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I have been thinking about driving from Massachusetts to Florida, but was not sure how feasible it is to do so with a cat. The cat is a vaccinated (to MA standards) inside cat, little less than 2 years old and knows to use her sandbox. My car, on another hand, is a mini SUV.

I am prepared to stop for breaks and even stay overnight in a hotel on my way down, I just am not sure if the trip is practical.

Should I pack the sandbox and some clean sand, and make sure I can find a hotel where I can take the cat into the room? I would be staying in a hotel or some long term apartment in Florida, and the cat would definitely be inside there as well.

Are there any health considerations for the kitty from this kind of change of climate?

How do other people do this sort of trips, or is it not recommended?

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    Is this like a vacation sort of trip, or a moving sort of trip? – Ash Feb 17 '15 at 2:47
  • Thanks @Ashley Nunn, this is a vacation type of trip, in the sense that I would be working remotely in Florida for 2-4 weeks and then come back to MA. My daughter does not want to leave the cat here in MA (even if we would have someone to come and check on it daily) which is why I would take the cat with me, if at all possible. – coderworks Feb 17 '15 at 4:06
  • Ah, knowing that you are intending to stay somewhere at the end of the drive for a significant amount of time also may make a difference in the feasibility. Thanks for that info! – Ash Feb 17 '15 at 4:12
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    I've done it for vacation and for moving. I leave the cats "loose" in the car and have a litterbox for them to use. They would get water at every break and access to food more rarely. Some hotels are pet-friendly, which gives the option to stop on the road. – tedder42 Feb 17 '15 at 4:28
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It all depends on the personality of your cat I think, but for the most part, I consider it do-able.

I've made a similar trip several times for visiting family on holidays. Though my drive is only 12 hours, I've never had any problems. On the other hand, my sister's cats seem to always put up a fuss even though their drives are significantly shorter.

The difference I think, is how the cats were introduced to the car. I knew as soon as I had my cats that they would need to be okay with being in a moving car, so I took time to take them on short drives around town, to help them get used to the feeling. After the drives were over, they immediately got fed treats and their favorite soft food to help show that car rides were a good thing.

Nowadays I don't make so many trips aside from the yearly holiday visits, so they do squawk a bit for the first hour, but they quickly get settled down and become used to the feeling again.

For the ride itself, I personally don't stop on my trip, I just let the cats free in the backseat of my car where they have a litter box, food, and water available. If you don't want to let your cats out of their carrier, then I would recommend stopping every 4 hours or so to make sure they drink and use the litter box if needed.

Depending on how your cats do in the car, you might want to get them some calming treats, or similar anti-anxiety aids. I used some treats on the first trip I made and they seems to work pretty well. Unfortunately there is always the risk of one of the cats getting carsick, so I would also pack a roll of paper towels and some small plastic bags to clean up if necessary.

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When my husband and I moved from Brooklyn back to the Seattle area, we had to arrange for our two hairless cats to be driven across country for 3 days in a small SUV. One of the cats has anxiety, but they are both pretty social and adapt easily to their surroundings. We had the vet prescribe a sedative for the drive and my husband administered it to them regularly. We had a litter box in the back of the SUV and put the seats down so that they could easily roam.

By the time they reached Washington, they seemed to be on edge (as expected) but were fine by the next morning. I would say, as long as you talk to your vet ahead of time and the cats are healthy, that this shouldn't be an issue. Both of my cats were around 2 years old and have only lived indoors with each other. Outside of the occasional trip to the vet, they have lived in the same studio apartment their entire lives. If you're okay with it, I would highly recommend getting a sedative (at least just in case).

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For long road trips, consider an extra large carrier with litterbox, such as this one, and secure it in the vehicle's rear seats. This will help protect your cat from changes in the car's movement or in case of accident. A familiar and safe cave to hide in will also comfort the cat at any overnight stops along the way and at your destination. (As with any carrier, leave it out for the cat to explore for several days prior to use.)

Depending on how your cat reacts to car travel and/or being trapped in a carrier, discuss anxiety medication (not sedation!) with your vet. One of my cats was shipped to me by air, and his vet recommended Benadryl; after 2 flights and over 8 hours total travel time, he arrived more calm than most humans would.

Finally, get a travel health certificate from your vet, which shows the vaccinations received and when they expire and other useful info; your vet should be familiar with it. This is not legally required for travel by car, so you can ignore the expiration date of the certificate itself, but if your cat needs medical attention or escapes, having that info handy can avoid a possible quarantine.

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First -- Sand, sand box????

The use of sand for a litter box was thrown out decades ago. Clumping litter is the best sort of litter.

Do you really use actual sand? Switch to a clumping litter and you will not believe the difference odor reduction, and ease of cleaning the litter box.

As to a road trip of any length. You have to see if you can get the cat used to the car. You can do so by taking the cat on sort, frequent drives of longer and longer distance and observe how the cat reacts.

As to hotels or motels, there are more and more than have no problem taking in feline or canine guests. Just make sure you are a responsible guest and insure that the cat has a proper litter box which is kept clean and that there are no food or water spills. If the cat throws up - which is simply something all cats do occasionally - clean it up quickly. Don't be afraid to ask them for help or for some cleaning supplies.

Are you really using sand??

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