How to road trip with your cat

Cat on a car

We have done a fair share of road tripping with Chumka – from a couple hours drive to a whole day trip. We are soon going camping where getting to our destination is going to take couple days + sleeping in a car. I am really excited but a little nervous – I’ve done it all myself before, but never with a cat. However, I am going to follow the same “prep guide” and this post is all about it 😊

There are couple items in this post that don’t apply to us – but I wanted to include all points worth considering to make it a complete guide for adventure cat pawretns.

Documents/ health records

This point might look different depending on your destination. If you are travelling locally, most likely you won’t need to bring much. Our vet clinic uses app called “PetDesk” that syncs Chumka’s health records and shows the status of his vaccination. I also keep a picture of his rabies vaccination on my phone.

Travelling abroad includes much more prep. It’s important to check what is required to travel with your pet to each country as they can have different requirements.

In this step I make sure that I have Chumka’s “IDs” – his collar and name tag.

Respect their limits

Getting ready for a road trip with your cat starts much earlier than you think. Before you start packing, make sure your kitty is harness/ leash trained and that they are comfortable in a car. We gradually increased how far we would go with Chumka in the car so he could get used to road trips slowly.

Cat in pet booster seatKitty’s place in the car

I am bad with this one. We have always let Chumka roam free in the car as I never realized the dangers of it. Most of the car rides he starts with examining the car and then goes into his booster seat or backpack. I am actively working on getting him to be tethered to the car seat when driving though.

Another option is to have your kitty stay in the kennel or carrier. Those are probably the safest options when commuting with your pet. One disadvantage is that you can’t pet them or check on them.

Keep them at good temperature

Whatever season you’re travelling in, make sure that your pet stays comfortable in the car at all times. If you need to make a quick stop ensure that they are gonna stay warm/ cool enough. Cars can heat up really quick: “Within 1 hour, the temperature inside of a car parked in the sun on a day that reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) or hotter, hit an average of 116 degrees F (47 degrees C).

Crank that A/C or heat up before leaving and keep the stops as short as possible.

Not all hotels are cat friendly

This is probably one of the biggest challenges when travelling with a cat. You check for pet friendly spots to stay at – you call to confirm they are PET friendly and it turns out they are dog friendly. I highly recommend to call ahead to double check their pet policy to save yourself the hassle of coming up with last minute plans.

Here is a post I wrote on looking for and choosing accommodations when travelling with your kitty. 

Little tip: When staying at a “pet friendly” location it’s important to remember that there have been other animals staying in that room (recently). Some owners don’t use flea/tick/parasites treatments so it’s important to keep your kitty safe and protected against those unwanted visitors. Please talk with your vet to choose a medication for your pet.

Some cats get road sick

If your kitty gets road sick, speak with your veterinarian about it. There are some medications that can be used to make the car ride(s) more bearable. Chumka really likes car rides and so far he has never been sick from them. However, if we are going on a long trip, I will either give him smaller meal before leaving or feed him fairly early so he’s not getting into a car with a full tummy.

I made a blog post explaining what food we pack/ use when we are travelling

Cat sleeping in pet backpack Does your cat get anxious?

Some kitties can be anxious during road trips for various reasons – car (noises), new place, new sounds, new scents, etc. Fortunately, there are couple things that can help with that. I always pack couple things that Chumka is familiar with – his bed, scratching post, and couple of his favourite toys. And to be honest, sometimes even that is not enough. On our latest trip he was in “a freak-out mode” for over a day, before finally treating the AirBnB as his mansion.

One great “tool” for helping your cat with anxiety is pheromone products. Feliway is a great brand that offers a variety of products – from sprays (very convenient for car travel) to diffusers that you can leave plugged in at your accommodation. The pheromones are not noticeable by humans and leave no scents or any trace, making it a perfect travel aid.

Another calming product is ThunderShirt for cats. We have never tried it but the company states this: “ThunderShirt for Cats is the original, natural calming solution for cats.  The patented design applies a gentle, constant pressure that has a significant calming effect on most cats.” It also states that their product is over 80% effective and they offer money-back guarantee!

Last but not least, you can speak with your veterinarian and they would be more than happy to help you and your kitty.

Road trip packing list

Here is a list of things that I pack. It can change depending on the time of year and where we are going. Also those are things that I bring on top of my usual items I have for our “daily” adventures.

  • food and water bowls,
  • enough food and snacks for the trip (and for extra 2 days),
  • harness and leash,
  • collar with ID,
  • couple toys (2-3 different kinds),
  • his favourite bed (if I am able to) or something that I’ve worn/ that smells like us or our place
  • jacket/ fleece (If needed)
  • cooling bandana (If needed)
  • “toilet essentials” – litterbox, litter, scoop, poop bags
  • Some kitty first aid items
  • Medication, if needed

Little tip: bring the gear that both you and your kitty are familiar with.

Last but not least…

Have fun!

I hope you found this post beneficial and please give your pet(s) some love from me 😊❤️

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Picture of Paulina, Chumka's Mom

Paulina, Chumka's Mom