What I Learnt From Road Tripping With My Cats
11 days, 3,000kms (1,864 miles), 2 cats, 2 humans, a car, through beautiful parts of Australia – what could go wrong?
Actually excited & nervous.
Because we our 2 cats, Lumos & Noxie were coming with us.
It would become their most ambitious trip yet. It would be the longest they would be away from home and the furthest they would be from home. It would be the longest they would spend in the car. The longest they would be in their harnesses. The longest they would have to use their travel kitty litter.
Till this trip, Lumos & Noxie had been on trips for 4 days, travelled for around 6 hours in a car. So we knew they could handle it…. To a certain degree.
But were we totally sure? Was this going to be a disaster? Will we end up in the middle of now where, curled up on the floor of the car, crying because Noxie wouldn’t stop meowing? Or 12 hours away and Lumos would be super anxious and not able to eat or use the kitty litter?
Spoiler alert – yes, I ended up curled up on the floor of the car crying – once! And honestly it wasn’t too bad, I was just being melodramatic!
The reality is, our road trip ended up being a success. A success that was way beyond what I imagined!
It Can Be Amazing To See What Cats Love
Nearly 9 months ago, we took Lumos & Noxie to a beach in Manly. Not the famous one but a quiet one, a secluded one.
And, they hated it. It was too noisy. The small waves seemed to scare them.
And we never went again.
But we had a romantic illusion of trying the beach again on the Great Ocean Road. I mean, how could we take them to the most beautiful coastline in Australia and not show it to them?
We took them to the beach near our accommodation, with the aim of walking back quickly if they reacted badly.
But that did not happen.
Noxie discovered the fun of digging in the sand. And Lumos soon followed suit.
The waves didn’t bother them at all and at times they sat there watching the waves.
They discovered that the beach is in fact natures biggest litter box (which I still had to clean!).
And I learnt, that as cats grow, as they explore more, they become accepting of things they may have hated.
And they may even fall in love with them as Noxie did.
She is a beach kitty now, one that chucks a hissy fit if we have to leave a beach.
And towards the end of the trip, if we went a day without going to the beach, she meowed and insisted that we did!
We have been hiking with the kitties a few times, and each time they only came out of their backpacks when coerced.
The Great Ocean Road is known for its amazing hiking trails, and we found several cat friendly options, which we planned to do with the assumption that the kitties would stay in their backpack.
Were we wrong! They both jumped out of their backpacks as soon as they saw the trail.
And Noxie insisted on walking the whole way! All 5 kms (3 miles) of it.
She then also insisted on walking the other days too.
Who knew that we had a little hiking cat?
Long Car Rides With Cats Aren’t That Bad
Cats Sleep In Cars
Not all car rides have been super successful with Lumos & Noxie. Sometimes they will insist singing the song of their people for the whole duration of the ride.
A part of us was expecting that this would happen all the way from Sydney to Melbourne.
However, we found out that we didn’t need to worry. Our car carrier works really well.
When nervous, Lumos & Noxie can watch us via the window in the front.
And for most of our longer drives, they just curled up together and slept.
Road Trips With Cats = Takes Longer to Go Anywhere.
Given the set up of the carrier in our car, each time we stopped I unloaded the kitties from their carrier into their backpacks.
When it was time to be on the road again, I would unload them from the backpacks into their car carrier. Often they will want to explore the car before going back into their car carrier.
This doesn’t normally bother us too much, even when it take 20 minutes, as we only do it once a day.
But…some days we travelled for nearly 12 hours in total.
Which meant multiple stops.
Multiple times of repeating this routine.
Adding several multiples of 20 minutes to our travel time.
This is how a drive that typically takes most people 8 hours, took us 11 hours.
And yes, it was during one of these multiple times, where I ended up curled up on the floor of our Honda HRV, watching Noxie zoomsie around the car because she just wanted to go back to the beach.
Yes, we could have left the kitties in the car as we stretched our legs. But this is not safe, as the car could easily overheat. And we wanted them to see the sights too. Isn’t that the whole point of road tripping with your cat?
Sleeping – Not the Cats, Us, the Humans!
At home Lumos & Noxie are not allowed in the bedroom with us. However, when we travel, we are often in studio apartments.
Meaning that Lumos & Noxie are in the ‘bedroom’ with us. Which is a luxury for them and excites them greatly.
