• Home
  • /
  • Cat Info
  • /
  • Road Trip With Cats: The Only Cat In a Car Guide You Need!

Road Trip With Cats: The Only Cat In a Car Guide You Need!

Posted in: Cat Info - Last Updated: March 9, 2024 - Author: Holly Garcia
Posted in Cat Info 
Last Updated: March 8, 2024  
Author:  Holly Garcia

If you've ever dreamed of travelling with cats in a car on all your adventures, a short road trip can be the perfect way to start! 

Cats, just like us, can feel the itch for wanderlust. But packing for them might seem like solving a giant puzzle, especially if it's your first big trip together.

Don't worry, I've got you! I recently took my cat, Meister, to a hotel that allows cats on an adventure weekend to Lake Tahoe. 

Here's a breakdown of how to take a cat on a road trip, everything I brought for a road trip with cats, a few things I wish I had, plus some pro tips to make your journey purr-fectly smooth.

Road Trips With Cats: The Essential Steps

Step 1: Creating a Cozy Travel Haven

Spacious Carriers: Think of your cat's carrier as their home away from home. The Boop Coop by Travel Cat is fantastic for long journeys, giving your kitty room to stretch and relax.

travel cat boop bag

Boop Coop by Travel Cat

I also love for carriers that double as detachable stroller bases - they’re super convenient! Especially if they also triple up as a securable car seat like the one I swear by - the HPZ Rover Sroller (including car seat!).

Comfort is Key: A soft blanket for cats draped over the carrier helps block out distractions and offers a sense of security. This cozy trick also works wonders when used on their stroller!

Step 2: Adventure At Their Own Pace

Stroller Style: Strollers are perfect for urban explorers! I have bought, tested and reviewed loads of cat strollers in this guide here. They keep your kitty close while giving them fresh views, and they have a secure space to watch the world go by, especially if your destination is walkable.

Backpack Buddies: Want to stretch those feline legs a bit? A sturdy cat backpack (like the Navigator by Travel Cat) is excellent. Your cat can enjoy supervised exploration, with the option of hopping right back in if they feel overwhelmed.

Travel Cat Navigator Carrier Bag - Premium Cat Backpacks for Carrying Cats, Travel, Hiking, Outdoor Use - Grey Mesh Backpacks for Small, Medium, Large Cats up to 25 LBS with Side Pockets, Zipper Clips

Navigator by Travel Cat

Hitting the Trail (Or Not!): Hiking with a cat is amazing, but not every feline is up for it. If your cat's into the outdoors, pack their harness and leash, and, if you have one, bring along your cat backpack for them to take breaks and stay safe. A little preparation makes even a change of plans much smoother!

Step 3: Cat in Car Essentials

Familiar Feasts: Don't forget their regular food - drastic diet changes can be stressful! Pack their usual bowls too – it's a familiar comfort.

Clean Paws, Happy Cats: Pet wipes are a road trip necessity. Cats love to explore, and who knows what they'll step or roll in! They’re life-savers after walks or even quick cleanups if your kitty decides to use their bowl as a foot bath. The ones I use are cat specific dander wipes from Burt’s Bees so you know they are perfect for your cat and don’t contain any nasties.

Burt's Bees for Pets Cat Natural Dander Reducing Wipes | Kitten and Cat Wipes for Grooming | Cruelty Free, Sulfate & Paraben Free, pH Balanced for Cats - Made in USA - 3 Pack

Natural Dander Reducing Wipes

Towel Time: A trusty towel is your clean-up hero. Pop it under food bowls to catch spills, or use it as a post-beach drying station. Multi-purpose goodness!

Travel Tissues: It’s common sense that you might need a tissue on a road trip but if you’re not used to being this close to your cat for this long then you might get some allergy sniffles. That said, any kind of tissue is another good thing to have on hand for clearing up any mess.

Pee Pads: However, an absolute must to protect your car are cat pee pads. You cannot expect your cat to not take a pee if nature calls, so make sure you have some of these for inside their carrier (under a blanket or towel) and under the carrier but over your car seat upholstery!

