Sunday, February 09, 2014

Traveling Cross Country With Cats

Before I moved from Washington State to Las Vegas, Nevada, I scoured the internet to try to find resources for how people have traveled with their felines when they drove multiple day trips.  Blog posts, FAQs, etc., were virtually unfindable.  As a result, I'm posting MY experience for the internet.

Moving me, my STUFF, my two LARGE Maine Coon cats, and my car on a two-day trip from Washington to Vegas.  I was towing my small car behind a 17-foot Uhaul that my friend was driving with me.

Here are my cats.  Cosmo and Lockwood.  Cosmo is a svelte 12 pounds.  Lockwood, a full-figured 24 pounds.  This makes things trickier than normal!

You can see that when I put all 36 pounds of them in their carrier, they take up every inch of space.

-Let my friend drive the Uhaul and I drive my car with the cats in it.
     The point of her coming with me was to be able to do it TOGETHER.  It would have been increased gas, additional wear and tear, plus I'm not sure I could have driven 12+ hours a day for 2 days alone.
-Put the cats in a carrier in the front of the Uhaul with us.
     My friend is slightly allergic to cats.  She would have had a migraine.  Things would have been TIGHT if we'd done this.  It would have been possible... but difficult.
-Fly my cats.
     Expensive and a logistical nightmare.  Who do you ask to bring your CATS to the airport for you???
-Cats in the back of the Uhaul.
     BAD idea.  Things adjust back there, especially considering all of the mountain passes we went over.  Don't do this.
-Cats in the towed car.

I stuck the cats in the back seat of my small car.  It was NOT perfect.  It was a pain in the rear.  But... they made it.  Here's the whole process.

 It was tight.  Their carrier is really a dog carrier.  Lockwood is BIG.  Bigger than most small dogs.  They STARTED in there.

I went to Target before I moved and got a soft-sided kennel for $30.  I loved it and it was HUGE.  The sides were made from mesh, so the boys could see out if I left it open.  There was enough room in it for a small litter box and my monstrous beasts.

The first night I dumped the boys in the red kennel and that's where they stayed.  At night I had an old blanket that I threw away afterward that covered the kennel.  They were cold, but it kept them insulated, as did Lockwood's tubby body, and their 4-5 inches of fur.  It surprisingly worked REALLY well.

I would pop in and check on them at EVERY stop.  As the day would go on and the car would warm up, I'd pull their blanket off of the kennel.  I actually cracked the windows open for fresh air at times. 

I fed them canned food for the whole trip.  Less than they normally would eat, but we were on the road 3 nights and 3 days. I used canned because it gave them higher moisture content.  Plus, when we stopped, I'd put a little bit of bottled water in a bowl for them to drink.  I just paid attention to how much they ate and gave them just enough.

I also purchased some natural remedies to help the boys chill.  I went to Mud Bay Granary, an amazing local chain of stores in Washington.  I highly recommend going somewhere like this and asking their opinion.  First, I used a dropper of something that I can't remember the name of to add to their food.  It was Nature Something... I think!  Anyway, it helped them calm down a bit.  Plus, I used an area spray that I would spray in the car to calm them down a little as well.  I needed everything I could get that was on my side!!!

I have big cats.  Big cats means...  Big... well... litter was an issue!  I used a small box that I already had and (tried) to keep a liner in it.  Every morning, I'd take out the liner and the used litter and throw it away, then reline and add a little more litter.  The boys would often readjust the liner... but it was OK for temporary use.  The litter box was the same size as the width of the kennel, so it fit perfectly.

OK, you can't travel for this long without stories.
TWICE I went to the car to check on the boys... and they were nowhere to be seen!  The first time was at a gas station where my driver-friend and I desperately needed to stop for us to use the human litter box!  We RAN to the bathroom and I almost didn't even check on the kitties since we'd just stopped not long before.  Good thing I did!  I walked up to the car, looked at the kennel and noticed 2 things...  1) it was crushed a bit in the back and looked really strange, and 2) there were no felines in sight.  Then suddenly--a flash of black moving in the front seat!  Needless to say, I had to carefully open the door, grab the carrier, and get BOTH cats into the carrier outside without losing them!  When my driver-friend came out of the gas station store and saw me wrestling my 24-pound Lockwood, I'm fairly sure she thought, "WHAT have I gotten myself into!!!"

They made it!  We had very few problems.  They were SO happy to get out of the car that they didn't have much trouble acclimating to their new home.

If you have questions about our trip, let me know.  I'm happy to share what I learned!

No comments: