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  #1  
Old 06-22-2010, 06:54 PM
Anise Anise is offline
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How to drive cross-country with a cat?

Hi all... I really need some advice here. I'll be taking my cat to the vet next week and I'll definitely ask them, but I also want to see if anyone has tried doing this and if so, what their experiences were. I'll be moving 2,500 miles away in a month and a half. If all goes according to plan, we (brother and I) will be driving my van out and pulling a UHaul trailer. I also have to take my cat. My brother and his gf moved in the winter with 5 cats, and they had no problem. They just kept the cats in cat carriers and stayed in Motel 6's, where the cats were allowed to stay in the bathroom overnight.

My question is how to make sure my cat's safe in the summer. My van does NOT have air conditioning (I don't think it would be a good idea to use it while pulling a UHaul anyway.) I don't care, because I don't like it. (If I don't miss having it in Nashville during the summer, I definitely don't think I"ll need it in Portland.)

But *will my cat be okay riding with me in the front seat of the van with open windows in a cat carrier in August?* (big question.) (Clearly, I wouldn't be dumb enough to leave the cat IN the van at any point.) It's going to take about 4-5 days to drive.

Also, do any casual restaurants (Shoneys, Cracker Barrel, etc., or even McDonald's) allow you to bring in a cat in a cat carrier? Does *anyplace* allow this? Would most places even notice it if I just went in and out quickly?

All advice appreciated!
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  #2  
Old 06-22-2010, 07:11 PM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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One of you better be in a cage.
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  #3  
Old 06-22-2010, 07:14 PM
Bosstone Bosstone is offline
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My first instinct is that you shouldn't try it without AC. What might be moderately warm for you could be dangerous to the cat. But I live in Arizona, where lack of AC is basically a medical emergency in the summer. I don't have much experience with temperatures further north, so take it with a grain of salt.

No restaurants will allow a cat, even in a carrier. I can tell you that right now. Health codes and potential disturbance galore.

That all said, I have a friend who's made two cross-country trips with her cat, once from North Carolina to Arizona, then from Arizona up to Washington state, three days each. It's difficult and unpleasant, but doable. You'll want to give your cat as many rest stops as you have yourself; give it time to stretch out of the cage (you will need to keep it in a cage for everyone's safety) and use the litter box. I recommend making as few stops as possible before you get to the next motel. Once the cat's safely in a room and not in the van, that's the best time to resupply.
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  #4  
Old 06-22-2010, 07:22 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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A rubber hot-water bag, but filled with cold water & even ice chips, then covered with a towel and placed in the cage will really help to cool a cat down. They can control their own temperature, laying on it when needed or laying elsewhere when they are cool enough.

Remember that open windows and a breeze help you, but they won't do as much for the cat -- they are covered with fur, and don't have the expanse of skin to perspire and cool off in a breeze like you do.
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  #5  
Old 06-22-2010, 07:26 PM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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Originally Posted by gonzomax View Post
One of you better be in a cage.
And tranquilized. As it happens, I have driven about 1500 miles. I had my 8 year old daughter, three cats, and a hamster. The hamster was no trouble. I gave the cats the vet-prescribed tranks, and they were considerably less trouble, but they still didn't appreciate any part of the moving. And you really, really need some AC. Cats CAN pant, but you are going to need to keep the windows closed.

NO restaurant is going to allow any animals in the place, except for service animals. And they will notice. It's a health code violation, and they could get their license suspended or revoked for allowing animals. When I drove, we went to drive throughs to get our food. I locked up the car for a few minutes and took my daughter to the restroom.

You can also get animals shipped. This means paying for the cats to be boarded and then shipped, to allow you traveling time.
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  #6  
Old 06-22-2010, 07:40 PM
FluffyBob FluffyBob is offline
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Just taking our cats on the 20 minute ride to the vet seems traumatic for them. I know some cats travel well, if they have had experience with it.

