Pet-Centric

Traveling Cat: On The Road Again

I get a few raised eyebrows whenever I mention traveling with my Siamese cats. Isn’t that a little crazy they seem to imply as they cock their head at the suggestion of a traveling cat?

Traveling Cat rules

Nope.

Everyone takes their dogs everywhere. I see them at restaurants, wineries and stores. My grandpuppies—Calvin (Golden retriever), Perry (Flat Coat Retriever) and Teddie (Nova Scotia Duck Toller )—are veteran travelers. Calvin penned his Dog Blog from the shores of Lake Winni, New Hampshire. And Perry was a celebrity in Saluda, North Carolina when she visited this Blue Ridge mountain town last July.

Traveling
When do we get to travel?

But what about poor felines? Why must they suffer the injustice of being locked in their condo prison, seeing their world only from their windowsill perch? Paw-don but it is not fair. Sadly, my two Siamese cats Eliot and Henry despair of this fate. When they stare at me with their brilliant sapphire blue eyes demanding justice, I hang my head in shame. I don’t know why dogs have all the fun in the world. It’s not fair, I explain. “YOWL,” they croon in agreement.

Their cat Mom, Terri, is always out and about with her two-hour walks on the National Mall in Washington DC. It exhausts them just thinking about dodging all those dogs on their morning constitutionals. Furmidable. But what really irks these two Thai princes (as Siamese cats’ origin is traced back to Thailand is they should be spoiled.

In Siam (as Thailand) Siamese cats are called wichien-maat, which translates to “moon diamond.”

Now when the moon rises at your birth and your value equates to the most precious gemstone, you can be a little haughty.

Pandemic Vacation Trips

And so my proud little Siamese boys deplore any times when I leave home to go travel. Now I am not crazy enough to try bringing them on an airplane. The Siamese are known as talkative cats. Their yowl is quite distinctive and can sound like a baby crying. I am sure the stewardess would kick me off the flight. Fur real.

But I am emboldened (some would interject crazy) to bring my cats on vacation if I can drive my car. That’s right. Travel cat. And during the past year when I actively avoided any air travel, I drove a lot.

So my first escape trip after my 10-week lockdown in Washington DC was to Saluda, North Carolina. I packed two shrieking Siamese cats in my BMW while it was still dark out. Then I blasted the radio and headed for I-66. I think the mountain route lulled them to sleep.

Next, I took them to Duck, North Carolina in September. Traveling with a cat is always better when your destination is a house at the ocean.

Travel cat vacation
Henry poses by the dish of sea shells.

Finally, in January, I decided to brave a 2-day trip to Clearwater, Florida with my lads. They were particularly excited about Surf & Turf for dinner. I let them hang out in the AirBnb while I toured Pass-A-Grille and Tampa, Florida on the weekend.

Traveling cat rules

I’ve learned these five rules while infinitely improve traveling with a cat.

Buy a huge cat carrier

Both my cats travel in the “Cadillac of Cat Carriers,” a PetLuv premium side-loading pet carrier. It is huge: Length: 20-inch, Height: 13-inch, and Depth: 13-inch. They can stand up and move around. It includes a plush pillow to reduce anxiety. My cats enjoy optimum ventilation and maximum sightseeing with all-around windows. Cat comfort is rule one.

This doesn’t mean that my cats won’t complain about being a traveling cat. My loud-mouthed Siamese are very vocal whenever they take a trip in their carrier, whether to visit their vet or the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Bring cat snacks

Your best bet is to avoid any food while traveling as you don’t want your cat to need to go to the bathroom. This means waking up extra early to feed them before you pack up to leave. But it doesn’t hurt to pack a plastic container of their kibble or the Greenies for your traveling cat. You can slip them a snack through the opening. It is also handy to use a portable water bowl.

Consider a litter pan

Next, I added a Pyrex rectangular glass pan with kitty litter for the 10-hour trip to Saluda. I just couldn’t imagine how my cats could last without a bathroom break. But neither used their pan. And it made a huge mess with the kitty litter spread all over their pillow. I opted not to use kitty litter on my two-day trip to Clearwater, Florida. This could have been clawful (a big mistake).

Pack a catnip banana

Just like packing stuffed animals to keep my toddlers distracted when I traveled in years past, I always include my cats’ favorite toy—their YEOW! Cat Nip Toy BANANA. It is fur-tunate that this toy can entertain them for long stretches. Cats need their treasured toys according to Dr. Jess Kirk of Vet Explains Pet when they travel:

“No matter what your cat’s comfort item is, bring it along on your travels.”

Seriously, Henry and Eliot love this $5.99 toy available on Amazon, Chewy, and countless online stores. Its creator must have been a cat owner because my cats give it 5 paws up. (Henry likes to wrestle with his banana. He rolls around on his back while he holds it in his paws.)

