How to Move Long Distance with Cats #moving #travel #cats #movingwithcats #travelwithcats

Moving Long Distance with Cats is Easier than You Think

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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.

How to Move Long Distance in a Car with Cats

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 cats long distance can seem daunting to many people. 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 tell you how to move with a cat long distance.

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.

How to Move Long Distance with Cats #moving #travel #cats #movingwithcats #travelwithcats

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 sturdy carrier such as a hard plastic cat carrier. They will give your cat more protection and room.

How to Move Long Distance with Cats #moving #travel #cats #movingwithcats #travelwithcats

When to feed your cat while traveling

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.

Do you need to stop for litter box breaks?

Like feeding, you may want to stop and see if your 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. To be safe, we put puppy pads in the bottom of the carrier.

What kind of litter box to use while traveling with cats

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. A disposable litter box is an easy option as they are lightweight and easy to transport.

If you would prefer the plastic litter box route, 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 didn’t work well for us. 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.

How to Move Long Distance with Cats #moving #travel #cats #movingwithcats #travelwithcats

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.


Best Western

Clarion Hotel

Comfort Inn & Suites

Country Inn & Suites

Courtyard by Marriott

Days Inn

Drury Inn


Embassy Suites

Extended Stay America

Holiday Inn Express

Howard Johnson

Hyatt Place


Motel 6

Red Roof Inn

Residence Inn

Sleep Inn

Staybridge Suites

Super 8

Quality 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.

Safe travels!

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Last update on 2021-07-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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  1. Brandon Bocock says:

    so I have two issues. we got the two cats at the local animal shelter about a year ago well my girl friend left me and only wants to take her cat, that leaves me with my cat and I say this is because our cats are weird and have personally chosen there human. laugh if you want but that what I am stuck with. I have had to take these cats to the vet and they cant even stand that car ride the meow and growl the whole time well I am about to move to Idaho from Georgia and I am driving the whole way there. SO I am in need of any and all advice any one may have to give. my biggest worry is with them two getting separated and how he will react. I don’t want to separate them but I have no choice. this is all happening at the end of the month.

  2. My cat is a rescue cat which has taken months to calm down!!! Shes on prozac now which has stopped her from biting her fur off!!. I will be talking to my Vet but wondered if you had any ideas too!

    1. I think a visit to the vet is your best bet. With one of our cats, sedating him was the best situation for him because he is a very nervous and high-strung cat while the other is more relaxed and didn’t need sedation. It’s not the right choice for every owner and every cat but it may be something worth discussing with your vet.

  3. Moving 14 hours away with eleven cats within the next year. Very nervous about the logistics!

    1. Janice Warden Bergeron says:

      I would love to hear how you made out if you’ve already moved. We’re moving with 7 cats 14 hours away.

      1. Hi Janice,

        I wrote this post after moving across the country with both of my cats and everything worked out wonderfully. We didn’t have any accidents in the car or lost cats, so that’s the biggest win of all.

        The hardest part was one hotel that said they were pet-friendly, but when we arrived, they decided that cats weren’t the pets they meant and we had to scramble to find another hotel. All of the others along the way were fantastic but check with each hotel that they will accept cats before booking the room even if they say they are pet-friendly.

  4. Wow, you make it seem so easy. My cat is the most terrified poor thing on earth. We have owned her since she was 6 weeks old and she never got brave. She doesn’t come out if people come over but is super affectionate to my son and I She is now 13 and we want to move to Colorado from NJ

    1. Hi LeeAnn,

      We moved our cats (6 and 8 at the time) from Colorado to Massachusetts. One of my cats (the white one in the photos) is kind of a strange bird. He’s a bit high strung and fussy, but he did fine. With older cats it might be a little tricky, but your vet should be able to give you some good ideas for your particular cat. Good luck!

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