Over the past 6 years of marriage my husband and I have done countless military PCS moves with pets. Mostly with our oldest kitty Missy, and this latest time with our newest adoptions Marshmallow and Mittens–8 month old kittens.
Over the years we have learned the hard way how to successfully conquer a PCS move and how not too. Hopefully you learn from our endless supply of “I can’t believe that happened” moments.
Because as much as I would like to tell you its all been smooth sailing, it hasn’t been.
How to conquer a PCS move with pets.
1. Stock up on EVERYTHING you MIGHT need and then triplicate it!
Over the years we learned to have extra’s on everything. When I mean everything I mean everything. For us in the beginning this meant food, litter, treats, and litter boxes (get the one that has cover or high sides on it, trust me you will thank me later).
I always pack at least 2-3 times what we normally use. You don’t realize it till you are on the road, but you are much more wasteful. Litter is thrown out after one use (you don’t want dirty litter in your car). Food gets spilled and thrown out, rather than left out etc.
On this latest PCS move, I accidentally overheated the cats (it was comfortable to me) and one of our youngest members had an accident in the cage. Since there amazing expensive plushy pad was thrown out and one of our blankets were sacrificed for their new bedding. Which was a total shame, since they no longer got the comfortable bedding that I spent a small fortune on.
While it seems silly to have one-and-a-half large bags of food and 4 boxes of 35 lb litter in your car when space is precious, it comes in handy.
2. Have supplies for accidents.
Our oldest cat has never had an accident in our entire experience traveling with her and let’s just say she had thousands of miles under her belt. So when one of our youngest members had an accident we were not prepared.
Luckily the cage and pad were super absorbent and amazing, but we didn’t have a replacement. So make sure you do. Also while it seems silly to spend $20+ for the special cage made pads, I HIGHLY recommend them.
3. Be prepared to keep it much colder than typical.
We always learn the hard way that our cats need it cold. Otherwise they may over heat. When I mean cold I mean blasting at the lowest setting as possible. So I dress warm and bring a blanket, gloves and a jacket. This way everyone is happy, and I don’t come out frozen.
4. Have a leash or a way for everyone to get out of the car and stretch their legs
As silly as this sounds every feline member of this family has a leash. While everyone doesn’t use them every time it has been incredibly helpful. On this most recent trip, Marshmallow got very restless.
So we took him out for a “walk” in the grass during one of the gas break. This was enough excitement to help him burn off his energy to fall asleep.
5. Put animals together rather than separate.
Traditionally our older cat has always slept either in her cage or OCCASIONALLY out of it. At first we thought about doing the same with our two youngest, but quickly realized they would be miserable since they love snuggling and playing together.
So we got smart and invested in a small dog cage with gave them plenty of room to snuggle and be together. This was perfect and they really enjoyed.
6. Longer stretches rather than shorter stretches.
We found that after awhile everyone settles down, but no matter how many days we have been on the road, it still takes everyone a bit to ease into the drive for the day.
Therefore, we try to plan on doing longer stretches 8-10 hours instead of multiple days. We find that they do much better as its less time in the car, which seems to be more of the stressor than long days.
7. Keep all supplies handy.
When we end our travels for the day, our pets are hungry, tired and want to use the rest rooms. Therefore the first thing we do is set them up as soon as we stop. We also make sure that their items are the last in and the first out. This also makes it really handy when things happen and we need access to the supplies through out the trip.
8. Hotels are scary and not home to your pet.
I will never forget chasing marshmallow down the hallway after a long day of driving. He slid around our feet and tore down the hallway. Luckily we got him quickly but it was a great reminder that hotels are not home to the little ones.
They can be scary overwhelming or just a new place to check out. So before you know how your pet will act, be extra careful. Our oldest always hides in the box springs and our youngest two met us at the door every time and tried to escape out of the hotel room to explore.
9. Have new toys and distractions.
Our youngest two are totally in play mode 80% of the time where as our eldest is in the sleep mode 80% of the time. A huge help to channel this energy and excitement was having new slightly different versions of their favorite toys. This gave them an outlet to focus their behavior, preventing them from finding a new chair to claw.
10. Be flexible and adaptable.
At the end of the day be prepared for your best laid plans to go awry. My favorite to this day is how we did our road trip: Mittens was sleeping in the cage, while Marshmallow was sitting on top of the head rest as we cruised down the road.
While that was certainly not the plan, nor any type of choice of mine, it allowed everyone to survive the experience. So don’t be afraid to adopt and survive. I know that was the only way I made it through our pets’ PCS adventures.
11. Search hotels ahead of time.
I am a hotel snob. After being in a VERY sketchy neighborhood in a chain hotel. I only stay at TownePlace Suites by Marriott if I can help it. While there some chains that are know for being pet friendly, I personally find that if I search ahead of time, I can find a pet friendly TownePlace Suites by Marriott along our route. The currently have 300 pet-friendly hotels across the United States, which is awesome because it means that I can accrue points.
Traveling with pets is an adventure.
Whether you have dogs or cats or another furry friend, these tips were a lifesaver for me on all our latest PCS moves and travels. Save yourself from messes in the car, panic from running out of pet food, and fur in your travel mug. Travel in military life is stressful enough without adding any pet complications into your plans.
Want more on military life?
- 20 Must-Have Documents for Your Next PCS Move
- Are DITY Moves Worth It for Military Families?
- Military Moves Overseas: 7 Major Mistakes to Avoid
- I’m Terrible at Being a Military Spouse
This is a sponsored conversation on behalf of Marriott Towne Place Suites. All opinions and text are my own.