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Travels with Cats

September 27th, 2012

You may remember back when I asked advice on traveling with cats. If you haven’t read the comments on that post you should, many of them are hilarious! The plan was to get a sedative, but then my vet wasn’t keen on it. That left me searching for other options.

Amazingly, the few options I tried worked like a charm. We barely heard a peep out of them for the entire 15 hours of travel. Heather and I were AMAZED and kept commenting on how well the cats were doing. Every now and then Dexter would let me know if I went around a corner too fast or braked too hard, but other than that, they were so quiet. What did I use that worked so well?

Maybelline recommend Thundershirts for Cats, so I ordered one for each cat hoping they would do the trick. At $40 each they were pricey, but I figured I would have spent a pretty penny for sedatives. These would also be able to be used in the future if they worked. If not, they have a money back guarantee. I figured I couldn’t lose.

We got the shirts a week before travel and tried them on Dexter, Samson & Soafie. Dexter took to it the best, he walked over and laid down in his box and slept for a few hours. Samson and Soafie didn’t mind them for a bit, but then they wanted out of them.

Amazingly, on the morning of travel, I even got the feral cat into a thundershirt. She didn’t seem to mind much at all. It’s a good thing she has her mama’s sweet disposition!

I figured I needed something in addition to the shirts, so I purchased some herbal calming cat treats. They were a great addition to the travel regimen. I gave them all a treat every day for a few days before travel. The morning of our trip, they each got two. Then halfway through the long drive they all got another one. I definitely could tell a difference on the days they received the treats. They were especially helpful since we were busy packing and loading the trucks. The cats slept away the days without a care.

Another thing I did to help ease travel stress was to give them each a few milligrams of melatonin before our trip. We had a vet that recommended this once for Dexter when he was dealing with motion sickness. I like to use this naturally derived fermented melatonin.

When we arrived in Maine, the cats were put in one room and kept there for a few days. Then they were moved to the back screened in porch with lots of windows. On Monday, we let them loose in the house (including the feral cat). In a few more days, we might let the feral cat and Dexter outside for small bits of time to let them explore. We haven’t quite decided how to transition them to their outdoor lives again. Dexter is ready to go outside now and is letting us know. He does not like to be cooped up in the house!

All-in-all, we were very happy with the products that we chose to use. I am very pleased with the thundershirts and know they’ll be put to good use from now on when traveling to the vets and other places. Luckily, we don’t plan on taking the cats on a 14-16 hour car trip again. I can barely make it that long in the car and was so happy the cats did so well!

What’s the longest you can spend in a car without going stir crazy?

26 Comments to “Travels with Cats”
  1. Kathi Cook on September 27, 2012 at 6:22 am

    Glad it went so smoothly for you! I can last for about 5 hours in a car then I can’t stand it. My husband likes to get long car trips “over with” while I prefer to break them into smaller sections.

    Reply to Kathi Cook's comment

  2. Adelina Anderson on September 27, 2012 at 6:27 am

    We traveled from NH to Columbus, OH. I believe the only way my husband got me to get into the car was a promise of driving through the Finger Lakes and stopping at a winery. It was a very long trip, but we didnt have cats with us – we had the kids….

    Reply to Adelina Anderson's comment

  3. Corrie on September 27, 2012 at 7:32 am

    We regularly drive to Atlanta from Cincinnati, a solid 8 hours. That’s my max, and usually at 7 hours I start going stir crazy. I’m so glad you brought the feral cat with you. I would have missed seeing her sweet face.

    Reply to Corrie's comment

  4. Denimflyz on September 27, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I was so worried about traveling with your tribe to Maine and your new home. I am so very happy that you have made it and everything is going well.
    Enjoy your new adventures in your new home, I am so very excited for you.

    Reply to Denimflyz's comment

  5. whit on September 27, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Thanks for the feedback on the methods you used on your cats. We take our scaredy indoor cat to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Idaho every once in awhile, and i feel so bad for her because this delicate little petal because hides in under the seats the whole 8 hrs. I used to have a cats the loved trips so much, he’d sit in the drivers lap and purr the whole trip. When you got close to the destination, he’d start meowing and hanging his head out the window. :)

    I love car rides. I can spend hours in the car. We used to take trips driving back and forth from AZ to CT or Canada once a year or two. We would drive to CA or Northeen AZ practically every month. So glad my folks did that, because we got to see so much country!

