Summer’s here and you’re excited for all the road trips planned this season! The best part is that you’ve decided to take your pets along for every trip. That’s right – there’s no reason to leave your cat or dog behind – all it takes is a little planning.
This is where we come in! Look at our pet travel checklist as four separate lists:
Let’s assume you don’t need help with clothes and toiletries (always pack extra underwear!) – so this list is going to focus on the baby animals alone.
We’re also going to assume that you have your own checklists for the car, the hotels and that your pets are in good health and up to date with their shots and treatments. It wouldn’t be too much fun for anyone if you’re taking a sick cat or dog on a road trip.
- Beds, collars and leashes: Especially if we’re talking about cats. The more familiar you’re able to make your holiday home, the easier it is for your cat to get comfortable sooner. Invest in a good quality leash, if this is the first time you’re taking your cat outdoors.
- Toys: You know your pet best so take as many as you think needed, prioritising their favourite toys. For cats, maybe take a few empty boxes along too.
- Scratching posts: You also don’t want your cat to get comfortable to the point that she’s marking any furniture. As with the bed, the more familiar furniture you can take along, the easier it gets for her to be comfortable.
- Food and treats: Take a little extra – remember, there’s no PetO if you fall short. And be sure to take plenty of their favourites. This includes bones for the dog, and wet food treats to lure your cat.
- Travel crate: In a car emergency, you want the same level of protection for your cats and dogs, as you would for yourself. Make sure their crates are lined with familiar blankets and cushions, or even t-shirts that you’ve worn recently.
- Kitty litter and tray: Err on the side of extra litter – like way extra litter, and make sure you take the same tray and brand of kitty litter that your cat is used to, i.e., minimise new experiences.
- Car seat covers, seat belts and vacuum cleaner: Pet stores stock excellent dog travel harnesses and seat belts – get them. Make sure your pup is securely strapped in.
- Food and water bowls: If the holiday home already has pet bowls, then you don’t need to take these along. However, if your pet is particular (or if you’re super particular), then go ahead and pack their food and drink bowls too.
Before you leave
Okay, so your bags are packed, Spotify road trip playlist set and you’re ready to go. Make sure you check off the following list before pulling out of your driveway:
- Feed your pets: Especially your cat. The car ride is going to be new and strange, and you don’t want a rumbly tummy adding to your cat’s worry. Assuming she won’t eat immediately on arrival either, best to start the journey on a full stomach. If this is the first time your cat is riding in the car with you, be sure not to overfeed her. Cat vomit does not make for a good holiday start.
- Make sure no one needs to use the loo.
- Lay out the seat covers, fix all seat belt attachments.
- Keep pet treats handy.
- Make things as comfortable as possible. Have the air con running at a comfortable temperature, and play some calming music. You don’t necessarily need soft piano. but Slayer might be a bit much.
On the drive
This may or may not apply to your road trip so have a quick read, and pick the ones that apply.
- Keep a close eye on the cat: Dogs are used to car journeys and boredom will be your only challenge. With cats, each trip could well be starting from scratch. If you’ve made everything as comfortable as possible, your cat will settle down. But be ready to turn around if she starts wailing continuously. After all, no holiday is worth stressing her out that much.
- Do you need loo breaks? This will depend on the age and usual habits of your pets.
- Make sure that your pup doesn’t have to hold it in for too long or you’re going to put him through unnecessary stress. Loo breaks for your cat are going to be a double-edged sword. Your cat probably won’t even need a loo break, unless you’ve overfed her (in which case, you’d best be prepared with an army’s supply of cleaning equipment).
- Repeat step 1.
Hopefully everyone had a comfortable car ride over. Now it’s time to make sure everyone has a pleasant stay and there are no stinky surprises waiting for you on your first morning.
- Set up the loos. Show the dogs where they can go. If your dog’s already housebroken, this won’t be a problem. However, establish a loo area, so you won’t need to go crawling around to see if he left a present behind the bushes because he suddenly developed a sense of shame.
- It’s important to set up the cat’s litter tray in as familiar a place as possible. If you share your bathroom back home, then make sure you set up the litter tray in the master bathroom here as well.
- Set up the cat’s bed. Again, set up the bed in as familiar a spot as possible. This could be under the master bed or in a sunny spot by the window. Check for hidey places.
- There is a very good chance that your cat is going to go into hiding the second you release her. Make sure that you can get her out of any hidey spots. If not, you’ll need to cut off access to those areas. This could mean keeping a bedroom door closed so that she can’t get under a low bed or blocking off under-the-cupboard areas. The overall strategy is to make sure it’s not a struggle to get her out again.
- By now, your dog would have run through the house, investigated every room and jumped on at least one major piece of furniture – all good here.
- And we can’t stress this enough – let your cat ease into the new home at her own pace. Show her where her bed, food, water, and litter tray are, and then simply leave her be. Trying to coax her out will only delay things.
Congratulations! You’re ready to get holidaying. Chances are that you’re going to leave the cat at home while you and the dog go on hikes (check out our suggested walks and parks in Sydney!) – and she probably prefers that. No matter what the day looks like, try and stay consistent. Maybe keep a similar morning or a winding down routine. More than the dog, this will help settle your cat into your holiday making it enjoyable for her as well as for you. The dog will have fun, no questions.