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The Chaos of Travel with Pets

First off, let me apologize for taking so long to write this post. With the move things were already chaotic. Then as a favor I agreed to be the substitute librarian at an elementary school while the regular teacher is out on maternity leave. Then my immune system went bust with all the kiddos around me! Oh, and I am taking 2 online classes. So there is that.

So now, I am somewhat well and have no homework. (Actually I left my homework at the school library so have nothing I can do tonight.) Here we go.

I have wanted to write about traveling/moving across country with pets. This was probably the biggest part of the adventure. Honestly, it was something we were really worried about.

Our initial plan was to only drive one car from Connecticut to Oklahoma. We would have had 2 adults, 2 human puppies, the dane, and 3 cats all in one car. It could have been done, but not comfortably. Still, Dan and I are kind of disgusting in that we hate to be apart for any length of time so we wanted to be in the same car.

Well, that didn’t work out. I got a new car instead of just selling my old one and getting one in Oklahoma. That meant that we had more room, which was good, but we both had to drive, which was not so great. The biggest plus was that the human puppies could be split up. They were 9 and 11 when we left (the oldest has since turned 12) and they bicker ALL THE TIME. And, of course, the cats could be away from Casper. So our travel experiences were very different. I will start with Dan’s car, the one with Casper.

Traveling with a service dog is not the same as a regular pet. He is very used to being in the car, even for a long time. We did make sure there was plenty of food and water in the car. When you are traveling you don’t know when or where you can get that for your pet. We used clean seltzer bottles to carry extra water. Since Casper has a special diet it was extra important to have his food ready. We got meals ready in large zipper bags in advance. The process of getting his food ready is a chore. He has a few supplements plus allergy medicine in the morning. I had to even label AM and PM bags. Not much fun, but super convenient when we were on the go. We also put in an extra blanket for him.

Then there were the cats. That is never easy. I have never heard of a cat that likes to ride in the car. I had 2 separate carriers for them so they wouldn’t fight. I got soft sided ones for 2 reasons. 1. If there was a tight fit somewhere it could be squeezed and 2. It seems more comfortable for them.  Their food is easy. I just put it in Tupperware so I didn’t have to take the whole bag. I also had water for them just in case. The main thing was litter boxes. I toyed with the idea of having one in the car and letting them roam during breaks but wrangling them into the carriers was such a chore we decided they would not be let out until the hotel stops. (We did short days for this reason and I will get to that.) I also got some herbal supplements for them to calm and distress them. Sprit Essences is a great brand owned by Jackson Galaxy, the Cat Daddy from My Cat from Hell. There are dozens to choose from. I got one called Easy Traveler and also Changing Times. They were sprayed in the carriers every day. They still meowed while we drove, but not nearly as much as I had expected.

Because the cats would get no breaks we decided short days were in order. If you were to drive from our old home to our new home and only stop for gas and food, it takes about 26 hours. Typically I do this in 2 days. This time we did it in 3. It also gave us time to visit with family on the way. (Another post should come for that.) Still, though, this was not enough. On the first night I realized one cat peed in the carrier and it leaked all over my new car! I was not thrilled. I had to find detergent to wash the carriers and a sheet I had in the car, and then I got smart. I lined the carriers and the car under them with puppy training pads. I ended up not needing them, but at least I was safe and I highly recommend this just in case.

Finding a hotel with a service animal is easy (or should be). By law all hotels must allow a service animal free of charge. With the cats, though it was a little more difficult. We were limited where we could stay. Thank goodness for the Internet. I calculated our drives and booked hotels in advance. You should check the pet policies when you do this. The pet fee is different everywhere. We stayed at the same chain the whole time. One place charged me $75, another charged $10. Don’t try to sneak them in. They will find out. I bought disposable litter boxes. If you have never seen them you should check them out. WonderBox is one brand. They are made of recycled paper. I use them at home too because after a week or so I can just throw the whole thing out. While traveling this is especially useful. You don’t want a stinky litter box in your car and even if you dump it, the thing still stinks. I packed one a day and brought in litter and large garbage bags too so you can wrap it all up for the cleaning crew.

Then there are your stops on the way. With Casper we can go in and enjoy our time out of the car. With cats, not so much. It was WAY too hot to leave them in the car. I thought I could leave the car running and lock it while we were inside. This could have worked, but was stressful so we didn’t. I tried to get Dan to go in and eat and bring me food, but he wouldn’t. Instead we got everything to go and ate sitting around the cars. (We don’t do fast food so drive thru was not an option. (Bob Evans restaurants are a life saver in the Midwest.) It worked. We just took turns in the bathroom.

Overall it was not nearly as chaotic as we had expected. Don’t get me wrong, I am not looking forward to doing this again, but we survived. Just remember, if you have to travel with animals PLAN AHEAD.

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5 thoughts on “The Chaos of Travel with Pets

  1. Sharon kbtz-AZ September 18, 2014 at 11:09 pm Reply

    Thanks, Lori, for the update on your trip to the new home. Sounds like, all things, considered and w/a lot of planning ahead, the trip wasn’t all that bad. But I can fully understand why you do not want to try that again anytime soon. So glad you are near family.
    Hugs to you all.

  2. Debra Stone September 18, 2014 at 4:38 pm Reply

    So glad you made if safely and your stuff finally arrived after a few calls from you and CP’s. Hope you are enjoying your new home! I traveled from NY to AZ in a truck with my husband and that was enough for me, can’t imagine doing it with furbabies and human puppies!!!!

  3. Linda Craig September 18, 2014 at 12:06 am Reply

    Sounds stressful! Cats never like to be crated for long periods of time so I don’t envy you. Our cats would be in the car for about two and half hours en route to the cottage but one would holler all the way. Such a long drive with 2 children, cats, a Dane, and two cars! Glad you made it safely and have settled nicely into your new home. May your move bring you all much peace and happiness. 🙂

  4. Lois Blackburn September 17, 2014 at 9:53 pm Reply

    Sounds like a trip to remember! We will be traveling with our black lab this winter to head to Fl, will plan ahead. Thank you for letting us know how the trip went.

  5. Nancy Nyberg-Pennel September 17, 2014 at 9:41 pm Reply

    I basically did the same thing on my move from PA to FL. Found a pet friendly hotel, first one was disgusting. Then stayed at Laquinta. I would totally recommend them for anyone traveling with a Dane (non service dog) and a cat They were fantastic, rooms extremely clean and had a strict policy with pets which could easily be abided with. Used the disposable litter boxes and did the food like you did. Eating was on the go or at the hotel,. While the prep time was a lot of work, it made it so much easier when you travel. Glad to hear that the cat herbal works. Glad you made it safe and sound and I am sure Casper was at his best the whole trip. Hoping you all are enjoying your new home.

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