Harness & Leash Options: Consider packing a few different styles. An H-harness (my cat prefers Travel Cat's design) is great for comfort, while a jacket harness is a fun way to dress up. Have both a retractable leash and a standard one – this offers flexibility depending on where your adventures take you.

Calming Scents: Pheromone sprays like Feliway help to keep kitties relaxed. I also swear by Jackson Galaxy's travel solutions – they're the best!

FELIWAY Spray Classic Spray, 60 mL - Reassures Cats During Car Travel, Veterinary Visits & Helps Control Unwanted Behaviours Like Urine Spraying, Scratching - (60 mL Spray, 1-Pack)

Feliway Spray

That Favorite Toy: A familiar kicker or toy infused with catnip can be a soothing reminder of home (plus, it's entertaining!). Spritz it with catnip spray for an extra boost of fun.

Step 4: Hotel Stay-cation Tips

Puzzle Feeders: Simple cat puzzle feeders (you just pop treats inside) provide mental stimulation and yummy rewards. Your cat might be too excited or sleepy to use it on the trip, but it's a lifesaver if you need a few minutes of undisturbed hotel room time.

Treat Yourself (and Them!): Churu treats or similar liquid delights are perfect travel snacks and keep kitties engaged indoors.

INABA Churu Cat Treats, Grain-Free, 20 Tubes, Chicken Variety & Churu Cat Treats, Grain-Free, Lickable, Squeezable Creamy Purée Cat Treat/Topper, 0.5 Ounces Each Tube, 10 Tubes, Chicken Variety

Churu Treats

Teepees & Tents: A little hideaway (like Travel Cat's teepee or this one) offers your cat a shady retreat, especially on beaches or in sunny spots. Extra points if it matches your outfit – we all need a little vacation glam!

Litter Box Logistics: A travel portable litter box is a must – collapsible ones are fantastic space-savers. Use litter box liners for easy cleaning, and bring along their usual cat litter and litter scoop, and voila – kitty bathroom on the go!

Scratchin' Away From Home: Disposable scratchers replicate the satisfying feel of your cat’s usual scratching spots, adding familiar comfort to any hotel room

Traveling With Your Cat: Top Tips

Road Trip With Cat: Pre-Trip Preparation

Vet Visits are Vital: Schedule a vet checkup for your cat before the big adventure. This makes sure their vaccinations are up-to-date, any health concerns are addressed, and they get a clean bill of health for the journey. Don't forget to discuss travel-friendly calming aids with your vet if your cat experiences high levels of anxiety.

Microchip Matters: Microchipping your cat is like an insurance policy if the unthinkable happens and they get lost. It's a tiny chip implanted painlessly under their skin that provides permanent identification. Discuss this quick and safe procedure with your veterinarian if your cat isn't already chipped.

Carrier = Comfort: Weeks before your trip, leave the cat carrier out and open with a comfy blanket inside. Toss in treats, favorite toys, and maybe even spritz a bit of calming pheromone spray to create positive associations. This helps your cat feel safe and familiar with their carrier before the actual travel day.

Trial Runs: Those short practice drives help your kitty get used to the movement, sounds, and general feel of car journeys. Reward them with yummy treats afterward, so they start associating the car with good things! This is also a great way to test how your cat handles motion and if they might need an anti-nausea medication for the longer trip.

Vacuum Power: This seems small, but litter WILL get everywhere in a hotel room. A portable vacuum cleaner makes short work of that.

Sensitive Skin Savers: Cat sunscreen is essential, especially for light-colored kitties. A bit on their nose and ears goes a long way. But remember, ONLY use sunscreen made specifically for pets!

While this seems like a long list, most of these items quickly become road trip staples for any cat. Remember, with a little planning, you and your furry companion can embark on amazing adventures together.

Food & Water Considerations

Tummy Troubles Ahead? Keep things running smoothly by sticking to your cat's regular food, unless a change is absolutely unavoidable. If you have to change brands, introduce the new food very gradually over several weeks before your trip to avoid any digestive upsets during your travels.

