Tips for Moving a Cat Long Distance

Moving cats to a new home 

At U-Pack®, we understand cats are part of the family, so when you’re moving out of state, the feline members are relocating with you. We take the stress out of long-distance moving by transporting your belongings so you can focus on traveling with your family and purring passengers. Talk to a veterinarian about any health concerns about the kitties first, and then try these 9 purr-fect tips for traveling long distance with cats. 

Have other pets? Check out our practical guide for moving with pets

Cat sitting in a suitcase ready for long distance move.


9 tips for moving long distance with a cat  

Moving can disrupt an animal’s routine. Try these tips to minimize stress on your cats to help them have a smooth trip.  

1. Gather supplies for traveling with cats in a car

Keeping cats comfortable is rule number one when traveling by car. It’s helpful to have the right things on hand before the trip. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Pet carrier or crate (one per cat): It should be big enough for the cat to stand and turn around. 
  • Travel or disposable litter box: Bring pet waste bags and pack extra litter in zip-top bags.
  • Food and water: Collapsible bowls sold at most pet stores help save space. 
  • Medications or catnip spray 
  • Favorite toys and blanket 
  • Harness and leash 

Flying with a kitty? Check with the airline for specific regulations on carriers and any extra fees. 

2. Introduce a harness and leash

While leash walking doesn’t come as naturally to cats as it does to most dogs, it can be done with practice and patience. Start with getting her used to the harness and work your way up to using the leash in the yard or another safe space. This step is important to keep your pet from darting away at any stops during the trip.

3. Practice traveling in a pet carrier

If your cat is not used to riding in a car or a carrier, don’t spring it on her last minute. A few weeks before the move, get the kitty used to the carrier by introducing it in a safe space. Coax her inside with treats or by offering meals inside it. 

Once a cat is used to the carrier, take short car rides, gradually increasing the duration. Offer praise and treats when the trips are over to help associate the car with a positive experience. 

4. Create a cozy cat sanctuary while packing and loading

Turn a room or large closet into a safe space for your purring friend so she can escape the chaos of packing and loading. Keep it comfortable by storing her things there (food, water, litter box, toys, carrier and bed). 

5. Confine kitties during transit

It’s not safe to let animals roam the vehicle freely. Use a pet restraint, preferably a hard-shelled carrier or crate, to keep the cat contained in the car. The carrier should be level and secured with a seat belt with a vent pointing toward it for ventilation. If your feline companion is especially nervous, try covering the crate with a thin blanket or towel spritzed with catnip spray to help her stay calm or use a dose of veterinarian-prescribed anxiety medication. 

6. Pack cat essentials in the car

Having water, food, toys, pet waste bags and a travel litter box nearby will make the trip easier, so you won’t have to hunt for what you need while on the road.

7. Choose feline-friendly hotels and rest stops

Many hotels are listed as pet-friendly, but make sure to confirm that they’re not just dog-friendly. These hotels are known to allow cats, but you’ll want to check with each specific location: 

  • Days Inn 
  • Extended Stay America 
  • Hotels by Hilton 
  • Marriott Hotels 
  • Motel 6 
  • Red Roof Inns  

Pet stores are great places to stop for restroom breaks since you can take cats inside, but traditional roadside rest stops will work with kitties in the carrier or on a leash. 

8. Establish a new kitty hideaway

Recreate the sanctuary from the old place. Put all your cat’s favorite things in a confined room or space so she can relax while you set up the new household. As your feline friend becomes more comfortable, consider letting her explore more of the home by moving a few of her things around the house. Soon, the boss in the family will feel at home. 

9. Keep cats indoors for two weeks to establish a routine

Cats are territorial animals, so they’ve been known to try to return to previous homes. Most veterinarians recommend keeping cats inside for at least two weeks after a move. Supervise any outdoor visits or use tethers for short periods alone in the yard. Don’t forget to update your pets' tags or microchips with the new address in case they wander off. You don’t want to lose your friend! 

More questions about moving with cats? 

If you have any other questions about moving with a cat, let us know in the comments section below. Get a free quote online or call 844-362-5303844-594-3077 to speak to a U-Pack moving consultant. Learn more about our moving service

Hear from a cat owner’s point of view. Celebrity kitties Cole and Marmalade moved with us twice!