Helpful Tips to Travel Long Distance With A Cat

Are you planning a long car journey with your cat? Are you a little concerned about how your feline friend will take to travelling a long distance? Of course, your kitty would probably prefer not to travel if it’s not essential so consider whether it’s necessary to take them with you. Although cats are home lovers, they can come with you on a long car journey – as long as you are both well prepared! Here are some helpful tips to travel a long distance with your cat.

Table of Contents


Be Prepared!

Preparation is important! There are lots of things your kitty needs to travel happy, including being comfortable around their carrier and the car if that’s how you’re travelling. Before you start your trip together:

● Choose the right carrier. You’ll need a comfy carrier for your kitty to travel in for the duration of the journey. Make sure the carrier is the right size for your cat – not too small so that they are unable to move at all, and not too big for them to feel exposed and get bumped around.

● Introduce kitty to their carrier early. Make sure your kitty gets used to their carrier before your journey. Introduce them to it a while before you are due to travel, encouraging them to go inside and explore – with the door open – by placing their favourite blankets and toys inside. Your pet will then feel more at home, and happy to be in their carrier when it’s time to travel.

● Plan your journey in advance. Plan your route and work to include plenty of stopping places so that you can let your kitty out of the crate for short breaks, allowing them to stretch their legs, use their litter box and have a reassuring cuddle.

● Use a harness and lead for extra safety. A cat harness is a great idea to add a little extra safety. With a harness and lead, your pet will be extra secure – you know that they won’t be able to escape their carrier if you reach in to reassure them; this is particularly important for travel on public transport. If you’re in the car, a lead will allow you to take your kitty out of the car at rest stops to stretch their legs. Of course, not all cats like harnesses or leads, so make sure you familiarise your kitty before you travel.

● Have your kitty microchipped. It’s a good idea to have your cat microchipped, especially before you travel – just in case they break free.

● Bring a litter tray. Your kitty may need a break if the journey is long! A litter tray with easily disposable litter is a must for long journeys. Place this in a convenient place for your kitty when they are having a journey-break – it can then be disposed of in a suitable bin as you travel.

● Don’t feed your kitty as you leave! Don’t feed your kitty for 5-6 hours before you set out. This will help to prevent motion sickness and a very unpleasant journey for you all!

● Consider your destination. Choose a pet-friendly location if you are going on holiday and ensure they have secure facilities that will help make your cat feel at home.

● Bring kitty home comforts. Pack anything that will make your feline friend feel at home – including water/food bowls, bedding, toys and even their favourite scratching post. 

When Travelling in the Car

How are you planning to make the trip? With the right considerations, your pet can travel with you by car, plane, or train!

If you’re making a road trip read our 7 top tips for making your cats time travelling in the car less stressful.

● Keep kitty secure. Make sure the carrier/crate is secured by a harness or seat belt in the back of the car. This will prevent any sudden movements and keep your kitty safe. Never allow your cat to roam free in the car while you are driving – this is dangerous and can distract the driver and cause an accident.

● Consider the temperature. Keep good air circulation around the carrier and avoid overheating the car. Remember your kitty has a fur coat and won’t be able to go anywhere to get cool! If you are travelling in the heat and don’t have air-con in the car, carry some ice packs, wrap them in a towel and place them around the carrier/crate to keep your kitty cool.

● Keep your pet hydrated. Make sure there’s plenty of water available as travelling can be dehydrating!

● Take breaks. Take breaks if you are travelling far and remember to keep all doors and windows closed if you are letting your cat out of the carrier while stopped – they can run faster than you can! However, if you want to let them out of the car for a little while, you can use a cat harness and lead so that you can take them for a little stroll before resuming your journey. Be sure to never leave your cat alone in the car.

Best way to transport cats long distance


Once you’ve finally made it to your destination, there are a few things you can do to help your kitty settle in and relax.

● First, make sure the room is cat safe. Always let you hosts know before leaving that you’re bringing a pet, to ensure everything in the room is suitable. Make sure the room is cat-safe and secure before opening the crate. Set up your kitty resources and keep the room quiet and calm as you allow your kitty to explore in their own time.

● Give your pet time to adjust. Your kitty might be a little nervous after the long journey and be reluctant to get out of the crate/carrier. It’s important to give your pet time to adjust, come out at their own pace, and explore their new environment. Make sure there are some familiar items nearby – such as favourite toys and their bed, and make sure there are lots of resources nearby. If possible, give your pet the option to stay in their bed, or in the carrier while you are away. Giving them the option will let them feel they are in control!

