I will be spending several days at my parents house this coming weekend. They've been encouraging me to bring my cats with me, but so far I've been reluctant to do so. But this coming weekend my regular cat sitter will be busy (It turns out that other people also make plans during the holidays - who knew), so I'm considering the possibility more seriously than I have in the past.

Is this trip likely to help my cats get used to strange environments, or is it likely be a stressful catastrophe which will make all their hair fall out?

The cats

My cats are about a year and a quarter old - littermates that I adopted 10 months ago. I live alone and they've only met a few people so far. When my parents came to visit the other day the brother warmed up to them almost immediately, but the sister hid away for the entire visit. (On the other hand, when I first brought them home, it was the sister who first acclimated to my apartment). She has warmed up to other people, it just tends to take longer. They are indoor only cats, with full run of my 1 bedroom apartment.

They complain nearly constantly in the car, but on the other hand the only place I've ever taken them is the vet, so perhaps they have reason to complain.

The trip

My parents live about an hour away. The trip would be three nights, and they can stay in my old bedroom the entire time. I will be able to spend much of the first day in the same room as them, and I'll be in the house (but distracted) all of the second day.

I could bring the cats home on either of the first two nights if it proved necessary, but I'm not sure how to judge what 'necessary' is.

My parents have a dog - an ancient (and frankly rather sad) but friendly chihuahua terrier. He can be kept out of my bedroom entirely, although he does have a tendency to whine at my door when we do so.

  • Before you take them on a 1h ride, try small rides near your home, like 15mins, to see how they react to being inside a moving car Commented Dec 27, 2018 at 14:38

4 Answers 4


Your cats will probably hate the drive...

We have a good answer here about options for cats on 3 day trips taking them with you is an option.

While automatic feeding is an option, 3 days is a long time to be alone for the first time. It is also the window of time that is dangerous

Each cat is an individual. There are no absolutes. There is at least an even chance that when you get there and they are in your old room, they will adjust quickly and be happy to settle in. Obviously you want to bring their litter box(es) and bedding with you.

They will hate the trip home as well, but they will be glad to be home.

There are risks with traveling and risks of leaving them home alone.

Some cats are traveling for the holidays and some are staying home alone, and some people are choosing not to travel and stay home with their pets instead.

There is nothing wrong with choosing to travel with your cats. It sounds like you are in tune with their needs and personalities. Continue to pay attention to them and adjust as needed.


It all really depends on how well the individual cat deals with this sort of situation. From personal observation, the ones that do the worst are very timid cats and very territorial cats versus the type that are more adventurous.

A sign your cat is very terrorial is if you've noticed the cat seems adverse to any change to its territory, like if you move a piece of furniture or something like that. Another is if your cat seems timid of the area outside the door to your apartment, versus you have to be careful when going in and out or else they might try to escape.

Cats can show a variety of stress behaviors when in a new territory, and adult cats seem to get more distressed about it than kittens. Hair falling out is indeed one of them. Hiding and refusing to come out is also one. There's also rather undesirable behaviors such as failing to use the litterbox, spraying, or vomiting. Cats with certain chronic medical issues, hyperesthesia for example, might have flare ups.

Their behavior when going to the vet is probably a good relative gauge to tell how stressed they might get, and how badly they react to stress. Of course for most cats going to the vet is even more stressful than going on a trip, but it does have many things in common, such as a car ride, and arriving in an unfamiliar place, with the smell of strange people and animals.

Another possible data point is how well the cats deal with strangers. Do they hide and not come out when the cat sitter comes, or do they come out and let them pet them?

That all said, leaving them completely alone for the weekend seems overly long to leave them, although it might be doable. It certainly would be a less stressful option for them, but you might have problems like them refusing to use their box when it's not been cleaned in the past day.


It will be best for your cats to stay at home, but only if you can provide water and food for them for the time you are away.

So if your cats are free feeding or you have an automatic feeder, it is best for them to stay at home.

As you know, cats will be stressed in a moving car, and they will experience stress by coming to an unknown place, and the dog there might add to this.

Cats are very dependent on marking a new place with their own scent to be able to relax, and I think 3 days is too short for them to calm down.

If you leave them at home, you will need one litter box per cat plus one extra, and you need to fill a little more litter in them than you normally do to avoid them being soaked. Three days is at the upper limit of how long you can leave the litter unchanged.


I just took my cat away for a week to my parents. It was a two and a half hour drive. He travels really well. He had never met my parents before but on arrival he explored the house and then instantly settled and made friends rubbing on my mother’s feet and jumping onto my fathers lap. He slept with me the first night and slept on my parents bed every other night. He jumped up most evenings and cuddled into my father and then slept on his knee. He ate well, used his litter tray as normal and was happy and content. I think it depends on the individual cat. I would certainly take him away again. He also has a harness and lead and enjoyed walks in their garden.

  • 1
    Welcome to Pets, answers optimally should also contain some substance beyond individual experience, could you please add some information, thanks.
    – lila
    Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 12:48

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