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 8 Essentials for a Road Trip With Cats
1. Travel Bowls
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
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
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.
4. Pheromone Spray
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
Featured Image Credit: Paweł, Pixabay