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Anyone roadtrip to new school with pets (cats)?


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I'm a few months out from moving to a new state, which is about a 12 hour drive from where I currently live, and I have to move with my two cats. I'm not overly enthused about driving with them, and I know that they aren't either, but I don't want to ship them on a plane because I wouldn't feel comfortable with that. I've done a few internet searches about people's experiences driving long distances with their pets, but I wanted to see if anyone on TGC had any experience or advice in this area? So far, my plan is to call the vet and maybe ask for some antidepressants to keep them mellow during most of the drive. Any thoughts?

 

Thanks!

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I plan to drive my cat longer than 12hrs to grad school next Fall.  I also don't feel comfortable flying them to the new state because of some statistics I read a few years ago.  But who knows, maybe airlines have gotten better.

 

From my experience, I drove my cat last summer (6+hrs) to the university I worked at.  It was his first time driving long distances (at the time he was less than a year old).  He seemed to be more calm when playing classical and later, Christmas music.  People will likely have different responses but my cat was better behaved when I let him out the cage.  However the way my car is, the cat was unable to get under seats and I was driving on country roads where driving isn't that "involved" as opposed to city driving.  So I would do what's best for the situation you're in, and how comfortable you are driving safely with your cat out of the cage.

 

Then again, no matter what you do, you'll likely have to put up with hours of meowing until the cat get's tired.  Also, I always took frequent breaks from driving, so I would definitely consider that.  I kept a disposable kitty litter bin on the floor of my car just in case.  He only used it when I stopped at rest stops.  Either way, put a pad at the bottom of his carrier as well.

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I've decided to fly with my cat in a carrier that will fit under the seat. I'm fortunate that Southwest flies from where I currently live to where I'm going, so it's only $75 extra for the cat. I would never fly with her as cargo, especially in August. A one hour flight will be much nicer for both of us than the 6-8 hour drive. I'm also not taking my car with me, so flying is much cheaper than the $300+ I would have to pay for a one way car rental.

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If you've got the time, you might want to break it up into two 6 hour trips and check into a hotel/motel somewhere along the way that takes in cats. Six hours sounds much more manageable to me, for both you and the cats.

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From my experience, I drove my cat last summer (6+hrs) to the university I worked at.  It was his first time driving long distances (at the time he was less than a year old).  He seemed to be more calm when playing classical and later, Christmas music.  People will likely have different responses but my cat was better behaved when I let him out the cage.  However the way my car is, the cat was unable to get under seats and I was driving on country roads where driving isn't that "involved" as opposed to city driving.  So I would do what's best for the situation you're in, and how comfortable you are driving safely with your cat out of the cage.

 

Then again, no matter what you do, you'll likely have to put up with hours of meowing until the cat get's tired.  Also, I always took frequent breaks from driving, so I would definitely consider that.  I kept a disposable kitty litter bin on the floor of my car just in case.  He only used it when I stopped at rest stops.  Either way, put a pad at the bottom of his carrier as well.

 

That's solid advice. My cats have had little experience in cars, and even fewer pleasant ones, so I'm hoping to come up with a game plan that is both realistic and minimizes the amount of stress and anxiety that they experience.

 

 

I've decided to fly with my cat in a carrier that will fit under the seat. I'm fortunate that Southwest flies from where I currently live to where I'm going, so it's only $75 extra for the cat. I would never fly with her as cargo, especially in August. A one hour flight will be much nicer for both of us than the 6-8 hour drive. I'm also not taking my car with me, so flying is much cheaper than the $300+ I would have to pay for a one way car rental.

 

Because of the number of people who will be helping me move (I'm driving with at least two other people with my own car and a separate UHaul because it's more cost effective for me to move my own things), flying isn't really an option. With my cats though, I don't think I would do it even if it was an option. I have too many (possibly unfounded) concerns about how they might respond to that sort of abrupt and unexpected trauma.