    Reply to whit's comment

  6. Kara on September 27, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Oh I’m glad it went well and so glad that you did find Dexter after he went walkabout. :)

    When you do let them out, one trick that works well is to put some butter or olive oil on their paws before you do. They’ll sit to clean their paws first, rather than just dashing off, and it gives them a chance to get their bearings outside first. They’re less likely to take off and get lost in unfamiliar surroundings that way.

    Reply to Kara's comment

    • Susy on September 27, 2012 at 11:46 am

      Great tip, I’ll have to try that.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Peggy on September 27, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Thank you so very much for passing on this information. We currently do not have a cat due to allergies but look forward to the days we can have cats again.

    I am okay as long as we only have a day or two of 10 hour days (drove 19 hrs once with 3 boys ages 9 and under…. never again!) However when we drove 11 days in a row with the average drive time being 10 hours (one day at 8 hours and the rest 10 to 12 hours) I was definitely getting stir crazy by the end especially since we had the same 3 boys (ages 15 & down this time) plus a newfoundland and a small dog.

    Have a great day! And I am so glad your transition to Maine is going well.

    Reply to Peggy's comment

  8. Nicole on September 27, 2012 at 11:34 am

    We moved quite a bit when I was little and we had cats the whole time. Every time we moved to a new home, my mother would put Vaseline on their paws. I asked at one time why she did this and she explained that they are very clean animals and will lick it off their paws, when they do that they will pick up the scent of their new home and not want to return to the old one. I have no idea if this is true but we never had any of the cats run away and they were all outdoor/indoor cats.

    I love your site, I have been lurking around for over a year and finally decided I needed to comment. Good luck in your new adventure.

    Reply to Nicole's comment

  9. Michelle Beissel on September 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Fantastically helpful post, never heard about thundershirts before. The cat that is keeping us at present loves his carrier so much, he uses it as a bed, so we just keep him in his carrier while traveling in cars. Usually, with the other felines that I have known, they stay under my seat or in my lap.

    If I am enjoying the conversation that is going on in the car, then I actually will not want to leave the car! In general, I just go into semi-animation mode and deal with long, boring trips that way.

    Reply to Michelle Beissel's comment

  10. Maybelline on September 27, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Glad the Thundershirts worked. You really should let them know of your success. Mine helped a bit for a panicky English Mastiff during fireworks but he felt much better coming inside.

    Good luck in Maine. There’s probably no more room for all of you in Ohio with all the politicians swarming.

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

    • Susy on September 27, 2012 at 2:32 pm

      You’re right, we were laughing about how all the politicians decided it was Ohio week. We got out of there just in time!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. Michelle on September 27, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Awesome! I’ll have to think about getting those for my girls. They’re ok for short trips (my alpha kitty likes to be up front and watching) but for anything more than 20 minutes the siamese-like yowling begins. :P Glad you got everybody to the new home in one piece. I love car trips- my uncle and I drove to Seattle WA from Morgantown WV in three days, and I had a blast. My husband, however, HATES car trips. :P Moving across the country in a couple of years is gonna be fun lol.

    Reply to Michelle's comment

  12. Rocky on September 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Welcome to Maine, the way life should be.

    I am glad to hear that you and your critters’ move went smoothly. To be honest with you, when I asked you if you are getting those Thunder cats suits on Twitter, I was bit skeptical of it’s effect. Though, I suppose they did not transform into Cheetara, my favorite character in that animation, or did they? ;)

    You may have written this somewhere in your blog, but may I ask why you decided move to rural Maine? I mean, What attracted you most? If organic farming is your dream, there are much better place to grow vegetable than northern climate of New England. I’m just curious.

    Reply to Rocky's comment

  13. Deb on September 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Please tell me what the shirts do to make traveling easier? I guess I missed the explanation on this. Glad they all traveled well and hope the feral cat and Dexter don’t run off and get lost. Are they fixed? that may help curtail the adventures.

