really aren’t necessary. However, stops along the way will take some extra time because you will feed, water, and potty her when you stop for gas or for yourself. Park in a shady spot and put her on the floorboard of the passenger front seat with about a teaspoon of canned food in a small food bowl and an extra bowl of water beside it. New kittens need to use the litter box right after they eat. A plastic shoebox lined with a couple of inches of litter makes a perfect travel litter box for a small kitten.
As soon as she’s finished eating, place her in the box and let her stay there until she’s done with her business; praise her lavishly when she is done. Remove any solid waste to prepare the litter box for your next stop. At the kitten stage, she might be a little messy with her potty practice, so wipe her feet with a wet washcloth or baby wipe to remove any stray litter.
How’s the Weather?
If the timing of your trip is optional, hit the road during the milder weather months, such as in the fall or spring. Doing so will allow you to see the sights along the way without worrying about your kitten getting too hot or cold.
If you must leave the car for more than a few minutes – longer then a gas stop – take the carrier with you. Longer excursions outside of the car should be taken once you’ve gotten a pet-friendly hotel room to stay in while you’re touring.
Do some research on where you’ll stay prior to your trip to avoid crawling under the bed to retrieve your kitty. The ideal cat friendly hotel room will have the bed flush with the floor, with no open space underneath for her to get lost.
Once you’ve checked into your room, let her out of the carrier to explore while keeping a close eye on her. Place her food and water bowls, along with her open carrier, in one corner of the bathroom and her litter box in the extreme opposite corner — cats do not like their potty to be near their food.
When you leave the room for any reason, and also when you go to bed, put her in her carrier in the bathroom with a ticking clock to simulate a heartbeat, i.e. your nearness. While this may seem cruel, her safety is of the utmost importance, and the bathroom is the safest place for her to be while you’re not able to watch her.
Time for Takeoff
Being mindful of these tips should ensure that both you and your kitty have a safe and pleasurable trip together. Establishing this routine early in her life will pave the way for carefree travels with your cat by your side. And that beats worrying about her while you’re away.
*Once your kitten has passed the stage of being a small, sleepy kitten, and has progressed to being a curious, energetic kitten, you must keep her confined to a carrier at all times while the car is in motion. It is an accident in the making to have a cat free in a moving vehicle.
It’s no surprise to some owners that cats aren’t always fond of their carriers.
Most of the time the journeys they take will be short: going to the veterinarian or to where they’re being boarded. Sometimes, you’ll need to travel with them over a longer distance.
It’s important to consider the cat’s welfare before you undertake any journey. The personality, age and health of a pet will dictate how long a cat can stay in a carrier over an arbitrary number of hours.
You may need to schedule in a few stops along the way or prepare a bag for your cat that includes a litter tray, food and water bowls and treats if you think they’ll need it.
Traveling with a cat can be a daunting prospect but if you plan and consider the wellbeing of your animal to be first and foremost, then it’ll be fine.
Cats might not always like their carriers or enjoy riding in the car, but they’re incredibly adaptable creatures.
Table of Contents
How Long Can You Keep a Cat in a Carrier?
There’s no real hard and fast answer for this one. The issue with keeping a cat inside a carrier for long periods is the eating, drinking and toileting.
If you’re traveling with a cat over a long distance (4 hours or more), then be sure you’re fitting in enough breaks. It’s often better to drive long-distance than to fly and in a car, you have far more control over letting your pet stretch its legs and take a drink and something to eat.
Cat carriers aren’t designed to be used for extended periods. It’s easy to imagine that most cats will be uncomfortable after 8-hours in such a small space. Remember, though, that cats do fly internationally and sometimes those trips can be 10 hours or more.
Is it ideal to keep a cat inside a carrier for many hours?
No, but then owners don’t often have another choice and the truth is that even if you plan in breaks and try to encourage your cat to eat, drink and use a litter box, they might not. Most cats don’t like unfamiliar places and may prefer to wait until they’re somewhere quieter and more private before they’ll settle back into normal behavior.
You should check-in with your cat regularly when they’re inside the carrier and look for signs of distress. You’ll probably find that he or she will settle into sleep relatively quickly.
