Our cross-country trip was to be with two dogs and two cats, but when our beloved Katie died suddenly on May 24, we were resigned to the fact to travelling with one dog, the famously old Loki, and our cats, Zoe and Xena, aka "The Tabby Twins." Here are a few tips and lessons learned from the Wildcat that are recommended when driving cross-country with your furry friends.
1. Make sure that your pets go to the veterinarian's and are caught up on their shots and prescriptions. Mom and I took Loki, Zoe, and Xena to the vet's about two months before leaving Idaho. If your dog is on medication like Loki is for his arthritis, make sure you pick up at least two months of their prescription before leaving because you don't know when your beloved pets will be going to a vet in their new location.
2. Make sure you stock up on your pet's favorite foods and bring enough water to start your trip. Mom and I hit the grocery store the Saturday before leaving Idaho and bought enough Fancy Feast, dry cat food, tuna fish and ingredients for Loki's favorite muttballs to get through most of the trip. Animals will be stressed out a lot on the trip, and they might not want to eat their own food and rely on human food. I know that some know-it-alls say this isn't recommended, but to me, it's OK to spoil the animals while on the road. When Mom and I got into the hotel at night, we would feed Loki 1 or two of his muttballs (ground turkey with parmesean cheese, garlic powder, parsley, bread crumbs and sometimes carrots, and it's recommended by Rachael Ray!) with plain yogurt. Zoe and Xena got some Fancy Feast mixed with a little tuna to help them eat. Our first night on the road in Utah, Loki got a Wilbur meal from Famous Dave's as a special treat.
3. Dramamine is your best friend and your pet's, too. If your pet gets agitated or nauseous while riding, give them a little Dramamine before you leave your morning destination. Loki benefitted from a tablet a morning in order to keep him calm and his tummy right for the long days on the road. Just check with your vet to make sure that Dramamine won't counter with any medication they might be taking.
4. Don't forget the water! An absolute plus when travelling by car with your zoo. Tons of water! Make sure you bring anywhere between 2-4 jugs of water for the trip for your beloved pets and yourself. Animals might not like the taste of foreign water and are used to what they were drinking at home. Mom and I picked up water from WinCo that we were drinking at home, and every stop we made along the way, we made sure that everyone got a drink of water. When you run out of your water, stop at a gas station or grocery store to pick up more gallons because you could be like Mom and I and be driving in the boonies of New Mexico and Texas where there aren't many rest areas or gas stations with good water.
5. Keep a litter box in the car for your feline travelers. I have learned this lesson the hard way. Make sure you have a clean litter box for your cats if they are travelling with you. Cats are nervous drivers, and they will go anywhere if the urge hits. Zoe going back to Idaho from Florida in 2000 is a prime example. No one wants to drive cross-country in a smelly car thanks to your furry friends. Also keep paper towels, cleaning fluids and wipes close by in case an accident does occur.
6. Bring things that they used at home to make them comfortable. An old blanket or stuffed animal is great to keep your pet comfy in the car for the trip. Mom and I brought a fun fur cat bed that I knit for Zoe for her to sleep on during the trip, and Loki had his bed that he slept in Idaho for the car and his bed in the hotel room. Xena was happy with anyone's lap which is where she sleeps at home.
Exercise, exercise, exercise your dog is a must on the road. Dogs that are cooped up in a car all day will need exercise in order to get their circulation back, or you could have trouble in the long run. During our lunch stops on the road and at night at the hotels, Mom and I made sure Loki got walked in order to stretch his arthritic legs out, and Zoe and Xena got plenty of fresh air. Every night at the hotel, I walked Loki around the hotel grounds so that he could go potty and check out his surroundings. Keep them leashed and close by and make sure you carry a bag for any droppings the pooch might leave along the
way. Walking the dogs will give them well-needed exercise after long days on the road, and you will benefit from the walks, too.
Along with some calming music (Led Zeppelin and loud bagpipes help our zoo) and tons of love and patience, following these tips from me will help you a lot when you are driving cross-country by car with a zoo!