Cats can get carsick, too. And the stress of travel can lead to an upset stomach. So feeding can be a little bit tricky even when the trip is a short one.
For short trips it is best to not feed your cat for 4-6 hours before the trip. This includes trips to the vet. Not only can stomaches e upset by car travel, but bowels and bladders in a nervous cat can lead to unpleasant accidents, especially if the cat is already unwell.
For longer trips, and definitely cross-country travel, the problem can be not only the motion but the availability of the food your cat is used to eating. If possible you should pack enough of your standard brand of cat food for your entire trip. But this may not be possible if the space in the vehicle is limited or the trip is especially long. Changes in diet can be particularly difficult for cats. In this situation you may want to make a change in brands well before the trip or plan on mixing to extend your cat’s usual brand. There are certain brands available at most grocery and convenience stores. It may not be your preferred brand, but if you are in doubt, getting your cat used to something a little more readily available might be a good plan. Alternatively, if you know you will staying in a single location for a few days, you might want find a local source, or even order online and have your cat’s favorite food delivered.
You may want to look at making a switch, temporarily, to cat food designed for sensitive digestions. You’ll want to plan they several weeks in advance and gradually mix more and more of the new food to the old until you are feeding the new food entirely. Another advantage of many foods for sensitive digestions is that they reduce or eliminate the odor from cat poop. This can be a big bonus when you and your cat are confined in such a small space!
The key is to try and not upset your cat’s digestion by making a sudden switch in brands or type of food. Dry is easier to store and carry, but ideally cats should get at least a little canned food. It’s also frequently easier to digest. Initially desert animals cats have evolved to get a large portion of their water from the flesh of their kills. It may be more convenient to carry smaller, single-serving cans or packets than try to refrigerate a partially eaten can or carry a large amount of dry food. Even if your cat is used to dry food,
And speaking of water, consider giving your cat bottled water on the trip. The tap water will not only taste different from place to place, but will have different chemicals in different proportions. This can possibly disturb the cat’s digestion (think about the effect of drinking local water on America tourists in Mexico), but your cat may dislike the taste and not drink enough, causing health-threatening dehydration. After our second trip to the vet in San Diego with Princess Nell, the vet suggested we try giving her bottled water, and sure enough the dehydration problem was solved. Then my husband pointed out that neither of us liked the taste of San Diego tap water and were drinking bottled water, so we purchased a water filter. To this day we keep a Britta Filter water pitcher in the fridge for everyone (though we let the cats’ water get to room temperature before serving because some cats are sensitive to cold food and water).
So, remember when you are on the road that just as we may have to settle for “junk food” or pack our own, your cats may have to adapt as well. Just try to make the change as gradual as possible.