Today, as part of our series on traveling with your cat, I’m interviewing Kimberly, better known as “Rosie and Cheeto’s Mom.”
Rosie and Cheeto are road trip veterans, having logged over 5000 miles crisscrossing the United States. I caught up with Kim to find out more about her experiences and get her tips on traveling with cats.
Karen: How far have you traveled with your cats?
Kim: Rosie and Cheeto have journeyed all across the United States. Theyve navigated trips from Miami-to-Michigan-to-San Francisco and most recently, the trip from San Francisco to Chicago. All in all Rosie and Cheeto have traveled more than 5,000 miles in the car.
Karen: Have they always been good about traveling in the car?
Kim: The cats arent too keen on road trips especially Rosie.
Karen: How do you deal with it?
Kim: The first 20 minutes are typically spent screaming.
Karen: Does screaming at the cats help?
Kim: Oh no no no it’s not me who’s screaming, it’s Rosie and Cheeto. I usually turn on music and pretend that they are singing with me. They prefer the open road (highway) to city driving because there is less stop and go.
I dont let them out of their PTU (Prisoner Transportation Units) unless I am traveling with another person. When I let them out of their carriers, Cheeto hides underneath the passengers seat with his booty sticking out. Rosie, on the other hand, needs to be touching me all times. I refer to her as my fifth appendage.
Karen: Do you reserve hotels beforehand?
Kim: During road trips I prefer not to reserve hotel rooms in advance.
Karen: How do you find pet-friendly accommodations?
Kim: I typically just go up and ask if they are pet-friendly.
A couple of inexpensive motels that are pet-friendly include: Red Roof Inn (no extra fee), Motel 6 (no extra fee) Best Western and Candlewood Suites.
Karen: Do you ever just sneak the cats in even if pets are prohibited?
Kim: I confess, on occasion I have snuck them into the hotel with me (wink).
Karen: When Rosie and Cheeto stay at hotels with you, do they have a hard time adjusting to the new surroundings?
Kim: Rosie and Cheeto are always excited to get out of the car after a long day of driving. After using the litter box they typically hide underneath the bed or behind a chair.
Before I let them out of their cages I always do an inspection of the hotel room. I also make it a point to look at the box spring of the bed to make sure there isnt an opening where they can sneak in. I learned early on that Cheeto likes to hide in the box spring and will do everything he can to avoid getting back into his carrier.
Its also very important to put the do not disturb sign on the door. The last thing you want is a maid opening the door for the cats to run out of the room.
Karen: How did you prep your parents for the drive from San Francisco to Michigan? Did they know what they were getting into?
Kim: Fortunately my mom drove to San Francisco with me so she knew what to expect. I made sure my parents car was equipped with a disposable litter box, food, water, blankets and paper towels (just in case).
Karen: Do you have a litter box set up in the car? Do the cats let you know when they’ve got “to go”?
Kim: Yes, I make sure the cats have a litter box in the car. You can purchase disposable litter boxes at most pet stores. The cats dont really let you know when they have to go, but you sure can smell it once they do! Knock on wood they have yet to have a litter box mishap in the car.
Karen: Can you drive as long as you like with the cats in the car, or do they have a limit to have far they’re willing to go in a day?
Kim: They arent too picky about the amount of driving we do, but I try not to overwhelm them. To make it easy on them, and me, I try to get at least seven hours of rest in a hotel room.
Karen: Were you able to enjoy the trip and see the sights, or were you limited in what you could do with two cats in tow?
Kim: Unfortunately, Ive found that traveling with cats limits what you can and cannot do on road trips. Although some may disagree, I dont like to leave my cats alone in the car for any period of time.
Karen: Ever let them drive?
Kim: No, Ive seen what happened with Toonces. I will however let them snoopervise from the passengers seat.
Karen: Any travel tips you’d like to share?
Kim: Be careful when traveling with cats not to let them interfere with the driver for any reason. They can cause havoc if cats get below the drivers seat.
When traveling alone I prefer to keep the cats inside their carriers. They typically scream and yell for the first 20 minutes but eventually calm down.
Road trips are not the time to test out new harnesses or walking devices. I tried out a harness with Rosie in a restaurant parking lot and forgot there was a breakaway safety collar. Fortunately she ran directly to my dad, but it could have been a HUGE disaster!
Karen: I’m glad it turned out alright! I’ve read horror stories of cats getting loose at rest stops, and the families (unbelievably) continuing the trip without them.
Thanks for the tips, Kim, and give Rosie and Cheeto some headbonks from me and Skeezix!
For more information on traveling with your cat, check out Catster’s Forum on Cats & Travel.
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