● Set a space for kitty litter. Place a litter tray close by so that your pet can find it easily. Be sure to clean and remove litter regularly as you would at home. You should also keep food and water in a different place.

● Keep watch on your pet. Keep an eye on your kitty at all times, and only let them wander freely if you are confident that they cannot escape outside to a strange area.

● Try to keep to routine. Routine helps your cat to feel secure and safe. Try to maintain your kitty’s routine as much as possible – such as feeding and play times. If you are travelling again, be sure to only feed your pet a little when it’s meal time to limit any motion sickness.

To really help your pet feel safe and secure in a new location, take FELIWAY Optimum Diffuser with you. Plugged into the new location this can provide additional support and help your pet feel secure.

Best way to transport cats long distance

— Update: 18-01-2023 — found an additional article Car Travel With Cats — Road Trips & Moving from the website for the keyword best way to transport cats long distance.

Best way to transport cats long distanceFor most of us, the thought of taking a drive with the cat in the car is probably not that appealing.

But believe it or not, if a cat is properly acclimated and conditioned to riding in a car, they will actually learn to really love it. And you will too!

During the summer months and around the holidays, many of us plan or go on family vacations, and more commonly, families are including their furry feline. The summer is also a busy time for people buying and selling homes, which sometimes means a long-distance move.

Hopefully, your cat is young or has not had a traumatic experience in the car, making your upcoming road trip more viable. Don’t despair if this is not the case; even “more mature cats” can be taught new car riding tricks.

Getting your cat ready for a road trip

Step 1: Get your kitty to love their carrier.

Best way to transport cats long distanceIf they’re going to ride in the car, like you, they’ll need to be safely “buckled up” to protect not just them, but everyone in the car and on the road.

After all, unrestrained cats can be a distraction, interfering with your ability to steer or brake, and even become a dangerous projectile in the event of a crash or sudden stop. Like in this case of a cat loose in the car, distracting the driver and causing three accidents!

In order to make restraint stress-less for your kitty and yourself, spend some time training your cat to love their carrier before the big travel day arrives.

Don’t have a carrier for your cat yet? See further below for our recommendations, including carriers that are crash test certified.

Step 2: Get your cat to love the car.

Now that your kitty loves their carrier, it’s time to get them loving the car, too! Here are some steps to help you do that. Pro Tip: This car acclimation step is best done with two people … one to drive the car, the other to pet, praise, and treat kitty! That said, it can be done with one person, too, but very carefully.

  • Take kitty out to the car, in their carrier.
  • With the car parked and the doors and windows closed, sit in the back seat with your cat in their carrier. Partially open one of the carrier doors to get your hand in to play with your cat, pet them, praise them, and give them treats. (Caution: For your own safety and that of your cat, avoid doing this type of in-car training when the weather is too hot or too cold.)

Read more  Car Travel With Cats — Road Trips & Moving

  • Once kitty seems settled in and happy in their carrier in the car, place an interactive, treat/kibble-dispensing toy in their carrier with them (the Egg-Cersizer and the SlimCat are great choices ).

Best way to transport cats long distance

This will help to keep them engaged, playing, and happy when you eventually progress to the “real thing” … driving. I recommend putting in a combination of both their regular kibble and a few yummy cat treats – but don’t fill the dispenser up too much, just about 10–15 pieces total, as you don’t want to make it too easy and you don’t want kitty stuffing themselves.Best way to transport cats long distance

  • Now, buckle in kitty’s carrier to the seat (back seat is best, so your cat is less likely to be a distraction to you and so you don’t have to worry about the passenger seat airbag injuring them in an accident or sudden stop). Now start up the car. See how kitty does with the sound and vibration of the engine running.

    Also see how they react when you turn on the air-conditioner or heater, and don’t forget the radio, too! And, by all means, feel free to comfort, soothe, and treat kitty if they get stressed by any of these sounds.

    Contrary to what you may think, and what many people may claim, you’re not going to reinforce or worsen their anxieties by comforting them. (This is obviously a step that’s really only possible if you’ve got a second person driving the car while you’re in the back seat next to your kitty.)