 

If you've got the time, you might want to break it up into two 6 hour trips and check into a hotel/motel somewhere along the way that takes in cats. Six hours sounds much more manageable to me, for both you and the cats.

 

I wish I could! But because I'm moving with the help of a few people and the impossibly long odds of getting my cats in a crate AND back in a car two days in a row (without my own wounds and personal traumas), I don't think I could make it work. Alas, I will have to endure 12 consecutive hours of whatever they have to throw at me.

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I have a lot more experience driving long distances with dogs, so that may affect how I drive with cats. First, I highly recommend a top-loading carrier for cats who put up a fight. It's much easier to drop them in. On an 8 hour drive with 3 cats, we stopped once at a rest area and let them out. I bought cat harnesses and leashes to keep them from getting loose outside. We offered food and water but they didn't eat or drink. (my dog usually doesn't either) I got a cheap cake carrier from Walmart that's a rectangle with handles on the side and a lid that snaps on and used that as a traveling litter box- no spills. My cat used it inside the car when it was raining and I stopped to get gas. Based on stories I've heard, my cat doesn't whine that much so I'm not sure what to do with a very vocal unhappy cat. My mom has gotten "travel medication" from the vet for her dog, so I would check with your vet to see if they can be calmed a bit. Good luck!

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Perhaps put your cat in the (stationary) car for a couple of hours before the move, or else take them for a shorter trip, just to get them used to being in the car?

 

A friend of mine has just taken his cat from the East to West coast. He's reported that the cat suffered from jetlag and started waking him up at crazy-early o'clock...

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I've driven my cats on a few long distance trips and they were alright. I put them in a larger carrier so they wouldn't be separated and was able to get them some OTC anxiety drops that helped. I took away their food and water a few hours before leaving, also. I made sure they could see me and whenever I stopped I'd open the door of the carrier to pet them and make sure they weren't dehydrated. Before unpacking when I arrived I played with them so they knew things were alright.

This was based on advice from the vet.

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I have a lot more experience driving long distances with dogs, so that may affect how I drive with cats. First, I highly recommend a top-loading carrier for cats who put up a fight. It's much easier to drop them in. On an 8 hour drive with 3 cats, we stopped once at a rest area and let them out. I bought cat harnesses and leashes to keep them from getting loose outside. We offered food and water but they didn't eat or drink. (my dog usually doesn't either) I got a cheap cake carrier from Walmart that's a rectangle with handles on the side and a lid that snaps on and used that as a traveling litter box- no spills. My cat used it inside the car when it was raining and I stopped to get gas. Based on stories I've heard, my cat doesn't whine that much so I'm not sure what to do with a very vocal unhappy cat. My mom has gotten "travel medication" from the vet for her dog, so I would check with your vet to see if they can be calmed a bit. Good luck!

 

A top-loading carrier is a great suggestion. For vet trips in the past, when it was only one or the other, I had taken to just tiling up the front-loading carrier and dropping one in, but that won't work with two so this is a much-needed piece of advice. My cats tend to be more on the skittish side, so I imagine that they won't want to go outside or be on a harness when I make pit stops (one of my cats was under-socialized as a kitten, so he gets freaked by any new sound he hasn't ever processed before). I'll definitely be calling the vet prior to my trip to get some of their advice. Thank you!

 

I've driven my cats on a few long distance trips and they were alright. I put them in a larger carrier so they wouldn't be separated and was able to get them some OTC anxiety drops that helped. I took away their food and water a few hours before leaving, also. I made sure they could see me and whenever I stopped I'd open the door of the carrier to pet them and make sure they weren't dehydrated. Before unpacking when I arrived I played with them so they knew things were alright.

This was based on advice from the vet.

 

I'm planning on buying a large carrier to fit the both of them with some room to move around, but considering this will be their first high-stress situation, I'm slightly concerned that they may get into fights as a result of being anxious. I hope that this doesn't happen, but I'm sure that having some medication on hand just in case will be really useful.

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We have gone 2500 miles with our cats.  I suggest you put an old towel in the crate(s), there will probably be accidents.  Having extra towels to change out helps.  Thrift shops have large supplies of them, cheap.  I just threw away the used ones along the way.  Our cats wouldn't use the litter box while in the car.  But each nightwe would stop at a hotel, put the cats and the litter box in the bathroom (figured if they overshot the box or refused to use it, the tile floor was easier to clean than carpet) and we didn't have any problems.  We also closed them in the bathroom at night to prevent any mishaps.  The worst part of the trip was the summer heat in a vehicle without AC...the moving truck.  Hopefully yours comes with AC.  We ended up purchasing a bag of ice at each gas stop and putting the ice bag under the crates so the cats were laying on a cool surface.  Never, ever open a vehicle door until the cats have harnesses and leashes attached.  Good luck!

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We did the trip (~22 hours, not including stops or getting stuck in traffic) with our small dog last summer.

Some thoughts:

- Read up on what pet-friendly food can be calming (special treats, parsley, etc) or they especially like and prepare special treats to give at rest stops (if your cats aren't the sort to throw up, I made up peanut butter and dried liver kongs)

- Screw on "coop cups" are a great idea for water/ice cubs. This is the one we use http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000GDVUE6

- Take a bottle of your home water to slowly introduce pets to new water

- I *highly* recommend a solid vari kennel/plastic shell crate over a soft crate, and especially loose or harnesses. If you are in an accident, your pets will be contained and are more likely to be protected than a soft or non-existent crate. They're just good to have around if you are in area where you could potentially have to evacuate because of weather as some rescues/shelters will only take pets if

- Pack more food in accessible than you need for the trip by at least 2 days (I think I packed for 3 because I wasn't sure how fast we would unpack). Travel food cups are nice too if you normally use larger bowls.

- Make an ICE packet to attach to the kennel with the following information- names, physical descriptions, and photos of all animals, DOB, important medical information (allergies, current vet contact info, etc), emergency contact info, permission to treat up to X amount if you are unable to give verbal permission, etc. Because of the contract we signed to adopt our dog I also have a statement saying if we are unable to provide future care (ie dead) she is to be returned to such-and-such rescue and the following phone numbers. This one sounds like overkill but I'm paranoid that we'll be in an accident and she'll be in limbo since we haven't drafted a will yet.

- Towels and potty training pads are excellent to line crates with, wouldn't hurt to put one near the opener sides of/underneath the crate.

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I'm in pretty much the same position as the OP. My university will be about a 12-14 hour drive away and I will be bringing my cat (and a UHaul with furniture) with me. I'm hoping to avoid stopping overnight if I can, just to avoid the extra UHaul charges. I will of course stop for breaks with my cat, though. 

 

One bit of advice I would give is to try and get your cat used to car rides in the next couple of months. My parents live about 40 minutes away from me and I will often visit them for a couple nights on my days off work, so I take my cat with me. The first trip or two, he yowled a couple times and was a little nervous. However, he has since become very used to car rides and even enjoys them. I have a little (hard-shell) carrier that I take him in and usually as soon as I start driving he curls up and naps. The only time he gets mad now is when the car is stopped! 

 

What I'm more worried about is if I fly home for Christmas... I don't like the idea of taking my cat on a plane with me, even in the passenger area (which is the only way I'd consider it). Even for a short flight, you still have to factor in time waiting at the gate, going through security, etc. And what if my cat has to use the litter or something? Obviously I wouldn't feed him right before we leave or anything, but you never know. If anyone has experience travelling with pets on a plane, I'd be interested to hear!

