It should not come as a surprise when you know cats that most felines do not like traveling. Your cats are no exception.
We have learned a few things about cats and some troubles while traveling with cats:
The cats are not going to use the litter box in transit
Sometimes, we thought that we were so smart by creating a designated litter box spot on the floor of our car behind the driver’s seat. And we planned to bring the cats out one at a time for a potty break when we stopped for our own. But we found out quickly that the cats had zero interest in using a roadie litter box. We also saw that we can never really get rid of all the cat litter once it spills on the floor of your car.
Not easy to find a cat-friendly hotel room
If you have ever traveled with your pet, you should know that planning hotel stays in advance is a must. Pet-friendly hotels don not always have their pet-friendly rooms available. And did you know that not all “pet-friendly” hotels accept cats? Besides, you should be prepared for some hefty fees for the convenience of bringing your kitties along. We must spend a lot of time on the phone tracking down hotels along our routes that would welcome our furry family members.
Your cats shall hide in your hotel room
When you come to the cat-friendly hotel, do a sweep and block all entrances to some places you can not reach, such as behind or under the bed —before you let your cat loose in the room. And do not underestimate your cat and where he can shimmy. One of our cats flattened himself into a furry pancake and stayed under the hotel’s armoire for most of our overnight stay. We never thought he would be able to fit under there, but he could.
Make the cats comfy in the bathroom
After a few trips, I saw that it was easiest to just keep the cats in the bathroom overnight when we stopped at the hotel. Let your lovely cats out of their carriers, but put the carriers in the bathroom with them in case they want to hang out in a “familiar” place. Put the litter box in the tub to create some separation between the box and your cats’ sleeping and eating area. In this setup, your cats will be contained, probably can not damage anything and are easy to corral when it’s time to go. If you are worried about being mean, don’t be. Your cats will likely feel more secure in that smaller space anyway.
DO NOT open the carrier in the car
If you open it, your cat will stay in their carrier, and some will not. Even if you just want to give them a few reassuring chin scratches, it may be not good for you. You may think you know your cat, but all bets are off when you are on the road. Your cats may freak out and bolt, and you run the risk of him jumping out of the car or burrowing under your luggage in the back seat, impossible to reach unless you unpack the entire car. Trust me on this one.
Be prepared to take pit stops in shifts
During the first cat-accompanied road trip, we realized at the first rest stop that someone would have to stay in the car with the cats. This posed a slight issue for us as we were traveling with two small human children in addition to the cats, so we took turns taking the kids to the restroom and for quick playground let-off-steam runs. While it may seem like a hassle to eat and potty in shifts, never leave your cats alone in a car. An enclosed car can heat up quickly and dangerously, even when it’s cold outside.
Update microchips and tags
My biggest fear about traveling with my cats was that one of them would escape and could be lost forever, you never see it again. It’s a valid concern because cats get weird when they are in unfamiliar places, if you let them out of the carrier, you may get some troubles. Make sure to update your cats’ microchip information with your cell phone number, and if they do not wear collars and tags already, make sure they are wearing them while you are on your trip.
You may think you will never find yourself in a situation where you have to take your cats on a long car trip, but life takes unexpected turns. Traveling with cats is not easy, but we still can do it. If you think ahead, take extra measures to keep your cats safe and prepare for some unpredictable behaviors, you and your cats are more likely to arrive safely at your destination.