Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Cats > 13 Essentials for a Road Trip With Cats: Our 2024 Vet-Reviewed Guide

13 Essentials for a Road Trip With Cats: Our 2024 Vet-Reviewed Guide

Essential Supplies For Road Tripping with Cats

A ride in the car is an exciting and fun adventure for many pets. Cats typically aren’t too fond of spending any time in a vehicle, so cat owners often resign themselves to a life without road tripping with their kitties. While it is admittedly harder to train a cat to be okay with car rides than a dog, with the right equipment and a lot of patience, you and your cat could be hitting the road sooner than later.

Keep reading to find eight essentials you need to pack if you’ll be road tripping with your cat and tips on getting your cat used to the idea of car travel.


The 13 Essentials for a Road Trip With Cats


1. Travel Bowls

Prima Pets Collapsible Travel Bowl with Carabiner

You should be prepared to offer your pet both food and water periodically throughout the road trip. They may be too stressed to eat or drink, but you wouldn’t go all day without fueling yourself, so you shouldn’t expect your cat to, either.

The best travel bowls are collapsible, so they take up the least amount of space possible. We love the Prima Pets bowls as they’re affordable, space-saving, and convenient. Plus, they come in cute colors and two size options, so you can customize them to your needs.



2. Large Travel Carrier

SP Dog & Cat Car Seat Crate

While it may be okay for dogs to roam free in a vehicle on a road trip, the same rule does not apply to cats. Not only will an unrestrained kitty become a distraction for you if it were to climb on you or hide under your pedals, but it can also become a projectile in the event of an accident or sudden stop.

The safest place for your kitty in a vehicle is in a secured travel carrier.

We really like the Sport Cat Car Seat Crate as it’s both secure, cozy, and breathable. It attaches to your vehicle’s seat via seat belt loops and is spacious enough for a small litter box and travel bowls.

We recommend getting your cat used to its travel carrier well before your departure date. Make the carrier a part of their environment in the weeks leading up to your road trip. Let them sniff it, rub their scent on it, and even sleep in it. You can also spray the carrier with pheromones to help them form a positive association with it (see more below).

3. Litter Box

cat stepping out of Nature's Miracle Disposable Cat Litter Box

While cats are fantastic at holding the urge to urinate, you don’t want to risk accidents. The last thing you want is to have to smell cat pee for the duration of your trip. Packing a small litter box can help prevent accidents and allow them the opportunity to relieve themselves when nature calls.

A disposable litter box is a fantastic option as you can simply toss it once you arrive at your destination. We love Nature’s Miracle Disposable Cat Litter Box as they’re made with baking soda to provide extra protection against odors. In addition, their eco-friendly material is easy on the environment and convenient to dispose of.

Bring along a supply of cat litter that your pet is used to. Don’t forget the litter scoop and bags to dispose of soiled litter.


Calming Treats

4. Pheromone Spray

Feliway Classic Calming Spray for Cats

Pheromone spray is a drug-free solution that can help reduce the signs of anxiety and stress in your cats. It mimics a mother cat’s natural pheromones, which can promote calmness. A few sprays of the solution in the carrier or on a towel or mat you’re placing in the carrier can go a long way. Spritz the area around 15 to 30 minutes before putting your cat in the vehicle to prevent irritating their nasal passage

There are several pheromone sprays on the market, but we really like the Feliway Classic Calming Spray. It’s vet recommended and can even be used throughout your home if your kitty is on the anxious side.

5. Calming Aids

Pet Naturals Calming Dog & Cat Chews

While pheromone sprays work great for calming, you might want back-ups in your arsenal just in case it doesn’t work as expected on your pet.

Calming aids like chews are a tasty way to help your cat relax. Pet Naturals’ Calming Cat Chews are boosted with vitamin B and L-theanine to promote a relaxing effect without causing drowsiness or changing your cat’s personality.

Homeopathic remedies such as Rescue Remedy’s supplement are an option preferred by some. This product provides natural stress relief and is often recommended to help calm dogs and cats during stressful situations.

A ThunderShirt is another viable anxiety-reducing option. This garment is designed to apply constant pressure to your pet to produce feelings of relaxation and calmness. The gentle hugging sensation is similar to what humans experience using weighted blankets, which studies show can reduce anxiety.



6. Scratcher

Catit Scratcher with catnip

Cats not only love to scratch, but they need to scratch, too. They do it for various reasons, including expressing emotion, scent marking, stretching, and giving themselves a DIY manicure. Bring one along if you don’t want the area where you’ll be staying on your road trip to become a scratching post.

This small and affordable scratcher from Catit is compact enough to fit your vehicle easily. It will give your cat a healthy place to scratch so they won’t destroy furniture or carpets in hotel rooms. Catit also includes a catnip spray to get your cat interested in the scratcher.

7. Comfort Items from Home

a cat playing with toys
Image Credit: winni-design, Shutterstock

Cats are very sensory creatures that use their scent to enrich their environment. They have scent glands throughout their bodies, such as on their heads and even in their paws. You might have seen your cat scratching at your furniture or rubbing its head onto your leg as this is its way of scent-marking its territory.

Bringing your cat into an environment they’ve never been in, like your car, can make them very uncomfortable as they cannot smell any of those familiar scents they’re so accustomed to. That’s why we recommend bringing along some of your cat’s creature comforts from home. Whether it be some of their favorite toys, a blanket they like to sleep on, or even one of their pet beds, make sure you bring some things that will remind them of home.

We also recommend bringing along some of your cat’s favorite treats to use as rewards.