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- Read up on what pet-friendly food can be calming (special treats, parsley, etc) or they especially like and prepare special treats to give at rest stops (if your cats aren't the sort to throw up, I made up peanut butter and dried liver kongs)

- Screw on "coop cups" are a great idea for water/ice cubs. This is the one we use http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000GDVUE6

- I *highly* recommend a solid vari kennel/plastic shell crate over a soft crate, and especially loose or harnesses. If you are in an accident, your pets will be contained and are more likely to be protected than a soft or non-existent crate. They're just good to have around if you are in area where you could potentially have to evacuate because of weather.

- Towels and potty training pads are excellent to line crates with, wouldn't hurt to put one near the opener sides of/underneath the crate.

 

These are really useful recommendations, especially the screw on cups. I hadn't thought of that, but I can see how those would really save some time and clean-up hassle. Thanks!

 

I'm in pretty much the same position as the OP. My university will be about a 12-14 hour drive away and I will be bringing my cat (and a UHaul with furniture) with me. I'm hoping to avoid stopping overnight if I can, just to avoid the extra UHaul charges. I will of course stop for breaks with my cat, though. 

 

One bit of advice I would give is to try and get your cat used to car rides in the next couple of months. My parents live about 40 minutes away from me and I will often visit them for a couple nights on my days off work, so I take my cat with me. The first trip or two, he yowled a couple times and was a little nervous. However, he has since become very used to car rides and even enjoys them. I have a little (hard-shell) carrier that I take him in and usually as soon as I start driving he curls up and naps. The only time he gets mad now is when the car is stopped! 

 

What I'm more worried about is if I fly home for Christmas... I don't like the idea of taking my cat on a plane with me, even in the passenger area (which is the only way I'd consider it). Even for a short flight, you still have to factor in time waiting at the gate, going through security, etc. And what if my cat has to use the litter or something? Obviously I wouldn't feed him right before we leave or anything, but you never know. If anyone has experience travelling with pets on a plane, I'd be interested to hear!

 

That's a great idea! I hadn't considered giving my cats practice runs to get used to the car, but I can definitely see the value in starting that. I'm a few months out, so I think it should be more than enough time to have them conditioned to being in the car and driving around a bit. That's a much better plan than what I had in mind with the one-and-done-car-ride-hail-mary and hope they forgive me for it, haha.

 

Also, I don't have any experience taking pets on a plane, but for my move I do anticipate trips back home that will last a week or so. During those, I plan to ask if my lab mates wouldn't mind dropping by a few times to check in on them and give them some attention. It will definitely reduce the amount of stress that they experience, rather than having them travel with me 2-3 times per semester. Do you imagine you'll know anyone locally who would be able to pet sit a few times a week for you? It might save you the hassle of holiday travel with your cat.

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12 hours? Small potatoes. Last summer my two kitties and I drove from the West coast of Canada to Ontario. It took 5 days and neither of the cats had traveled before. Everything was just fine :) It's important that you have a vehicle with AC so that you can control their temperature. I stopped every 4 hours to see if anyone needed to use the litter box, gave them wet food and cat nip and cat treats and away we went.

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What I'm more worried about is if I fly home for Christmas... I don't like the idea of taking my cat on a plane with me, even in the passenger area (which is the only way I'd consider it). Even for a short flight, you still have to factor in time waiting at the gate, going through security, etc. And what if my cat has to use the litter or something? Obviously I wouldn't feed him right before we leave or anything, but you never know. If anyone has experience travelling with pets on a plane, I'd be interested to hear!

 

Honestly, the grad students that aren't traveling pretty much always help out those who are by watching their pets. I've checked in on cats, dogsat, etc., to help out colleagues that wanted to travel. They've usually paid me in pizza, beer, or by returning the favor.

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What I'm more worried about is if I fly home for Christmas... I don't like the idea of taking my cat on a plane with me, even in the passenger area (which is the only way I'd consider it). Even for a short flight, you still have to factor in time waiting at the gate, going through security, etc. And what if my cat has to use the litter or something? Obviously I wouldn't feed him right before we leave or anything, but you never know. If anyone has experience travelling with pets on a plane, I'd be interested to hear!

