Pet Travel. Made Easy.

Tips and Tricks for Road Tripping with Cats

When we adopted our first cat, Fish, we knew that we wanted to include him in our travels. Road tripping with our cat sounded like more fun than paying pet sitters and worrying while we were away. So, right from the beginning, Fish started traveling with us. We’ve learned a lot, and we’re happy to share our tips and tricks for traveling with your cats!

Woman and a cat on a bed in the back of a vehicle

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Traveling With Cats

The most important piece of advice when traveling with cats is to plan ahead. This doesn’t mean that you need to nail down every aspect of your trip – we rarely do. But it works best to have some ideas about where you’ll stay and the things you’ll do along the way.

Tips and Trick for Road Tripping With Cats |

Planning Where to Stay

For us, there are four main options when considering where to stay: tent, car camping, trailer, or hotel. Each of these options comes with its own obstacles when road tripping with cats.

If you’re planning to sleep only in a tent or your car, consider that you’ll be limited to activities that include your cat. When we’re traveling in our car, we often book one or two nights in a hotel along the way. This allows us to leave the cats safely while we do some shopping, eat out, or see a movie.

However, staying in a hotel with a cat brings its own challenges. In some places it can be difficult to find cat friendly accommodations. And when you find them, they often charge additional pet fees. Also, some hotels do not allow pets to be left alone in the room. So, be sure to verify pet policies before making your reservations.

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Another option is to buy or rent a small travel trailer to tow along on your adventures. Although it’s less convenient when driving around cities, the cats are super comfortable in ours. Once we’re set up, it feels like home. And campgrounds that welcome cats are relatively easy to find and rarely charge a pet fee.


Car Comfort and Safety

The safest way for your cat to travel is using a crash-tested, secured carrier. Choose the right pet carrier and make sure your cat is acclimated before you leave, and it can double a his bed while you’re traveling.

Fish and Chips have been taking long car rides since kittenhood, so they’re both relaxed in the car. However, Chips does get motion sickness on winding roads. We’ve found that raising his bed to the height of the windows so he can look out helps.

When we’re planning to sleep in the car, we take the extra precaution of covering our stuff with a blanket that’s easy to wipe off. That way, if Chips gets car sick or they get something yucky on their paws, it’s easily cleaned. 

Pack the Right Gear

Road tripping with your cats means you’ll need to pack some additional items. We use a compact litter box that stays in our car, with a litter scoop and scented waste bags. You don’t need a litter box in your car, but if you travel with your cats frequently, it’s more convenient.

Pet wipes are also key. You can use baby wipes, but I don’t like the scent, so we purchase wipes made specifically for pets. They are super gentle and have a lovely coconut smell. They’re great for cleaning up all kinds of messes.

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Having a cat travel bag packed with Fish and Chip’s gear means we’re ready to go whenever the mood strikes. Our bag has collapsible food and water bowls, extra leashes, cat jackets, wipes, treats, and dehydrated cat food. It’s also a good idea to bring nail clippers if you’re traveling for more than a few days. Keeping our cats’ nails trimmed means we don’t have sharp claws digging into our shoulders on hikes!

Finally, you should be sure to put a copy of your cat’s vaccination records in your travel bag. If you’d need a veterinarian, or decide to use a daycare or boarding facility, it’s necessary to show that your cat is up to date on his shots.


Respect Your Cat’s Limits

Before road tripping with cats, it’s imperative to understand what they’re comfortable doing. Fish and Chips have been traveling for almost two years and see the car like an extension of our home.

If your cat has only ever ridden to the vet, you’ll have some work to do before embarking on a road trip. Begin by acclimating your cat to a harness and leash. Then start taking short drives to fun places, like the park. Keep building up the length of your trips until your cat is comfortable no matter the distance. Finally, practice sleeping in the car or a tent in your backyard. Being patient with your cat while he gets used to these new behaviors will save you sleepless nights on the road.

Keep Them Cool

The final thing to stress is never leave your cat in the car on a hot day. This is why planning ahead is so important. If you book an activity that doesn’t allow you to bring him along, you’ll need to find a pet sitter or kitty daycare where they can stay comfortably.

Even grocery shopping needs to be done around the cats. We run those errands in the evening when it’s cooler, or one of us stays in the car with the cats.

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If you’re not prepared to make a few sacrifices along the way, it’s probably a better idea to leave your cat at home. However, we find traveling with cats is much more enjoyable and increases our bond. Hopefully this article helps you enjoy adventures on the road with your feline friend, too!


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  • Karen says:

    This was a great article I appreciate your candor, we’re moving from California to Canada with our cat we’ve had for over 11 years she’s a wonderful calico sweet personality lovable and mellow….. I really took note when you spoke about respecting the cats limits…. we leave for a road trip in about two months, so I’m gonna start introducing the leash and taking her for drives until she’s comfortable and ready for the journey. We think the drive will take about six days traveling about eight hours a day.
    I welcome any more tips….

  • NormanWilkes says:

    That sounds interesting! Thanks for sharing your tips.

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