8. Collar, Leash & Name Tag

Comfort Soft Mesh Cat Harness

Cats can be slippery little critters, especially when they’re afraid. The last thing you want is to have your kitty slip out of your arms as you transport them to and from your vehicle. A collar and leash will help you keep a hold on them, and the name tag will provide peace of mind if they get loose.

Comfort Soft’s mesh harness and leash are an affordable and comfortable option for cats. It’s lightweight, breathable, and simple to put on and take off.

Frisco’s stainless steel personalized cat ID tag is an adorable and budget-friendly way to ensure your kitty can be identified if they were to run away on your trip. You can customize the tag with four lines of text of your choosing, but we recommend including your address, phone number, and your cat’s name.

9. Hepper Litter Additive

Hepper Litter Additive

Any cat owner knows how unpleasant a litter box can smell. Since you’ll be spending a lot of time in a car, it’s important to pack litter box deodorizers to keep odors at bay.

The Hepper Litter Additive comes in a small, travel-friendly container and can be used on all types of cat litter. All you have to do is dust the recommended amount over your cat’s litter and leave it to do its work. The formula doesn’t rely on any fragrances to mask odors. Instead, it’s made with 100% biodegradable enzymes that break down and eliminate odors for good. You can also sprinkle it on other items that attract and contain odors, including trash cans and diaper pails.

At Pet Keen, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

10. Hepper Wash Wipes

Hepper Wash Wipes

You never know if your adventurous cat will step into mud or other messes while exploring. It can be difficult giving your cat a bath while on a road trip, and your next best option is wash wipes. Wash wipes are soaked in formulas that help remove dirt and debris from your cat’s coat and are a very effective alternative to baths when on the road.

We recommend Hepper Wash Wipes because of their powerful yet gentle formula. The formula contains natural and hypoallergenic ingredients that work to lift dirt from your cat’s coat while eliminating odors. It has a refreshing aloe and cucumber scent that isn’t too overpowering and irritating to cats.

The wipes are made with soft and durable material that won’t break or tear easily. They’re also designed to effectively trap dirt so that you’re not left wiping down your cat multiple times and using numerous wipes to get your cat clean.

At Pet Keen, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

11. Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray

Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray

It’s wise to prepare for accidents and slip-ups when going on road trips with cats. Your cat may miss their litter box or throw up from motion sickness. Having a reliable pet stain and odor remover will help your car remain fresh and clean after an accident.

The Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Remover has a powerful stain-removing formula that’s specifically designed for breaking down pet stains and odors. It can be used to remove urine, vomit, drool, and other messes your cat may leave behind. It contains active bio-enzymes that work to break down stains and completely lift them off surfaces. Rather than masking odors with an artificial fragrance, this stain remover has deodorizing agents that remove odors and prevent them from getting trapped in your car.

At Pet Keen, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

12. Hepper Whale Plush Toy

Hepper Whale Plush Toy

Make sure to pack some toys for your road trip because they can be both a source of comfort and entertainment for cats. Fun toys will keep your cat engaged and mentally stimulated while you’re driving in the car.

The Hepper Whale Plush Toy is an excellent road trip toy for several reasons. It’s made with soft and plush material that’s easy to grip and kick. Your cat can also snuggle with it when they’re done playing. For added fun, sprinkle some catnip in between the grooves of the toy. The toy is machine-washable, so you can clean it easily and let your cat play with a clean and fresh toy throughout your entire road trip.

At Pet Keen, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

13. Hepper Breakaway Cat Collar

Hepper Breakaway Cat Collar

When traveling, it’s important to have a durable and secure collar for your cat. Collars provide additional security to microchipping as they provide an easier way for people to identify your cat. If there’s a situation where your cat gets lost, a collar will clearly identify that your cat is a pet, not a stray. It can also help people contact you more quickly.

The Hepper Breakaway Cat Collar is made to be durable and comfortable for your cat. It’s made with 100% natural hemp webbing that can take on a significant amount of wear and tear. It’s adjustable and comes with metal slip locks to ensure the perfect fit. The quick-release buckle will help you get your cat out of a tricky situation easily should the collar get caught on something while exploring. It also has a bell to help you quickly find your cat and know where they are at all times.

At Pet Keen, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!


Will My Cat Get Carsick?

Your cat may experience motion sickness during your road trip. This may be caused by stress, anxiety, or even your cat’s inner ear which regulates equilibrium and balance.

Symptoms of motion sickness include:
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive meowing
  • Lethargy
  • Pacing
  • Restlessness

You can prevent motion sickness by desensitizing your cat to car travel.

How Can I Desensitize My Cat to Road Trips?

First, you’ll need to make your cat comfortable with its travel carrier. As mentioned above, place the carrier in your cat’s environment before leaving for your trip. Leave treats or food inside to encourage them to enter and explore it. Use a calming spray in the carrier while training them to help reduce stress.

Once your cat is comfortable with its carrier, you can begin desensitizing them to your car. Put them in their carrier and place them in your vehicle with the motor running for several minutes. The next day, try reversing out of your driveway and returning. The next day, repeat the process but drive around the block. Be sure to offer lots of praise and treats once you’re back inside your home.

Try taking a few short trips in the car with your pet before you embark on your road trip.


Final Thoughts

While cats and road trips don’t always mix, sometimes you have no other choice. If you pack the above eight items in your vehicle, you and your kitty are much more likely to be able to endure (and may even enjoy) the trip.

If you have time before your departure date, we recommend taking a few weeks to desensitize your cat before putting them through a long drive. It could surprise you by not minding the trip at all. You might have an adventure cat on your hands and not even know it!

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Paweł, Pixabay

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets