cat travel

Why should dogs have all the fun? Fido gets to go on walks. Fido enjoys rides in the car. And when you go out of a town for a few days, guess who comes along? Fido!

Meanwhile, Fluffy sits alone at home, doing her best Cinderella impersonation.

How did this become a thing? And who says cats can’t travel? Because the truth is that, while she sometimes pretends to be emotionally distant, Fluffy would be much happier tagging along with you and the family than cooped up alone at home.

Tips for bringing Fluffy along for the ride

There are a few things to keep in mind if you’re taking your cat with you on a car trip, even if it’s just a short trip to the park. Unlike most dogs, who can’t wait to get into a car, cats are likely to become a little stressed out at the thought.

Cats like routines. They enjoy the safety that home provides. So, you may have to start slowly — or at least keep in mind that the first time Fluffy goes for a car ride, she may view it as punishment. Here are a few tips that will help keep her happy and safe.

  • Make sure she’s comfortable. Carriers are a calming influence for cats; just make sure it’s big enough for her to move around in. And bring along her favorite toy, so she feels more at home.
  • Let her loose. It’s OK to let your cat out of her carrier. But make sure you’re parked first — at least until she becomes much more comfortable. And don’t force her to do anything; just open the carrier door, and let her decide.
  • Be careful with open car doors. Cats have been known to dart through open doors, so make sure Fluffy is leashed before any car doors open. And make sure she’s either microchipped or wearing an ID collar, just in case.
  • Potty time. When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go, and Fluffy is no different. Thankfully, they make disposable litter boxes now. It’s a convenient one-and-done option that you simply toss out at the next rest area.
  • Eating and drinking in the car. Your cat may be better off not eating till you’re done driving for the day, as they may get sick if eating mid-drive. But make sure you bring out her water bowl during stops. If she’s used to drinking from a fountain, this could be challenging. Check with your vet for options for traveling with a fountain-trained feline.
  • Proper documentation. All Feline Hospital in Lincoln, NE recommends bringing along your cat’s health certificate if crossing state lines. Apparently it’s a legal issue. And while this may feel a little East Berlin, circa 1980, better safe than sorry.
  • Getting a room. If stopping for the night, make sure Fluffy is welcome first.
  • Car sickness? Just like some people, cats have been known to get carsick. Luckily, your vet can likely prescribe some anti-nausea medication.

Getting your cat some outdoor time

Cats love the outdoors just as much as dogs. How else are they going to catch small birds and rodents in an effort to show off? And let’s be honest, some of them could stand to lose a few pounds, as cat obesity has become a real concern.

Whether you’re going for a short walk, a hike, or a weekend-camping trip, one thing to keep in mind is this: You can’t force a sedentary, indoor cat to be the ultimate outdoor companion. Knowing your cat is key.

It’s also a bad idea to take new cats or kittens on outdoor trips, as you haven’t had time to develop a proper bond first. That trust will be important. And lastly, leash experience will be crucial. A cat that’s constantly wiggling out of her collar, is a cat that could get into serious trouble. And not Hollywood-movie trouble.

Here are a few other tips to make your next outdoor adventure with Fluffy a memorable one — as in, good memories!

  • When in doubt, leash your cat. Even campgrounds that allow pets usually prefer them on leashes. Bonus points for getting a leash with lights. It can get pretty dark when you’re camping.
  • Outdoor experience. If taking your cat outside for the first time, a week-long camping trip to Yosemite would be a bad choice. Start off small: going into your backyard, visiting a local park, or taking a walk around your neighborhood. Then you can tackle Yosemite.
  • Shorter is better. Cats aren’t accustomed to the rigors of outdoor life, at least not most of them. They could get tired easily or overwhelmed by the experience. And don’t even think about taking Fluffy on a backpacking trip.
  • No weather extremes. Most cats are not used to inclement weather. If the weather is going to be bad, better to board your cat. This includes extreme heat. When camping or hiking with your cat, do as the Spanish and take mid-day siestas to avoid the hottest part of the day.
  • Don’t leave your cat alone. Yes, cats are pretty independent creatures. And your cat likely gets a lot of alone time at home. But being outdoors is different. Think of them like you do your children, and keep an eye on them at all times.
  • Food and water. This probably doesn’t need to be said, but make sure you have plenty of food and water for Fluffy. More than you need would be best. And don’t forget about treats!

If you’re traveling by RV, the road-tripping experience will probably be a lot easier for you and your cat. Your RV has much in common with a house, so Fluffy will likely acclimate quickly. And if you’re on the road during the holiday season, why not make your RV more festive while making it pet-friendly?

Cats are fantastic companions and contribute to our general well-being in profound ways. And like dogs, they deserve to be a real member of the family and all that entails. This means taking them with you on the holidays, camping trips, or just a short walk around the block — as opposed to keeping them home alone, locked in a bell tower.