Play Audible book tapes

During a family vacation to Duck (years ago), we learned that our Siamese loved books on tape. Our family was engrossed in Anne of Green Gables so we packed the cassette tapes. The narrator’s soft voice soothed our cat Pearl by putting her to sleep in the back of the van. But every time the cassette stopped, she would wake up and cry furiously. The second we resumed playing the cassette tape, Pearl would settle back down and snuggle with her sister Sapphire. Claw-fer!

Two decades later, I have not forgotten this feline lesson. I always play a good Audible book when I travel with my cats. It really does soothe them. BTW classical music does not make my cats feel zen. Their yowls increase along with the trumpet (between 80 and 110 decibels). My Siamese are big fans of The Cat Who series of mystery books written by Lilian Jackson Braun. An ardent cat lover, Braun features two sassy Siamese cats (Koko and Yum Yum) in her books. They always get Quill into trouble.

Vacation Home

When you finally get to your destination, remember to let your cats out of their carrier before you do anything else. Do not use the restroom or unpack your suitcase from the trunk. PLEASE DO GET YOUR CATS OUT.

Strategically place all their favorite items (blanket, cat toys and pillows) around your new vacation home. Locate the best place for their kitty bath room. (Bring their kitty litter box from home.) Unpack their cat dish and water bowl. Then lay down on the bed and let them climb all over you. Naps are highly recommended after a grueling road trip.

I wish I could interview my felines so you could hear their frank opinion about the pros and cons. But all I can tell you is that when we finally arrive at our destination, they jump out of their cat carriers and immediately find the most comfortable bed or sofa to lounge. Paw-sibility they even forgive me for torturing them on this long car journey. And I find my vacation is infinitely better with my Siamese accompanying me.

Traveling cat at work
Henry & Eliot prefer to stay close when I am working.

Epilogue

Now I end my story of “have cats, will travel (with them)” to describe Siamese cats. They are distinguished by their cream-colored bodies and darker extremities (tail, paws, ears, and face mask). Siamese cats come in different colors (called points). They can be dark brown (seal point), light brown (chocolate point), bluish grey (blue point) or lavender (lilac point).

I have been the proud owner of each type since 1984, when I brought home an 8-week-old Siamese kitten. I named her Miraku. She was my very own Thai princess, a striking seal point who ruled the castle. It was a love affair at first sight. She would run to me whenever I called her, sleep in my bed, and prance proudly for all visitors to our home.

Since then, a parade of Siamese has strutted through my life—RIP Lila, Sapphire, Pearl, Robert Frost (Robbie), and Dante (Danny). My grandcat Brutus (a blue point) is 16 years old and lives with my daughter Claire). I now live with two Siamese cats—T.S. Eliot (my 10-year-old lilac point who I call Ellie) and Henry David Thoreau (my 4-year-old seal point).

Traveling cat relaxing
Henry (left) is a chocolate point. Eliot (right) is a lilac point.

Cattitude

To live with a Siamese cat, you must surrender to their will. Whether they woo you by their good looks or pure insouciance, they always get their way. A Siamese cat’s tail is wielded like a question or exclamation point depending on whether they are pleased with their human’s decision (such as being fed on demand) or irritated (empty food dish). If you decline to get up at daybreak to prepare their breakfast, they will walk across your head, jump on your back and poke their paw in your face.

And have I mentioned that my Siamese cats’ Queen Anne paws are so dainty, like the style of furniture dating back to Queen Anne who ruled from 1702-1714. I confess that I think of Lord Byron’s poem, “She Walks in Beauty,” whenever I see my sleek Siamese walk into a room. Indeed, I truthfully believe this British poet may have been describing a Siamese cat (instead of his lady love) when he wrote:

“all that’s best of dark and bright / Meet in her aspect and her eyes.”

It also can’t hurt to read what the experts say about the risks of cat travel. I found this article about Traveling With Your Cat to be helpful.

Different Types of Siamese Cats

Below are examples of different types of points for Siamese cats:

Siamese cat points
Clockwise Danny (chocolate point); Brutus (blue point); Eliot (lilac point)

If you enjoy this article, you can subscribe to my weekly email:

You Might Also Like

  • Katherine
    February 5, 2021 at 11:14 pm

    You’re so right, why do dogs get to have all the fun? I’ll be totally honest, when I moved from Australia to California, I was a little surprised by the places that people would bring their dogs (furniture shopping? Victoria’s Secret?). But I’m all for bringing your pets on vacation with you. It sounds like your Siamese princes took to being traveling cats so well!

    • Terri Markle
      February 6, 2021 at 4:51 am

      Thanks Katherine. I wish I had adventure cats that wanted to go hiking too. But my lazy boys prefer to lounge on their pillow “thrones.” I will tell you that it is a joy to get to your vacation destination and share it with your cats. MEOW!