    • Caution: If your car is parked in your garage while you’re doing this acclimation for your cat, either ensure that your garage door is open or move your car out of the garage and onto the street or driveway. Carbon monoxide is very dangerous for both of you!
  • Once your cat is comfortable with the sound and vibration of the engine, it’s time to take some short trips. You don’t want to overdo it here — just go down the street initially, then progress to a block or two, and then gradually extend the distance of the drives. Also, if you frequently drive with your windows open, try some of these “test” drives with the windows down for a bit to see if the sound of the air passing by and the changing air pressures are OK for kitty.

    Never push these drives further than your cat is comfortable with. Also, be sure to drive calmly and go easy on the gas pedal and brakes.

    Note: This step will be best with more than one person in the car so that someone can continue to monitor, soothe, and play with kitty while the other person does the driving and focuses on the road.

  • Continue to do these steps each day or every few days, and kitty will soon be more than happy to join for car rides!

    Note: Since each cat and each situation are different, it could take anywhere from a few days of this type of training to several months for an individual cat to love car travel.

Don’t have a carrier for your kitty yet?

Still using the cardboard carrier your cat came home from the shelter in? Here are some of my favorite cat carriers for car travel.

Carriers for around town and shorter trips

These can also be used for longer trips with a leash-trained cat, as you won’t need the extra space of the ones linked further below to put a litter box in the carrier with them. It’s best to choose a carrier that has an opening at the top, as this often makes it easier and less stressful for everybody when getting them in and out when traveling or visiting the vet. The options linked below all have easy “top access.”

Sleepypod carriers: The Mobile Pet Bed (this mobile pet bed may not work for flying on all airlines) and the Air In-Cabin Carrier are truly exceptional and beautifully crafted carriers, and Sleepypod takes pet travel safety very seriously. They do their own crash testing (at the standard set for child safety restraints) on their products and also received excellent marks in the Center for Pet Safety’s crash testing studies. They’re a bit pricier, but if you can swing it, they’re well worth the money!

Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed
SleepyPod Air In-Cabin Carrier

Sherpa carrier: Another good choice with a long track record of being an excellent and versatile cat carrier, both in the car and when flying.

Sherpa Airline Approved Carrier

Amazon Basics two-door, top-load pet kennel: This is a hard-sided carrier that has easy open/close latches (rather than nuts and bolts) to secure top to bottom, as well as a top access door.

Amazon Basics Pet Kennel

Take note that if you want to use your carrier for flying, make sure the size of your hard carrier fits in your airline’s under-seat regulations, as the hard carriers aren’t as “flexible” as the soft-sided ones when going under the seat.

Best way to transport cats long distancePreventive Vet team members, Mazel and Marshall on a cross-country road trip.
Mazel adapted to his carrier and integrated litter box right away. The carrier is featured below.

Cat carriers for longer road trips

Some cat carriers have more room to spread out, and some even include a litter box.

Necoichi portable cat cage
and litter box: This carrier, really “cage,” has straps for securing it in the car, and it can fit a litter box, which is sold separately. The cage, used on a long road trip by a Preventive Vet team member, is featured in the photo above.

Necoichi Portable Stress-Free Cat Cage

Le Sure carrier: This carrier has expandable sides making this soft-sided carrier a little more spacious for your kitty than a traditional carrier. It doesn’t really have enough room for you to include a litter box for your kitty within the carrier so something to consider.

Le Sure Pet Carrier for Small Dogs & Cats – Airline Approved Premium Expandable Soft Animal Carriers

It is an “extra space” option though for car travel that also has an “airline approved” claim, unlike the portable cage (above).

Best way to transport cats long distanceAnd, if you’ve got a lot more room in your car or SUV and really want to do right by your kitty, you can turn a large dog crate (like either of these: wire dog crate or plastic dog crate) into a kitty condo by including a nice soft mat, hammocks and/or shelves to make it multi-level (which cats LOVE!), several of their toys, a nice box or tube for hiding (which cats also LOVE!), and their litter box. Just be sure to securely strap their kitty condo into the car for everyone’s safety.

  • Don’t feel like doing it DIY, or don’t have the time? Get an awesome pre-fab kitty condo instead! We know of a veterinarian who used one on a cross-country move and their cats loved it.

    Note: While these kitty condo options will likely help make travel less stressful and more comfortable for your kitty, they do introduce some new safety risks for them (falling from higher shelves or having shelves fall on them in the event of an accident or sudden stop) and perhaps even for you, depending on how/if you secure it within your vehicle.

    Please take these cautions into consideration should you select one of these kitty condo options. In order to make restraint stress-less for your kitty and yourself, spend some time training your cat to love their carrier before the big travel day arrives.

Car ride logistics with cats — where to go ‘potty’

Jumping right down to “business” … depending on the duration of your travel adventures with kitty, and where you’re winding up, you’re going to have to deal with potty planning and bathroom breaks. This is the case both when you’re on the road, and when you get to your hotel or wherever your destination. You can help your cat take care of business on the road in a few different ways.

Best way to transport cats long distance

First, get them a good travel litter box, a litter they like, and (perhaps) even a litter attractant, and then get them used to using this set-up before you ever even need to use the car.

A good travel litter box will be large enough for your cat to fit in and comfortably do their business in, yet small enough to fit in their carrier (see recommended larger car cat carriers above).

If your trip isn’t too far and their carrier isn’t large enough to fit a litter box, your travel litter box for use in the hotel can be a bit larger. The travel litter box should also be waterproof, easy to clean, and collapsible (for easier storage), yet sturdy enough so as to not collapse on kitty when they’re doing their thing in it. There are also disposable litter box options available!

Recommended litter boxes for travel with catsBest way to transport cats long distance

There are collapsible options (Necoichi and Petpeppy) or disposable ones (Nature’s Miracle or Kitty’s Wonderbox). Given that you and your cat’s litter box will be in fairly close quarters, it’s a good idea to go with a litter that’s got good odor control and low dust potential.

While it might be tempting to get a fragranced litter, recognize that the fragrance could actually irritate your cat’s nose and lungs, stressing them out and making it less likely that they’ll actually use their litter box! Below are some recommended cat litters, as well as a recommended cat litter attractant, which sometimes is needed to help a cat remember to use their box, especially in a time of change, like travel.

Recommended litters for travel with cats

All of these litters are considered low-dust, are easily scoopable, and all have excellent absorbency and odor control. The first two (Boxiecat and Dr. Elsey’s) are clay-based, the third (World’s Best) is corn-based, in case your cat (or you) don’t like clay litter. I’m also including the recommended cat litter attractant in the list, as well as a scoop and items for used litter containment, as those will be important, too. The antimicrobial scoop and caddy is helpful when traveling, so the scoop isn’t laying on your car interior itself!

Boxiecat All Natural Scent Free Clumping Cat Litter
Dr. Elsey’s Low Tracking Unscented Multi-Cat Strength Litter
World’s Best All Natural Clumping Cat Litter
Nature’s Miracle Cat Litter Scoop & Caddy
Litter Genie Cat Litter Disposal System
Dr. Elsey’s Cat Litter Attractant

And depending on the size of your car, how much space you’ve got available, how long your trip is, and how averse you are to having any smell or chance of spillage, you may want to consider the excellent Litter Genie used cat litter storage system. Note: This Litter Genie also comes with the bags, as well as a litter scoop and holder! If you want something smaller than the Litter Genie, you can do the simple, sealable bucket (don’t forget the lid!) and some tall kitchen garbage bags.

Is your cat used to doing their business outside, or you really don’t want the smell of cat litter and the stuff that winds up in it in your car, or there’s just no room for a litter box in your cat’s carrier? Then, depending on the length of your car trip, you’ll have to make proper bathroom stops for your cat. This is most safely done, though, if you take the time to leash-train your cat well in advance of your travel day! Don’t worry it can be done! Here’s our article on how to leash-train a cat. And another important precaution for cats that you’ll be leash walking and just traveling with in general … have them microchipped at your vet, and ensure that your contact information associated with the microchip is up-to-date!

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Recommended leashes and harnesses for leash-walking cats:

Gauterf Escape-Proof Cat and Dog Harness
Kitty Holster Cat Harness
PetSafe Come With Me Kitty Harness and Bungee Leash
Puppia Dog Harness

Speaking about “doing business” … what about if YOU have to go? What should you do with your cat?

If the temperatures aren’t too hot or too cold to have to worry about leaving your cat in the car, just leave them in their carrier and go about your business. Just try not to take too long. It’s usually safe between about 40–65 degrees F (4–18 degrees C), though every cat and every situation will be different, so use this as a rough guide.

