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Road Trip With a Cat | 11 Tips for Car Travelling With Your Furry Feline

When embarking on a trip of a lifetime, why leave your cat alone when you can bring your precious cargo along for a road trip with a cat? Whether travelling for an hour or two or looking forward to the ultimate journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles, road trips are the epitome of freedom.

Unsure how to take a road trip with a cat in style, comfort, and with few hiccups? From a road trip packing list to a cheat sheet of cat-in-car problems and solutions, this guide will ensure a less bumpy ride for you and your fur baby.


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11 Tips for a Stress-Free Road Trip with a Cat

While you’ll be tempted simply set sail on your trip through winding roads, a game plan is essential to ensure no hitch in your wagon. Take a look at these key components to consider before going on your mobile adventure with your feline.

1. Determine the Duration

black-cat-carrier road trip with a cat

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From planning bathroom breaks to packing enough food (pet and others) for your drive, the duration of your trip is important to note for a variety of reasons. When travelling long distances, it’s important to stop every few hours in case your kitty prefers eating, drinking, and going to the bathroom while the car isn’t moving.

2. Talk to Your Vet About Health Conditions

By discussing your pet’s health history and illnesses, you’ll be able to go into your trip with all the necessary information to help your cat travel comfortably and safely. Going to the vet is often seen as a new and scary venture for a cat (much like the uncharted territory of a road trip), their behaviour could be quite telling. 

Are they skittish by sudden movements? Do they get anxious about new experiences? There are a number of factors that could lead to vital pet medication that need to be packed for your getaway:

  • Cat sedative or anxiety medication Cats have a number of ways to indicate anxiety, such as a shaking tail. If your cat is known for troubling anxious behaviour, talk to your veterinarian about anxiety medication options to keep your kitty feeling relaxed.
  • Necessary medication – If your cat has any medical conditions (such as seizures or diabetes), it’s important to pack enough medication for your trip. This is why calculating the duration of your journey is essential to confirm you have enough pills and potions to keep your kitty healthy.

3. Do a Few Test Drives


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Much like a long-distance marathon, practice makes perfect when trying to get your cat comfortable with car rides. Make sure you take time to get your pet comfortable with riding along roads, so it’s not the first time they take a drive in your metal steering steed.

By taking your cat along on short errands and small drives and presenting them with a tasty nibble after, you’ll be able to create a positive association with the carrier and car. In time, your kitty will become a curled croissant and see a car trip as the perfect nap time getaway.

If you notice your cat is restless, panting, and frequently vocalising, this could indicate that your kitty is just not a fan of travelling by car. This is where you can make arrangements with your veterinarian for feline stress relievers.

4. Ensure Safety Precautions 


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Before going on your road-worthy adventure, a tough choice is to decide whether you’re planning to have your cat roam free or in his carrier. However, it is important to note that a free-roaming cat can be very dangerous when travelling long distances.

From distracting the driver to escaping when car windows are opened, free roaming is often only recommended if your cat is well behaved or you have a traveller sitting with them. A cat carrier can be considered the safest option, but can be an anxiety-inducing experience if your pet does not enjoy confined spaces.

You have a few options if your cat gives the small space of a carrier two paws down. First, you can slowly but surely help your cat become accustomed to his little room. The power of cat treats and cat toys placed in the carrier will soon transform a perceived prison into a pampering palace.

If this does not work, you can always opt for a more open seating concept to allow your cat to feel less constricted. This includes cat booster seats and harnesses to ensure your pet feels part of the conversation and is still nestled in a sense of safety.

5. Book Pet-Friendly Accommodation


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When riding on the road for 2-3 days with your long-tailed pet, booking accommodation on your travels is a good idea to get a few hours of shut-eye. It’s important to ensure you’re driving with a decent amount of sleep to keep your head clear for your travels.

We suggest you check your accommodation website before booking your stay to choose a place that will make arrangements for your furry prince or princess on the premises. 


6. Do Research on Vets on Route

There’s nothing worse than your furry loved one being in pain and not knowing how to identify the issue. From swallowing choking hazards to pesky bee stings when the car window is open, it’s always good to prepare for the worst on the road.

By identifying many vet clinics on your road trip route, you’ll have a game plan to follow when your cat is in distress. 

7. Get a Cat Tag


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While on your road trip, you’ll be bound to stop for various reasons, including filling up on gas and bathroom breaks. Whether you choose to leave your cat in his carrier with someone or take him outside, there is a chance your furry travel companion can orchestrate an escape. 

