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Say you’ve got a case of wanderlust or have gotten a great new job in a brand new state. Exciting! You start looking for a new home in your new state and hire movers or rent a U-Haul, but you also have a cat or two. Now what do you do? Moving long distance with cats sounds like a nightmare! Your cat throws a fit just going a few blocks in the car on the way to the vet; there’s no way they will handle hundreds or even thousands of miles in a car.
Or will they?
One of the biggest reasons people give for surrendering their cat to a shelter is that they’re moving, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Moving, even moving long distance with cats seems daunting. How often do they need to eat? How is my cat going to use the litter box? Where can I stay with my cat?
Don’t fear. I’m here to help.
At the end of July my family, including our two cats, moved from Colorado to Massachusetts. Yes, 1900 miles over five days with two adults, two kids, and two cats. Trying to figure out the logistics of it all was making my head spin!
But guess what? The anticipation was far worse than reality and our two cats, Orion and Pete, were traveling champions! Here’s what we did to make the long trip easier.
VISIT THE VET
Before you head off to your new destination I would recommend a visit to your vet. Your vet could have some helpful tips for moving long distance with cats and they can also prescribe some sedatives if you think your cat may need them. There are pros and cons to using sedatives so discuss it with your vet and come to the decision that works best for your cat. You know him or her best.
USE A CAT CARRIER
It may seem easier or more kind to let your cat stretch and roam freely in the car, but it’s best to keep them contained in an appropriate cat carrier. This way the cat won’t be injured in the event of an accident, escape from the car, relieve themselves in the car, get stuck under a car seat or worse, at the driver’s feet.
In a carrier, your cat will likely shut down and either relax or sleep most of the way. I highly recommend using a hard plastic cat carrier over a soft one. They will give your cat more protection and room.
TO FEED OR NOT TO FEED
If you’d like, you can stop and feed the cats along the way; we chose not to. One, we wanted to avoid any accidents in the carrier and two, we have a cat who vomits.
Instead, we free fed them in the hotel so they ate in the morning and evening and that was fine for them. They didn’t seem too hungry when we stopped for the night.
Like feeding, you may want to stop and see if kitty needs to use the litter box. In our case, our cats didn’t relieve themselves at all during the six to eight hours we were in the car. Just to be safe, we put puppy pads in the bottom of the carrier.
I recommend getting a small litter box to bring with you that will fit easily in the car and in a hotel room if necessary. I do not recommend a sifting litter box. We bought one thinking it would be easier, but it was a nightmare and hard to clean. The clumping litter got stuck in holes in the bottom and it was just no bueno. If we ever do this again we will get a plain litter box and bring a small cat litter scoop with us.
To transport the litter box we left the cleaned out litter in the box and wrapped the whole thing up in a garbage bag. We also used the garbage bag as a makeshift litter mat under the box while in the hotel room. This cut down on litter mess in the room and made transport easier and cleaner.
HOTELS THAT ALLOW CATS
The following common hotel chains are pet-friendly and will allow you to stay there with your cat. You may also have success with higher end individual hotels. Some may charge an extra fee per cat per night, but not all of them do.
Comfort Inn & Suites
Country Inn & Suites
Courtyard by Marriott
Extended Stay America
Holiday Inn Express
Red Roof Inn
Call ahead to verify that that particular hotel will accept your pet. There were a couple that said they were pet-friendly, but that particular hotel didn’t honor the policy. We also had one hotel say they only accepted dogs and we couldn’t stay with our cats once we arrived after we’d already verified they were pet-friendly and booked our room. For the most part, though, most pet-friendly hotel chains we tried did accept our cats.
As you can now see, traveling with cats is easier than it may seem. As long as you’re prepared with plenty of food and litter, your kitty will likely be a good little traveling companion.