  • Runaway Ann
    February 6, 2021 at 7:26 am

    I love your article! I have 2 cats and first (Mana) have no issues with travelling but the second (Scarlett) does not like it 🙁 So I have to try some tips you’ve shared.

    PS. Your cats are gorgeous ! 😀

    • Terri Markle
      February 6, 2021 at 9:39 am

      I am so glad that Mana at least will travel. Try a few of my tips like the cat toys. You should also try a short trip (less than 2 hours) and see how it goes. I love to bring my cats with me on my vacation so I put up with the howling.

  • Michael
    February 6, 2021 at 7:49 am

    Terri-I loved your story! You had me laughing out loud. I am glad Henry and Eliot get to come along on at least some of your many adventures. I hope you are all safe and warm during this cold snap.

    • Terri Markle
      February 6, 2021 at 9:37 am

      Michael you just made my day! I wish you could have heard those cats WAILING WHEN ARE WE THERE?

  • Carley
    February 6, 2021 at 8:08 am

    ADORABLE! I have a cat and she is absolutely not a fan of car travel. Hopefully your tips will help 🙂 thanks again for this awesome article!

    • Terri Markle
      February 6, 2021 at 9:38 am

      Carley keep trying! If your cat learns that it is not a trip to the vet, she may decided traveling with Mom is fun. My cats love their vacations AFTER we arrive … lol!

  • Tish
    February 6, 2021 at 11:49 am

    Hi Terri
    Awww. I love all of your ideas for traveling with your cats! They look so happy! I agree with you that ithe cars wouldn’t be good for flying in airplanes.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Love the Banana Cat Nip!
    Happy Travels
    Tish 🐱

  • Michelle
    February 6, 2021 at 11:50 am

    This is my dream, to be able to have a cat one day and continue traveling with it! Great tips I’ll keep in mind for the future. Do you think there’s any specific type of breed that does better/worse on the road?

  • Paula Martinelli
    February 6, 2021 at 3:05 pm

    I travel with my dogs all the time, I even took my Westie when he was only 1 year old to Brazil with me and he did great. Pets are family, and they love to be with us. I am so glad to see you travel with your cat.

  • Krista
    February 6, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    This is such a cute article, and it’s refreshing to read about cats travelling rather than dogs!

  • Linda Jane
    February 6, 2021 at 4:48 pm

    Chocolate Points have such a beautiful nature & make great companions. Enjoy your travels!

  • isabella Biava
    February 6, 2021 at 5:05 pm

    OMG I am a cat lady and I am housesitting now to enjoy their company as I don’t have my own home for now. But as soon as I settle and will have my own cats I will follow your advice. Great posts! And beautiful cats. Meawwww!

    • Terri Markle
      February 6, 2021 at 9:21 pm

      You will be a great cat mom! I can’t wait to read about your adventures with your feline.

  • sydney
    February 6, 2021 at 5:26 pm

    this is so cute!

  • Josy A
    February 6, 2021 at 6:52 pm

    Great tips! We have travelled a little with out cat (and we moved him from the UK to Canada)
    I am always in awe of the folks with van life cats! 🙂

    • Terri Markle
      February 6, 2021 at 9:23 pm

      I agree. I am always so sacred that my cats will escape out the door, get on the elevator and walk out of my condo. IMAGINE they walk about of the VAN. Brave people.

  • Megs
    February 6, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    I love this article and your cute puns! 😺 It sounds like your cats are living their best lives (all 9 of them 😉) with you!

    • Terri Markle
      February 6, 2021 at 9:22 pm

      Thank you for making my day. Yes my Siamese rule my life but I love them so much. They are PURRfect.

  • KAREE
    February 6, 2021 at 11:24 pm

    This is great! I’m now in love with your animals and need to read more. Thanks for sharing them with us! 😍

    • Terri Markle
      February 7, 2021 at 10:40 am

      I am so glad that you enjoyed my adventures of traveling with Siamese. I am working on new essays about Henry & Eliot. I will send you the link. MEOW

  • MagicandBliss
    February 7, 2021 at 11:44 am

    I don’t have a cat but these are very useful tips! I’ll share these with my friends who are cat parents 🙂

    • Terri Markle
      February 7, 2021 at 6:38 pm

      Thank you! I hope the tips will prove helpful!

  • Ummi Nadrah
    February 9, 2021 at 1:56 am

    Hats off to you! I can’t imagine ever bringing my tabbies on a road trip. Even a short drive to the vet is enough of an adventure. But if cats were allowed on planes, I wouldn’t mind sitting next to one, even a talkative one!

    • Terri Markle
      February 13, 2021 at 7:31 pm

      Ummi you are hilarious. My Siamese would talk your head off on a plane … lol!