AtoZ 2021 – C is for 3 Cats in a MINI Cooper

C is for 3 Cats in a MINI Cooper

When I made my plans to move from St. Paul, MN to St. Pete, FL, there was never any question that I’d be bringing along my three kids — who yes, are furry and have four paws each. This meant figuring out the logistics of getting them 1,560 miles (2,510 km) from one side of the country to the other.

My wonderful father agreed to haul a trailer full of my stuff all the way to Florida, but I needed to transport my most precious cargo with me in my own MINI Cooper. In a later post I’ll explain how I ended up with this car, but for now what’s important are the modifications I made to it to create one big, drivable cat carrier.

First, I found something called a pet seat cover (like this one), which is a structured waterproof mat that goes across the entire back seat of a vehicle to protect the interior from any claw marks or pet messes. Since these are mostly sized for big dogs riding in the back of big trucks, one cover was the perfect size to protect the entire back of my MINI Cooper.

I folded the back seats down, which essentially makes my car a two-seater, but since I only needed to transport a travel suitcase and a few other fragile items along with the cats, this was perfect. I now had a flat surface in the back two-thirds of the car, and the mat has flaps that go up the sides to block any access to the foot and side wells of the back seats.

It also partially blocks the front seats off, but not enough that they wouldn’t just climb right over, so I also installed a baby gate with zip ties to the front seat headrests. Bam, giant cat carrier.

Meet (top to bottom) Rory, River Song, and Amelia.
River is Rory and Amy’s mother, because wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey.

I also wanted to make sure they felt secure, though, so I put a regular sized cat carrier with the door off, two more beds, and some of our blankets in the back. In the picture above you can also see River with a leash attached to her collar, which I attached to her and the baby gate whenever I opened any door.

She was the one I was most scared would try to bolt out of the car any chance she could get, but actually Amy was the problem child. She was out of the small carrier and hanging out in the open space the most, as she’s my little Gryffindor. (Rory is a Hufflepuff and River is a Slytherin.)

I also had to bring their food, water, and litter supplies with me (in the Wii box above), but all of my stuff was crammed into the front seat with me to give the kids all of the back, and so nothing could shift and squish them.

The next hurdle was finding two pet-friendly hotels along the way. We knew we’d be taking three days to drive down, even though technically you can do it in two if you drive twelve hours a day, but I didn’t want to keep the kids in the car that long. So instead of driving all the way to Nashville, Tennessee (the halfway point) we stopped the first night near St. Louis, Missouri, and the second night just south of Atlanta, Georgia.

My journey from St. Paul 2 St. Pete!

We didn’t know exactly how far we were going to get each day so I didn’t book any reservations ahead of time, but once we were underway I checked out hotels when we stopped for breaks. The main feature I needed (besides that they would let me bring in my cats) were places that had platform beds, rather than the usual kind of bed that has four feet at the corners and lots of room to hide (and get stuck) underneath.

The first night had a slight hiccup when I called ahead, directly asked about the beds, made the reservation, and showed up to the hotel, cat carriers in tow. When we got to the room, I quickly realized the beds were not platform at all, so I had to go back to the front desk, get a refund, and find a new place.

The next place was perfect though, and pretty soon we were all settled in for the night in St. Louis. That’s my dad trying to sleep while the kids explore.

The next day was more smooth driving, and I found a hotel in the same chain for our second night near Atlanta. The kids were more comfortable, although as you can see, we had to tip this chair with the legs up so no one hid underneath it. We were really lucky too, there were no accidents in the car; everyone waited politely for their litterbox at the end of the day.

I know you’re here for the cat pics, but here are a few I snapped without the kids in the picture. At the top, that’s me, my partner, and my dad as I’m getting ready to leave St. Paul; then there’s my dad’s truck and my trailer full of stuff; then I had to stop and get a picture of the St. Louis Arch; then, I was so excited when we finally crossed into Florida, so stopped at the first Visitor’s Center I saw to get a picture of me with palm trees for the first time as a Florida resident!

When we finally arrived at my new apartment later that afternoon, I did a quick walk-through and took video and photos. Then my dad and I got a couple things out of the trailer, including a bunch of cat stuff, and everyone started to get settled in. I had hired movers to unload the rest of the trailer the next day, so for now all that was left to do was admire the palm trees out my window and watch my kids explore our new digs.

They were no worse for the wear after three days and almost 1,600 miles in the car, and it turns out the pet cover I bought has remained in my MINI Cooper to this day — there’s sand everywhere in Florida, especially when you go to the beach as often as I do!

So that’s the story of my three cats in a MINI Cooper. Have you ever travelled with your pets? How’d it go? Let me know in the comments!

It’s still Saturday so I’m not technically late with this post for the AtoZ Challenge, but I’m hoping to get a lot of writing done tomorrow on our day off, and I’ll be back bright and early with a post on Monday morning for the letter D. For now, thanks for reading, see you at the beach!

Thank you for visiting St. Paul 2 St. Pete and the kickoff to my new blog, the April AtoZ Challenge 2021!  If you’re new to my adventure of moving from St. Paul, MN to St. Pete, FL, it might help to read my introductory post here, but these stories are all standalone.

Image credits:
All the photos in this post were taken by me in October 2019.
Seaside Beach Dividing Line by 699pic from


  1. Kitties!!!! 😻
    You need a Ravenclaw kitty too.
    I love that you made a big kitty area in the back. My cat, rip, hated car rides. I moved 80 miles. He freaked the whole trip. My aunt and uncle had a cat that went on lots of vacations with them. It was all fine. Until we went on a camping trip. There was construction at a cabin, and kitty heard the circular saw… got out of the cat wagon, out of his leash, ran over the creek, and was gone. 😿 We did EVERYTHING to try to find him. My aunt nearly lost her toe searching. Very sad. Hopefully he lived out his days in the woods.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no that’s awful! I’m sorry for their loss. And I’ve had cats in the past who hated the car too, I was lucky that these guys took it all in stride. They’ve been strictly indoor cats since I rescued them, but I still got them microchipped just in case. Thanks for stopping by!


  2. Wow! Full disclosure: I don’t even know how to start a car so the very idea of driving it for 23 hours absolutely terrifies me, but you did it !! And not only that, you managed to find hotels that are actually kitty friendly. I haven’t travelled with my cat yet (he is six months old), but after lockdown I am thinking of taking him to Paris with me and we t h a n k f u l l y have found an airline that allows kitties in the cabin with you and pet-friendly airbnbs, so here’s hoping! (I only hope he doesn’t yowl the same way he does whenever we get in a taxi!)

    P.S. YOU HAVE THE CUTEST CATS EVER. They look so cuddly 😍

    — Elena x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! I learned to drive at 18 but then just didn’t for the decade I was in the St. Paul, stay tuned for my X post to hear more about that. And I’m glad you can take him in the cabin of the plane, I don’t trust airlines with pets in the hold, I’ve heard too many horror stories. If he does cry, just tell people he’s practicing to busk on the banks of the Seine. 😉 Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your account of travel with your kids. I have three cats too and two summers ago I drove up to the mountains to stay for a month. I wish I’d had that car seat cover. It’s a brilliant idea. My cats had to remain in their cat carriers for 7 hours and weren’t at all happy. I’m going to rig up my car like this for the next trip, hopefully this summer, providing Covid settles down a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

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