How Do I Move Cats in a Car to Another State?

(Image: cats on the sofa image by Natalia Kosyanenko from

Moving can be a real hassle; whether you're moving across town or across the state, things can get complicated fast, especially if animals are involved. Moving with your cats will require some preparation, particularly if you’ll be driving with them for at least several hours. However, with a plan to keep your cats safe and relaxed, and an option in case your cats need to use their litter box, all you'll have to worry about is meeting the movers, among other things.

Things You'll Need

  • Cat crates or carriers
  • Health certificates
  • Prescribed sedation medication (optional)
  • Litter box and litter
  • Water dish and bottled water

Schedule an appointment with your vet before moving day. Make sure your cats are all healthy enough for the trip. Because you’re moving to another state, get a copy of each cat’s vaccination records as well as health certificates.

Ask your vet about possible sedation methods. For very long rides, it may be better for your cats if you give them something to relax them or even help them fall asleep. Only give your cats medication prescribed by your veterinarian that’s meant for cats and follow the dosage instructions carefully.

Update your cats’ microchip implants, before you move, with your new address and phone number. You can do this through your vet or the shelter where you adopted your cats.

Update your cats’ ID tags before moving to your new state. The new ID tags should have your name, new address and phone number.

Buy a crate or cat carrier for each of your cats. Avoid putting two cats in one carrier. Even cats that usually get along can fight in stressful situations. The crate or carrier you use should be large enough for each cat to stand up, lie down and turn around in comfortably.

Bring a litter box filled with litter on the car ride as well as a shallow dish and bottled water. Stop along the way and let each cat out of its carrier one at a time inside the car. Offer them water and the litter box. Be aware that stressed out, scared cats might try to run away or lash out at you. Keep all car doors shut and locked and all windows completely closed while your cats are out of their carriers.

Tips & Warnings

  • Take your cats for short car rides in the crates or carriers you intend to use when you make the big move. Do this several weeks before moving day to help get them used to the car and make the long trip less stressful.

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