Traveling in Cars with Cats

Jodi Ziskin's picture

Most cats are not very fond of car travel. Part of the reason is that by nature they are territorial and prefer to rule their kingdom, also known as your home. They have a routine; a schedule and they stick to it. Removing them from their comfort zone can be extremely stressful.

Unlike dogs, who often accompany their people on fun excursions like a visit to a park or bistro, most car experiences for a cat result in a visit to the vet or even worse – transport to a new home.

While a long road trip involving at least one overnight with a cat can be challenging, some planning ahead can actually make it a tolerable – if not enjoyable - adventure for all involved.


Get Your Cat Used to His/Her Carrier
• Leave the carrier (preferably soft sided, as this provides comfort during a car ride) out in the open where your cat can approach it in his/her own time
• Put a towel or toy inside to entice him/her.


Get Your Cat Used To The Car
• Start by just letting your cat wander around the car. This will familiarize him with all the scents and textures.
• A couple of days later, put him in his carrier and take him for a short ride around the block.
• After that, every couple of days, take him for increasingly longer trips.


Items You Will Need
• Peepee pad/doggie diaper to line the cat’s carrier (preventive measure)
• Small litter box that will fit on the floor (disposable boxes like the Kitty’s Wonderbox are great for this purpose)
• Cup for scooping litter waste
• Bag of litter
• Bottled water
• Food (freeze dried raw food is a great option for traveling, as well as the 3 oz. sized cans)
• Bowls for food and water
• Also consider Rescue Remedy or Travel Anxiety by Homeopet
• Cat bed
• Paper towels and enzyme cleanser, just in case of a pee, poop or vomit incident
• Kitty bath wipes, for the aforementioned
• *Catnip (to get him back into the carrier after stretching his legs – more about that later)
• *Note: catnip also helps relieve an upset stomach


For Safety and Comfort
• Most newer carriers provide a loop that a seat belt will fit through
• If there is a way to elevate the carrier enough for your cat to see out the window, like with a doggie car seat, it can help prevent car sickness


Scheduling Stops
• When you take a break, give your cat a break, too. Let him out of the carrier so he can stretch his legs and maybe even use the litter box. Keep in mind, is it normal if your cat does not eat or take a potty break while in the car
• Offer your cat food and water (again, he may not partake)
• If you are traveling alone, never leave the cat alone in the car - if you need to use the facilities, take the cat with you.


Hotels on the Road
• Research hotels that are pet-friendly before beginning your journey
• Set up the litter box as soon as you arrive
• Put down food and water
• While it is tempting to want to let your cat sleep with you, it is often a good idea to keep him confined to the bathroom with his bed, food, water and litter box. More than one traveler has experienced the try-to-get-the-cat-out-from-under-the-bed issue in a hotel room.



Enjoy your trip!


Jodi Ziskin, our Traveling with Pets Editor, is a Holistic Wellness Consultant for Animal Companions, specializing in nutrition and proactive health. She is a Certified Pet Nutrition Consultant who also holds a Master of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition. Through her company Holistic Jodi, LLC, Jodi makes house calls throughout South Florida, helping cats, dogs, birds and rabbits be as healthy and happy as possible.

She and her husband Zach live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with their cat, Obi (age 5).

Please feel free to contact Jodi at holisticjodi[at] or visit