Your Guide For Traveling Near and Far

Making A Long-Distance Move With Your Cat

by Lloyd Pearson

You're used to seeing cars drive by you with a dog sticking its head out of the window. But how many cats have you seen this way? Probably none, because cats don't travel as well as dogs. But when it's time to move across the country, you can prepare your cat for the long ride. Take some time to work with your cat and help them become a road warrior.

Prepare Your Pet

Start several weeks before your trip getting your cat ready for the long ride. Your cat should be in a carrier all of the time they are in the car. If your cat's only experience with car rides is a trip to the vet in a carrier, it may take some time to teach them that not all car rides end up on a cold exam table.

Put your cat in its carrier and sit with it in your car. Put a blanket, towel or other items with your cat's scent on it in the car. After a few calm minutes in the car, let the cat out of its carrier to roam. Allow the cat to explore the car and the carrier. After a few minutes, coax the cat back into the carrier. Do not force them into doing anything in the car.

Repeat this activity several times a week. Bring the cat's food and their treats with you and let them get used to eating in the car. This needs to be a calm and positive experience for your cat. Speak to them softly and praise them for being in the car. When the cat appears comfortable being in the car, you can introduce some movement.

With your cat in its carrier, start the engine and let the car idle in the driveway. Let the cat get used to sitting in the idling car, then try moving the car down the driveway and back up. As your cat gets used to the movement, try driving around the block. Extend your rides to longer trips around the neighborhood and across town to get your cat used to the movement.

Preparing for the Road

Plan your route and decide where you will need to stop for the night. Book a room at a pet-friendly motor inn at each location. Make the room reservations ahead of time because many motels keep just a few rooms on the ground floor for people with pets. When those are full, you may have difficulty getting a room at a motor inn like Bangor Motor Inn.

Locate rest stops along the way where you can stop with your cat. You'll need to keep your cat in its carrier while you are driving, so the rest stops give your cat the chance to get out and stretch.

On the Road with Your Cat

At the rest stops, put out the litter box, food and water before letting your cat out of its carrier. If other people are in the car, let them get out and shut the doors before letting your cat out. Stay in the car while your cat takes its break and roams in the car for a bit. Do not let anyone open the car doors unless the cat is in its carrier. You don't want to be chasing a panicked cat through a highway rest stop.

When in the motor inn room, put the litter box, food and water out again then let your cat explore. Don't open the door to your room unless the cat is in its carrier, locked in the bathroom, or somewhere where they won't bolt for the door when it's open. When you leave the room for any reason, keep your cat in its carrier and put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door so housekeeping won't go in the room.

With patience, you can teach your cat to be in the car with you for a long-distance move. Stay calm and make it a positive experience for your cat. Have the right expectations, though. No matter how much you work with your cat to be able to ride in the car, you'll never get it to ride with its head out the window and ears flapping in the wind!