By Sari Reis
Recently, when I was returning a house key to a client, he mentioned he was moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico. He said he was planning on driving out there with his cats and asked if I had any advice for the road trip.
I told him I had driven with my cat from Atlanta to Pittsburgh several years ago, and had some suggestions I could share with him.
Make sure the kitties are in good health and bring their health records with you just in case you have a medical emergency. If they have not yet been micro-chipped, do it and put I.D. collars on them just in case they escape from the car or hotel room.
- Be sure you have cat carriers that can be fastened securely and are well-ventilated and large enough to accommodate your cats comfortably.
- Bring sufficient food for the road trip and a few weeks afterwards in case you are delayed or cannot obtain their regular food when you stop.
- Bring any medications they may be taking.
- Bring water, their bowls, their beds, if possible, and some favorite toys and treats. Having familiar things around them will help with their stress level. Bring litter, litter box, scooper and poop bags.
- Plan your stops ahead of time to ensure you have pet-friendly accommodations. Since most cats will hide in a new place, (usually under the bed), I suggest putting them in the bathroom for the night with their food, water, litter box and beds. It is not easy to get them out from under the bed when you are ready to leave the next morning. Keep their carriers in there too, (bathtub), so you can load them up without any Houdini acts.
- Ensure your vehicle is mechanically sound before you leave and that the A/C works well. Also make sure your radio works as you may want to play some nice classical music to help keep the furry kids calm. Or bring some nice calming CDs.
- Since stress is very contagious, do your best to stay unstressed or your kitties will pick up on it. In other words, no “road rage,” “horn honking,” or “swearing loudly” at the slow driver in front of you on a two-lane highway.
- If possible, bring some food for you to eat in the car, or stop at drive-thrus. You do not want to leave the cats in the car alone for more than a couple of minutes for a bathroom break. Especially if it is hot.
- Since cats do not generally like change, and will more than likely be a little “freaked out,” you may want to try some pheromone spray like “Comfort Zone.” You can get it at any pet supply place. You can spray the coverlets in their carriers, their beds, the inside of the car and the hotel rooms. You won’t smell it but it will help the cats stay calmer.
Remember, the better you plan, the calmer you will be and the trip will be much more pleasant for you and your furry felines.
—Sari Reis is a Certified Humane Education Specialist and the owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting Services. For more information, she can be reached at 760-644-0289 or missionvalleypetsitting.com.