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Tips For Traveling With Your Cat

Two years ago my cat and I moved; a 3 1/2 day drive. My cat (Luna) is not a good traveler. A 15 min. drive to the vet's was 15 minutes of howling cat. Just thinking about 3 1/2 days of continuous cat wailing would give me the shakes. I had visions that by day #3 I would be driving the car into a tree just to put us both out of our misery.

Before the trip I read every traveling with cats' article I could find. Looking back, these are the most important things I learned.

1. Get the Best Carrier You Can Afford

Luna's carrier was roomy enough that she could stretch out to sleep and stand up to turn around. It had a Plexiglass front so she could see out easily. Not that Luna was interested in the scenery, but I would face the carrier towards me so that I was in her sight at all times.

The handle on the carrier was made so that a seat belt could easily go through it and the carrier was secure on the seat.

It came with food and water dishes that could be set into place inside the carrier; she could eat or drink without coming out. This seemed like a good idea at the time but she never ate or drank anything while we were in the car.

2. Carry a sufficient quantity of your cat's regular food and water.

Fill a container with water from your home destination, enough to see your cat through the trip. Now is not the time to risk cat stomach upsets. Keep it cool. You may not find your cat's regular food while traveling, so bring enough with you.

3. Bring a small kitty litter pan, one that fits on the floor of the car.

Most cats won't use the litter box while you are on the road, (mine didn't) but just in case they need to, best to have it ready. You will need it when you stop for the night.

4. As much as you can, prepare your cat ahead of time.

I took Luna, in her new carrier, for short drives around the city. When we got back home, she got treats.

I used Rescue Remedy. I started putting a few drops in her water about 3 days before the trip, and a few drops inside her ears. I also added some to the container of water that I carried with us.

If I were to do a trip like this again, I would add spraying the inside of the carrier with something like Feliway. Any product that helps soothe makes the trip easier.

This was Luna's first long trip. While we were driving, she didn't eat, drink or use the litter box. This is not unusual.

On the first day she wailed for the half hour it took us to get out of the city. Once we hit the road, she was quiet for the next 8 hours. When I took a break at highway rest stops, I let her out of the carrier to walk around inside the van, to stretch her legs, use the litter box, but after a short exploration, she was happy to go back into the carrier where she felt safe and comfortable.

When I let her out of the carrier the first night in a motel room, she ran and hid under the bed. Sometime during the night while I was asleep, she came out and ate the food left out for her and used the litter box.

By the second and third nights, she was exploring the room and lounging on the bed. Luna is leash and harness trained and we went for short walks on the motel grounds.

A word of caution: when you leave your motel room, make sure your cat is locked in her carrier. Anyone opening the door while you're not there, and your cat could go streaking out.

The trip went quite well. Other than the first half hour there was no wailing. I was prepared for the fact that she might not eat, drink or use the litter box while in the car, so that was not a worry.

I doubt Luna would want to do this trip again, but we got to our new home without any mishaps, both of us tired but fairly relaxed.

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