You've bought a home several states away and it's time to plan out the move. Driving with your cat across the country can be fun if you start preparing a couple of months ahead of time. Few cats like change, and fewer enjoy car rides. Get your kitty accustomed to traveling and you'll have a furry companion with you on the trip to your new home.
Two Months Prior to Moving Day
Get your maps out or go online and plan put the driving route. Pace your schedule so you'll be in a larger city each night and easier to find accommodations. Then look for pet-friendly hotels and motels. Many places have a limited number of pet-friendly rooms. Book your reservations in advance so you won't be wandering through the city looking for a place to stay.
Get the cat carrier out and plan a few trips around your neighborhood with the kitty. If they have only seen the inside of the carrier when they go to the vet, they may have some bad anchors to it. Start with short trips around the block and gradually increase the trips to a half hour or more. This helps your cat learn that not all car rides end up at the veterinary clinic.
After a few short trips with your cat in the carrier, bring some food, water, and a disposable litter box. Stop at a park and let your cat out of the carrier to explore the car, the food, water, and litter. This will be the routine for several hours or days when you move, so this gives your cat the chance to get used to the format. The one unbreakable rule to keep with these practice trips is to never open a car door or window while the cat is out of the carrier. You don't want to be chasing your cat around the park, gas station, or motel parking lot.
One Month Prior to Moving Day
Get in touch with your veterinarian and request medical and vaccination records. You will want to give those to your new vet, and they will require the vaccination records if you need to buy a pet license in your new home city.
One Week Prior to Moving Day
Call each motel where you have a reservation to confirm your room. Make sure they have you in a pet-friendly room. Get the contact information for a pet hospital in each city in which you'll be staying. Hopefully you won't need it, but it's better to be prepared than have to scramble in the case of an emergency with your cat.
Get together food, bottled water and disposable litter boxes for the trip. Before you pack all of the cat toys and furniture away for the movers, pick out some favorite toys and blankets for the ride. They will make your cat more comfortable.
Put your cat in their carrier early in the day before all the activity starts in the house. They will get nervous and be harder to find and catch later. Put them in the car first and pack items around them. Your cat will actually feel safer if you pile items up around the carrier so they feel they are hidden away. Make sure you can still get the carrier door wide open for your cat.
When you're on the road, stop every couple of hours and check on the cat. They may be fast asleep, but may also be ready for a stretch break. They may eat and drink a bit and use the litter box. Or they may just walk around the car and go back in their carrier. By now, the carrier is their safe spot, so they'll migrate back there when ready.
Remember the one rule - When the cat is out, the car doors and windows stay closed!
When you get to your destination, you'll both need time to decompress. Do a little unpacking, then let your cat out of the carrier to explore. In a short time, they will have forgotten the road trip and be exploring their new home.
If you have any problems with your cat, call the professionals at Bijou Animal Hospital P.C. for qualified pet services.