– Guest post by Emily Parker from Catological –
Spring break is fast approaching, so what better time than now than to go on a road trip? Exploring the country, staying at a new place, going on misadventures… it can be a blast, especially if you have someone with you! But what if all your friends are busy, or you’re introverted? Then bring your cat.
That’s right. A cat can be the purrfect traveling companion. It’s quiet, but can be noisy when it wants to. It won’t talk your head off, but it will listen to you. What’s not to love? To avoid going on misadventures, here are 10 tips to get you started:
1. Make Sure That Your Hotel Allows Cats!
Part of the fun of road trips is crashing at the first hotel you see. However, if you have a cat, this may not be smart. Not all hotels allow pets, and you may pay a hefty fine if you try sneaking your cat into the room.
Before you go, book a pet friendly hotel. Read their rules, and know it’s safe to stay in before you check in with your cat.
2. #1 Applies to More Than Just Your Hotel
Going to a park? Or a city? Or any other place? Read up on their pet policies. If you go on a road trip to a theme park, for instance, it would be a bummer if your cat has to miss out on the fun if she’s not allowed. Maybe you should consider taking your cat to a cat-friendly state?
3. Train Your Cat to Ride Long Distances
Make sure your cat can even handle driving in a car. Try driving with it around the town, and see how it handles the drive. Can it? Great! But it’s not over yet. If your cat can handle staying in your car while driving across town, that doesn’t mean it can handle a road trip.
Cats tend to get stressed, as they don’t like change. Know this before bringing kitty along for the ride. Use a carrier whenever you’re driving with your cat, and you should be set.
4. Calming Your Cat Down
If your cat is a little feisty whenever you take it for a ride, put some toys in its carrier to distract it during the ride. Sometimes, that’s all it takes for your cat to stay chill during the trip.
For cats who just aren’t calming down, try some stress-relieving herbs. There should be some herbal remedies at your pet store that are safe for your cat and will calm it down during the road trip.
5. Make Sure To Take Breaks!
Cats can generally handle driving long distances, but even they have their limits. If the road trip will take longer than five hours, let your cat out every now and then for a break. Park your car somewhere, let the cat out of its carrier, and provide it with food and water from a portable feeder. If it has to use the bathroom, use a disposable litterbox.
6. Bring Your Vet Records
If an emergency strikes, you’ll need to take your cat to a vet ASAP. To make the process a lot easier on the both of you, have your cat’s medical records handy should something happen to it. Whenever you approach a new area, it may also be helpful to know where all the vets are.
7. Having Cat IDs Handy
You may think you and your cat are inseparable, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for your cat to get lost during the road trip. Always make sure that kitty has an easy-to-read tag that gives out your information.
Also, consider microchipping your cat, if you haven’t done so already. If you have, make sure the microchip is up-to-date. Having a microchip in your cat can allow it to easily be sent home should it wind up in an unfamiliar shelter.
8. Bring a First-Aid Kit
Sometimes, your cat may get an injury that doesn’t require any vet care, but still needs attention. Pack a first-aid kit with all the essentials. Kitty bandages, antiseptics, first-aid cream, and anything else you use on your cat whenever it gets a boo-boo. This is especially important if you’re travelling to the great outdoors. You never know what’s going to come out and hurt your cat.
9. Never Leave Kitty in a Parked Car
If your road trip is set for the summer, this is especially important. As anyone should know, a parked car gets really hot during the summer, but many pet owners underestimate how hot it really gets. Every summer, someone who thinks it’s okay to leave their pet in a parked car for only a few minutes gets a rude awakening whenever the pet develops heatstroke, or worse. It’s also illegal in many states! Don’t do it!
What if it’s not hot outside, or you’re leaving the car’s AC on? It’s still risky. Your cat is prone to catnappers who want to steal your pet. You also risk your cat becoming stressed without you around. Whenever possible, bring your cat with you.
10. Don’t Force Your Cat to Go if it Doesn’t Want To
This goes back to our earlier tips. What if you try taking your cat on a trip, and it protests all throughout the ride? Should you keep going until it gets used to it?
No, you shouldn’t. If a cat doesn’t like something, don’t force the cat to do it. Instead, hire a sitter whenever you go on a road trip. It can be a bit lonely at first, but it’s better than making your cat suffer.
However, if your cat is sociable, this shouldn’t be an issue. And if you follow the other tips, you should have a successful road trip that will end up being one of many. Whether you’re going for spring break, or any other occasion, try bringing your feline on the drive.
Emily Parker lives in Vancouver, Canada with her 2 cats, Gus and Louis (on the photo above). Gus only has one eye, but he gives great snuggles. She runs the website Catological, where she blogs about ways for cat parents to love their kitties even better. Follow her tips on Facebook too!