advise for long distance drive with cats

columbia, TN(Zone 7a)

We will be driving from NY to TN at the end of the month and have 5 cats and a dog. Planning on spending one night in a pet friendly hotel. Have one catt that is an outdoor cat and doesn't get along with the others, anotherr one that will only let me pet her when I am on the toilet(don't know how I am going to get her in a carrrier) is there anything I can give them to help them relax and enjoy the trip I would prefer something natural. Thanks.

Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

Good Luck! For the toilet hugger - put a carrier in the bathroom now with a blankee and toss a treat into it when toilet kitty can see you do it. That should make getting in the carrier much easier. Are they all microchipped? If you had an accident and the car was open and the carriers opened up - your only chance of finding them is if they are microchipped. Put a collar or harness on everyone with your cell phone # and car plate number - just in case. I don't have any advice for calming other than Rescue Remedy but I am sure someone will be along in a minute with help.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

How long of a drive is it? If it's in the 15-17 hr range (or shorter) I'd be tempted to try and do it all in one shot and skip the overnight stay at the hotel (especially if you have someone else traveling with you and you can take turns driving). I'd worry about everyone being stressed out, then you go to the hotel and have to try and get everyone back in carriers the morning of Day 2 and that could end up being even worse and more stressful than trying to get them in carriers when you're in the comfortable secure surroundings of your house.

columbia, TN(Zone 7a)

Cant do it in one day we are in our late 50's and eyesight is not good after dark. they have to stay in carriers for two days, help. drive is 15 hours. thanks.

Deer River, MN(Zone 3b)

Depending on the size of your vehicle, get the largest dog crates you can fit in your vehicle - large enough to accommodate the cats, a litterbox, food and water receptacles (preferably the kind that clips to the crate door so that they won't tip or spill during the trip). You'll need two crates in order to accommodate the one cat who doesn't get along with the others. Obviously, you can't keep cats in crates for two days without access to a litterbox.

You'll also need extra towels, paper towels, plastic bags, litter, a litter scoop, food, water, and pet wet wipes for any accidents the cats may have. Rescue remedy may help, but administer it directly to each cat, don't put it in the food or water, or the cats may refuse to eat or drink. You could also buy some Feliway spray and spray the crates with it.

You could speak with your vet about anti-anxiety meds, but I personally wouldn't risk them. Anti-anxiety meds sometimes take weeks to take effect, and in some cats, they can have the opposite effect and make the cat MORE anxious.

Good luck on your trip.


Mequon, WI(Zone 4b)

I know it is not a natural remedy, but my vet gave me some antihistamines (?? I think? It was 6 years ago!), which just made my cats kind of sleepy. It didn't really knock them out, but kept them quiet enough for the 14 hour trip (which we split into 2 days).


Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

Any possibility of renting a motorhome to make the trip in and tow your car?

columbia, TN(Zone 7a)

We are having an auto transport take our cars down and planning on renting a large SUV to go. The cats have to go in individual carriers. doing alot of research online, seems like Bachs rescue remedy or feliway may be a place to start.

Medford, OR(Zone 8a)

We've taken our cat from Illinois to southern Oregon and southern Oregon to southern Washington. He had a carrier and when we stopped, I'd get out, take the cover off the litter box and put him in it. He inevitably went. We used like a square under bed storage box so it was big enough for him...and litter still went everywhere! He is over 17 years old, slept most if the way and wasn't nervous at all. Of course you are times 5. We had him out of the crate 75 % of the time and let him roam in the hotels over night. All of your cats may not get nervous.

columbia, TN(Zone 7a)

Thanks for all the insight, I'm still a wreck, thinking on how this will go.

Redwood City, CA

I agree with LaurieF's advice re a larger crate with a small litter box inside it with clip on food and water bowls which attach to the crate door. Good planning always reduces anxiety.

I would start feeding scaredy cat in the crate ASAP so she'll get used to it. to being in it long before the big event As an emergency back up plan, you can also buy a fishing net at a sporting goods store . You get the cat in the net, and then stand the crate on its small end with the crate door end open and facing the ceiling. Then you place the cat in the net over the open door and let gravity do its work. I would keep the cat confined in a very small room during this habituation-to-the-crate process, preferably a bathroom where there is no furniture to get underneath.

If there's the slightest risk of flip outs I would not let them out of the crates because truly the worst thing in the world would be to lose one en route. As a feral cat rescuer/spayer/neuterer we keep cats in crates for multiple days while recovering from surgery so I'd much rather do that than risk an escape. The scared ones may just hunker down and be quiet. Also, lining the pad in the crate with a puppy pad is an easy way to clean up if there are any accidents outside the box. They can be rolled up and removed from the crate very easily.

I would also talk to your vet and consider doing a dry run with meds to see their reactions to any type of sedative because they can have a paradoxical reaction, i.e., a reaction that is opposite of what it's supposed to do. Believe me, if you give them sedatives tested in advance everybody will be much more relaxed, including you.

columbia, TN(Zone 7a)

Thanks, great advice.

Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

We will all have our fingers and paws crossed for you. Please let us know how it goes.

columbia, TN(Zone 7a)

Thanks, will do, just waiting for the closing date to be set and we are out of here.

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