Q: I seem to be facing a move from Long Island to southern North Carolina.
I am at a loss as to how to transport my 14-year-old Maine coon cat. We are both too old to drive 10 hours straight through, and a midway stop with my buddy seems impossible.
A: Cats travel a lot better than we may think. Cats have traveled with humans on sailing ships, covered wagons and on most every other means of transportation all over the globe. So your cat can easily travel with you from New York to North Carolina.
One thing that you have to accept is that most cats are miserable and unhappy while they are traveling. There is not much that you can do about this except cater to their biological needs.
I have traveled with cats on long road trips many times, and this is how I do it.
First, I get a rabbit or guinea pig cage about 26 to 28 inches long that has a wire top and a deep plastic bottom. I line it with a wee-wee pad and then a couple of inches of cat litter. I then put the cat in and cover the cage halfway with a blanket so the cat has some amount of security.
I put it in the back seat of the car or on the floor of the car if there is room. In the past, I tried putting a small litter box in the traveling cage with the cat and covered the rest of the bottom with a towel, but I noticed that invariably the cat curls up in the litter box the whole trip so that is why I decided to just make the whole bottom of the cage a litter box for the cat to travel in.
I always use a dust-free, pelleted type of cat litter such as Yesterday's News.
There is no point in putting any food or water in the cage with the cat if you are going to be with it in the car.
The cat will just be miserable anyway and will not want to eat, and the food and water will spill all over.
When you make a pit stop, you can offer the cat food and water. If he chooses to partake then, fine. If not, he will have the opportunity at the next stop.
Because the cage is lined with the litter, the cat will not feel inhibited if nature calls while you are traveling.
That removes one of the biggest discomfort situations for cats in transit.
If you stop at a pet-friendly hotel for the night, just take the wire top off the cage and leave the plastic base on the floor of the hotel room. The cat can use that as a litter box during your stay in the room.
If you have the time to prepare your cat for the trip, put him in the cage every day and go for a short ride in the car so that the unknown becomes known.
Animals bounce back quickly from situations like this, so just grit your teeth and move the cat in as comfortable a manner as possible. When it's over, it is over.