Hello. I have two cats. A nine year old neutered male, and a 3 year old neutered female. They both have lived with us in the High Desert of California thier entire lives. We have a kitty door, and they are allowed to go in and out as they choose. We are now moving to Montana, and I need to travel with them in a car for about 1,000 miles. The female has never been in a car (except when we brought her home), and the male HATES it. He even starts to hyperventilate on the way to the vet. Any tips?
You have two options: Forget the car travel for the cats, and ship them (or travel with them) by air. I'm not sure if the former would even be allowed, since many airlines discontinue shipping live animals during the summer because of the extreme heat in baggage compartments.
The second is to try to accustom them to car travel prior to your move. Depending on how they get along with each other, they may be more comfortable sharing a large crate, or in two smaller carriers. Make their crate(s) seem like "home" by putting their food inside and leaving the door open so they can freely come and go. Try this for several days before even thinking about putting them in the car.
Start with short drives around the block. Eventually, when your male cat finds that he *isn't* going to end at the veterinarian's, he may calm down. Stop along the way and talk to your kitties. Feed them a special treat and tell them how good they're being.
Ask your veterinarian for help with this. It may be necessary to use a tranquilizer to calm the male, especially, for the long trip. Look into Bach Flowers - Rescue Remedy is highly recommended for calming cats. It can be administered by putting a few drops in their water bowl, or alternately, by diluting and rubbing a few drops on their ears.
For the trip itself, you'll need to make a few preparations.
- Make sure your cats' vaccinations are up to date.
- Invest in a couple of good harnesses and leashes. Your kitties will need frequent rest stops along the way, and you don't want to take the chance of their escape in a strange place. They should be familiar with walking on leashes before your trip. You'll find easy tips for leash training in my How To section.
- Make sure that their ID tags have your cell phone number or a permanent phone number someone can call in the event they do slip away. If your cats aren't already microchipped, you may want to consider that option also.
- Carry plenty of bottled water, food, and portable litter boxes. You can find disposable litter boxes at most large pet stores. If you are travelling during the summer months, ice from a cooler will help keep their water cold and tempting.
- Be sure to put their favorite "blankies" and toys in their crates, so they will feel more at home.
There is also a full resource section on travelling with cats where you will find much more information, at http://cats.about.com/cs/travelwithcats/
Good luck on your move - by doing your homework you are ensuring a safe and relatively stress-free trip for your cats.