Not once had I ever considered the throes of road tripping across the country with a pet until just this last week. So, why now? Why all of a sudden? Well, I’ve recently been tasked with figuring out how to relocate our two apartment cats, Dave and Doug, from Colorado to Minnesota. I call them “apartment cats,” because I feel it’s important to make note of the fact that these cats have literally only ever known apartment life. Not to mention, they both very much have high anxiety when it comes to The Outside World. That considered, I just knew a 13 hour road trip with them in the dead of winter was not going to be for the faint of heart.
So, I began doing some research. As I expected, my Google searches brought up loads of articles and blogs outlining how to move or road trip with your cats, so I just started at the top. Some posts were more helpful than others, and a lot of them were repetitive. Some offered tips and tricks I definitely plan to try and use. Others made suggestions that I knew wouldn’t work for us given the length of our trip. Join me as I plan out moving with two cats on one 13 hour road trip.
Tips on How to Road Trip with Your Cat
Drag out their carriers and put them on display
The very first thing I plan to do is drag out their carriers and put them on display. Man oh man, do they hate these carriers (but they sure do love anything on display!). Usually, when they see these bad boys, it means it’s time for the vet. The only thing they hate more than their carriers is the vet’s office! It’s all around bad juju vibes when it comes to those carriers. But, the good news is that the internet tells me it doesn’t have to be this way! Pretty much every article I read suggested bringing the carriers out well in advance of the move so the cats can get acclimated to them and comfortable in and around them in a safe environment. I will also put blankets that smell like home and cat nip toys in each carrier to help ease their anxiety.
Bring along a small amount of food, water and a travel litter box
I also plan to bring along a small amount of food and water as well as a travel litter box, since our car ride will be so long. Their nerves may not allow for them to eat, drink or use the bathroom during the trip, but I feel like it’s important to have it all available just in case. For example, a small amount of food may help to ease an anxious tummy, or the litter box could be helpful for a nervous bladder.
Leave your cat in the carrier
As for the trip itself, most every article I read mentioned leaving your cat in the carrier while the car is in motion. From what I understand, this is mostly out of concerns for safety – both for the person driving the car and the little cat passengers. While I fully and completely understand and support that reasoning, our trip is LENGTHY, and I would ideally like to make as few stops as possible. That means I may explore the idea of allowing the cats to roam free in the back seat. Free to access their food and water, free to use the litter box if needed, free to stay in their carrier if that is what feels safest to them. Of course this means they would also be free to make their way up to the front of the car and become a driving distraction. If this were to become the case, I’d safely pull over and secure them back into their carriers before continuing on.
The only other thing I plan to do is remain calm. I know that sounds silly, but the cats can definitely sense my emotions, and if I freak out, they’ll start to freak out. So in the name of remaining calm, I’ll prepare their special little space in the back seat ahead of time, set the temperature in the car to a comfortable 70 degrees, and curate a play list of soothing music. I’m calm just thinking about it. Once everything in the car is prepared for take off, I’ll bring them down in their carriers, and we will hit the road.
Check back . . .
I’ll be sure to circle back and let you know how things played out with two cats on one 13 hour road trip. In the meantime, thoughts and prayers are appreciated.