I used to work in air cargo, saw quite a few animals and looked after them when necessary (cleaning kennels, trip to fire hydrant). Lots of dogs, cats were few and usually curled in an unhappy traumatized ball. The airline had a strict policy against tranquilizers.

Last edited by FluffyBob; 06-22-2010 at 07:43 PM.. Reason: edited to add bit about tranquilizers
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  #7  
Old 06-22-2010, 07:44 PM
Manduck Manduck is offline
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The treads would damage the pavement. Have it shipped by rail instead.
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Old 06-22-2010, 08:02 PM
SeaDragonTattoo SeaDragonTattoo is offline
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The advice given so far is good. You could invest in one of those fans that works on DC with the van's lighter. Cat's cannot cool themselves by panting like dogs do. When cats pant, it's usually from extreme fear or from being so hot they're already overheating. One of the things cats do to cool themselves is to lay sprawled out on a cool floor - like the ceramic in the bathroom. If that's not enough, you may have noticed your cat licking himself so his fur is wet in good-sized patches. This is how they cool themselves. If you keep a rag handy, that you can wet down from a water bottle and then rub on the cat, that will be one of the best ways to keep him cool, in addition to the fan plugged in to the lighter. Don't spray him with a spray bottle, though that would be the easiest way to not have to open the carrier!

Is the van going to be loaded to the gills? You could set him up in the rear with a larger kennel (like the size of 2 cat carriers), with a small litter box. Strap the kennel down like cargo and clip the fan to the kennel.

Cats can handle heat just as well or badly as dogs. What's restrictive is you can't take them for a walk and then take a leak yourself while on said walk! Drive-thru eating is probably your best bet, or pack a cooler each morning with your food for the day. Have an extra van key that's always on your person, and if you need to make a pit stop you can leave the windows cracked, the fan on, and the engine running? You could probably manage taking the carrier in with you at the state highway stops, where there's no restaurant.

The best way to cool a cat down, though, is a wet rag and a fan if there's no a/c available.
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  #9  
Old 06-22-2010, 08:22 PM
horsetech horsetech is offline
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Leave cat with friend. Have friend put cat on airplane for overnight flight on an airline that provides a climate controlled pet cargo area (Continental comes to mind - I am planning to use them to ship my cat from coast to coast this summer). Pick cat up at airport. Do not sedate the cat unless it's absolutely necessary and your vet says OK. Sedation interferes with thermoregulation and maintenance of important things like blood pressure.
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  #10  
Old 06-22-2010, 09:47 PM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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When my family flew cross-country, our cats traveled in the cargo hold, awake, with no ill effects. My mother and I happened to be remarking about this to a grocery cashier, and he responded -- swear to God -- "When I flew here my cats were so nervous I had to seduce 'em."

So that's one option.
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  #11  
Old 06-22-2010, 09:59 PM
horsetech horsetech is offline
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Darn it, why didn't I think of that? Did he give you any tips - fine wine, scented candles, love poems?
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  #12  
Old 06-22-2010, 10:18 PM
Anise Anise is offline
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Oh, God! This is a lot more complicated than I thought. Manduck, how do you have a cat shipped by rail? Do you mean on a train, or by Greyhound?

Everybody thinks I'm nuts for not having AC in my van. Nobody in their right mind would go without it in Nashville in the summer. I don't know... it just doesn't bother me very much... But it's really starting to sound like I just shouldn't try to drive with the cat in the van without it. I'm having my mechanic check out the van right now to see what needs to be fixed so we can drive it with the Uhaul at all, and I could ask about the AC, but the thing is that I just have a very bad feeling about driving with a full Uhaul AND AC running anyway.