We also find that they love exploring everything in our accommodation. Combine this with midnight zoomsies & the need to jump all over us, it usually means that we don’t get much sleep.
Planning Our Days
We planned our days so that they were jam packed with activities. They were long days and we already allocated less time to sleep than we would at home.
This with being used as kitty launching pads all night, resulted in 2 very tired humans. I would keep this in mind next time we travel with Lumos and Noxie!
Perhaps adding a few off days in our itinerary to sleep in would be a good idea!
Managing Cat Allergies While Road Tripping With Your Cat
Part of the reason Lumos and Noxie are not allowed in our bedroom is because Daniel is allergic to cats. Keeping them out of the bedroom helps with managing his allergies.
Lumos was so excited to be in the bed with us while travelling that each night (in between using us as a launching pad), he would stand over Daniel, purring loudly and drooling all over him.
Of course, Daniel is allergic to cat drool. Which was constantly all over him!
On top of that, we were often driving on highways, with the air conditioner on recycle. Daniel was constantly breathing in air that we were sharing with the kitties and it was slowly gather more of the particles that he was allergic to.
All together, not a great situation for Daniel’s allergies.
So much so, that during a cat free day in Melbourne, Daniel found himself unable to breathe. We rushed to a pharmacy and was able to get some medication.
At this point we had been away from the kitties for 10 hours. We hadn’t travelled long distance with them for 2 days.
We learnt that we should add a few extra cat free days.
Drive with the windows open, if we can.
And most of all, always carry Daniel’s puffer with us!
Cats can Hang By Themselves – Only Book Places Like this
During our cat free days, Lumos and Noxie would spend time by themselves in our accommodation.
Our lovely hosts told us that they could see them watching the world go by from the windows and occasionally interacted with the host’s pets.
We would return at the end of the day to find they had played with their toys and eaten their breakfast.
And they never damaged any furniture or knick knacks.
Cats can stay in cat friendly accommodation by themselves and they can be very well behaved. They do not need constant supervision if they are in a safe place.
Our Cats are Much More Social Than I Realised
There is a stereotype that cats hate meeting people.
Typically, Noxie is a little shy but Lumos loves being the centre of attention.
This was definitely the case while we were travelling. But we found that Noxie loved the cuddles and head scratches from everyone too!
Cats Love Family
One of the reasons we went to Melbourne was so that we could see family. What surprised us is that our family also wanted to meet Lumos and Noxie.
On that particular day we used an Uncle’s home as base to meet multiple family members. Noxie got along well with our much younger cousins and even insisted hanging with them when we went to visit other family members’ homes.
I won't lie, I was nervous about leaving Lumos & Noxie at someone’s house without us. What if they climbed everything? What if they scratched the furniture (or worse someone!)? What if they went to the bathroom in the wrong spot?
But I didn’t need to worry. Lumos apparently spent the 2 hours watching the birds out the window, while Noxie supervised some video games and fell asleep on the couch.
Turns out that I should stop being a helicopter parent.
And we have a very special family who also love Lumos & Noxie.
Kitty Litter While Road Tripping
It has taken a while to develop our kitty litter routine at home. I assumed that the routine would be the same when we’re travelling.
I was slightly right & slightly wrong!
Yes, we didn’t throw out the litter everyday.
However, moving every few days meant that we did have to throw it out more often than we did at home. I definitely didn’t include this in my cat litter calculations before we left home.
So much so that we ran out of kitty litter for the cat litter tray that we left in our accommodation.
Lucky for us, we still had our cat litter tray that we use in the car. And it lasted us the 2 days after we ran out of cat litter.
Thank goodness for that portable Tupperware container!
People are Amazing
Ok, I already knew this.
But our trip made this even clearer!
Everywhere we went with Lumos and Noxie, we had people coming up to us. Asking questions, saying hello and even connecting on Instagram.
We had businesses open their doors to us and treat Lumos and Noxie like they are royalty.
And so many people just made us smile.
But most of all, I’ve learned that we should trust Lumos & Noxie. They are capable of so much if we just give it a go.
They love seeing new places, experiencing new things and meeting new people.
Maybe travelling for 11 days makes them more open to trying new things? Maybe exploring every weekend has opened their eyes to the amazing things the world holds and makes them more comfortable while we’re out and about.
I just know they made our trip amazing! And us so happy to see how much they were enjoying themselves.
And who can say that cats are all couch potatoes? Lumos & Noxie definitely are not!