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Long distance with a cat

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  • Long distance with a cat

    I'll be heading home for a quick vacation in 10 or so days with my cat in tow. This is the first time I've ever traveled with a cat in the car (adopted my kitty in April). It's a 12 hour drive and I'll be making it one day. (Leave at the ass crack of dawn and get home in time for dinner).

    Cat will be in her crate for the entire car ride.

    Probably stupid questions but Google is not turning up anything in response:

    Should I put kitty litter in her crate? Food? Water? We've only done short trips i.e. to my house from the rescue and to the vet all of which take less than 10 minutes so I don't know how she'll travel long-distance. She grumbles a bit then goes quiet so I'm not expecting her to act up too much.

    I really don't take breaks when I make this trip. Get gas. Grab coffee and maybe a wrap to hold me through dinner.

    Any suggestions?
    *The Quietman ~ Irish Approved Gr.1 Stallion
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  • #2
    I've gone all the way across the country with cats. Twice. (Don't ever try this with a siamese. Trust me.) I'd put a kitty litter box in the car along with containers of food and water and stop once in a while to see if she will eat, drink, or use the box - with the windows shut. I have taken my cats on 3 plus hour trips with no need to do this but for a 12 hour trip I'd at least offer the chance to pee/poop/eat/drink.
    What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!


    • #3
      I would have food, water and a litter box available either in the crate or in the car if there isn't enough room for it in the crate. Stop once or twice and let her out in the car if the stuff isn't in the crate. Do not be surprised if she doesn't partake in any of it though. I once had a cat in a special cage to get a urine sample by having the cat pee through the grate then go into a collection bottle. He was in there over 24 hours before we gave up.
      McDowell Racing Stables

      Home Away From Home


      • #4
        If you have the space, I think the idea setup would be a medium sized dog crate with a litterbox, food and water. If not, I would have water in her carrier and stop periodically to let the cat out and see if she needs to use the litterbox or eat.

        I would not want to go 12 hours denying her access to a litterbox. BEST case, she pees in her crate. Worst case, she develops and infection or blockage from not being able to void.

        And I'd also have her in a cat collar with your cell phone on the tag and make sure she's microchipped, just in case something terrible happens and she gets out of the car.


        • #5
          Agree with Simkie. On my first cross country trip I prepared my cat. She was all trained to walk on a leash and I'd stop now and again to let her out to pee. Worked great. You should have seen the looks on peoples' faces.
          What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!


          • Original Poster

            Thanks for affirming everyone

            Her crate isn't big enough for a little box but I'll put her water and food in it and litter box in the car as well and let her out when I stop to grab coffee/quick bite to eat and see if she uses it.
            *The Quietman ~ Irish Approved Gr.1 Stallion
            Like Us on Facebook


            • #7
              My only added suggestion is to use a well fitted harness to on her, not a regular collar. There is much less chance of her slipping a harness than a collar if you let her out.



              • #8
                Of course you know your cat best but I know several people who have successfully traveled with a no tip water bowl and a small litterbox on the floor of a back seat. Many cats travel well being out of a crate but if your cat is a door bolter or prone to crawling in laps then it might not be a great option.


                • #9
                  Road trip! With Kitteh! How nice of you to take your cat on vacation.

                  Last summer, I did this with my old lady cat. She rose to the occasion and became a great Truck Cat. I have always wanted one of these. Granted, I told her that she'd have 3,200 miles to work her objections the h@ll out. It took her a day. Oh, and she really liked the clean sheets found each night at hotels. Sometimes she was contraban, but a cat likes a freshly made bed.

                  Anywho, put cat in the crate. Drive for a while. Tell her up front to just Man Up because no amount of meowing will make it stop. When you do stop for gas, coffee or whatever, let her out into the rest of the car with food water and a liter box.

                  Especially for a one-day trip (where the cat will only have the chance to endure and not learn as she would over several days of the same), it's as you would do for horses. A still car lets her relax enough to decide if she's thirsty, hungry or wants a potty break. So take time to have lunch in a restaurant so that she gets a break, too.

                  My favorite way to do a litter box in the car is to put it in a banana box you'd get from a grocery store. The shape is perfect and the sides are high so that litter (or pine shavings, my favorite) aren't tracked everywhere.

                  Don't be worried if she doesn't eat or drink a lot. She'll figure out how to take care of herself.

