Thursday, January 24, 2013

Traveling with cats

Who, me?

The most challenging part of this move was, of course, dealing with the cats. Our two blind cats travel relatively well--that is, as long as I let them roam freely about the car, they don't freak out too much. Because they're blind, they can't really see what's going on; one of them will usually settle on the armrest between the seats, and the other will settle on my lap. They have no interest in eating or drinking (or using the bathroom) while they're in the car, even if those things are  made available, even if it's a 12-hour drive.

The downside is that they're roaming freely about the car; even once they've settled and stopped yowling (mostly), they'll still get up periodically and wander. Just to make sure everything's the same, I suppose. Also, they're not eating or drinking or using the bathroom; while that's less of a hardship for animals, I still worry about them. The constant in and out of the car for a week has taken its toll on one of them--she's lost some weight.

Fortunately, they've had a few days to recover, and since they've moved cross-country before, I have no reason to doubt they'll settle into our new home nicely.

If you are traveling cross-country with pets, here are some pointers.

I bought a supply of heavy-duty aluminum foil roasting pans at Sam's Club, and used those as disposable litter boxes. I had a bag of cat food, some newspapers, a scooping thing, a jug of cat litter, and two Tupperware containers. Every night, I put down some newspaper, put some litter into a foil pan, and set out the Tupperware dishes with cat food and water. In the morning, I just folded up the foil pan and dropped it in the trash, and put the lid on the food and water dishes and away we went.

Try to pack lightly. We couldn't really, because we were moving as opposed to going on vacation, but the more room your pets have in the car, the happier they'll be.

Put some towels down. Cat hair (or dog hair) will get all over the seats.

Keep some treats handy for when they're particularly stressed.

Make sure you're stopping at pet-friendly hotels. Some chains claim to be pet-friendly, but then will charge you $100 a night, per pet, non-refundable, which in my mind is not really pet-friendly at all. The two cheapest and most reliably pet-friendly chains are Motel 6 and La Quinta. Motel 6 is the cheapest and most ubiquitous; La Quinta is a little bit more expensive, but it's also nicer, and you get free breakfast and coffee starting at 6 am. Both have rooms with mini-fridge and microwave.

Keep some Febreze and paper towels in the car. Just in case.

Napping on my leg

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