Talk to your vet about more specific safe temperature ranges for your cat based on your cat’s age, breed (smushed face?), and any chronic medical conditions they may have or medications they may be on. If the temperatures are outside of that range, though, you’re going to have to take some precautions when making your own pit stops (and this includes for meals). In many cases, it’ll be possible for you to bring your cat into the bathroom with you in their carrier! This is the easiest solution if it’s possible and practical.

Best way to transport cats long distance

If it’s over the high end of the temperature range and you can’t bring kitty in with you, take some steps to ensure their comfort and safety when in the car:

  • Do your bathroom break at a place where you don’t have to go into a big shop or mall to find and use the bathroom. Gas stations and rest stops along the side of the road are usually good options. Coffee shops often are, too!

  • If you have an extra set of car keys with you, leave the car on, and the air conditioner running and lock the doors behind you. You’ll be happier to get back into a cool car, too!

    Caution: This can help a lot, but be aware that car engines and air conditioner compressors can and do fail, leading to excessively hot temperatures building up in the car quickly.

  • If leaving the car and A/C running isn’t possible or practical, pre-cool the car the best you can by running the air conditioner on high for several minutes before you get out.

  • Park in the most well-shaded spot you can find.

  • Park with your front windshield facing the sun and put up a reflective windshield sun shade like this one.

  • Cracking the windows doesn’t make a huge difference, but it also doesn’t hurt (so long as your cat is securely in their carrier and there’s no danger of someone reaching in your car and stealing your stuff).

  • Make sure kitty has plenty of water.

  • Move their carrier from on the back seat to the floor in front of the back seat. Since hot air rises, it should be cooler on the floor.

  • Be as quick with your stop as possible. If it’s a food break you’re taking, come back and check on your cat frequently (like every 10 minutes or so, just to be safe).

Best way to transport cats long distance

If it’s under the low end of the temperature range and you can’t bring kitty in with you, take some steps to ensure their comfort and safety when in the car:

  • Do your bathroom break at a place where you don’t have to go into a big shop or mall to find and use the bathroom. Gas stations and rest stops along the side of the road are usually good options. Coffee shops often are, too!

  • If you have an extra set of car keys with you, leave the car on, and the heater running and lock the doors behind you. You’ll be happier to get back into a warm car, too!

    Caution: This can help a lot, but be aware that car engines and heater compressors can and do fail, leading to cold temperatures building up in the car quickly.

  • If leaving the car and heater running isn’t possible or practical, pre-warm the car by turning up the heater to high (if it isn’t already) for several minutes before you get out.

  • Add a nice cozy blanket or fleece to your cat’s carrier for them to snuggle up and be warm with. Pro Tip: If it’s a fleece or blanket that has your scent on it, all the better. Your cat will love “having you near” while you’re gone.

  • Move their carrier to a sunny spot within the car, if there is one.

  • Be as quick with your stop as possible. If it’s a food break you’re taking, come back and check on your cat frequently (like every 10 minutes or so, just to be safe).

Where to stay when traveling with your cat

Best way to transport cats long distance

Road trips and long-distance moves with cats will often require hotel stays for sleeping and resting up (oh, and showering!). But not all hotels or motels are pet-friendly, and even those that are may only have a few pet-friendly rooms. So, here are some tips for finding pet-friendly places to stay when you’re on the road with kitty.

  • If you know your route and plans, try to book pet-friendly accommodations early before they book up. This is especially important in the busy summer travel season and around the holidays.

  • Some of the bigger hotel and motel chains are generally very pet-friendly. For instance, check out Red Roof Inns, Kimpton hotels, La Quinta, Best Western, and others. The folks at have a searchable state-by-state database to help you find pet-friendly accommodations.

  • Some Airbnb properties are also pet-friendly!

Pro Tip: “Pet-friendly” means that your pets aren’t likely to have been the only pets staying in your room recently! And since not everyone uses flea and other parasite protection on their cats and dogs as regularly as they should… well, you (hopefully) get the picture. For your cat’s sake — and yours — make sure your cat is protected from fleas and other parasite infestation before heading out on the road! Learn more about safe and effective parasite prevention for your cat, and talk to your veterinarian.

Dealing with travel anxiety and carsickness with your cat

Ah, the best-laid plans… It’s possible that even if you take all of the precautions and steps outlined above to condition your cat to car travel they may still be stressed or even experience carsickness in spite of your best efforts. Here are some tips and products to help minimize those possibilities and to help deal with these problems should they arise.

