Cat sleeping in a carrier

How Long Can a Cat Stay in a Carrier?

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It’s no surprise to some owners that cats aren’t always fond of their carriers.  

Most of the time the journeys they take will be short: going to the veterinarian or to where they’re being boarded.  Sometimes, you’ll need to travel with them over a longer distance.

It’s important to consider the cat’s welfare before you undertake any journey.  The personality, age and health of a pet will dictate how long a cat can stay in a carrier over an arbitrary number of hours.

You may need to schedule in a few stops along the way or prepare a bag for your cat that includes a litter tray, food and water bowls and treats if you think they’ll need it.

Traveling with a cat can be a daunting prospect but if you plan and consider the wellbeing of your animal to be first and foremost, then it’ll be fine.

Cats might not always like their carriers or enjoy riding in the car, but they’re incredibly adaptable creatures. 

How Long Can You Keep a Cat in a Carrier?

There’s no real hard and fast answer for this one.  The issue with keeping a cat inside a carrier for long periods is the eating, drinking and toileting.

If you’re traveling with a cat over a long distance (4 hours or more), then be sure you’re fitting in enough breaks.  It’s often better to drive long-distance than to fly and in a car, you have far more control over letting your pet stretch its legs and take a drink and something to eat.

Cat carriers aren’t designed to be used for extended periods.  It’s easy to imagine that most cats will be uncomfortable after 8-hours in such a small space.  Remember, though, that cats do fly internationally and sometimes those trips can be 10 hours or more.

Is it ideal to keep a cat inside a carrier for many hours? 

No, but then owners don’t often have another choice and the truth is that even if you plan in breaks and try to encourage your cat to eat, drink and use a litter box, they might not.  Most cats don’t like unfamiliar places and may prefer to wait until they’re somewhere quieter and more private before they’ll settle back into normal behavior.

You should check-in with your cat regularly when they’re inside the carrier and look for signs of distress.  You’ll probably find that he or she will settle into sleep relatively quickly.

The obvious concern is if a cat has an existing medical condition that could be aggravated by stress or by a lack of food or water.  We’d always recommend taking advice from a veterinarian.

Make sure you have a good carrier that’s the right size and one that’s comfortable inside: put in a blanket or towel along with familiar toys and maybe even something that smells like you. 

Some people buy a mesh pet barrier.  Most are designed for dogs, but there’s a tunnel you can extend across the back seat which will give your cat greater chance to roam.  

How long can a cat ride in a car?

Car rides give you the freedom to stop when you need to.

You can even turn off the engine, park up and with the doors secured let them out in the back of the car.

You can also pick a cheap motel to stay at for the night.  Cats are more likely to use a litter tray in a hotel bathroom than they are either on the move or in an airport or train station bathroom. 

Car journeys are one of the least stressful ways of traveling with a cat (although, it might not always feel like that at the time) because you can make the decisions about where to stop and when.  If your cat is fine after 5 hours in the carrier, great.  If they start getting restless after 2 hours, pull over and give them some attention and food.  

How Long Can Cats go Without Pooping?

Cats should be pooping about once a day.  Although, there will be some natural variance between individual cats though.   Age, illness and the amount and regularity of which they eat will play a part, too. 

Pet Coach advises that if it’s been longer than 48-hours, then it could be time to speak to a professional for advice.

If a cat has been in a carrier for a long time, then his or her reluctance to go could be due to stress or because of the unfamiliar surrounding environment.  Once your cat feels comfortable again then they should start having bowel movements as normal.

Dehydration can cause constipation so make sure your cat has access to drinking water during the journey.  

How Long Can Cats Hold Their Pee?

Most cats pee around 2-3 times each day.

When they’re feeling stressed out it could be much less often.  All Feline Hospital writes that cats can hold their pee for anywhere between 24-48 hours but this sounds like it would be very uncomfortable.

If your cat does have an accident in its litter box, we’ve written a post about how to get the cat pee smell out of plastic.

You could also make sure you’ve packed old towels and wipes to clean up any mess.  You can buy puppy training pads and line the bottom of the carrier with them to help absorb any liquids.

You can also buy cat carriers that include litter boxes

How Long Can a Cat Stay in a Carrier?

Cats sometimes have to stay in carriers for extended periods. 

It isn’t always ideal but it’s the nature of the world we live in: people need to move from place-to-place and sometimes that’s many, many miles from where they are now.

Most cats will be fine in carriers for up to 8 hours.  Others might need a little more care and you may have to factor in a break every 2-3 hours. 

Some owners have no choice but to keep their cats inside a crate for 10 hours or more.  If that’s the case, then we’d encourage you to plan everything you can buy or do to make the journey more comfortable.

If you’re worried about traveling over a long distance with your cat, then talk to your veterinarian. 

3 thoughts on “How Long Can a Cat Stay in a Carrier?”

  1. Pingback: How to take a cat on a road trip - Cat Traveling - Aw Kitty

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