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Long distance travel with my cats! Any tips?

queenfluffqueenfluff Raw Newbie

Ok, so my bf and I are finally moving to California this weekend! We will be driving in a small car following the moving van going from Milwaukee to Santa Cruz. My three kitties will be in the back seat. They each have there own carrier.

I think they should be OK. I have moved many times – mostly short trips – and of course, they have all been to the vet many times. The longest trip with them in the car was two hours and they did pretty good. Mostly they are quiet – my one cat gets sort of nervous in the carrier (I can see her shake a bit sometimes) but she seems to be OK after like 15 minutes. One is very yowly – but only because she doesn’t like to be confined somewhere where she can’t roam about and be petted by people. The other one is really quiet and very well behaved – a few meows now and than but nothing serious. Oh, two of them are 14 and one is 11. They don’t have any serious health problems.

We will be staying at hotels that allow pets (of course). My bf’s friend will traveling too – he will be in the moving van with very quiet two dogs. They will separate rooms of course.

I have alot of experience with cats – worked and volunteered at a cat shelter and vet office, etc. but not in traveling with them.

Anyhow, I was reading this article here:


It looks like an eight hour trip in the carrier is OK and that you don’t have to worry about food and water? I plan on giving them treats in their carriers – the water will be a challenge. Sounds like I don’t have to worry about the litter box during the eight hours? I think we are doing just eight hours a day (at least I hope we are!) and than stopping. I know it is not a big deal for our friend with the dogs since you can stop and let them out – but it is a little different with cats!

Oh, my cats are indoor cats – they dont have any collars or leases and I am planning to only open the carriers when we are in the hotel room.

Anyone ever move their cats across country before? how did it go?


  • newbienewbie Raw Newbie

    queenf, a few years ago my husband and I inherited two 13 yr old siamese cats from my father. We flew with them from CA to VA. Including the time in the cars to/from the airport, they were in their (separate) carriers for almost 10 hours. Amazing to think that they did this all without food/water/litter boxes and were troopers the whole way. As soon as we got to our destination, I took them out and showed them food/water/litter boxes and they both took advantage of the boxes right away. After the potty and a little food, we all took naps to recover. It went great and I’m sure that yours will do fine too. I think it was harder on us then on the cats.

    The only stressful part was going through security at the airport. We were told by the airline that we would not have to take them out of their carriers, but when we got there, they forced me to take each through the metal detectors. First, they wanted me to put them through the x-ray scanner, but there was NO WAY I was going to do that to them. If I had known, I would have brought leashes. The thought of them getting loose at the airport still raises my anxiety level.

    Good luck!! I know you’ll enjoy Santa Cruz. My thoughts will be with you.

  • TomsMomTomsMom Raw Newbie

    Wow, queenfluff, congratulations!! I agree with newbie; don’t worry about their need for food or water. They need quiet and relatively dim lighting. It’s rare for a cat to even want a litter box during a trip, at least not until night. When you stop for the night and are in your rooms, they need to see their litter box right away and of course, if they drink some water that it great. But in all the years i’ve had cats, I’ve never had one that needed water or food or a box for many, many hours. Cats stress exceptionally easily; it’s in their nature as hunters to be ultra-sensitive, so quiet and calm is the most important thing. My girl loves her carrier; it’s a Celltei, with soft sides, flaps and “ribs” for sturdiness. I have a pad on the bottom and lay down one of my worn tee shirts. I only leave one soft flap open. I never put a water bottle inside because they all leak, and she won’t drink anyhow. Oh, the last time I moved half way across country, so I got a diaper bag and loaded it with her foods in zip-lock baggies(I froze her raw foods in little baggies and put them inside the zip-lock) a bottle of water, and some emergency Crap-In-A-Can. Also, a baby blanket and toys, heheh.In two days of travel, she showed no interest in food or water, just the box once at night. Good luck!

  • queenfluffqueenfluff Raw Newbie

    Thanks for the great replies guys! I feel better already (yeah, I was nervious about traveling with them!).

    newbie – Actually, I first thought about flying with them since it is a shorter trip but the whole security thing changed my mind. I know too that they will want you to take the pet out of the carrier because they want to scan the carrier. I have seen them do it with small dogs in carriers that are riding with their owns. I think one of my cats would be Ok with this but the other two – eek! They are not good around strangers so an airport full of people would be hard for them and me! I could imagine all the people on the plane would be pissed at me because I am sure Woog (my cat that yowls alot – the one in my avatar) would drive them all crazy! She would sing the whole plane trip! :)

    I am happy to hear that the 10 hours went OK too. One portion of the trip might be longer than eight hours so hearing your story I won’t stress about those extra hours! :)

    Alix1962 – My carriers are the hard ones. I have had them pretty much all the cats lives so I figured they are familiar with them so I will just stick with those. I thought about getting the soft ones – they do look comfy. Esp. if I had decided on the plane to move them – I would have gone and bought the soft ones. I plan on blankets and towels for the bottoms (even though those always get moved around and bunched up!) with a catnip toy each. I will have the litter box, paper towels, some that natural pet odor spray stuff, their food (they haven’t taken to the raw yet -although I really want them too), some treats, their bowls for the hotel.

    I half toying with the idea to let my kitty Woog out of her carrier just in the car so she can sit on my lap and look out the window. She is the only kitty that would get a thrill out of looking out the window and watching everything flash by. Well, we will see how it goes…:)

  • newbienewbie Raw Newbie

    queenf, actually, both of the siamese cats were extremely vocal. Although, the roar of the airplane engine drowned out the Yowls. So, it worked out for the best for us. The only time it was noticeable was when were were waiting and collecting our luggage. Not a problem – except for the security thing.