Any other ideas for shipping a cat 2,500 miles away??
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  #13  
Old 06-22-2010, 10:21 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is online now
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Feliway could help, but yes, flying is the best solution, if you can afford it. Consult your vet.
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  #14  
Old 06-22-2010, 10:55 PM
Manduck Manduck is offline
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Originally Posted by Anise View Post
Oh, God! This is a lot more complicated than I thought. Manduck, how do you have a cat shipped by rail? Do you mean on a train, or by Greyhound?
I was thinking of this kind of cat (sorry)
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  #15  
Old 06-22-2010, 11:59 PM
Catfood Purrito Catfood Purrito is offline
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Can you rent a truck and tow the van instead of towing a U-Haul? When we moved, we rented a Penske truck that had a little door between the cab and the back. Because a pet carrier wouldn't fit in the cab, before we loaded the truck, we positioned the carrier with it's opening in the doorway, which we just kept open, and we were able to swing the carrier door open and load/unload the cats fairly easily.

Even with air conditioning, it still seemed rather uncomfortably warm in the carrier for them, so we had to adjust a couple vents to blow directly into the carrier.
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  #16  
Old 06-23-2010, 01:47 AM
Anise Anise is offline
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Originally Posted by Mishell View Post
Can you rent a truck and tow the van instead of towing a U-Haul? When we moved, we rented a Penske truck that had a little door between the cab and the back. Because a pet carrier wouldn't fit in the cab, before we loaded the truck, we positioned the carrier with it's opening in the doorway, which we just kept open, and we were able to swing the carrier door open and load/unload the cats fairly easily.

Even with air conditioning, it still seemed rather uncomfortably warm in the carrier for them, so we had to adjust a couple vents to blow directly into the carrier.
The truck and towing option is $1400 (yes, one thousand, four hundred dollars) more than renting a U-Haul trailer. It is not going to happen.

My brother said that his gf's parents might be willing to take my cat until Christmas, when he's going to fly (to Jasper, TN) with her to see them. That's when he'd get the cat and bring him back. I'm supposed to "find out about fixing the AC" first. (shakes magic 8-ball...) The magic spirits just told me that it'll cost at least a thousand dollars, so we'll obviously HAVE to choose the taking-the-cat-to-Jasper option. Amazing how accurate these 8-balls are...
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  #17  
Old 06-23-2010, 01:53 AM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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You'll need a rope.
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  #18  
Old 06-23-2010, 04:38 AM
StrangeBird StrangeBird is offline
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This recent advice column has some discussion of travelling with cats (with more in the comments)

http://tomatonation.com/vine/the-vine-may-19-2010/
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  #19  
Old 06-23-2010, 05:16 AM
psychonaut psychonaut is offline
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Originally Posted by Lynn Bodoni View Post
NO restaurant is going to allow any animals in the place, except for service animals. And they will notice. It's a health code violation, and they could get their license suspended or revoked for allowing animals.
This has been discussed before here. Whether any individual restaurant allows animals depends on (a) the jurisdiction, and (b) the restaurant. There are plenty of jurisdictions out there where it is perfectly legal to bring animals into restaurants, and in those jursidictions you will find plenty of restaurants which welcome pets. The OP didn't mention their location, so it's hard to say how much success he will have. If he's in the US, then he may have a tough time. In many parts of Europe, it won't be a problem at all. In the UK, Germany, France, and Austria it's not at all unusual to see cats and dogs in restaurants and pubs. I just got back from a two-week road trip across Europe with a ferret, and never had a problem taking her into restaurants and hotels.
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  #20  
Old 06-23-2010, 05:58 AM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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When the OP talked about Nashville, I just assumed that she meant Nashville Tennessee, which is in the US. I don't know of any places in the US which allow animals (other than service animals) in restaurants. And here, service animals are generally dogs. While there's no national health code that I know of, I've seen signs prohibiting animals in restaurants in every state that I've been in...and I've been in a lot.
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Old 06-23-2010, 06:01 AM
psychonaut psychonaut is offline
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Oh, did they say Nashville? If so I apologize for having overlooked that.
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  #22  
Old 06-23-2010, 06:12 AM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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(If I don't miss having it in Nashville during the summer, I definitely don't think I"ll need it in Portland.)
Yep, Nashville AND Portland.
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  #23  
Old 06-23-2010, 06:33 AM
njtt njtt is offline
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I once had to take our cat to the vet via a long bus journey. He was in a box on my lap, and never stopped repetitively and rhythmically howling the whole way. I don't really know how long it took (maybe about an hour), but it seemed like forever.
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  #24  
Old 06-23-2010, 07:01 AM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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Cat-a-pult.
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  #25  
Old 06-23-2010, 07:08 AM
GuanoLad GuanoLad is offline
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You could try the direct route, with this enterprising method.

