During this past month, I successfully went through a 12-hour move with my kitten, who is prone to motion sickness (so this also applies to those of you who are going through the same thing!), so I’m sharing some of the steps I took to try and make this ride more comfortable for my cat.
– Invest $10 in a calming collar. The first time I saw one of these, I laughed. What does a cat have to be stressed about? They get their food and water handed to them, they get cleaned up after, and they get to lay around and sleep all day. Then as soon as I found out about the move, I took a second glance at the collar, and it said it was helpful for car trips, a new home, and meeting new animals (my kitten has gone through all three of those since he got the collar), so I bought it. It doesn’t do much inside of the home, during your kitty’s normal day-to-day life, but once he got in the car, he slept the entire time. I was impressed, considering every other ride I had taken him on, he freaked.
– Don’t fiddle with the litter. Whenever I was trying to get my kitty used to riding in the car, I tried to put a small box of litter inside of his cat box so that he could “go.” Sometime during the trip, he would usually decide to throw a fit, and throw filth and litter everywhere. So instead, stock up on plenty of newspaper (I used pages out of a phone book) and dirty old towels (so that you can throw them away). Line the cat box with the newspaper, and then lay a towel over top of it so that your cat can still be comfortable. Whenever you stop, check the box, and if it needs to be changed, you can just throw it in the trash and replace it. Be careful though, because some cats (mine included) will try to hold their urine in, which can cause bacterial infections, so you could sprinkle a little bit of litter over the towel to let your cat know it’s okay to use the bathroom there.
– Get a leash. Some people would say that it’s cruel to put a cat on a leash, but it really isn’t – once they get used to it. I paid about $4 for a “small dog” leash from Wal-Mart, and before the move, I would put my cat on it every now and then and take him outside and let him explore. Also, I tied him up every night on it (so I could have heat in my room while keeping him out of trouble), which also helped – but that one is up to you. Either way, the leash will be helpful so that when you stop, you can let your cat out so that he can pee in the grass – which may save you one towel, if your cat feels comfortable with peeing outside. If nothing else, with the leash, you can let your cat out of his box to stretch at rest stops.
– If you have a leash, you can tie it to the passenger-side or back seatbelt and let your cat enjoy the ride in comfort. I wouldn’t advise this though unless you have someone in the car with you – because if your cat manages to get off of the leash, you do NOT want him under the pedals. Sometimes this can make a cat more comfortable though, but if your cat is prone to motion sickness, I wouldn’t do this at all – watching the world go by can make a feline feel a bit woozy.
– Put a toy or two in the cat box. If you have an extremely active cat, this one is to help keep them entertained. I did this for my trip, and my cat didn’t play with them at all, so this one depends on your cat.
– Don’t feed your cat the day of your trip! This one is for those motion sick kitties. I only feed my cat once a day, in the morning, and I just didn’t feed him the day of the trip. If you feed your cat more than once a day, and one of those sessions is late in the day, I’d skip that one and breakfast the morning of the move. He may meow at you, because he’s hungry, but unless you want to clean up kitty puke every time you stop, I would skip the meals. Don’t worry though, you’re not going to torture your cat by making him starve! I took a small zip-loc bag of food, and I gave him a little bit before we left, and a little bit at each stop. What you’re aiming for here is to give him enough to stop those hunger pains, but little enough to keep it from coming back up. After we had been riding for a while and my cat had gotten used to watching the world go by, he was able to eat a little bit extra without getting sick, so it’s up to you whether or not you’d be willing to try that.
– I wouldn’t bother with the water.I’m not telling you to dehydrate your cat, because that would be cruel. I’m just saying not to try to keep a water bowl in his kitty box, because it will slosh around and make a huge mess. Keep a small bowl and a bottle of water in your car, so that every time you stop you can pour some water in the bowl and let your cat drink. Also, this helps to fill him up and keep him from complaining about being hungry.
– Put a seat belt around the cat box. My poor cat had a bad experience with this – I had gone over to a friend’s house, and we were heading back home (and I didn’t have the seat belt around his box). Well, a deer jumped out in front of my car (don’t worry, I didn’t hit it), and I slammed on my brakes, and my poor kitty’s box lurched forward. It made him sick, and it was easy to tell that he didn’t feel good for the rest of the trip. So for safe measure, use the seat belt.
– Try to drive a bit easier than usual. This one should be fairly obvious, but I’m still putting it in here for good measure. Your poor kitty can’t handle as much back and forth as you can, so try to slow it down a bit, for his sake.
Taking a long trip with your cat can be a lot easier than one would expect – I expected my cat to cry and whine the entire trip, but instead he slept the whole way – so don’t automatically leave kitty out of travelling time! Safe travels, and good luck!