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Car trip with kitten

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  • Car trip with kitten

    I am leaving tomorrow morning for a 600-mile drive home for the holidays. I have a 7-month-old kitty who will be making the trip with me. She was previously a barn kitten but has been taken in due to an extreme lack of respect for the horses, so she needs to come back for the holidays. She has been in the car before for short rides to the vet, and took a two-hour ride to my housemate's home for Thanksgiving and back again. I've never traveled with a kitty companion before, and not having been an indoor cat for very long, she's not big on being confined- any tips on how to make her more comfortable during the trip?

    She has a plastic carrier lined with blankets that she will be contained in during the trip. She got loose on the drive with my housemate and sat in her lap for most of trip, but due to the length of the drive and weather, as well as my own safety concerns since she can be a little PITA when she wants to be, I will be keeping her in her carrier. What do you all recommend in terms of food/water and litter stops? Where do you recommend placing her for the trip? The backseat is a little slanted, but if I put her on the floor in the back hatch I'm concerned it will get too cool and she'll be so far away. Anything else I should be prepared for? I'm fretting a little, I've only ever travelled with dogs and horses and I just want her to be as comfortable as possible and not too stressed. Thanks!
    Last edited by Equisis; Dec. 15, 2010, 07:17 AM.

  • #2
    I always put mine in a larger dog crate. That way I can get in a small (think 9x13) pan with litter, and a bowl with food or water. Cats don't always eat, drink or pee on road trip breaks.
    There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast.


    • #3
      Fold a towel to put under the back part of the crate to level out the slant.
      I would avoid feeding right for a few hours before you leave or only give a really tiny meal at least an hour before. Car sick kitties are no fun.

      If you think kitty would be really stressed by ride you can talk to your vet to get a mild sedative.
      Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


      • #4
        i agree with the larger dog crate idea......i've done that with mine for shorter trips than yours and it works well...one of those covered cat beds (looks like a bee skep) will keep her toasty for the entire trip.....my guys always seem to sit ON blankets rather than IN them when i try to make a cozy covered space.....or, if you are wanting her on a seat, and the slant causes trouble, you just have to put some books or a folded towel,etc under the lowwer part to even out the slant....................good luck!!


        • #5
          There's always the chance kitty will be a perfect angel! Took a barn kitty to my fathers (over 600 miles) and he was excellent. He was loose in the car and just chilled in the floor boards of the back seat. Never made an attempt to escape when we stopped for breaks either. I miss that kitty


          • #6
            Originally posted by SonnysMom View Post
            If you think kitty would be really stressed by ride you can talk to your vet to get a mild sedative.
            Sedatives may work, or they may cause a huge problem.

            From day one, my sister's 1.5yo cat Goose HATED car rides. He howls from beginning to end, sounding like he's being dunked in acid and tortured with a hot poker (I made a recording of it on my phone, I wish I could figure out a way to get it online ).

            We tried taking him out of the carrier to see if that would help, but he just climbed all around the car and was a PITA, howling out the windows. I think something to do with him seeing the scenary fly by at 75+mph freaked him out too much.

            Vet gave my sister sedatives to try that would make him very loopy and tired, but that just made him 10x worse with the howling and behavior. Now my sister only goes to my parents or on roadtrips when absolutely necessary.

            What we found that did work with him was covering the carrier with a towel. He can't see my sister or the moving scenary, and the behavior was lessened slightly. And not talk Anytime he heard her voice, he'd howl like a banshee.
            Lucy (Precious Star) - 1994 TB mare; happily reunited with her colt Touch the Stars


            • #7
              Great tips posted here ~ adding Jingles & AO ~ Always OPTIMISTIC ~

              Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


              • #8
                I think it depends on the cat. My two older cats made the trip from Central California to Southern Oregon (abt 8 hrs) in cat carriers and we just jammed up there with no stops. Neither of them handled being in a car with any joy, they hated it. I think I had them sedated if I remember.
                On the other hand I had a foster kitten about five months old that I took down with me on the same trip to California. He rode free in the car with a dog in the back seat and was an angel the whole way. I set out a litter box on a lunch stop halfway, he did his thing and we bagged it, and were back on the road. He even went to all the family I visited and back up after the trip was over. I think it really depends on the cat...


                • #9
                  My cat (at the time 6) made the trip from CT to Austin, TX. 3 days, 2200 miles.

                  She freaks out in a carrier and travels better loose. Carrier is VERY high stress for both our cats. I know some cats like their forts, but ours FREAK OUT and become totally hysterical, and STAY hysterical.

                  I put down a pan of kitty litter behind the passenger seat, a little tupperware of water and a little tupperware of kibble.

                  After the first hour of her panicking on my mom's lap she rode behind my seat for the rest of the trip. We'd look back there and she'd just be chilling out watching the sky. After that first hour of drooling-mewling-loosing-it-from-both-ends panic she was cool as a cucumber.

                  She never used the box (she had to PEE when we stopped at night!) but would drink during human pit stops.
                  "The nice thing about memories is the good ones are stronger and linger longer than the bad and we sure have some incredibly good memories." - EverythingButWings


                  • #10
                    My cat travels lose in the car - with a covered litter box and two dogs. It is 'cozy' for sure. She uses the literbox frequently. She gets to eat/drink when we arrive at our destination (6 hours)


                    • #11
                      Longest we've taken our cats is 4 1/2 hours. Though on trips back after Thanksgiving that trip has taken closer to 6...

                      We always put them in their carriers. I take away food at midnight the day before the trip, but they have access to water. I learned to take the food away after my first trip with the older one when he was a kitten. He yowled for the first 30-45 min and then calmed down. About half-way there he started freaking out. Before I could get to a rest area to check on him he had an "accident" in the car. On the plus side, he tried to tell me he needed to go?

                      Our second cat doesn't travel well at all so now we just leave them unless there's NO other choice.


                      • #12
                        I used to do a 12 hour drive to visit my parents. My two kitties each had their own carrier.
                        One thing I always did was run the shoulder harness/seat belt through the handle of the carrier and fasten it. That way I knew if I had to make any kind of sudden stop, they wouldn't go flying!
                        I also used towels to even up the seat surface. And since the carriers were fairly "airy", I also draped a towel to cover up about two thirds of it to provide shade (always leaving space so I could glance in and see them, and they could see out a bit.
                        I was lucky. My siamese would wail for the first 30 minutes, but then give it up and sleep the rest of the day. Don't know if I could have managed if she'd kept it up for the whole 12 hours!
                        Only one cat - must not be totally crazy yet!


                        • #13
                          Great tips posted... I'll just add to the "it depends on the cat" sentiment.

                          My super laid back and confident cat looses it in the car, and howls whether in a crate or not. My really tense and extremely shy guy loves the car, and rode from FL to CA (and back) loose in the car. He spent most of his time on the dashboard. We bought this really cool cat carrier that has an entry on the top (think tall sided heavy duty rubbermaid type thing, with a lid that has a hole, and the lid has texture to grab loose litter), and just set it in the car. When he needed to go, he'd drop down into the box and do his thing, then return to the dash. Pretty cool.

                          Good Luck! I love cats, and think it's great that you are taking yours on your trip with you.
                          Final Furlong Racehorse Retirement


                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks for the advice, everyone! I kept her in her carrier and strapped her in behind my seat so she could see me but wasn't too close. She was actually pretty good, she would sleep for a few hours, wake up and complain for a little, then go back to sleep. New/strange situations tend to stress her out so I think the carrier was definitely the way to go. Luckily, no carsickness or other kitty explostions Thank you so much for the tips, I really appreciate it! She is now happily terrorizing my parents and their dog... oh dear