                  If part way through she is quiet and you feel comfortable, let her out of the crate. Most cats don't decide to walk on the dashboard. If they do, you can throw them off. Cats are soft and flexible and cars aren't that big. Just grab whatever part of the cat is handy. They can take it. It's nice to be driving along with a diet coke in the drink holder and a cat as an armrest.

                  Oh, and mine would "wake up" each night around 9 pm or when we got off the freeway and start asking if we were there yet. She didn't think that a driving day should extend beyond 10 hours. The cat is civilized.
                  The armchair saddler
                  Politically Pro-Cat


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Christa P View Post
                    My only added suggestion is to use a well fitted harness to on her, not a regular collar. There is much less chance of her slipping a harness than a collar if you let her out.

                    I have been back and forth across the country multiples times with my cats!
                    Microchip for sure
                    They wear a harness.
                    The car door is never, ever open if they are loose.
                    They ride in crates. If its a smaller one, I stop, make sure car doors are closed, take them out (with harness on) inside the car and see if they want to eat (mix wet food with extra water) and pee.
                    They do sometimes pee in the crate, no big deal! I also have a dog kennel big enough for a small kitty box and that is the best arrangement. Two can ride in it comfortably (have one cat who is determinedly vicious so he rides alone!) But in the big crate they have room to move, sleep and poop. I feed them in there but do not leave food in, when they are done eating, I take the food out.
                    I stop to pee, grab a to go meal and fuel. So they are not in there one more minute than is necessary!!
                    With the AC flowing, a nice book on tape going, they seem pretty comfortable. They sing a bit in the beginning but calm down.
                    if you can though, the big crate is really great. Mine is on wheels so moves easily and the cats hang out in it even in the house! I found that cats in too small a crate are just miserable (go figure!) but when they have space are pretty happy!
                    i have had unhappy travelers, but I do not medicate (that seemed to freak them out more). I just try to get there faster!!

                    Have a great trip!


                    • #11
                      I'm in the small dog crate corner with enough room for cat, small litter box
                      (even a shoe box works) and food and water. You might get one of those
                      ferret hammocks so they can lounge up higher and off the floor of the crate.

                      Definitely a harness. Earplugs for the driver. Some fuss forever, some not so much. Extra towels and plastic trash bags, just in case of accidents.


                      • #12
                        Ideas that have worked for me & my cats ~ Safe Travels ~

                        Here are some ideas I have used `` they have made traveling long distances with my cats easier ~

                        I prepare the largest ventilated carrier I have(( in advance)) and allow the cat to investigate and use the carrier as a 'hiding place' / safe place = new game...
                        1. on the bottom of the carrier a sheet or two of newspaper ~ to absorb any accident odors like ( vomit - pee - poop )
                        2. next a hospital bed pad the type that catches 'liquid accidents' and traps them away from the patient / cat
                        3. next two hand towels.. soft easy to change out if necessary and reusable
                        4. a 'T' shirt that smells like YOU and HOME = security
                        5. in the two front corners of the carrier I place a small(with lids on) tupperware container `` one side with a small bit of dry cat food and the other side with a few ice cubes ... keep lids on until well into the trip and your routine of stop/go has been processed by your cat
                        6. these containers are affixed to the bottom of the carrier and side by those small velcro dots ( one dot on bottom of container & one on the side of the container and one on the floor of the carrier and one on the side of the carrier.
                        7. lastly I prepare TWO litter boxes ... Grocery Ziplock brand plastic rectangle food containers ... with some litter from the cat's 'home' litter box .. another = smells like 'home' idea to ease anxiety of everything being new .
                        8. Litter boxes stacked on car floor .. when I stop for the thirdish time and my cat knows the pattern.. I place one of the LIDDED litter boxes inside with the cat and unlid and leave to do whatever... gas snack.. *** always 'lid' the litter box before removing from the carrier ``` or we will hear your scream ! when that spills inside the carrier ... no need to ask me how I know how to do that part
                        9. And of course a roll of paper towels and small trash bags or baggies are always helpful when needed.
                        10. ** Huggie diapers the large size can be substituted for the hospital bed pad ... and actually are better as they are quite good at adding soft cushioning to the carrier's ride and perform the safe 'locking fluids away" job ~.
                        11. Ziplock containers and velcro dots are available at the grocery (dots also at Office Max stores)
                        12. just make sure you replace the lids of ice/water and food containers before moving the carrier out of the car or it will be a cat/food/water milkshake !
                        13. On arrival your cat has it's bed and security condo no unpacking !
                        Hope this helps ~ GOOD LUCK~ Have a nice vacation !
                        Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "