Are you planning to travel with your cat for the first time? Have you tried road tripping with her before but ended up with a chaotic experience? Well, traveling with cats, as well as with any other pets, aren’t always that pleasant. Most cats dread traveling and become scared, sick, or skittish, making everything stressful during the trip and upon arrival.
Luckily, with a few simple tricks, you can turn it around tenfold and make it an adventure that you and your cat will enjoy together. So, let’s scratch the chase! Here are the best tips for traveling with your cat, which will help turn your cat from a home lover to a certified globetrotter.
Before You Go
Preparation is a crucial part of any trip, and it becomes even more important if you’re traveling with your cat. Like how much time and effort you devote to preparing your documents and travel essentials, the same way you should do for your beloved feline.
1. Talk to your veterinarian about your trip. Ask for any prevalent diseases in your target destination and any vaccinations your cat may need before you travel. Consider the climate, too. Ask your vet how your cat will fare in such conditions and the steps you need to take so your cat can adapt quickly and remain healthy.
2. If you’re traveling overseas, be wary that different countries have different regulations, requirements, and quarantine measures to follow before they can accept your cat in their country. Most require a passport and health certificate, which you may need to accomplish weeks beforehand. Be sure to check so you can secure them in time for your travel.
3. Research emergency vet locations or hospitals along your route. That way, you know where to go quickly in case something bad happens. Don’t forget to bring your cat’s medical records, even if you’re traveling state-to-state or within the country. Some states or cities may look for vaccination records before allowing animals to cross borders.
4. Get a carrier that has proper ventilation and is spacious enough for your cat to move, stretch, and move around. Having one that’s too congested will just add to the stress your cat may experience. If you’re flying, you may need to find one that’s approved by your country’s regulatory agency.
5. Familiarize your cat with traveling by taking her for a few short rides a few days prior to your trip. You can also have your cat stay inside the car with you for a few minutes each day to spread her scent and mark the car as her territory. Meanwhile, you may also place the carrier in your backyard or outside your house and let your cat explore it the way she pleases. Through those steps, your cat can get used to your car and carrier, making her feel more relaxed during the actual trip.
6. Have your feline microchipped. It’s always advisable to have your cat microchipped, even if you’re not traveling. However, microchips become even more helpful during trips just in case your cat breaks free.
7. Pack your cat’s essentials. Get a box and fill it up with everything your cat will need for the trip. These include food, toys, food and water bowls, harness and leads, kitty litter, scooper, elimination bags, bedding, and blanket.
The actual trip is perhaps the hardest part of the trip for your cat, given that she’ll be in a rather unfamiliar situation, and for you, as well, as you need to remain focused on driving. Make the experience smoother for both ends by reading the tips below.
1. For your utmost safety, it’s best to keep your kitty inside the carrier in the backseat while in the vehicle. Keep it safe from any sudden movements, toppling, or lurching forward by securing it with the seat belt or a harness.
2. Never allow your cat to roam loosely around as she may bug you trying to get into your lap and cause you to lose your concentration. Of course, you also don’t want your cat ending up under the pedal or jumping to the steering wheel, which can quickly lead to an accident.
3. As your cat will only be staying in the crate, it’s in your best interest to keep the experience positive for her. Cats are sensitive to their environment and prefer to stay in places where they are familiar with. To recreate that feeling, you can place your cat’s favorite toys and blanket inside her crate, as it already has her scent that makes her feel at home.
4. Keep your kitty hydrated. As the trip can be taxing and dehydrating for your cat, supply her with enough water inside the carrier. Feed her as you normally would along the way to ensure she also retains her energy.
5. Check the temperature and maintain good air circulation inside the car. If possible, you may keep the AC system on to keep your cat more comfortable. Remember, cats are covered with fur and are more prone to overheating. Since your cat is inside the carrier, she also won’t have an opportunity to go anywhere and cool herself off. If you’re traveling in the summer, it’s advisable to bring some ice packs, wrap them in cloth or towel, and surround the carrier with it to keep your cat cool.
6. Take stops. Give your cat a chance to get outside the carrier once in a while by taking breaks. Keep all the windows and doors closed and allow her to move inside the carrier. If you want to let some fresh air in, you may roll the window but only by a few inches as cats are masters when it comes to squeezing in tight spaces. However, your cat would appreciate a little stroll outside better. Just use a cat harness, as you might be surprised how much faster they can run than you can.
Flying entails a different experience for your cat, but here are some ways you can make the trip more manageable for you and your kitty.
1. Check the airline’s animal policies. What’s great is that some airlines permit passengers to carry your cat with you in the cabin, usually for an extra cost. Just be mindful that there’s a limit to the number of pets allowed in the cabin so it’s better to contact them a few weeks prior. Be sure to ask what kind of carrier is allowed or if there are any additional medical requirements.
2. If your cat needs to stay in the cargo area, pick a flight that has less stops. Transferring from one plane to another can stress your cat further. If you need to take connection flights, don’t forget to consider weather and temperature. Your cat won’t be happy to be in the cargo hold during the hot summer months, nor would she appreciate staying in locations with temperatures going subzero.
3. Have your cat an identification tag with your name, contact number, destination address, and your cat’s microchip number. If your cat will be on cargo hold, it’s also advisable to write your contact details on the carrier, including a “Live Animal” tag for proper handling and a photo of your cat, in case she escapes.
Arriving at your location safely is one of the most relieving parts of the trip. All you need to do is help your cat relax quickly and settle in your destination smoothly.
1. Make sure that the room is safe. Lock all the doors and windows before opening the carrier. Have all your kitty essentials nearby, but keep everything calm and quiet to allow your cat to adjust.
2. As your cat is in new territory, it’s normal for them to get anxious, especially after the long journey. Be patient and let her have her own pace. Surround her with her bed, blanket, and favorite toys to give your cat some sense of familiarity.
3. Watch your pet at all times. Never allow her to wander as she might escape and get lost in the area. Only allow your cat to roam freely in the room if you’re confident that there are no items that might harm her or any possible escape points she might be able to use.
Traveling your kitty never has to be a difficult affair. Just follow the listed tips above and say hello to a fun, memorable, and safe journey with your cat. Happy travels!