The obvious concern is if a cat has an existing medical condition that could be aggravated by stress or by a lack of food or water. We’d always recommend taking advice from a veterinarian.
Make sure you have a good carrier that’s the right size and one that’s comfortable inside: put in a blanket or towel along with familiar toys and maybe even something that smells like you.
Some people buy a mesh pet barrier. Most are designed for dogs, but there’s a tunnel you can extend across the back seat which will give your cat greater chance to roam.
Pulling back the curtain on veterinary life since 2008.
Translate This Blog
Monday, May 11, 2009
Moving An Elderly Cat
Here’s a tough situation sent in by Jackie.
I have an elderly cat,17 years old, and showing signs of her age – cataracts, vomiting, limping, dull coat, but she still has an appetite. She has always been a very anxious cat, does not like to be touched, but will lay next to you. I am moving from a home in Florida to an apartment in Colorado and fear the 3-day trip, by car, will be too hard for her and then the adjustment there, as well. She has never been outside except for the necessary vet appointments. I feel that euthanization would be more humane and would like your view on this. Thank you.
I know this is a hard situation for you Jackie, and I’ll try to help you out. But realize that this may be a discussion to also have with your personal vet, as he or she will know your cat’s health status better. If there are some strong health-related reasons for a poor quality of life, then euthanasia may be a valid option regardless of your situation with moving.
As I’ve mentioned in previous entries, I believe that euthanasia is an option of last resort, and should never be done for convenience. Seventeen is very elderly for a cat, and most don’t make it to this age. What you have mentioned of her condition is not uncommon for a cat of her advanced age, but also doesn’t mean that she is at the end of her life. Your vet may be able to help you with supplements, diets, or medications that can help with any digestive, arthritis or coat problems. Simple things may help improve her quality of life.
Most cats don’t adjust to new situations easily, and a long move to a new location can be difficult even for a young cat. An older cat may have a harder time with this situation. However, the key word here is “may”. We don’t know how she will react to the trip or the move. She may completely freak out and begin having behavioral problems. Or she may settle in and make the adjustment just fine. We don’t know what will happen until it happens. And to me, making the decision to euthanize her based on a “maybe” is not the right decision if she is otherwise in good condition. Euthanization is an irreversible decision, and not an easy one. Even if she hasn’t been the most overtly friendly of cats, she has still been your companion for almost two decades, and I don’t feel you should give up on her just yet.
You asked for my thoughts, so here they are. I would recommend getting her used to the cat carrier for several weeks prior to the move. Leave it out all day and night, and put her food and water bowls in the back of it. This way she has to walk in and out throughout the day, and learns to see it as just another piece of furniture. About a week before the move go to your local pet supply store and buy spray and plug-in Feliway (often under the brand name Comfort Zone). For the last week prior to the move, spray the carrier with the Feliway every couple of days. Once you get to your new place, plug in the diffuser in an area she will likely spend the most time. Feliway is designed to help reduce stress in cats, and can help in situations like this.
If you get to your new apartment and see that she has become frantic and is showing a complete mental breakdown, you can always make the decision to euthanize her later. But if she turns out to make the move easier than you thought, you will be able to keep her in your life for a longer period of time.
So you’ve decided to hit the highways for a good old-fashioned family road trip. Why fly when you can pack the wife and kids into the family truckster and visit every oddball roadside attraction along the way? Aside from forcing your family to suffer through off-ramp eccentricities, road tripping can be a great way to see the country. It can bring families closer together and also allows you the opportunity to take the furry members of your clan along with you.
Taking your pets along on a road trip is a great way to avoid the trauma and expense of boarding your dogs or cats. But traveling long distances in a car isn’t so easy for all animals. Experts suggest taking your pets on shorter trips first to get them accustomed to traveling in a car. There’s also the matter of keeping your pet entertained along the way. The idea of a “Travels with Charley” kind of experience may seem idyllic at first, but you may find that your dog or cat has the patience of your toddler when it comes to being cooped up for eight hours a day.
We’ve compiled a list of five things you can do to help pass the time and keep your pet from feeling like it’s in a rolling kennel. Use these tips, whether you’re alone with your pet or with your family, and you’ll have an easier time navigating the highways and byways.