Water on the Move: Collapsible bowls are super handy, especially with a travel water bottle to keep them refilled. Consider getting a spill-resistant water bowl designed for cars if your cat tends to be a messy drinker in moving vehicles.

Dog Bowl Pet Collapsible Bowls, 2 Pack for Cats Dogs, Portable Pet Feeding Watering Dish for Walking Parking Traveling with 2 Carabiners (Small, Blue+Green)

Collapsible Pet Bowl

Hydration Heroes: Some cats get a bit finicky with water while traveling, even with their favorite bowl. Try adding a little tuna water or low-sodium chicken broth to their bowl to make it more enticing, especially if it's hot outside. You can even freeze small ice cubes with broth for a refreshing treat.

Travel Safety

Hot Car Hazards: Cars can become dangerously hot in just minutes, even on days that feel mild to us. The safest bet is to never leave your cat alone in the vehicle for any amount of time. If you're making a stop, take them with you (on the harness and leash!) or leave someone in the car with the air conditioning running.

Secure that Carrier: Always fasten your cat's carrier securely, either with a seatbelt or special car-safe attachments. This keeps them (and you) protected in case of sudden stops and prevents them from becoming a distraction while driving.

An ID is a Must: Even the most cautious kitties can get out unexpectedly. Make sure they have a breakaway collar with a tag that has your up-to-date contact information. You might also consider a collar with a GPS tracker specifically for pets if your cat's an escape artist!.

Emergency Preparedness

Pet First-Aid Know-How: A quick online course or basic pet first aid book can teach you the essentials for minor scratches, bug stings, or recognizing signs of heat exhaustion. It's also a good idea to pack a small pet first-aid kit.

Vet on the Go: Before you head out, use your phone to find trusted veterinarians in the areas you'll be visiting. Save their numbers and addresses, just in case the need arises. If your cat is on any medication, be sure to take extra with you!

FAQs: Cat in The Car Questions Answered!

Is it safe to take my cat on a road trip? 

While it depends on your cat's personality, many cats can enjoy road trips with proper preparation and a calm environment.

How to transport a cat by car long distance? 

Start with short car trips and gradually increase the duration. Use positive reinforcement, treats, and their favorite toys to create positive associations with the car. This is the best starting method in how to take a cat on a road trip.

My cat hates the car, what can I do? 

Consult your veterinarian. They may recommend mild calming aids to help manage anxiety during the trip.

What type of carrier is best for road trips?

Choose a carrier that provides enough space for your cat to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Consider carriers with good ventilation and options for covering the sides for added privacy. Carriers that can be secured with a seatbelt are always preferable.

How often should I stop for breaks? 

Aim for breaks every 2-3 hours to allow your cat to stretch their legs, use the litter box, and have water.

Can I let my cat roam loose in the car?

 Absolutely not! This is dangerous for both you and your cat. Always secure your cat in a carrier or use a harness and leash that attaches securely to the seat belt system.

Road Trips With Cats: Final Thoughts 

Remember, every cat is unique! Some felines will be natural-born explorers, while others may prefer the comforts of home. If this is your first time traveling with your cat, take it slow and respect their boundaries.  

Successful road trips with cats is generally about understanding your cat's needs and creating a safe, enriching environment for them wherever you go.

But, as always with cats, expect the unexpected as your cat might throw you a curveball – they could surprise you by loving the open road, or they might need extra reassurance and quiet time. 

Be prepared to adjust your plans along the way, always prioritizing your kitty's comfort and well-being. With a bit of preparation and a whole lot of love, you and your furry friend will create memories that will last a lifetime.

I hope you have enjoyed our “How to take a Cat on a Road Trip” guide.

About the author

Holly is from California, USA. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio-Television-Film.

She found her love for film in a 9th grade media class and landed her first production job just after high school.

She has been creating ever since and loves all art.

When she’s not busy creating content for brands and her own social media channels, she’s adventuring with her cat, Meister.