Maine Coon cat in its crate during a road trip.

The Ultimate Guide to Road Tripping with Your Cat

Have you ever dreamed of traveling with your kitty? We spoke to a few serial road trippers who regularly take their felines along for the ride…

According to Holly Anne Dustin of Feline Friends Cat Care and Consulting, “The key to a long road trip with cats is to practice and prepare.” She knows from experience, since her longest car trip clocked in at 18-hours with feline companions on board!

Tips for a Successful Cat Road Trip:

  1. Train your cat to get used to being in a carrier. Since some of you only use the carrier to transport your kitty to the vet, now is the time to help them get over that negative association. You may want to leave the carrier out in the house, so your cat can check it out whenever their curiosity piques. Dustin recommends putting a favorite toy, a few treats, and catnip into it for enticement. Getting used to the carrier may take some time, so don’t forget to reward your cat as positive reinforcement.
  2. Is your cat regularly hanging out in the carrier? They’re now ready for short drives in the car of about an hour in length. When they adjust comfortably to car rides in their carrier, you’re officially ready to hit the road. Make sure the carrier can be secured with a buckle or on the floor of the car to prevent injuries.
  3. Outfit your pet with a collar that includes an ID tag with your contact information. This is very important in case your pet wanders off or becomes separated from you. Having an ID collar is the fastest way to get reunited. A simple GPS tracker attached to the collar can also help.
  4. If time allows, try harness and leash training as well. It can come in handy during breaks and walks around must-see attractions or landmarks once you reach your destination. Be sure to research these sites to make sure pets are allowed.
  5. Keeping your cat in the carrier is fine if you are driving 3-4 hours. However, if you are going further, get a bigger crate that will fit the pet and litter box comfortably. It is never recommended to let cats roam free around the vehicle, as it can be a distraction and potentially lead to an accident.
  6. Research your route and be sure to have pet-friendly lodging reserved for your arrival. A fun, alternative idea to traditional lodging is renting an RV. Some pet-friendly hotels charge an extra pet fee per night, so taking alternative transportation can be cost effective and comfortable for your pet. Having a vet referral near your travel destination is also ideal, just in case of illness or injury.
  7. Your cat needs a suitcase as well. Pack a bag with the essentials, such as food and water bowls, bedding, some towels in case of spills, a favorite toy, medication, and food. Also, include a copy of your pet’s up-to-date vaccination records.
  8. Keep the weather in mind. Most people dramatically underestimate car interior temperatures. Pets should not be left in the car if at all possible. On hot days when you can’t bring your pet with you, use a cooling mat to keep your kitty comfortable. “Don’t leave him while you go eat. Drive thru and keep the AC running,” said Dustin. In winter climates, the interior of your car can feel like a freezer. Hand warmers under the crate pad or a blanket could help keep your cat toasty during a quick pitstop.

Now you’re ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure with your furry companion. Have fun and be safe!