Car Trips with Your Cat Can Be Fun.  REALLY!

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Car Trips with Your Cat Can Be Fun.  REALLY!

October 2, 2013


Without the right planning and preparation, ole Fluffy there might get mad as a cut snake and then it’s all downhill.  You can throw a dog a bone, but a cat will get hot under the collar and hold a grudge for your entire trip if you're not careful.  And Sydney doesn’t need to tell you what joys that holds.


However…if you follow a few simple p-z travel guidelines, you just might find traveling with Fluffy can be downright enjoyable.


While we do concede that cats (being territorial my nature) prefer to be left in their regular surroundings, some cats actually travel very well.  The key is patience and planning.


Start them out early.
Kittens can acclimate to auto travel, particularly if you make it a fun event.  Start by familiarizing them with their carrier before you go anywhere.  Put a toy or treat in an open carrier at home so they begin to realize that it belongs to them.  Once that’s established, take kitten on short rides around quiet neighborhoods.


Make it comfortable.
Your carrier should be large enough to allow your cat to stand, stretch and turn around.  You may be surprised at how much your kitten has grown if you’re still using his original carrier.  Make sure you pad the bottom with a small blanket or towel.  You should have water, toys and treats with you, even on short drives.


Take them on a joyride.
Some cats only associate a carrier with a trip to the vet. You may be surprised how much a house cat will enjoy looking and sniffing the wide wide world.  To start them off, easy does it is the rule.  Keep the windows cracked, not rolled down to avoid over wind stimulation and choose a route that does not include a frenetic freeway or busy, bus laden street.  A short drive should end up back at home where a treat and much loving should be administered.


Work up to the Big Event.
Once your cat associates the carrier with a pleasurable ride you can slowly increase the length of the drive and add busier streets and freeways to your trip.  Again, end up at home.  Gradually you can add a destination that is pet friendly like a friend’s home.  Remember, patience pays off.


Everybody needs rest stops.
Make sure you take your cat’s litter box and use familiar supplies - don’t choose a trip to try out that new cat litter.  Choose a shady spot, keep your window cracked just a little to avoid escape and let your cat walk around the interior of your car for a few minutes. 


NEVER leave an animal unattended in a hot car.  It may be October to you but your vehicle will heat up to dangerous levels almost immediately EVEN WITH CRACKED WINDOWS.  If you need to take a break yourself, take your carrier with you.

Call ahead.

Make sure your destination is pet friendly before you hit the open road.  Many hotels accommodate pets (some lavishly).  Make your arrangements in advance and be prepared to pay either a fee or a deposit. 


Hotel guidelines.
Never leave your pet alone without notifying the front desk.  Most pet friendly hotels will have a Pet Guest sign for your door to alert the staff.  If not, use the Do Not Disturb sign if you have to leave Fluffy on her own for a while.


Some hotels actually offer in-room pet sitting for an additional fee.  If you choose this option don’t leave immediately when the sitter arrives.  This gives you and your cat a moment to make sure everyone will get along while you’re out.


Visiting friends

If you are visiting friends make sure no one in the house is allergic to felines.  It’s also a good idea to leave your cat in the room you’re staying in, at least to start.  Remember, this is all new, large and unfamiliar to your cat. 


Check out your ventilation.
You may be comfortable as a clam up front but some vehicles depend on AC and heat traveling from the dash to the back seats.  Without the cat, start your car and put your face where the front opening of the carrier would be to check the airflow and temperature.  Remember, you may be in shorts but your cat’s wearing a fur coat.


In summer, travel with an instant ice pack or ice block.
One flat tire and you both could reach heat stroke levels before AAA arrives.  Instant packs or even a frozen water bottle will help to keep your cat from overheating until the cavalry arrives.

Absolute necessities.
Make sure all vaccinations are up to date and carry the certificates.
Get a copy of your cat’s medical history to take with you.
Make sure your ID tag has your name and cell number on it.
If your cat has an ID chip check it online before your trip to make sure all info is correct.
Ask your vet for motion sickness medication, just in case.
Stick a post-it to your forehead so medications make it to the car.
A nail trim is not a bad idea.  Tempers can flare even in the happiest travelers.
Carry extra towels, paper towels, carpet cleaner, odor eradicator and a trash bag for any soiled linens in case of accidents.



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