  • Composure calming treats for cats: These are great and can be used both before and during travel.

  • Thundershirt for cats: Some anxious cats respond really well to the compressive and comforting nature of these anti-anxiety jackets. You’ll want to test it out on your cat well in advance of your departure date and even do some of your “test drives” with them wearing their new jacket.

  • Feliway pheromone spray: A couple of sprays of this calming pheromone on the towel or mat in your cat’s carrier could be just what they need to feel less stressed and more comfortable with travel. Note that with pheromones, a little goes a long way. Don’t overdo it — more is not better.

  • Catnip spray to spritz their toys and catnip to sprinkle in their carrier, both can provide some great and distracting entertainment for your cat and a nice little “high” that could help reduce their anxiety.

  • The likelihood of a cat getting carsick and vomiting can be reduced by not feeding them for a few hours prior to the car ride. Now, this won’t be super practical for a multi-day car trip — after all, kitty has got to eat at some point! But, if it’s just a one-day trip, this might help.

  • Talk to your vet about the medication specifically designed to help prevent carsickness and vomiting in pets.

  • Similarly, there are also medications your vet may be able to prescribe to help decrease your cat’s anxiety associated with car rides. But be sure to speak with your vet well in advance of your expected departure date, as your kitty may need a current exam, and doing trial or test doses is often necessary to determine what the best and most effective dose or combination will be for your cat.

  • Some cats also benefit from and respond to calming music to help reduce their anxieties. And, who knows, it may just help make the drive more pleasant for you, too.

Emergencies on the road

Emergencies do happen, and so the occasion may arise where you’ll need to find a vet when you’re on the road. You can always Google “emergency veterinarian in __zipcode/town__” or use a vet emergency locator.

First Aid on the Road

You’ll also want to consider putting together a pet first-aid kit for your car. Here’s a shopping list of first-aid essentials. Look for the icon of a little car 🚗 as it’s these products that are the most essential in a smaller, travel-sized first-aid kit.

Best way to transport cats long distance

Special travel considerations for cats with chronic health issues and on medications

Before striking out on the road for a long trip or moving with a cat that’s got a chronic medical condition or is on long-term medications — like a cat with diabetes or chronic kidney disease — there are a few steps and precautions you should take.

  • Make sure your cat has had a recent (ideally within the past month or so) exam with your vet. You’ll have more peace-of-mind knowing that their condition is as well managed as possible and that they’re as healthy as can be before hitting the road with them. Your vet will also have recommendations for making their trip as comfortable and safe as possible.

  • Bring a copy of your cat’s medical records with you! This should include recent exam notes, laboratory test results, and medication/supplement names and dosages. Your vet can often print these out (with enough notice), and they may even subscribe to an app or other service that allows you to keep updated copies of such records with you always on your phone. This will make visiting another vet on the road if you have to, much easier.

  • Especially with cats with known chronic health concerns, it’s a good idea to know about a few vet hospitals along your route and in the area of your destination before you head out. See the vet locator tools and links listed in the section above to start searching.

  • If your cat is on a special prescription diet, like for their kidneys, make sure to stock up on it from your vet before hitting the road. It’s not always easy to get prescription diet refills when you’re away from home and your vet’s office! You should take enough with you to last for the duration of your trip PLUS an additional (at least) 2 weeks.

  • Similarly, be sure to stock up on your pet’s medications and supplements, as well as any supplies you need for them. This would include needles and a sharps container for safely disposing of and storing used needles for diabetic cats, pills for blood pressure, overactive thyroid, and any other chronic medications. Again, you should take with you enough to last for the duration of your trip PLUS an additional (at least) 2 weeks.
  • If your cat is diabetic and on insulin, don’t forget a cooler and ice packs to help keep it cool while in the car. You can also look into a cooler that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter, like these: Cooluli Mini, Wagan 14L, or the Wagan 24L (which could even store some of your food and drinks for the road!

    • Pro Tip: Depending on the type of insulin your cat is on, you may be able to get an insulin “pen” that may be more stable outside of the fridge and may be easier to administer to your cat on the road. Talk to your vet to see if an insulin pen is an option for your cat — it isn’t for all cats, but if it is for yours, it could be a great travel (and even long-term) solution for you.

