(Closed) Long Drive with Cat

posted 4 years ago in Pets
Post # 3
2379 posts
Buzzing bee

I’d talk to your vet to see what he/she recommends.

How does your cat act in the car for those 20 minutes? If she is uneasy maybe the vet can give you a sedative. 

I’d stay in a pet friendly hotel. I’m sure you’ll have an idea of when you’ll stop. Just call some hotels in the area and ask about their pet policy. 

Post # 4
1418 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 2013

Eee I don’t know…my cat vomits and poops on any car ride longer than like ten minutes so I just…wouldn’t take her on a longer ride haha. I’d say consider sedating her and take turns driving to drive through the night if possible honestly, it depends on the cat but most cats I know are beyond awful in cars….

Post # 5
9145 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

How does your cat react to car rides?  My cat didn’t mind so long as he was allowed to wander around the car; he was good and stayed away from the driver so this worked out well for us.  When we would go through the drive-thru with him in the car people would say it was so cool our cat liked riding in the car.  However, he did not like being put in a carrier and would freak if we put it anywhere near him.

If your cat can be calmly placed in the car and he is calm during the car ride then he should be fine.  We put the litter box in the car so he could go when he pleased (I drive a van so it wasn’t a problem; you might want to get a small litter box or improvise one.)  We also put a leash on him while transporting him to and from the car to keep him from getting lost.  We definitely just snuck him into the hotels since very few allowed cats.

If he freaks at the mere thought of a car ride or glimpse of the car (i.e. when he sees the carrier) then sedating him is a good idea.  No need to put him under unnecessary stress.

Post # 6
2379 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

Talk to your vet about sedation options if she has trouble for short trips.  Even if she doesn’t, it’s not a bad idea to have the option.  I did a 12 hour trip with my Vader, and he never stopped howling. I was literally crying after about hour 6, and hysterical after hour 10.  You’d think he’d have lost his voice, but no.  After that, we’ve gone the sedation route.  He’s happier and I’m sane.  My other cat LOVES the car.  He’d be thrilled to have the dog crate option, as long as he could look out the window. 

Get the pet friendly hotel.  The slight increase in cost is a LOT less than what they’ll penalize you if you sneak her in and they find evidence of it later. 

Post # 7
473 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

Also bring ear plugs!  I live 10 minutes from the vet and both my cats yowl. The younger one shits himself.  Yay.

Post # 8
3176 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

I took my cat for 18 hours once, he’d also been on a plane before. I sedated him for the plane ride which was the worst decision ever. The car ride happened afterward, he was fussy at first but settled in after a good bit of time. I had a little bit of food and a “litter”area but he didn’t touch either. I didn’t keep him in a crate because he hates his crate. The only time he seemed irritated was if I opened a window – he would do that howling meow.

Post # 9
18615 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

I drove my cat from Colorado to Alabama. We stopped two nights. We kept her in a large crate with water and a pillow. She didn’t go to the bathroom the entire day and cried most of the way so I had to pet her almost the whole time. We had to hole up small areas in the hotel room so she wouldn’t hide and get stuck over night.

My vet wouldn’t give me drugs to help her sleep even though I told them she freaks out on short trips just to the vet. Oh well.

Post # 10
1408 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

ok my cats may be really weird but they LOVED car rides. The one time we moved i put them in those kitty bags and they were whining the whole way until we stopped at a gas station and let them out and they just sat on the floor boards of the car the whole time. They seem to enjoy that. If you let them out in the car, (that is if you have the room) you can put the litter box on the floor and they can use it when they need to, but i think this will only work if they are not skiddish. They will probably be sleeping 80 percent of the time anyway. 

Post # 11
1418 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 2013

Oh and my cat definitely HATES crates…we don’t even own one anymore. The only chance we ever have of her being at all calm is we wrap her up in a blanket and hold her. If she doesn’t vomit or sh*t everywhere, she will fall asleep eventually, lol.

Post # 12
1408 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

@BookishBelle:  lol this reminds me of when i first got my cat, the only way i could get him in the car at first is if i swaddled him in a blanket, then the purring would start. 

Post # 13
472 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

@luluvohn:  Once a year we take our cats on a ten-hour trip for a stay with my relatives. Then back again ten hours.