  • shawnieshawnie Raw Newbie

    I took my cat Up North which was a 9 hour drive last summer. Before we even left town she was vommiting and breathing heavily. It was very hot and she wouldn’t eat or drink. We ended up letting her out and she slept by my feet in the passenger side and was fine. On the way back she was roaming around the car and everything! Whenever you have a stop-over it’s a good idea to let them out and stretch those legs so they don’t cramp up! And if you let them out, make sure they go nowhere near the driver, mine tried going underneath the brakes a few times! Scary.

  • lstorzlstorz Raw Superstar

    I travelled with a cat from Miami to Chicago by plane. A very short flight, I realize, but the cat meowed non-stop the entire time. It was actually kind of amusing to hear people in the airport saying to each other, “Did you just hear a cat?” I was very surprised that people on the plane didn’t complain. I was so stressed about the whole thing. When I went through security, I did have to scan the bag and carry the cat through. I wish I had had a leash, too, for that unexpected event. I also wish that I had used some kind of flower essences or even a small bit of dramamine (I know, I know, not exactly natural) to bring some relief to the cat. He was so freaked out that he was drooling all over himself. The fact that you’re driving will be so much easier! At least you can stop when you need to and you can take them out of the carriers periodically. Happy moving!

  • steamboatkatiesteamboatkatie Raw Newbie

    A year and a half ago I moved from Georgia to Santa Cruz with 2 cats and in the middle of the summer! It was quite the trip. My boyfriend and I had two cars. I had the car with the uhaul hitch and the cats and he just had his car [always getting off easy :)] We stayed at 2 hotels along the way. The cats did fine. i made sure I showed them where the litter box was in the hotel so they didnt go on the carpet. In the car they actually slept (not in any cage) for the first 8 hours they were out then one started meowing then the other one. I just talked to them telling them it would be ok and one sat in my lap as I drove so I could pet her. She calmed down and slept. Every 8 hours they would meow then i would do the process again. The funny thing is is that when I would stop for gas that was when they would use the litter box. I made sure I put a smaller sized one full of litter and in the passenger floor board. They wouldnt go when the car was moving. I have weird cats lol. Anyway they made it fine and when we were moving in to our place I put them in a cage until the whole uhaul was unloaded and some stuff was set up like it was in Georgia. They never had any stress. Just keep talking to them. Good luck with your travels. It’s really rainy here in Santa Cruz hopefully you can arive between storms.

  • omshantiomshanti Raw Newbie

    I traveled across country with horses dogs and cats( recently we where evacuated with all those animals plus chickens and a turtle during the fires…) I had a large carrier for my cat, a dog crate actually and put a small litter pan in the back of it for him, he used it when we stopped and i was out checking the horses, i know my horses only urinated when the vehicle was stopped and turned off. my cat ate and drank normally through out the day although i saved meals for the hotel. when we did the cross country trip, we did 10 to 12 hours a day and the horses took pressident sooo,kitty and doggies had to wait until the horses where settled in what ever facility we found for them then they got to roam and eat and take care of business. because my carrier was big my kitty got to look out the window and my jack russel terrier took a sentry post on top of the kitty crate and enjoyed the view better as well. During the evacuation all animals and my husband and my self had to sleep overnight in the vehicles, ready to move on if the flames changes direction, there was kitty accidents and a little yowling after 16 hours of confinement….but who can blame them? after we where settled in a permantent evac site all critters seemed much more content. not to worry queen fluff…your babys should do fine, Also you may consider bach flower essences if you have high strung kittys it keeps the peace….rescue rememdy in particular!

  • queenfluffqueenfluff Raw Newbie

    Thanks to everyone for their stories and replies! I feel so much better knowing it went OK for so many people. Of course, I’ll still be nervous but at least I won’t freak out as much! :)

    My kitties already know what is up because I am packing everything up – I have moved many times so they figure it out pretty quick! They are probably wondering “Where is she taking us this time?”

    We are probably leaving Monday. :) I’ll let you know how it goes! :)

  • ZoeZoe Raw Newbie

    I’m a bit late with this piece of advice but you can buy a hormone spray that makes your cat feel at home wherever you are. The hormones are the ones a cat uses to mark their territory, I’ve also heard that some of them mimic the hormones a mummy cat gives off when she is feeding her kittens.MMmmmm!

  • queenfluffqueenfluff Raw Newbie

    Hi All,

    Well, a bit of an update. Yes, we made it here (with some weather drama along the way which made our trip longer)! Unfortunately our apt arrangements fell through and we are still in a hotel – but we found another one so we will move in there in a few days!

    BUT - my kitties are honestly world class travelers! I can’t believe it! A little bit of trouble when it is time to go in the carrier after the night in the hotel and Woog yowled on and off in the car on some days but other than that, they travel very well! They sleep in their carriers – no accidents (well, Woog peed a bit on the first day – very minor) and they love the hotel rooms! Esp Woog, she is very territorial about the king size hotel bed with fluffy pillows (ha ha!). My other two kitties, Fluff and Pean, hide a bit at first and than adjust pretty well. :) Fluff was the one I was worried about the most.

    So far, we have stayed in hotels every night for a whole week (and moved EVERY day to a new one) and the kitties are still going strong. My bf and I are probably more exhausted and stressed than they are! Right now, we have a big suite with lots of room so they are pretty happy.

    I have to say they deserve the Conde Nast Kitty Traveler award! :)

  • newbienewbie Raw Newbie

    hey hey, good job! great to hear that you’re all doing well. :-)

  • queenfluffqueenfluff Raw Newbie

    Thanks newbie!

    Might I also add that there were several times where they were in their carriers for more than 8 hours and they did fine! I actually stopped worrying about them after a few days! :)

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