Need To Take A Road Trip With A Cat? Here's What You Need To Know

For some, traveling with your pet can seem like a dream come true. For others, it sounds like a nightmare. Especially when little Luna can be a bit of a pain in the you-know-what when she's stressed. However, if the idea of road-tripping with your cat sounds like fun, who's to say you can't (other than your cat)? If your cat is generally non-plussed about things, they may even be well-suited to it.

If you're not sure, then there are some things you need to know before you go. Preparing your pet for a road trip is not all that hard, but you do have to listen to their needs and slowly introduce them to the experience. Chucking your cat into a carrier they've never seen before and driving across the country for days on end should only be done in the direst of circumstances. So, to avoid traumatizing your furry friend, here are some of the best ways to go about getting them road trip-ready.

Preparing your cat for a carrier

Preparing your cat for a road trip is pretty similar to preparing a pet for its first flight. The first thing you're going to want to do if you haven't already is purchase a cat carrier. For a road trip, a hard or soft carrier is fine but it's up to your and your cat's preference. However, if you think you might take your cat on a flight someday, you may want to look into a carrier that's airline-approved.

Once you have a carrier that meets your fancy feline's standards, you're going to want to get them used to it so they aren't scared of it when you have to take them somewhere in the carrier. The trick is to keep the carrier in your cat's everyday environment in the house — though not around their food or litter box — and play with them around it. You may also want to consider designating a specific towel or blanket to use in their carrier and spray some pheromones or diluted catnip oil to get them to have a positive association with the towel.

If you take your cat to the vet in the same carrier, make sure to wash it afterward to get rid of any unfamiliar scents. Your cat might have a bad association with these smells should their vet visit be a bit traumatic or stressful, and you don't want to bring that with you on a road trip.

Getting your cat car-ready

Now, once they are comfortable with the carrier, the next steps will be to get them acclimated to your car and associate road trips with fun and excitement. First, you'll want to bring your cat to the car in the carrier and get into the back seat with them. Open the carrier a bit, pet them, and give them some treats. If they seem fine with that so far, give them a toy to keep them occupied and try turning on the car. Get them used to the sounds of the car, get the temperature in the back seat comfortable for them, and buckle them in. Continue petting them, giving them treats, and playing with them throughout.

Do this a couple of times if needed. If your cat seems comfortable and in a good mood in the car at this point, go for a short drive around the block. If you have someone else in the car with you, have them keep an eye on your cat and see how they're doing and give them more treats as you drive around. If you're alone, stop frequently to check on them and give them treats yourself. This is why you should just start with short drives around your neighborhood. Once you've done this a few times, take longer and longer drives until you feel like they're ready for a road trip.

Taking care of your cat on the road

On the first road trip (of many, we hope!), be sure to plan for lots of stops so you don't overwhelm your cat. If they're not trained to walk around on a harness and leash, don't let them outside, of course. If you can easily corral them back into their carrier, let them stretch their legs around your car. You'll want to have tried this a couple of times before you leave home, too.

For long trips, you'll also want to bring a litter box. Purchase a travel litter box if your litter box from home is not portable. Same idea with the carrier, though, you'll want to get them used to the travel litter box sometime before you take off for your road trip. The litter box can be any size as long as your cat is comfortable using it and it suits your needs. You will also want to find a litter recommended for travel. These will be low-dust and have great odor control, so you and your cat can enjoy an odor-free road trip. You should avoid leaving your cat unattended in your vehicle, but if you have to do so, make sure to account for the temperature inside the car and make it quick. Both high and low temperatures can quickly become very dangerous for your pet.