And here are some pics.
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  #26  
Old 06-23-2010, 09:16 AM
Moonlitherial Moonlitherial is offline
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If you're going to drive and tranquilize them please for your own sanity try it BEFORE the trip.

I drove from Calgary to Toronto with 2 cats many many years ago and the vet prescibed tranquilizers. One cat dozed the whole way - the other reacted in a very different way. I was seranaded by stoned yowls the entire trip.

Both cats were leash trained and I didn't crate them - they were in their harnesses with seat belt clips in the back seat with enough slack to reach their litter box and water dish.
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  #27  
Old 06-23-2010, 09:23 AM
lieu lieu is offline
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What... did no one see The Incredible Journey?
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  #28  
Old 06-23-2010, 09:45 AM
smithsb smithsb is offline
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What? No pictures of subject cat! I thought that was a RULE here on the SDMB.

Go with the suggestions of a cold water bottle or similar with ice. Renew ice at evening stops and from drive thru's. Ask nicely for a cup of ice for your pet. A bigger carrier/cage is good. Possibly add a big stone or ceramic slab you can cool in the hotel room a/c or with ice in the tub for a nice place to lay during the trip. Keep out of direct sunlight. Have cool water available for the cat to drink at all times.

Play cat friendly tunes on the stereo (sorry, don't have any suggestions). Others can come up with cat-chy titles.
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  #29  
Old 06-23-2010, 09:53 AM
Leaffan Leaffan is online now
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You bury it. Just to be on the safe side.
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  #30  
Old 06-23-2010, 10:36 AM
salinqmind salinqmind is offline
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I have nothing to contribute except I had a friend with two cats that we drove to visit friend's parents out of state. She put a shallow clean litterbox on the floor in the back and both cats on the back seat (when we heard any scratching in the litter, the plan was to pull into a rest stop, wait till the business was completed, and clean out the litter box and proceed on). The first half hour or so, there was yowling, complaining, and retching (from the cats, that is!) and then they settled down and slept most of the way. ... These were unusual cats in that while at the parents house in the country, they were allowed to roam around without a leash. They did not take off into the wild and kept close to us. Return trip, same thing as the trip there...My friend lived in the city. She parked her car, picked up her suitcase, opened the back door, and both cats jumped out and trotted behind her, side by side, down the sidewalk, through the doors, and onto the elevator. Like a pair of well trained doggies. I was just astonished.

So, with that useless anecdote, I wish you good luck and have a tolerable trip!
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  #31  
Old 06-23-2010, 10:50 AM
Si Amigo Si Amigo is online now
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Originally Posted by smithsb View Post

Play cat friendly tunes on the stereo (sorry, don't have any suggestions). Others can come up with cat-chy titles.
How about "What's New Pussycat?". I sing this to my cat's all of time (whoa, whoa whoa, whooooaaa!)
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  #32  
Old 06-23-2010, 11:03 AM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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Yet, one more reason, I currently own no pets.
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  #33  
Old 06-23-2010, 11:24 AM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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horsetech's comments re: sedation have made me very nervous. I have to move my cat from San Diego, CA to Vancouver, Canada later this summer. Driving is out for the reasons discussed in this thread*, but since (a) the cat is very, very, very nervous around humans, and (b) he pees when frightened, I'm not sure how to get him through airport security and into either cabin or freight without giving him a kitty heart attack. I was relying on sedation to help. What is the least evil: hours of sheer terror or hours of sedation-fogged terror? (Cat is 11 and in good health.) Obviously my vet's advice is going to trump message board opinion, but I'd like to have as much information as I can before I talk to the vet.

