Moving cats (not herding them.)

After almost a year, it appears we’ve sold our house in the tiny town we lived in, and will be moving to the city and state of my new job. I’ve been in an apartment down here working at the job while my wife has been trying to get the house sold (with some visits here of course.)

One issue: I will be renting a car and driving up to where she is for the house close, and then we will drive the 17 hours back here (without stopping for a hotel.) We’ve got a car top carrier for our 2012 RAV4 to try to have more space (we have professional movers moving us - an entirely different thread of stories on that!) for what she needs to bring down, but the complication is our two cats. They have to come in the car with us. 17 hour drive with cats. They are both large, old, lazy. They will be in either one carrier together (I think they will be better that way?) or two carriers. Either way, I dread listening to them (they hate cat carriers, they run and hide when they see our big one pulled out to get them to the vet) and not sure how to handle their litter needs for the trip. Oh, and apparently one of them does not respond well to cat xanax.

On the off chance that anyone has driven cross country with even one cat, I’m looking for any tips for the trip. My wife rejected my suggestion that we put them in a big hardshell carrier that we strap to the top of the car. ;)

A friend drove from Mass to AZ a while back with his cats. If you aren’t stopping, you have it a little easier.

One option is a cage you can bring from your current house, to the RV4, to the new house without having to open the door to the cage. My primary fear is opening the cage door and a cat making a run for it. The cage can also have a small litter pan. My main recommendation is never be in a position where a vehicle door and the carrier/cage door is open. This is also why I don’t recommend letting cats loose.

When we drive our cats to the vet, we put them each in their own carrier, but face them towards each other.

For litter needs, they may not actually feel like going if they are on the move. They are going to complain for a lot of the trip. You’re just going to have to deal with that.

Just put the cat carrier on the roof of the car like Mitt Romney.

My poor guy lost his voice by Chicago. The wild catnip growing in the new house’s yard made it up to him at least a little bit, though.

There’s an option - get them stoned out of their gourds for the trip.

Are you talking about the cats or Jeff? :)

My only advice is don’t feed them before heading out. Feed them when you stop for the day. They will be anxious and tummies don’t do well with that and travel. Ask a vet for some anti anxiety stuff for them, even if you think you won’t need it. That’s a long trip, Jeff.


We drove from Texas to Canada with 4 cats. Its a blur now but I think it was 4 days of driving.

We couldn’t use cat carriers/cages, there wasn’t space for 4 carriers and not really enough space in them to confine 2 for extended periods. What we did was seal off the front of the car and one of us stayed in the back so there was never any issue about them escaping if car doors were opened. We had a covered litter box for them, I think it got used once or twice. Every night in the hotel room, we used to set a new one up for them and it got used heavily.

Day 1 did involve a lot of howling but by the end they were resigned to. I’ve never seen my cats looking more forlorn and depressed. We did try a couple of trial runs before the trip to see if we can get them used to the experience but I’m not sure if it made any difference.

I’ve done this many many times. Florida to Michigan. Michigan to North Carolina. North Carolina back to Michigan. Michigan to Massachusetts. Massachusetts to New York. I have one cat that has probably travelled further than most humans do in their lives.

In almost all cases, the cats settled down after no more than an hour and they rode it out. The only real exception is that one crapped in his case once. I suspect just that he needed to go, not that it was a protest.

I have decided they are better off not having any water or food in the case. What I do always do, though, it spray Feliway in the case ahead of time, typically in the throw or towels I have lining it.

Yeah, the cats will cry for a while, but they adjust and just deal with it. Just remember to NOT ever open the case in the car (or have fun trying to drag a cat out from under the seat) and also don’t roll down your windows at all–the wind roar freaks them out.

Eh, they probably won’t use a litter pan in the car, and it’s only 17 hours (easy for me to say, I know, but my cats went 15 hours in the car without needing a litter box once). We’ve used spray pheremones to good effect when we’ve had to move our guys. I highly recommend (never done pills).

Depends on the cat. I was going to offer the advice of a pet cage or large dog carrier that had room for a small litter box. My old cat not only used the litter box frequently on our drive from San Francisco to Vermont, he somehow managed to convert oxygen to cat poop, because he used it so frequently there’s no way he ate that much actual food.

Highly suggest you give them the litter option. That’s a long time to go and if a cat gets constipated bad things can happen.

My daughter had her two cats in cat carriers when she drove from LA to Fresno. She said one was fine and one howled the whole time (roughly 3 1/2 hours). She is talking about moving to northern Oregon later this year and figures to fly them up.

My dog enjoys riding in the car for 10 minutes. After that she cries nonstop until we get home.

Good luck. The only time moving wasn’t torture with and for cats was when they were loose in the cab of a semi truck because there was a bed and a couple of kids to wrangle them anytime we stopped. I have no idea if that was a good idea; i was just a wrangling kid.

Read that as fry them up. I was like, that’s a bit extreme…

Tastes like chicken I think.

Drove across country with two cats in soft-shell carriers. One was 2yrs and the other was 4wks. The older cat absolutely despised the car and the carrier, but thankfully she stopped crying after about an hour the first day.

We had absorbent pads for them to pee on it their carriers, but we only gave them food and water when we stopped. The carriers opened from the top and side, so it was easy enough to slip them open and feed them.

We packed the car so we could place the carriers at window level. The cats could peak out the side windows or watch us in the front. That really seemed to help.

We were traveling in a Pontiac Vibe with the two cats plus 150lbs’ worth of dogs. The second day, while we were stuck in gridlock on a Dallas highway, my wife saw a kitten running between the stopped cars. Before I could say anything, she opened the door and tried to swipe up the kitten while it ran by, but missed. It would have been great to save that cat, but I don’t want to imagine what would’ve happened if we suddenly tossed a startled kitten in a small car with two people, two cats, and two dogs.

I’ve moved with cats several times. My $0.02:

  1. Think you can just carry your cat into the car? NOPE. Do not attempt this. Cat will freak the fuck out and bolt, and then you’ll spend the next 8 hours looking for it. Instead, secure the cat in a carrier. Cover the carrier with a towel or sheet. Carry the carrier into the car. Once you’re driving, if you want to release the cat, you can… but:
  2. Cats LOVE the little space under the brake pedal. Want to squish your cat? Probably not. Your passenger may need to be on cat extraction duty.
  3. One thing that worked for me on a cross-country cat-move is a cat harness. When I stopped at rest stops, cat came with me, just to get some fresh air. You’ll need to prep your cat a bit first, by trying on the harness at home where it’s safe. If you can, do this several / many times in the days before the trip, and combine it with cat treats. I’d recommend a harness over a collar/leash because cats are phenomenal at getting out of collars exactly when you’d rather they didn’t.
  4. Cats will go to the litterbox in the car. I haven’t had any cat urine incidents.

Good luck! Post pics!

About harnesses, bird harnesses can be a very rewarding experience. If you can get the bird to agree. The bird usually wants to chew on it. Not wear it.