I flew from the southeast to my family's home in CA a few times with my cat. She came with me for 6-8 weeks in the summer a couple times, and then I eventually relocated back to CA for grad school. I flew out to CA once for a week, about mid-summer to take her on the plane to stay with my family, and do some early residency stuff and apt-hunting. I flew back to NC and prepared my stuff and car, and spent a week driving out to CA a month later. (The initial plan was for her to go back with my mom after a visit in the spring, and all arrangements were made, etc. However, kitty had had a recent tooth extraction and was taking meds and a long time to recover from it, so I opted to wait and take an extra, later trip.)

I figured a week with my cat in the car was too long a distance, despite my initial enthusiasm of writing a "Cross-Country with a Cat" blog about our journey. I envisioned extra hassle to book a pet-okay hotel each night, pay their fees/deposits, etc. I also was staying with friends two nights, who had pets of their own. I didn't know at all how my cat would react to an overnight in a hotel room, with strange air currents and smells. The initial move to NC (with a BF at the time) had involved a UHaul, 2 travel days with an overnight stay, and his cat. She basically growled, paced and meowed all night long in the hotel room, and we hit the road extremely sleep-deprived the next morning, à la Allie Brosh.

If you make a special trip to fly with your cat, a few things I learned:

It's expensive. There will be a pet fee (I paid between $75 to $150, each way). Also, a few times I paid for cabs to/from the airport, rather than public transport. And below, I made a case for paying extra for nonstop fares.

• Book your reservation by phone. You can't simply book online or travelocity (my preferred method) -- you have to call the airline for the reservation directly and ask for one of only a few allotted spaces for online pets. I had friends move internationally once with their 4 cats, and finding a flight where they could get all the spots was by far their biggest challenge in booking.

You need to carry the cat through security. I didn't know this the first time! Mine always had to be forcibly extracted from the carrier, and, once out, wanted to squirm and dart off who knows where. Trim claws the day before travel! Also, I got a leash and harness for future trips.

Carrier lining - something soft, comforting, and absorbent. I used a favorite quilt, once I was certain she didn't have accidents. If you're unsure of accidents, maybe sleep with a towel for a week so you have the double benefit of absorbency + your scent.

Family restrooms - I would seek these out during long waits or layovers in the airport, go in, and secure the door. Then I could open the carrier and give her an opportunity to roam, offer food and water, etc. for a few minutes. [This almost backfired once when she tried to jump down into the restroom trash, which was an opening cut into the sink countertop.]

Preboarding - never hurts to ask...I always did...though there seems no policy about it and airline staff were very inconsistent in their response.

Know your cat's disposition as much as possible. My cat seemed to do okay with car rides, after some initial meowing. If she'd been like my childhood family cat - who peed, foamed at mouth, and yowled mournfully even on short car rides -- I would never have tried to fly with her. I got lucky with current kitty in that she kind of went mute and still when in her carrier, probably from the anxiety. She never ate, drank, or slept, which was worrisome, but she always recovered quickly once settled at our destination.

• Food and water - have it available and offer frequently. I bought a hamster bottle for our first trip, and filled it once beyond security. I figured I could reach my arm down from my seat and point the nozzle through the carrier grate for her during the flight. That part worked, but she would never touch it.

No "first-time" pills - I'd heard mixed things about that from friends and even the vet. Truth be told, adding a new and unknown med to the already disruptive mix of travel, noise, airports and planes just didn't seem a good idea.

Fly nonstop. I did this for our very first flight together. It went well enough that I got brazen and for future flights, I reverted to my cheap-ass self with insane departure/arrival times and connections. One of the worst days of my life was spending all day at an airport in Nowhere, Middle America, delayed with my cat. We'd already been on a redeye flight that departed late, and the next connection was not until 6pm the next evening. While I can deal with my own personal sleep deprivation and boredom, I worried constantly about my cat having to spend essentially 24 hours traveling, most of that in a carrier...and she stubbornly refused food, water, and relieving herself the entire time. Phrew!

