Cross-Country Cat Transportation
June 7, 2008 1:19 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I are moving across country from California to Massachusetts. And we want to bring our animal posse with us. Moving the dogs is not too bad (they are both small enough to fly), but we also have a number of cats, including some that aren't keen on big life changes. How do we get them across the country without them killing us or vice versa?

We've contacted a couple of animal moving companies, but most seem to specialize in international moves, and were either expensive or didn't seem that interested in helping us because these are domestic moggies, not show cats. So , I was wondering if any one had any suggestions or experience in moving large quantities (probably 8-9) of critters across country without going mad in the process.
posted by baggers to Pets & Animals (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
When I moved from TX to CA, I put my cats on a plane the day before we started driving. I had an animal shuttle service (believe it or not, there are lots of them, and the good ones are insured/licensed) pick them up at the airport and drop them off in our house. I sent the woman a key ahead of time, along with a bunch of food. She set them up so they could be alone for a few days, and they were all settled in when we arrived.

You hear a lot of horror stories about sending pets on planes. I've done it three times and have had no problems. With my cats, it's a lot more humane than putting them in the car for days, since they get car sick and miserable after 10 minutes.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:11 PM on June 7, 2008

See this question for some recent comments by me and others on this subject.
posted by ErWenn at 3:03 PM on June 7, 2008

We relocated from CA to MA with 1 greyhound, 3 cats, a ball python, a corn snake, and a toad. We drove. He drove the Penske truck with 2 kitty crates in the passenger seat/footwell. I drove the Saturn (sedan) with 1 kitty crate in the front seat, snakes and toad in sterilite boxes in the footwell, and the hound in the backseat. It was a 5 day drive in August. Everyone was fine. Air conditioning is a wonderful thing.

AAA has a pet-friendly lodging guide. We were able to stay in clean and cheap accommodations the whole way. Kitties were too distraught to eat or drink in the car, but they were offered food, water, and litterbox once we got to our rooms in the evening. Honestly I don't think they did much eating or drinking, but they subsisted and everything was fine.

I do think they derived some comfort from staying with us, their familiar people. Ours do love routine and constancy, and we figured that if they were being deprived of their familiar places, they could at least retain their familiar people.

Wailing meows only lasted the first hour or so every morning. Then they settled in.

Best of luck, and huge kudos for bringing your guys with you.
posted by Lou Stuells at 3:12 PM on June 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

This is something I've thought of doing when we've moved but never had the money: Rent a smallish yet comfy travel trailer or motor home, put the cats' bedding (plus clothing/shoes with our smells on them) inside. Also familiar toys, food dishes, litter box(es). Familiarize cats with their new temporary home by spending an hour or so for several days with them in there. Act like it's home. Drive off into the sunset.

And I just remembered: My in-laws had 2 cats who adored traveling in their motor home. Mom-in-law made sure the cats' favorite blankets, etc. were in the RV. And they always got special treats (smelly fishy canned food) when they went on RV trips, which they didn't get at home. Sounds like a bribe to me, but it worked.
posted by Smalltown Girl at 5:05 PM on June 7, 2008

We've moved 4 cats thousands of miles several different times. We drove each time. The first couple of times, we just brute-forced it - put them in with litter boxes & drove, enduring the meowing for most of the trip. The last time, we got smart. We went to the vet, had them all examined the day before we left. We got 2 different pills - kitty tranqs to knock them out, and pills to dry them up (2 of our cats had diarrhea every time we traveled). It made the trip almost completely painless. It's important that the vet see them to make sure their health is good. The last time we moved, our cats were old - 13 - 16. They made it just fine. I would never do it any other way, now.
posted by clarkstonian at 6:15 PM on June 7, 2008

When I moved in with my then-boyfriend-now-husband who is horribly allergic to cats, I shipped my cat Rosa to my mother's using Delta Dash, the small cargo service of Delta Airlines. Rosa is the most laid-back cat I've ever know, but the trip did stress her out a bit. If I were to do it again, I'd see the vet for some kitty's little helpers.
posted by workerant at 8:02 PM on June 7, 2008

Mom and dad flew the other way with one cat (BOS-LAX) be prepared for some or all of the critters to be totally and completely ticked off at you for several days. Smokey found some way to get into the wall in the kitchen above the cabinets and only came down late at night when we weren't around...took like a week for him to talk to us.

You might want to check the laws where you are going...IIRC in Boston, any more than 3 animals in a house required some sort of obnoxious paperwork at city hall. (we had four...well, three and my dog moved back in with the 'rents when I deployed:)

Good luck!
posted by legotech at 8:37 PM on June 7, 2008

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