*Though I may fly into Seattle and drive him across the border; not sure yet.
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  #34  
Old 06-23-2010, 03:05 PM
Anise Anise is offline
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Okay, the vid of the guy backpacking with the cat has to be one of the weirder things I've ever seen... (not as weird as that "Uri Geller Knows You" site, though.)

If it were just me, I'd never get that AC in the van fixed. (Why would anybody want it in Portland?? I fully expect to wear sweaters almost 365 days a year there. I don't even want car AC in Nashville and it gets over 100 degrees in the summer all the time. I'm insane that way. I would do it for the cat's sake (he's named Starbuck, btw)(unless the AC really DOES turn out to be over a thousand dollars to fix)... But the entire thing is just making me so nervous, and it's getting worse with each new possible complication I hear about. My brother is very cavalier about it all, but he made the trip during cool weather, when it was safe to leave the cats in the van for short amounts of time while he and his gf ate meals, took rest stops, etc. He feels a proprietary interest in the cat and describes himself as Starbuck's "uncle" (it's just too complicated to explain.) Well, if so, he should want what's BEST FOR THE CAT.

I'm going to try to convince him that we should leave Starbuck with his gf's parents and they can get him over Christmas. Any ideas for good arguments?

Last edited by Anise; 06-23-2010 at 03:06 PM..
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  #35  
Old 06-23-2010, 05:02 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Originally Posted by Dr. Drake View Post
horsetech's comments re: sedation have made me very nervous. I have to move my cat from San Diego, CA to Vancouver, Canada later this summer. Driving is out for the reasons discussed in this thread*, but since (a) the cat is very, very, very nervous around humans, and (b) he pees when frightened, I'm not sure how to get him through airport security and into either cabin or freight without giving him a kitty heart attack. I was relying on sedation to help. What is the least evil: hours of sheer terror or hours of sedation-fogged terror? (Cat is 11 and in good health.) Obviously my vet's advice is going to trump message board opinion, but I'd like to have as much information as I can before I talk to the vet.
Best option is to try it out beforehand.

Talk to your Vet, and sedate the cat sometime when you are just at home, not going anywhere. Or maybe just a short drive around town. Then you can see how the cat reacts to the medication. Do it at a time when you or someone can be there to watch the cat, and during the week when the Vet is available if needed.
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  #36  
Old 06-24-2010, 05:11 AM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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I was relying on sedation to help. What is the least evil: hours of sheer terror or hours of sedation-fogged terror?
I've been sedated (as opposed to being totally knocked unconcious) for several surgeries. Before sedation, I was extremely anxious to somewhat terrified. After sedation, everything was peachy keen, and I was enjoying the buzz. In fact, I can easily see how people can get addicted to stuff that takes the worries of the world away. I would imagine that most cats will have a similar experience. A few cats might have an adverse reaction, but I will bet that your cat has a happy experience.
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  #37  
Old 06-24-2010, 10:13 AM
smithsb smithsb is offline
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Don't forget the catnip. Lots of it.
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  #38  
Old 06-24-2010, 11:55 AM
Darth Panda Darth Panda is offline
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Originally Posted by Si Amigo View Post
How about "What's New Pussycat?". I sing this to my cat's all of time (whoa, whoa whoa, whooooaaa!)
Cat Stevens?
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  #39  
Old 06-24-2010, 01:01 PM
YogSosoth YogSosoth is offline
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For people who know about cats: What if the cat's shaved first? That should kind of help them not get overheated, right?
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Old 06-24-2010, 01:05 PM
Darth Panda Darth Panda is offline
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For people who know about cats: What if the cat's shaved first? That should kind of help them not get overheated, right?
Yes, and should make it considerably less traumatizing.
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  #41  
Old 06-24-2010, 02:04 PM
DogRatCat DogRatCat is offline
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http://img169.imageshack.us/img169/9...2888df7hn3.jpg