It does worry the kitties at first, and they spend the first hour or two meowing, but they eventually curl up and fall asleep. They at least know what to expect now after doing it a few times.


We put them each in a carrier, and let them out to use the litter box and get food, water, and walk around the back of the car to stretch. We stop twice along the ten-hour route. I spend a little while turning around to talk calmly to them while FI drives. That helps them be a little less afraid.


As long as the temperature in the car is decent, your cat will be okay. I tried to give a liquid herbal sedative to the cats, but I couldn’t get them to eat the food I put it on.


When we have used a motel, we usually just sneak them in.


Post # 14
905 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

We take our cats on 6-hour trips several times a year when we go visit my parents.  The male couldn’t care less, and the female just yowls for the first 30 minutes or so and then goes sort of catatonic (pun intended).  We keep them in their crates until we get on the interstate, and we bring both of their beds so they have a familiar place to snuggle (we put one bed behind each seat; they like being close to the floor).  We used to keep a makeshift Tupperware litterbox on the floor behind one of our seats, but they never used it, so we just make sure to set their box up right away when we reach our destination.  It sounds like you’ll be in the car for a bit longer than us, though, so you might want to consider a box in the car.

One of the pet supply stores in our town sells over-the-counter cat relaxants under the brand name Feliway.  It’s a pheromone that mimics the feline facial pheromone, which helps them feel safe and secure.  Our vet always sprays a few squirts into our female’s crate when we bring her in, and it does calm her.  You can spray it in a crate, on a bed, on a blanket, etc.  Another option is called Rescue Remedy, which they need to ingest (drops).  I remember my mom giving this to one of our dogs during thunderstorms to help her chill out.

Post # 15
10454 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: February 2014

Growing up, my childhood cats were both awesome in the car. They would just pick a lap (usually my sister and I) and settle in for a nap. They traveled really often with us though. One of them always had to take a big smelly dump as soon as we got in the car though, but after that she was ok. 

My current cat has only taken about 4 car trips and he hates it more each time. The only thing that calms him down is if I literally hold him tightly for comfort. He likes to be held close to my chest with both arms and he meows at me if I don’t kiss his head often enough – yah, he’s super spoiled. We tried sedatives and we tried a carrier for him but neither worked. He nearly broke his teeth off trying to chew his way out of the carrier. 

Hopefully your trip goes better!!!

Post # 16
374 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Our cats hate car rides in their carriers (one hyperventilates and the other cries nonstop) so we were dreading our cross-country move two years ago.  The drive still seemed a better option than a flight, though, so we got sedatives from our vet and the following advice: 1. Test the sedatives while they’re at home first.  Apparently a small percentage of cats get “hopped up” on them and you don’t want to discover your guy is one of those during the car ride… and 2. When you get to the hotel, just let them hide if they need to.  Even go so far as to put the litter box and food under the bed if it’s needed.

We bought a canvas dog crate that we set up across the back of our car and put a small litter box, a cushion, and a wine box in that.  Our worries ended up being for nothing because they LOVED being in the car and traveling.  We only sedated them the first night and then felt that they didn’t need it.  They’d hop in the crate every morning and watch out the windows until they’d curl up together and fall asleep.  We think they weren’t as anxious because they could see and touch each other.  They loved the wine box – they’d either squish in there together or one would sit inside and the other would sit on top.  And they loved the hotels, too.  They explored every corner of every room, had some feod and water and then passed out.

Some additional tips:

Get your cat used to wearing a harness a couple weeks before.  It’s much easier to handle them if you have something extra to grab in case they shoot off.

Make sure to transfer them from a small carrier to the bigger crate with the car completely closed.  It’s quieter that way and then you don’t have to worry about them getting outside if they escape out of your hands.  It’s a bit of a pain to move around in a closed car but that’s better than the alternative.  The crate we got had zippers on the top and two sides so I was just about to kneel in the passenger seat backwards, open up the side zipper and slide the cat out of the carrier into the crate.  By day three, they were hopping in on their own.

Hotels.com has a pet-friendly option on their search and have a mobile app.  I’d suggest calling ahead to the hotel just to double-check if you’re making reservations on the road because we had one place that had ridiculous fees that we didn’t know about until we got there.

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