The far most important step is to take your pet to their vet about 2 weeks before leaving. It’s very important to let your vet know where you’re moving to as different areas have different dangers/illnesses that can deeply affect your pet, some even deadly. They will probably need a vaccination and at that time you can have the vet give you a sedative for your pet in case they need it during the trip. Long days in a car can be very stressful on your pet.
Get the area in your vehicle ready. Measure it out and get the proper size carrier or cage so your pet will be comfortable and be able to stretch out. We used a heavy wire dog cage with 2 thick sheepskin pads in the bottom and each cat had an igloo to get in and lay down. There was enough room for a food and water dish and just enough room for them to get out and move a little bit. The igloos are wonderful for cats as they not only provide top coverage, but they are great to scoop up and carry your cat into the hotel. We also had our cat carrier, but ended up not using it. The igloos cost about $14.00 at Walmart and come in 2 different sizes.
Take a litter box and put it inside an extra large garbage bag to travel. It will be ready to use upon arrival at the hotel. Our cats did not go to the bathroom until we got to the hotel each day eventhough we stopped at rest areas and took their litter box out.
We bought leashes and harnesses which we only used one time. Most rest areas are very noisy and many dogs are running around. Our cats did not seem very interested in getting out of the car. Leashes can be purchased at Pet Smart or PetCo for around $16.00 (for a good one).
Rest areas: Our cats were not at all interested in eating while in the car so at the rest areas. We gave them a few crunchy snacks which they seemed quite happy with and also a little bit of water on our fingers, just to make sure they did not have dry mouths.
Car temperature: MAKE SURE THAT YOUR AIR CONDITIONER IS WORKING! Animals get much hotter than we do and cannot tolerate heat as well as humans (but then you probably already knew this). We set the cage in a place where the ac was blowing towards the cats and had one blower pointed towards the roof for good circulation. If you have a super furry cat (like we do) you can also take a gallon size baggy, fill it with ice, wrap in a towel and set it under the cat.
Hotels: Many hotels will take cats but with a deposit (nonrefundable). Pet friendly hotels that we found along the way were: Hampton Inn, Days Inn, Raddisson, Comfort Suites, LaQuinta. We put the litterbox in the bathroom for easier cleanup.
Medication: Although the cats had sedatives, we did not use them everyday. In fact we only used them on the long driving days (over 7 hours). If you do give them a pill, be sure and watch them closely when you get to the hotel so they do not try to jump up on things. They may hurt themselves as they will be very relaxed and not have good balance.