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I have a 2011 EX with dog package. Just installed oem bars (yay-my first DIY car project!) and have a roof top carrier. Leaving Sanibel, Florida headed to SE Idaho with 3 teenagers and 2 cats. Hoping to make it in 4 days.

I have done dog and cat rescue for the better part of 35 years. I primarily work with animals who are 'behavior challenged'; retraining them so they are adoptable. Sharing some of my experiences in the hope that someone might find the info helpful for a safe and happy move with their pet(s).

I have moved across country with cats before. It was pretty easy to do with a uhaul that had a cargo access door. We set up a very sturdy work table over that door, put crates/beds and litter box under the table; and packed the rest of our boxes and stuff around that set up. We used battery operated fans for air circulation. The cats could go in and out of the crate and into the cab with us and they had access to food/water and litter box. They wore harnesses and had 'home made we are moving' info on their collars. (just wrote all pertinent info and stuffed that into a tiny metal pill containers and attached to each collar.)

This go round I will be utilizing the OEM pet crate for the cats. I ordered a cat hammock from etsy and will be attaching this inside the crate to utilize more of the otherwise unused 'head room'. I also plan to modify the hard plastic bottom 'ramp storage' by building this part up enough to put a side entry cat litter box underneath. Will post pics when these mods are complete.

To get your cat used to a harness, leash, crate and spending time in car, this is what I suggest. You may find your cat is very relaxed throughout the process and takes less time to acclimate. It's just as likely your cat may take more time and patience. The best thing you can ever do to build trust with your pet is to treat them with kindness and respect. Few words are needed- just patience, some treats, a few words of praise. If you find yourself feeling frustrated- walk away. Try again later- it will come together in a beautiful way when you have patience with yourself and your animal companion.

4 weeks before the move, bring crate into a room where the cats spend most of their time. Open the zipper/door, put cat bed, toys and blankets they will travel with all in and around the crate. Within minutes my cats were exploring the inside and top of crate.

My cats have harnesses. I feel safer using a harness than a cat collar. The easiest way to get them use to the harness is as follows.

Day 1 Call cat to you (never chase it down) with treat and harness in hand. When cat comes to you, pet/scratch favorite spot (ear/ chin) for 30 sec or so. Put harness over head and give treat. scratch favorite spot for 30 sec or so. Remove harness. Give treat, praise- then walk away.

Day 2 Same as day 1. Be sure you walk away from the cat, don't let cat run away from you.

Day 3 Follow day 1 instructions, but this time fasten the harness. Give a few 'favorite spot' scratches, treat, praise, sit cat down and walk away. Do not watch cat, laugh at cat who finds itself immobile or tease cat. Just walk away and let cat wear harness for 10 or 15 min. Find cat, do not chase it down. If cat is food motivated, it will probably come for a treat, or sit nearby and shake treat bag to motivate interest. Give 1/2 treat, unbuckle and remove harness, give a few words of praise, scratches and other 1/2 of treat. Walk away from cat.

Day 4 repeat day 3, but increase time in harness to a couple of hours.
By day 5 cat should be pretty used to the routine, some get it quicker, some take several days longer.

The key is in a couple of things. Never chase down your cat to do training or introduce new or unpleasant things like medicine or harnesses. Food is a good thing. Introduce new things with a positive association, like small bits of food. End each session on a positive note. Food, praise, and then you walk away from the situation. Don't end a training session on a negative note by running away. At times I have had to put my less than thrilled cat on chair/floor and gently hold for just a second or two till I can release and walk away quickly. Sounds goofy I know, but from a behavior modification standpoint it makes a big difference.

Now it's about 3 weeks before you move. Cat has relearned to walk and function with harness on. Introduce the leash. This takes a little more time, because you don't want to leave cat unsupervised. Keep treats on hand. Cut treats in 1/2 so cat is not getting too many calories from all this training! It's not the amount of food that is important, it's the positive association with food. Put leash on cat and let it drag the leash around for just a few minutes. don't try and walk the cat or tug to make it come to you. If you want to leash train the cat, google Jackson Galaxy for methods of leash training so you can go for walks outside. All you want to do is be able to keep your cat safe during a move.

At 2.5 weeks before move, take crate back to car and install as if you are moving. If it's a hot or cold day, cool/heat car to comfy temp. Harness and leash cat and carry to car. If cat is super freaked out, just sit quietly (maybe a towel on lap to prevent scratches) for a few minutes. If cat is relaxed, just let it explore car for 5 or 10 min. Treats while in car if cat is not too stressed to eat one.

Do this for a few min a day. Depending on how relaxed cat is, move to putting cat in crate and start car. Maybe drive around block. Unless cat is completely relaxed, I wouldn't throw the whole family in the car or blast the stereo, but increase amount of time cat is in car and slowly add music or kids to the mix.

Try and bring crate back in house as often as you are able and give cat free access. Feeding time can take place in crate too.

This is a long process, but it doesn't take more than 5 minutes a day for the harness training. It's a kind and gentle way for you and your animal companion to build trust and spend quality time together.

Premium Member
177 Posts
Great post drgnflyz. Thanks for sharing these tips.

I purchased my E specifically for my adventure cat. It's one of the few vehicles with a flat dash for lounging. We travel and camp year round. Each animal is different, but this cat and I have a pretty good system worked out in the E.

Fun fact for ECamper owners: if you unzip the inner canvas halfway, it makes a perfect cat hammock against the outer screens.

ECamper kitty

Adventure cat

3,060 Posts
I think Blues, Tonks, Rags and Siamese mixes tend to take travel better. I used to have a first-gen Tonkinese (probably the most intelligent cat ever bred) and he not only loved to ride in the truck but liked to stand with his front legs on the dash (they're BIG cats) and watch the scenery.
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