Read more  Sudden Cat Death: Tips for Understanding Why It Happens

We encourage you to leave a comment below if you’ve got any tricks, tips, or products you’ve used that made car travel with your cats easier. Best of luck on your travels or your move. Have fun and be safe! And be sure to come back and leave a comment to let us and our community know how your trip went.

— Update: 18-01-2023 — found an additional article Moving Long Distance with Cats is Easier than You Think from the website for the keyword best way to transport cats long distance.

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Do you have a case of wanderlust or have you gotten a great new job in a brand new state? Exciting! But you also have a cat or even multiple cats. Moving long distance with cats in the car sounds difficult.

Or is it?

As you start looking for a new home in your new state and hire movers or rent a U-Haul, you wonder how you are going to travel with a cat in the car. After all, your cat probably throws a fit just going a few blocks in the car on the way to the vet; there’s no way they will handle hundreds or even thousands of miles in a car.

Best way to transport cats long distance

Or will they?

One of the biggest reasons people give for surrendering their cat to a shelter is that they’re moving, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Really, moving long distance with cats is much easier than you might think.

Moving cross country with cats can seem impossible to many people. I’m sure you have so many questions about moving with cats that it might seem overwhelming.

  • How often do they need to eat?
  • How is my cat going to use the litter box?
  • Where can I stay with my cat?
  • Do I need to buy anything extra to travel with my cat?

We will help you answer these questions and more to make your move much easier than you thought possible.

Visit the vet

Before you head off to your new destination make an appointment to visit your vet. Your vet could have some helpful tips for moving long distance with cats and they can also prescribe some sedatives if you think your cat may need them.

There are pros and cons to using sedatives so discuss it with your vet and come to the decision that works best for you and your cat. You know him or her best.

Best way to transport cats long distance

Should you use a cat carrier?

When traveling long distances with cats it might seem easier or more kind to let your cat stretch and roam freely in the car, but it’s best to keep them contained in an appropriate cat carrier. This way the cat won’t be injured in the event of an accident, escape from the car, relieve itself in the car, get stuck under a car seat, or worse, at the driver’s feet.

In a carrier, your cat will likely shut down and either relax or sleep most of the way. A hard plastic cat carrier is recommended over a soft one. A hard carrier will give your cat more protection and room to stretch.

When to feed your cat while traveling

If you’d like, you can stop and feed the cats along the way. This isn’t necessary as your cat will be fine eating in the morning and evening in your hotel room. Feeding them in the hotel room will avoid any bathroom or motion sickness accidents in the carrier while driving.

Best way to transport cats long distance

Do you need to stop for litter box breaks?

Like feeding, you may want to stop and see if your kitty needs to use the litter box. In many cases, a cat can wait six to eight hours to relieve themselves, but take cues from your cat on this issue. To be safe, try putting puppy pads in the bottom of the carrier.

What kind of litter box to use while traveling with cats in the car

Bring a small litter box with you that will fit easily in the car and in the corner of a hotel room. A disposable litter box is also an easy option as they are lightweight and easy to transport.

If you would prefer the plastic litter box route, I do not recommend a sifting litter box. Clumping litter can get stuck in holes in the bottom and can create a bigger mess than you want to deal with in a hotel room. A small plain plastic litter box and a cat litter scoop is the easiest option.

To transport the litter box, try leaving the cleaned litter in the box and wrap the whole thing up in a garbage bag. The garbage bag can also be used as a makeshift litter mat under the box while in the hotel room. This will cut down on litter mess in the room and make transport easier and cleaner.

Best way to transport cats long distance

Pet-friendly hotels that allow cats

When moving with cats, finding a hotel might seem like an obstacle. Believe it or not, there are plenty of hotels that will let you stay with your cat.

The following common hotel chains are pet-friendly and will allow you to stay there with your cat. You may also have success with higher-end boutique hotels. As always, call ahead. Some may charge an extra fee per cat per night, but not all of them do.

There is a cat-friendly hotel at any price point and comfort level. This is a list of some of the most popular hotel chains that you will find along the way. Another way to find pet-friendly hotels is with a travel website/app such as where you are able to use the pet-friendly filter for your results.