    Reply to Deb's comment

    • Susy on September 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      All the cats are fixed, though Dexter came to us when he was a year old so he was fixed later in life.

      The shirts are like compression shirts, so it’s kind of like swaddling a baby. It exerts gentle pressure that makes them feel safe. I knew Dexter would like it because he likes to be wrapped tightly in a towel when in the car instead of being put in a kennel. Seems to work like a charm because none of our cats travel well, it’s very stressful for them. With the shirts on they were much calmer & less stressed.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Jessica on September 27, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    This is really great info. I’m planning to get the herbal treats to keep in my emergency kits in case we ever need to evacuate because of a hurricane or something like that. The Thundershirts, too! If we have to travel with the cats, especially on short notice, this will be very helpful.

    I’ve just recently read that Dr. Bach’s Rescue Remedy can help pets with travel, too. (Sorry, I didn’t see it until after y’all moved.)

    How did the Chiots handle the travel?

    Reply to Jessica's comment

    • Susy on September 27, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      Yes, we’ve tried the Bach’s Rescue Remedy for one of the cats and we didn’t notice much difference. The melatonin had a much better calming effect. Great idea to keep the treats & thundershirts in the emergency kit!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  15. sharon on September 27, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    OMG yo are such a good cat parent!!…wo I know about the squeeze box for cattel this shirt is a great idea…I didnt even know they made chill treats for cats! great post

    Reply to sharon's comment

  16. Laura Sparks on September 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Wow! I’m thrilled to hear about your success. I too am facing a 15 hr relocation trip with FIVE cats!
    Not sure I can afford a Thundershirt for all but may try it on my worst traveller.
    I was excited to read about your success with both the treats and Melatonin. I had no idea! I am a firm believer in Melatonin’s benefits for my daughter & I, but hadn’t even thought about our furry family.
    Can you give me an idea of the dosage you used? I would be crushing up tablets that are 3mg.
    Thanks for a very informative & encouraging blog.
    Thank you Thundershirts for sharing it on FB!

    Reply to Laura Sparks's comment

    • Susy on September 28, 2012 at 7:04 pm

      I used a dosage of 2-4 mg for each cat. I just lifted up their lip and used an eye dropped to drip the melatonin on their teeth/gums. You might have to redose.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  17. Abril on October 27, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Hi!!! I like also the cat carrier!! What brand is it?? Is it comfy?


    Reply to Abril's comment

  18. Michelle on July 22, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    I will tell your that your story was a HUG SUCCESS on my end.. I moved from Illinois to Texas with 4 cats in crates, in a truck for over 17hr drive, and THANKS to YOU and your story, I took your advice and bought the Thunder shirts and melatonin. Well to say the least, they were ALL angels.. I was so stressed, scared and nervous alone with the move and than the kids(cats) not sure what I was up against. But the whole ride to Texas was just remarkable in how they reacted to everything. Your inspirational story along with helping our move go anxiety free. THANK YOU from Azizi, Seager, Carmel, Kashmir :)

    Reply to Michelle's comment

  19. Tanya Downs on January 11, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    Hi, I was just wondering, did you let your cats out for toilette breaks during this road trip or did they stay asleep for the whole trip. We are being transferred back to Europe at the end of the year and so I’m looking for ways to make the trip as peaceful as possible for our cat. The last time she was totally stressed out.

    Reply to Tanya Downs's comment

    • Susy on January 14, 2015 at 9:02 pm

      No toilet breaks, they did fine for the entire trip. We stopped feeding the previous evening to give them time to digest their food.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  20. Ashley on July 13, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    Hello… I am so happy I just found this post. We are moving cross country (from Canada to California) with my 3 cats soon and looking for all the tips we can find. But even before that, as we are in a temporary new home till the move, one cat is meowing so loud through the night. We just put him on Zylkene, we hope to see results but I have been researching about melatonin for kitties. I can’t seem to find any vet’s that can tell me anything about if it’s ok for him and if so, for how long. I was hoping 3 months. I have given him about 1mg of over the counter stuff. Is this melatonin you bought different/better than the over the counter pills? Why did your vet recommend these particularly?Thanks for any help you can give.

    Reply to Ashley's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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