The Survival Guide to Traveling Cross-Country With Your Cats

Cat in Carrier
Want to travel with your cat? Get him used to his carrier first, then see how he does with short trips.

When we got our first two kittens, it never occurred to us that they might not enjoy going for car rides. We taught them to ride in a car by taking them to drive-through restaurants or to the drive-up teller at the bank. Their early training came in handy when we moved from Oklahoma to Arizona — they settled right in to the cab of our U-Haul truck and seemed to enjoy the two-day drive.

Moving cross-country with a cat may seem daunting, but lots of people do it and survive to tell the tale. But what about people who are on the road all the time — with their cats? Truckers and RVers often find cats to be purr-fect traveling companions. They’re clean and quiet (usually) and have been known to alert their human companions to weather changes or warn them of trouble. One trucker recalls his cat waking him in the middle of the night and discovering thieves making off with his hubcaps.

An adventurous cat is the best choice for an on-the-road-again lifestyle, but just about any cat can adapt to life on wheels. You may even find that your cat enjoys it more than snoozing on your sofa. Start slowly by first getting him comfortable with being in his carrier, then taking brief trips to accustom him to his new surroundings and see how he adjusts.

If you’ve ever thought of taking your tabby on the road, here are some tips to get you started.

Safety First

It’s not unusual to hear of cats who ride curled up on the dashboard or in the rear window area of a car or who have free run of the vehicle. It might seem cute to let your kitty stretch out in the sunshine, but it’s just not safe for the cat — or the passengers. If you had to stop suddenly or were in an accident, your cat could wind up airborne and be seriously injured or killed as a result, or he could seriously injure you. He can also pose a distraction to the driver if he's roaming free while you're out on the highway.

Instead, have your kitty ride in a hard-sided crate lined with a comfy bed. If you think he would prefer to watch the road roll by, set up a pet booster seat with an attachment to keep the crate safely restrained while the vehicle is moving.


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