This is why putting a handy information tag on your cat is very important to ensure a speedy rescue mission can take place to retrieve them. Not only is it a nifty way to jazz up your cat’s look, but it lets people know this kitty has a loving home if found. A trusty tag on a cat collar should include the following necessary written data:

  • Name – This might seem like an obvious one, but it’s a necessary piece of information to identify your clawed compadre quickly if they get lost.
  • Your contact details – Whether a phone number or an email, your reachability can make or break your search efforts if someone finds your kitty.
  • Address – This factor is more relevant on short road trip journeys, which will allow animal services to identify that this stray fluff ball does indeed have a home.
  • Microchip – A real time saver when your pet is a frequent flight risk, microchipping your cat is essentially a digital cat tag. This device is a tiny computer chip inserted between their shoulder blades that will display a unique serial code with information to identify the tagged pet.

8. Make a packing plan


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With the cat road trip preparations under the belt, the next step is a handy luggage list to make sure you remember everything you need for the journey. While you’re sure to be more than capable of stocking your suitcase, it’s up to you to include the necessary items and accessories for your cat.

  • Carrier (with blankets and toys) – Your cat will likely have a tendency to roam the car interior, which makes a cat travel carrier so important. Not only is it a comfy place to sleep, but it also protects your pet from serious injury in a motor accident. Try to get them to sleep in their carrier a few nights before the trip to make sure they associate their carrier with a comforting memory.
  • Blanket and toys – By sprinkling your cat carrier with remnants of the home, you’ll allow a sense of comfort and security for your pet to cling to in times of stress. Bring your cat’s favourite toy as a safety blanket (pun intended).
  • Travel litter box – If you prefer your car to stay clear of cat excretions, a travel litter box is needed to allow your cat to go on bathroom breaks. 
  • Treats, food, water, bowls – Nothing causes fear in a cat owner quite like a hangry ball of claws and insistent meows. To keep your kitty hydrated and well fed, you’ll need to pack food and water to keep those stomach rumbles at bay.
  • Pet wipes – Accidents tend to happen when on the road for an extended period of time. From vomit to a nervous bladder, you’ll be happy you’ve packed pet wipes to clean any unwanted spills and a dirty kitty.

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9. What to do if your cat is feeling Too Hot

When travelling in hot and dry areas, your cat can experience elevated levels of heat, which can cause them to feel uncomfortable and uneasy. To prevent your kitty from overheating, you can place a pet cooling mat under them to ensure you have a cool cat on board.

Other solutions include placing a water bowl nearby to make sure your cat stays hydrated in the heat. If needed, you can also spray a small amount of water with a spray bottle on their fur for your cat to cool down faster.

How to Spot Overheating/ Dehydration

  • Panting and breathing fast
  • Vomiting
  • High heart rate

10. What to do if your cat is feeling Too Cold

Cars have a tendency to get chilly when the sun sets, so it’s essential to have some toasty tools handy to keep warm on your trip. Whether it’s blankets or a heating pad, your cat will be thankful for a bit of warmth when they have the shivers.

How to Spot a Cold Cat

  • Cold body, nose, or tail
  • Shivering
  • Shallow and short breaths 
  • Stiff joints

11. What to do if your cat is feeling Car Sick


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With sharp turns and sudden stops, it can be a motion overload for kitties not used to driving in the car. 

As a precaution, you can take away your cat’s food bowl the night before your travels to enhance your chances of a vomit-free trip. But keep in mind that little to no food in their stomach will also increase the chances of your cat feeling nauseated.

If you know your cat has a motion sickness issue, you can ask a vet for a prescription to ease your kitty’s nausea symptoms. 

How to Spot Nausea

  • Drooling
  • Excessive licking, chewing, or vocalisation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting

Final Thoughts on a Mobile Trip With Your Purry Pet


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Your luggage packed, the wind blowing in your hair, and look from your purring pal – by adding a bag of meows toe beans to the mix, you’re in for an adventure. 

With a seemingly endless supply of pet essentials and a keen eye for noticing strange behaviour from your cat, you’re ready to hit the road with confidence. Unfortunately, you can’t prepare for every snag, but experiencing some of the world’s bucket list locations with your cat at your side will be well worth it. 

And if the cat isn’t your only pet check out my post on How to Travel the World with a Dog.

I covered all of the costs involved in writing this post on road trip with a cat. However, it does contain some affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase I may receive a small commission. Just wanted to make sure you were aware.

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