5: Comforting Your Pet
It’s important to make your pet comfortable for your road trip. Just like you wouldn’t want to be stuck somewhere you aren’t comfy, neither will your pet. If you have an SUV with a pet barrier, bring along your pet’s bed from home for it to lie on. If you don’t have a barrier, bring your pet’s crate and allow it to spend time in there. Dogs that are crate trained will appreciate the comforts of their own little house on the road. Cats are typically not crate trained, but they’ll also prefer the security that a crate provides. Your pets like boundaries and tend to do better when confined. It’s also unsafe to have your cat roaming around inside your car.
If your dog or cat doesn’t have a pet bed, your favorite sweatshirt that you’ve recently worn should serve as comfy bedding. This provides them with some security. Any kind of blankets that your pet uses at home should be put in the car or crate as well. The idea is to make the vehicle as much like their real home as possible. While this may not exactly entertain them, it makes them happier. And a happy pet on a long trip makes a happy pet owner.
4: Toys and Treats
Chances are, if you’re a good pet owner, then your dog or cat has plenty of toys at home to keep it occupied. You need to bring as many of these along as you can without comprising the genius of your packing skills. A good chew toy can keep a dog occupied for hours at a time. Many chew toys come with hollowed out centers. Stuff some treats inside it and watch as your lovable mutt spends the next two hours trying to get to the good stuff.
Besides their favorite toys, buy some new ones to keep them interested. Larger dogs can make good work out of a nylon bone. Cats are little trickier. If you have a riding partner or the whole family on board, encourage them to play with the cat on the road. A cat can also spend some time outside the crate if you have others in the car to keep up with it. Just don’t try to do these things if you’re the lone human in the car. It’s too easy to get distracted by trying to play with your pet while you’re driving. And while you want your pet to be entertained, you also want to get to your destination safely.
The general rule of thumb for traveling with animals is to take a break every two hours. Besides the necessity of the bathroom break, it’s a great opportunity for you to exercise your pet. A tired and worn out pet makes for a better travel companion, so you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you take some extra time with it at rest stops. Make sure you have your leash ready to go at your rest stop — your pet doesn’t want to wait while you rifle through your packed bags.
You may find other dogs at the rest stop, and many have areas specifically designated for dogs. Take advantage of this. A 20- to 30-minute playdate with another dog is far better than a leash walk. But if there aren’t any other dogs around, you need to walk or even run a high-energy dog. If you’re traveling through wilderness areas, plan a mid-day hike with your pooch. You can also walk your cat — just start that at home before your trip to get them used to being on a leash.
2: Talk to Your Pet
While the idea of talking to your pet may sound a bit out of left field, both cats and dogs are responsive to their names and the sound of their master’s voice. It’s a comforting sound. Just think about when you’re at home, chatting it up with your pet. The mere mention of your dog’s name will most likely get its tail wagging. You can do the same thing on the road. Talking to your pet about where you’re going and how much fun you’ll have once you get there is a great way to pass time for both of you. When you talk to your dog, make sure to keep repeating its name, and if you have an embarrassing pet voice, then by all means, use it until you’re hoarse.
1: Pet Friendly Hotels
One great way to entertain your pets on a long car drive is to stay someplace they can be themselves once the day is done. Cats and dogs often feel uncomfortable out of their home element, so finding some pet friendly accommodations is a must. Many hotels are pet friendly, but you should check ahead of time to make sure. Finding a pet-friendly hotel is important for two reasons. First, you’ll have a stress free night of relaxation after a long day behind the wheel. Since a pet can pick up on its master’s stress, this goes a long way toward ensuring that your pet will be relaxed as well. The other benefit is that most traveling pet owners take advantage of pet-friendly hotels, so you’ll more than likely have opportunities for playdates. Meet up with some other travelers with dogs and let them play until they drop.
If you have a cat, it’s a good chance to set up the kitty bed and litter box. Chances are, your cat will simply appreciate some cage-free down time. If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, consider taking a tent along and do some camping. Your pets will love sleeping in the tent with you, and you’ll have more of a chance to do some hiking and get them some good exercise.