Moving? Please take your pets with you

By Cathy M. Rosenthal | October 7th, 2021

Plus advice on cat hairballs and kitties who hunt bunnies

traveling with cats in a car kristen prahl dreamstime

In this edition of ‘My Pet World,’ pet advisor Cathy M. Rosenthal suggests tips on how to take your pets when moving – even across the country. She also addresses a cat owner about hairballs and another cat owner whose kitties have become bunny hunters.

Dear Cathy,

My daughter has two dogs and two cats from an animal shelter. The two dogs are pugs and are about 9 years old. The cats are about 4 years old, and one has health issues. She is thinking of moving from New York to Washington state due to a career change. Should she take them with her or think about giving them away (which she doesn’t want to do)? Is there a safe way of driving cross country with them?

– Deb, New Hyde Park, New York

Dear Deb,

Please encourage her to take her pets with her. When animals are given away or left at an animal shelter, these animals are usually very depressed for quite some time as they mourn the loss of their family. They also are rarely rehomed or adopted together, which traumatizes the animals even further.

People move all the time with their pets, and it can be a very positive experience. It just requires planning. There are many pet-friendly hotels, so your daughter will have no problem finding accommodations as she drives across the country. She will need to carry leashes, medications, pet food, water, and their beds. I recommend the pets be kept in kennels large enough for them to stand and turn around in. (If they are loose in the car that may cause an accident.) If there is a space issue, find ways to carry the luggage on top of the car. The animals must always ride inside the vehicle. (While obvious, it has to be said.)

Along the drive, stop at rest areas so your dogs can stretch and relieve themselves. Plan for 10 to 15 minutes outside the car every few hours, which is what is recommended for people who are driving as well. Keep a litter box in the car so the cats can do the same. One of you must stay in the car to let the cats out of their kennels. Do not open the car doors again until the cats are returned to their kennels to ensure one of them doesn’t bolt from the car. Don’t worry if the cats don’t drink or use the litter box along the way. They will eat and use the litterbox when you are settled into a hotel for the evening.

While a little more work, your daughter can and should keep her pet family together. Make sure they are all microchipped before she goes.

More tips from Cathy on traveling with cats in a car

Plus tips for traveling with dogs

Barkitecture and Kitty Couture Ardent Craft AlesDear Cathy,

For the past four years, my two cats, a 13-year-old and 7-year-old, regularly hack and throw up their food and hairballs. I add water to their food, but one day accidentally put in lots more water and they drank it. Since that time, about seven months ago, she hacks very little, and has only thrown up two hairballs and no food. I wonder if the added water would help other cats who have a hairball problem.

– Pat, Appleton, Wisconsin

Dear Pat,

Increased water intake can definitely help cats with hairballs. Cats don’t generally drink much water, so feeding them both wet and dry food or adding water to their food helps increase intake. You also should groom your cats to reduce the amount of hair they swallow while grooming themselves. Another option is to give them a hairball preventative, which helps move the hairballs through the digestive system and/or feed them a hairball formula pet food, which does the same, but also minimizes shedding.

Ask Amy: Should I let my cat go outdoors?

Catio | Photograph courtesy of Amber Parker

Dear Cathy,

I have two indoor/outdoor cats. They are 3 years old. Oscar has started to catch baby rabbits in the yard. We also have two small dogs that use a doggy door that the cats also use. Aside from keeping the cats inside day and night, is there something I can do to keep him from hunting these cute little bunnies?

– Craig, Levittown, New York

Dear Craig,

Besides always supervising them when they are outside, your best options are to either build a “catio” – a screened in porch for your cats – or purchase a mesh cat tent, which will contain them and prevent them from killing baby rabbits and birds, etc. Both options also give them safe outdoor space to enjoy. If you opt for the tent, place it in a shaded area and don’t leave them in it all day. An hour or so in the early morning or early evening are the best times for tent time. Be sure to include a water bowl and a few toys as well as their beds so they have a place to sleep.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist, and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories, and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.

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