Hope this helps! Glad to see everyone's thinking ahead so much about what's best for their pets, and getting them settled in new places. Nothing beats having a sweet, sleeping kitty nearby on those dissertation-writing days at home!

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Mandarin.orange, thanks so much for all this information about your experiences! I can just see myself now, chasing my cat around security after he squirms out of my arms... Haha. It sounds like it will be stressful and worrisome to fly with a cat, but it's good to know that there are people out there who have done it and had things turn out okay! And good advice with the flying nonstop. I think it would be worth the cash to save the cat the extra stress! 

 

It's nice to know there are other grad students out there trying to do their best to accommodate their pets! I could never leave my little guy behind :)

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So, I went out and purchased the largest carrier that would fit comfortably into the back seat of my car, but I've come across a potential problem. With the size of my two cats, one being fairly "long" and the other comfortably stout, I don't see a little box fitting in the carrier along with them, be it a normal litter box or a make-shift aluminum tray. How have those of you with experience with this managed letting your cats out of the carrier to use the bathroom (even if they didn't use it)? I'm worried that they'll be so spooked, they might try to bolt, leaving me desperately chasing them through the woods outside a rest area somewhere in the middle of Pennsylvania. I'm theoretically a fan of cat leashes, but my cats haven't had much outdoor experience, so the practice runs with leashes on them have ended pretty terribly (before we even made it outside of my apartment building, one of my cats was spooked by a sound he didn't recognize and had a panicky fit in which he jumped off every wall in the hallway until the apartment door was opened and he ran in to hide underneath the best for an hour). I can't imagine what would happen if we got outside with them on the lease, but I think it would involve a lot of prayer.

 

I'm going to try and have them practice riding in the carrier in the car (I've already gotten them used to the carrier sitting with the door open in my living room; they like to take turns sleeping in it), which will hopefully reduce both the car and travel stress. But still. The litter box seems to be the one thing stumping me right now, because I had anticipated being able to fit one in the carrier with them. I might just try to plow through the 12 hour drive and with their limited food intake, maybe they won't need to use the restroom, but any additional feedback that any of you have will go a long way for me!

 

Again, thank so much for all of your help!

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First of all, congrats on your acceptance to all these great schools! And Yale! Fantastic! Secondly, we used to travel all the time with our kitty (she passed away a few years ago), and after she got settled in, we often let her out of the carrier and she slept and purred on my lap (my hubby was driving). She would only meow when we were about 15 minutes from our destination (after a 1,000 mile trip!), she somehow felt we were getting close. Of course, ABSOLUTELY do NOT open the car doors until kitty is in her harness or carrier (Or both!). And letting kitty out may not work for you, but for us, she loved it, and she was totally calm and zen. Which meant we loved it, too!

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FYI I just saw this thread on reddit today and thought it was informative for anyone who has to fly with pets too large for the cabin. The original thread is about a mishandled musical instrument, but it branched into a long discussion -- with experienced passengers and baggage handlers participating -- about why checking a pet as "cargo" is a better option than in "baggage."

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On the litter box:

 

When we made a 14-hour trip with our cats, we had all these great ideas about letting them out of the carrier so they could be more comfortable, etc.  They were terrified outside of the carrier -- one of them stood there, hair on end, panicking, and the other one immediately jumped down as low as she could and peed.  :unsure:  So, back in the carrier they went!  They were much happier there.  We stopped once or twice for litterbox and water.  They both had collars on, but it still made me really nervous, so I set up the travel litterbox (get a short box with a lid!) inside the car, then let them out to use it with the car doors shut (reaching over the back seat).  They didn't use it at all -- they had already peed on the car floor and in the carrier.  :(   If you use this method, I recommend laying out some old blankets or towels in the back seat to protect the seats.  For the second day (and the trip home), we stopped only once for the litterbox -- they still didn't use it.