http://movies.infinitecoolness.com/09/monstersinc14.jpg
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  #42  
Old 06-24-2010, 02:08 PM
Anise Anise is offline
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Originally Posted by Darth Panda View Post
Yes, and should make it considerably less traumatizing.
SHAVING the cat would be LESS traumatizing? This wasn't meant seriously, right?

So I talked to my brother's gf (she of the 5 cats,) and she insists that it's fine to bring the cat cross-country in the summer. (Also, her parents won't take the cat for 6 months until he could be flown back.) If, and ONLY if, the AC in the van can be fixed, I really think I will bring the cat that way after all. It would be JUST for the cat, because I can't imagine ever using it in Portland (again, I don't even want to have it here!) (pets cat) Starbuck, you had better appreciate this...
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  #43  
Old 06-24-2010, 02:30 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
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We had our cat in the car for a six hour road trip over Christmas - well, it was eight back because we drove through a blizzard. Obviously, no overheating issues. But she did get sick once (on the way up) and poop in the kennel once (on the way back). Make sure you are prepared to clean up any on the road messes.

She was very well behaved and with the exception of the messes, spent most of her time sleeping. She is a good cat though, one of those really tolerant ones. And her buddy, The Dog, was back there with her excited about "CAR TRIP!" So I think she sort of figured if it was OK with him, it would be ok.
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  #44  
Old 06-24-2010, 02:55 PM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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You don't. You drive cross-country with a car.
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  #45  
Old 06-24-2010, 03:12 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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That's a very long trip, so make sure you take turns driving.
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  #46  
Old 06-25-2010, 03:10 PM
Darth Panda Darth Panda is offline
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Originally Posted by pravnik View Post
That's a very long trip, so make sure you take turns driving.
You want the cat to drive while Anise is in the carrier?
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  #47  
Old 06-25-2010, 03:29 PM
brainstall brainstall is offline
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If I had to drive for a couple of days with my cat, I think I would use a large dog crate for transport. Lots of room to stretch out and I could put food and water and a litter box in there. I think that in a large well ventilated crate, if the temperature is comfortable for the humans, it's probably ok for the cats. My cats always seem to be heat seeking missiles...lying in the sun on a hot summer day, sleeping under the woodstove in the winter...
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  #48  
Old 06-25-2010, 05:56 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Originally Posted by Darth Panda View Post
You want the cat to drive while Anise is in the carrier?
Of course not, that would be ridiculous. Anise would never fit in the cat carrier. She can lay the passenger seat back and sleep while the cat drives.
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  #49  
Old 06-25-2010, 06:11 PM
Roadfood Roadfood is offline
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SHAVING the cat would be LESS traumatizing? This wasn't meant seriously, right?
Oh, please, now you're getting just silly. Shaving a cat is in no way traumatizing. If it's a long hair in hot weather, he'll probably be much happier. We have a cat with very long, extremely thick fur, and we routinely get her shaved every summer. She is rather clearly happier after the shaving than before.

Personally, I think the worry in this thread is getting out of hand. My step-daughter drove with a cat from California to Chicago, and then back again, with no trouble at all. Shave your cat, give him an ice bottle as suggested, keep an eye on him, and he'll be just fine.
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  #50  
Old 06-25-2010, 06:40 PM
jasg jasg is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Upper left hand corner
Posts: 2,998
How about a set of four suction cup booties and you stick the cat to the window?

Based on the news today, there is an upper limit to the number of cats that can be transported.

Last edited by jasg; 06-25-2010 at 06:42 PM..
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