Call ahead to verify that that particular hotel will accept your cat. The majority of hotels that say they will accept pets on or on their website will honor the pet policy, but even if a hotel chain says they will accept your cat, call to double-check before booking. You don’t want to arrive only to find that the person at the front desk will not honor that policy or that their pet policy only covers dogs.

As you can now see, moving long distance with cats is easier than you might think. As long as you are prepared with plenty of food and litter, your kitty will likely be a good little traveling companion.

Products that will make a long distance move with cats easier

Last update on 2021-04-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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— Update: 18-01-2023 — found an additional article Tips for Moving a Cat Long Distance from the website for the keyword best way to transport cats long distance.


Prepare your cat for the move

Cats are creatures of habit, and nothing can disrupt their routines quite like moving to a new home. Helping your cat prepare for the upcoming relocation will make the trip more pleasant for you and your purring companion.

Create a cozy cat space

Establish a room (or a large closet) as a temporary safe space for your cat where he can lounge and take his meals. Make the room comfortable by keeping his water, bed, toys and litter box there. This will be a place where your cat can stay isolated and calm while you’re packing and loading your things.

Get used to a crate

If your cat isn’t already used to traveling in a crate, don’t wait until moving day to introduce one. Start with keeping the crate open in the cat’s safe space and coax him into going inside with treats while leaving the door open. Later, allow your cat longer periods of time inside the crate to get comfortable with it and leave behind his scent. 

Take short car rides

Your cat might only associate car rides with a trip to the vet, so it’s best to take shorter car rides prior to a long road trip. Gradually increase the duration of the rides to help your kitty get used to it. Offer plenty of praise and treats when the trips are over to help your cat associate the car with a positive experience.

Practice leash walking

You don’t usually walk your cat on a leash? It’s okay. While leash walking doesn’t come as naturally to cats as it does to most dogs, it can be done with some practice and patience. Start with getting him used to the harness and work your way up to using the leash in your yard or another safe space. You want to make sure your cat won’t dart away at any stops you make while driving to your new home.

Keep your kitty comfortable during the trip

An unhappy pet can make even a short car (or plane) trip stressful, so you’ll want a content cat for a long ride. 

Confine your pet

It’s not safe to let your kitty roam the vehicle freely. Use a pet restraint, preferably a hard-shelled crate, to keep your cat contained in the car. If you’re flying to your new home, follow your airline’s recommendations for the proper crate or carrier. Make sure the carrier is secured and level in a seat with a vent pointing toward it for ventilation. If your cat is especially nervous in the car, try covering the crate with a thin blanket or towel to help him stay calm.

Pack essentials in the car

Whether it’s catnip or medication prescribed by your veterinarian, you’ll want to make sure your cat’s things are easily accessible in your car. Keep water, food, toys, pet waste bags and a portable litter box (you can pack extra litter in large zip-top bags) on-hand to make your kitty’s trip easier. 

Plan feline-friendly rest stops

Pet stores are great places to stop for restroom breaks since you can take your cat inside with you. 

Stay in cat-friendly hotels

Many hotels are listed as pet-friendly, but make sure to confirm that they’re not just dog-friendly. While you’ll need to check the rules at each location, these hotels are known to allow cats: 

  • Days Inn 
  • Extended Stay America 
  • Hotels by Hilton 
  • Marriott Hotels 
  • Motel 6 
  • Red Roof Inns 

Help your cat adjust to a new home 

Once you arrive at the new place, you’ll want to make your cat feel at home. 

Make a new kitty hideaway

Remember that cozy cat space you created at the old place? Now’s the time to recreate it with the same items at your new home. Find a room or space for your cat with all his favorite things where he can relax while you set up your new household. As your cat becomes more comfortable, you can let him explore more of the home by moving a few of his things outside the safe space.

Keep cats indoors for two weeks to establish a routine

As territorial animals, cats have been known to try to return to previous homes. You don’t want to lose your friend, so most veterinarians recommend keeping cats inside for at least two weeks after a move. Supervise any outdoor visits or put him on a tether for brief time alone in the yard. Make sure your cat’s tags or microchip are updated with your new address in case he wanders off.

More questions about moving with cats? 

If you have any other questions about moving with your cat, let us know in a comment below. To speak to a consultant about moving with U-Pack, call us at  844-362-5303844-594-3077  or  click to learn more about our moving service. 

Hear from a cat owner’s point of view. Celebrity cats  Cole and Marmalade have moved with us twice! 


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About the Author: Tung Chi