 

For calming (because ours really needed it), we used tryptophan-laced treats recommended by the vet and bought at PetSmart.  That seemed to help -- they could at least calm down enough to nap.

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I roadtripped from Kansas to Alaska with three cats many, many moons ago. We let them roam the vehicle while we drove. We stopped every few hours and let them outside on harnesses and leashes (betrayal on a cat's face is way harsh). We put litter in disposable pan liners in a cardboard box so they had the opportunity to use it every stop, and we didn't have to clean the litter. Overall, they enjoyed the trip.

 

Keep the cat in a carrier. It's safer for you and the cat. Take the cat on a few trips in town so it'll get used to the sound and scent of the vehicle, and won't assume it's a trip to the vet. Use a leash and harness so the cat can get out and stretch its legs during the trip. Since it's a 12 hour trip, withhold food, unless the cat has a condition, but not water. Make frequent stops so both of you can stretch!

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On the litter box:

 

When we made a 14-hour trip with our cats, we had all these great ideas about letting them out of the carrier so they could be more comfortable, etc.  They were terrified outside of the carrier -- one of them stood there, hair on end, panicking, and the other one immediately jumped down as low as she could and peed.  :unsure:  So, back in the carrier they went!  They were much happier there.  We stopped once or twice for litterbox and water.  They both had collars on, but it still made me really nervous, so I set up the travel litterbox (get a short box with a lid!) inside the car, then let them out to use it with the car doors shut (reaching over the back seat).  They didn't use it at all -- they had already peed on the car floor and in the carrier.  :(   If you use this method, I recommend laying out some old blankets or towels in the back seat to protect the seats.  For the second day (and the trip home), we stopped only once for the litterbox -- they still didn't use it.

 

For calming (because ours really needed it), we used tryptophan-laced treats recommended by the vet and bought at PetSmart.  That seemed to help -- they could at least calm down enough to nap.

 

 

I roadtripped from Kansas to Alaska with three cats many, many moons ago. We let them roam the vehicle while we drove. We stopped every few hours and let them outside on harnesses and leashes (betrayal on a cat's face is way harsh). We put litter in disposable pan liners in a cardboard box so they had the opportunity to use it every stop, and we didn't have to clean the litter. Overall, they enjoyed the trip.

 

Keep the cat in a carrier. It's safer for you and the cat. Take the cat on a few trips in town so it'll get used to the sound and scent of the vehicle, and won't assume it's a trip to the vet. Use a leash and harness so the cat can get out and stretch its legs during the trip. Since it's a 12 hour trip, withhold food, unless the cat has a condition, but not water. Make frequent stops so both of you can stretch!

 

This is great, thank you! I'm planning to allow my cats to become acclimated to traveling in the car by taking them on a few relatively short trips before the big move. I'm hoping that through this process, litterbox concerns will work themselves out, but I also wanted to crowd source for ideas from those of you who have been through this before. So thank you all for your suggestions! I also intend to call the vet and let them know that I do plan on moving and ask for their advice for what to do for cats that experience anxiety. My male cat has some history of reactions to vaccinations, so I hope that what is recommended for anxiety won't cause him any problems, because that would be AWFUL. We'll see how it turns out.

 

Anyway, thanks again for all of your help! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all of this preparation pays off. :)

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I had to make a 10 hour trip with cats when I moved for my PhD program. I agree with all the advice above: take short practice trips, don't give food or drink before leaving, line carriers with towels, toys so they have a familiar scent around them.  The best thing that I did was invest in Feliway hormone collars and sprays so that they wouldn't be so rattled by the move and the drive. I also bought some of the Feliway pull ins and started using them the month before and after the move.  One of my cats has anxiety issues and will pull her hair out when to many things change in her in environment. I had no problems with her overgrooming during the moving process and I attribute that to the hormones.

Edited by DeeLovely79
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