Traveling or Boarding Your Cat

The very first rule of traveling with your cat is to have an ID tag or other means of identification securely affixed to the kitty. Thousands of dogs and cats end up in shelters simply because the owners never dreamed the pet would get loose or become lost while on a trip. There are few disasters in a person’s life that are worse than having to drive off without a pet because all means of locating and recovery have failed. This kind of tragedy will haunt you for the rest of your life; don’t let it happen. Get an ID tag!

Before you leave make sure you consider the option of leaving your cat in a hometown boarding facility Many are just for cats and do not board dogs. Others have the cats well away from any sight, sound or smell of a canine. Visit the local boarding facility and see what goes on. Also there may be a Pet Sitter in your area who would tend your pets in your own home. With a Pet Sitter you can even call home and tell your cat how much fun you’re having… Oh, and also how much you miss the rascal.

In this section we’ll sample a few ideas that will help to facilitate a safe and enjoyable road trip. Make sure you know how your cat reacts to trips by taking a number of local short trips, then if you need to take an “all-dayer” you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. Any “all-dayer” is just a bunch of short trips anyway. So, before you set off on that cross country trip be sure that you are confident that you can predict how your pet will behave.


Vomit happens. Sometimes even humans get carsick. Most cats can overcome motion sickness through desensitizing them by repeat short, uneventful trips. Gradually accustom the cat to spending time in the car with the engine off, then with the engine on, then short trips, then the cross-country adventure. Prior to a trip be sure the cat has had food and water available, then remove food and water at least three hours before you set off. You can also use anti-motion sickness medications to help settle the stomach and prevent the sometimes prolific drooling that occurs in a nauseous cat. Most medications used to prevent motion sickness are very safe antihistamines and many cats eventually will travel without the aid of medical assistance. Just in case, bring a roll of paper towels.

Note: Motion sickness or hyperactivity? Here’s the difference… cats with motion sickness are generally quiet and even a little depressed because they feel awful. They will drool all over the place, maybe even pass stool, and eventually start vomiting. The forlorn howling you might hear reminds one of a dark, creepy Halloween night! Even with an empty stomach the vomiting reflex can be very strong. These cats will greatly benefit from anti-motion sickness medication if it is given long enough in advance of the trip to be working by the time you start the journey.

The cat that goes bonkers when in a vehicle demonstrates hyperactivity. These cats aren’t sick, they’re possessed! Salivating, panting, whining, jumping from front seat to back, swatting at non existent butterflies and trying to cling upside down to the roof of the car are common characteristics of the hyperactive feline traveler. If you must bring the hyperactive cat with you, medication to sedate the kitty will surely make the trip safer, easier and less stressful for both you and the cat.


The key to successful use of pretrip medication is to administer it well before the trip starts. Some cats start their Tae Bo routine as soon as they HEAR the word car! Be nonchalant, sneak a little medication in a treat, and don’t mention the c a r anywhere near the cat prior to your trip. If you believe your cat may be a candidate for medication, be sure to do a leisurely pretrip trial well ahead of the time you REALLY need it. About one cat out of ten will not respond in the common way to a particular medication or a particular dose. You do not want to find this out the morning of an eight-hour, midwinter trip through the Rockies to accept that national writing award you won for the article on “Logical Steps To Effective Planning”.


Yours should always be on the traffic, not on the cat!. If your traveling pal is a good traveler, it might curl up next to you on the seat and, ah… well, take a cat nap. (Sorry, had to say it.) Do not ever allow a pet to go near the driver side floor where the brake and gas pedals are located. And the dashboard must be out of bounds for safety sake.


These inventions are very handy. Your cat, if happy and comfortable in a crate, will be safer and you will have the peace of mind knowing it is secure when you must leave your friend alone for short periods. If you do use a crate, be certain that the cat is totally accustomed to it well prior to the trip. has an assortment of crates, leashes and other restraining devices that will add to the safety and enjoyment of traveling with your pet.


Plan ahead… well ahead. If you know you will be staying overnight somewhere, be sure to have reservations at an establishment that welcomes pets. A handy list of “Pet Friendly” motels/hotels can be found if you do a little searching. Don’t even think about it if you hope to hide your cat in your room or think you will launch a successful appeal to the motel owner’s sense of sympathy if you show up with an 25 pound Maine Coon!

And don`t forget to bring along some disposable “Scoop n Toss Bags”; you must be socially conscious about where your kitty chooses to relieve itself. Your portable litter box may not be the cat`s first choice. Be prepared!


It wouldn’t hurt to pamper your pal… bring along your cat’s own food and drinking water from home and you will be better off. Not that you’re fussy, right? And a few old towels or rags will make good cleanup devices if the cat happens to discover a mud puddle or contacts something nasty like spilled ice cream sundaes! Emergency first aid kits are very handy for you and the cat if a sudden cut, sliver or rash intrudes upon your day. Anti-itch medication, bandages, and antibiotic ointments may save the day when you least expect something will go wrong. It is a good idea to have your veterinarian give you a copy of the cat’s medical history to take with you just in case a visit to a veterinarian along the way becomes necessary.


Here’s a safety tip… Bring two leashes. That way you’ll have a spare when you misplace one. Cats are notorious for doing Houdini-like escapes from their collars. A harness is much more secure, especially the ones that will adjust according to the amount of tension placed against it. The harder a cat pulls the tighter and more secure the slip harness becomes. Travel crates human versions of dens, make great containment devices and many cats enjoy hiding out in them while traveling.


Leaving a pet alone in a car has a number of potential risks. Always be conscious of the effects of heat buildup in a parked car. It only takes a few minutes for the internal heat to build up forty degrees above the outside air temperature especially if direct sunlight bakes the car. Even the cat’s body heat (expired air in the cat’s breath is 102 degrees!) will act like a heater inside the car. Leaving windows open slightly at the top surely helps IF there is a breeze. Be very cautious about leaving pets unattended in parked cars. Heat stroke is a dire emergency and one from which many pets do not recover. And you`d be shocked to find out just how fast it can happen.


Don’t forget to bring along some fun toys and tasty treats… just so the kitty knows that this traveling stuff is really fun! Don’t forget the camera!