How To Road Trip With Your Cat | Dr. Elsey's
how to travel with your cat

How To Road Trip With Your Cat

Bringing your favorite feline along for the ride as you hit the road for a long-awaited weekend away from home? Before you go, we’re sharing tips for staying safe while road tripping with your cat!

While you might have pictured your kitty copilot riding shotgun in the passenger seat, the safest place for your cat during a road trip is in a secure carrier. A free-roaming cat in the car is a safety hazard, as they could easily slip under the pedals, escape through an open window or bury themselves beneath the seat. When shopping for a safe and secure carrier, make sure to look for one that is sturdy in construction, well-ventilated for airflow and well-sized for comfort. The Center for Pet Safety recommends that carriers be seat belted into the backseat only if they have been crash tested. All others should be placed on the floor behind the driver or front passenger seat to keep it from jostling if you have to stop short.

Before you go, make sure your cat is well acclimated to being inside the carrier to avoid any unwanted stress while on the road. Slowly introduce your cat to the carrier by leaving the door open and tossing a few treats, toys or catnip inside. Let your cat explore the carrier without shutting the door, and gradually over time, as your cat begins to feel at ease, briefly close the door. If your cat isn’t keen on being shut inside, try providing them with a long-lasting treat or food puzzle to keep them distracted while you close the door.

Once your cat is comfortable being inside their carrier, try driving short distances around the neighborhood to help acclimate them to being inside the car. This test drive is best performed with more than one person to continue monitoring and soothing the cat while the driver focuses on the road. Make sure to provide a treat for good behavior! 

Now that you’re ready to head out on the road, make sure you’re prepared in case of an emergency. If the unthinkable happens and your cat becomes separated from you outside of the car, make sure their collar has updated contact information, including your cell phone number. Microchipping can increase the chances they’re identified at a local vet or shelter. Speaking of safety, never under any circumstances leave your cat in the car! Cars heat up fast, and in a matter of minutes, your cat’s life could be in danger. 

If your cat requires any medications, be sure to pack extra to avoid any emergencies while on the road. Make sure to bring enough of your cat’s food to last the entirety of the trip, and consider meal prepping in individual containers for easy feeding. Offset any feelings of homesickness while traveling by making your cat’s carrier feel comforting with an old t-shirt that smells like you or a favorite blanket to make them feel at home. 

When mapping out your route, plan to stop at least every 2-3 hours to allow your cat to use a portable litter box and have a drink of water. A good portable litter box will be large enough for your cat to do their business in comfortably yet compact enough to fit in your trunk. Given the close quarters of the car, keep things from getting smelly while also piquing your cat’s interest in using this portable set-up by pairing the superior odor control of Ultra litter with Ultra Litter Attractant™. Be sure to bring a few plastic trash bags along for the ride to help with disposal, and consider lining your cat’s carrier with a disposable liner or old towel to help make any accidents more manageable to clean up while you’re out on the road.

While driving, remember to speak words of encouragement to your cat periodically so that they know you’re thinking of them. When you finally arrive at your destination, be sure to provide your cat with lots of pets and love for being such a good car companion!