How traumatic would a 3.5 hour car ride be for a cat?

My girlfriend (long distance relationship) will be visiting me for around a week. I don’t have any pets now, but the place is all set up for a cat (my cat died about 6 months ago). Normally she doesn’t visit for this long and she has just left the cat in her apartment. Given (a) the length of she will be visiting and (b) the fact that there won’t be any pet interactions to worry about and © my current mouse infestation problem, we thought that it might work to bring the cat this time. I always felt bad about the cat being alone in her apartment.

What do you think? Would the horrors of a 3.5 hour trip outweigh the happy hunting paradise that awaited the cat?

Also, suggestions for reducing the horrors of the journey?

The cat will likely be pissed off for a day or two after the trip each way, but I doubt it would cause any lasting problems for most cats. That said, the cat may prefer to be left home alone for the week. As long as there’s access to food & water, the cat will be fine. Might want to set out an extra litter box, and be prepared for some insult pooping. Cat is gonna express its displeasure either way.

I think the cat would still be better off at home. Generally cats really, really, really don’t like change. And generally they are pretty comfortable spending some time alone.

A full week away calls for a trusted neighbor or friend to visit the cat every day or two, replenish water and food and scoop the box.

It depends somewhat on the cat’s personality. When I have transported my cats for moving, one of them calmly and quietly sat in the travel cage for the entire trip (the longest move being about 2 and a half hours) while the other one flipped out as soon as the cage door shut behind him and spent the entire trip howling in outrage (yes, 2 and a half hours of protesting!).
Still, once they were out of the cage they both recovered quickly. The anxious traveler was just a little thirsty the first day because he had spent so much time yowling. I don’t think it would be a big deal. If the cat is like mine and flips out about being in cages, it might be nicer for the cat to get a sedative from the vet ahead of time for the travel days, but otherwise I’d do it if you both really want the cat around.

If we had that option, it would be an easier choice. As it is, a week seems like a long time to be left alone.

From the time my two cats were young, we drove back and forth to visit my parents a couple of times a month for three years. (Mom wanted to visit with the “grandchildren”). It was four hours if nothing went wrong. They certainly never liked it, but after about 10 minutes of howling they would resign themselves to naptime and we got through it. Mine usually wouldn’t use a box on the road, but they wanted one RIGHT AWAY when we arrived at our destination.

Unless this is a rather old cat, it should probably be OK.

It’s not that big of a deal. If it handles travel well, no issues. If it freaks out, my old vet suggested giving a little syringe of Benadryl to my cat to basically knock her out for a while. Of course, my cat got so worked up about the Benadryl that she immediately vomited it up, but she survived the 2 hour trip just fine, crying the whole way.

Just make sure you have water, food, and a litter box ready in a secluded place for when they arrive. After that long trapped in a carrier, it will need water, in particular.

I vote for bringing the cat. The worst side effect of car trips in my experience, is the up to 3.5 hours of yowling (depending on the cat of course) … but no permanent damage to the cat. But a week alone for kitty, might prove all sorts of bad(unforeseen circumstances and all). If this particular cat’s yowling is extra loud, maybe hit the vet up for kitty tranqs prior to the trip.

You cannot leave a cat alone for a week, period. It doesn’t matter if a trusted friend is popping in to feed and water it and change the litter box. The cat will feel abandoned, and will justifiably start to act out in destructive ways.

Put the cat in a carrier, on the passenger seat. Play soothing music and talk to it throughout the trip. After arrival, it will be busy exploring the new environment (or hiding), and will soon forget about the trip. I’ve transported cats a lot longer than 3.5 hours.

When my Mom could no longer care for the 11-year-old cat that I had given her as a kitten (after a 12-hour trip), I drove it back to my home, 700 miles away. I had a pet carrier cage but I let Kudzu (she was born in some) have the run of the car for most of the trip, except for the start and when I made pit stops. There were boxes of stuff on the back seat, covered with an old army blanket so she could sleep on/look out from the level of the windows. I had a water feeder and a dry food silo feeder on the rear floor, as well as a small litter box. She did use the litter box but she also took a hard dump on top of the army blanket. Must have been a sight for any tailgater. She often chose (insisted) on curling up between my neck and the headrest or on my lap (I know, I know). We overnighted halfway, in Dover, Del., where she chose to sleep in the dust under the bed in the seedy Patel motel that would take pets. We survived the trip and she lived for another 7 years, me for another 19, so far. Good luck and bon voyage.

I’m going to second this. My cat routinely makes a 5-6 hour car trip when no one will be home to care for him. I try not to take him (to my parents’ house) if I am going to be there less than 3 days, but at least once every couple of moths he comes along for the ride. My kitty was originally a stray at my Mom’s house, so I packed him up for the long car ride as his first experience in coming home. He didn’t (and doesn’t) love it, and he’s very vocal about it, but there is no lasting damage and he’s usually only irritated long enough to find the kitty treats at whatever place we end up at. Once there he settles in fine and without (visible) distress, and once given a treat or two he is his normal, happy self.

My cats have always survived both trips AND being left behind. Vet boarding, at least at my vet, is another option I’ve used with good results. The vet techs, again at my vet, take really good care of boarders and mine only charges 6 or 8 dollars a day.

We leave our cats alone for a week a couple of times a year, and we did this even back when we only had the one cat. In fact, we only ask our friend to come by every 2-3 days or so to top up food and clean the boxes, and yes, the litter is full, and yes, they’ve gotten through all or most of the food left for them, but they have never acted out or become destructive or anything like that. Heck, if we’re going to be gone up to 4 days (3 nights), we just leave them without having someone come by. We put out extra food and water, and make sure their two very large litter boxes are clean before we leave.

They are cats, not infants. They’ll be fine.