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In a few months I will be moving across the US with 2 cats (The female is introverted and will slink away to hide when the unexpected happens. The male is a lot more outgoing, but can be unexpectedly skittish.)

At the moment I am debating between flying and driving them. My assumption of the pro's and cons of each type of trip are:

Fly

  • Pro: Shorter duration: 2 flights over 7 hours
  • Con: Higher stress environment: noisy, bustling airports and planes
  • Con: Once the trip starts, it cannot be stopped.
  • Con: More expensive: Need 1 booked person and $125 per cat

Drive

  • Pro: Lower stress: It's just like a really long trip to the vet
  • Pro: Can take a time out from traveling if needed.
  • Pro: Cheaper: Just Gas and hotel rooms
  • Con: A much longer duration: 26 hours of driving spread over 3 days

My assumption is that the driving will suck for me (but I have the time to do it), but will be better for the cats (they can better handle the lower level but longer duration stress).

Is this a valid assumption about the levels of stress of each type of trip, and in general how cats react to such stress?

Note that while Travelling with cat by plane is great for tips on that mode of transportation, my question is more about comparing flying with driving.

And Is it feasible to take cat on a 1400 mile, 21+ hour road trip? is great for the driving part.


Update

After speaking to our vet (who knows our cats and their personalities) we have decided to go with the flying option.

Our vet will also prescribe anti-anxiety drugs for the trip (even though the airlines say not to dose the cats up), and has recommended that we do multiple trials of the drugs well prior to the flights in order to gauge how much of the drug is needed on the day.

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It essentially depends on your cats personality, I traveled quite a few times with mine and it was always a big deal by plane but fine by car(almost no stress as she had more space and we could more easily interact with her).

The plane was really noisy and the personel always asked to put her on the floor but when she had no eye contact with us it was always more stressfull

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  • I'm not sure how well one of cats would handle the stress. We boarded her with a vet for 10 days once, and the vet ended up having to give her valium in order to get her to eat and drink – Peter M Jan 8 '19 at 18:40
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My skittish cat tolerated both a cross country drive and a cross country flight similarly. So, I'd pick the one that works better for you. If you include car wear-and-tear the two costs might be similar. A couple ideas if you choose driving: Give the cats a perch to look out the window and give them a cozy hiding spot like a foot well. For safety keep them away from the drivers feet. If a cat hates your motel or friends house then them stay in the car overnight.

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    Well the car has to me moved somehow. And while I agree that cats travel better if they can see, it is also less safe for them to be out of a container. – Peter M Jan 8 '19 at 18:37
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    I'm downvoting this for the sketchy advice to let the cats be loose in the car--that's very dangerous for both the cats AND the driver! There are ways to keep the cats comfortable and safe, and it would be better to have suggestions along those ideas than one recommending something so unsafe. – Allison C Jan 9 '19 at 15:25

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