How To Travel With A Cat

If you have a feline friend in your life, you know how easily they can become stressed. Cats aren’t always adaptable to new environments, making travel complicated in many cases. So how can you make traveling with a cat easy?

In this article we will discuss the details of traveling with a cat, and offer some of our tips for success!

Making It A Positive Experience

How To Travel With A Cat

Some of the most important work in preparing your cat for travel begins long before the trip itself. Due to many cats being thrown off by new situations and environments, it’s important to make them as comfortable with the process of traveling. Safe travel will always involve the use of a cat carrier. Make sure you familiarize your feline friend with their crate.

Once your cat associates their carrier with positive experiences, a large majority of the stress of travel is eliminated. If your cat feels safe in their carrier, they will be able to view their crate as a source of comfort throughout the adventure. However, if your cat is afraid of their carrier as well, it will be challenging for them to remain calm throughout the process.

Getting Your Cat Familiar With Their Travel Carrier

To do this, you should try your best to take the fear away from the crate itself. You can start by having their crate open and available at all times. Add a cozy blanket, and even leaving treats in their crate. You can also reward your feline friend with treats any time they choose to hangout in their carrier, further solidifying the positive association.

Once your cat has become comfortable with the presence of the carrier itself, you can then begin to introduce them to the car. Whether you are going on a road trip or simply driving to the airport, the process will be easier if they are less fearful of a car ride. The best way to do this is by introducing the car in small steps.

You can first start by simply sitting in the car in the driveway. This will allow your cat to get used to the smell and sounds of the car when it is on. Once you have done this a few times, you can take it up notch by going for a short car ride around the block. Just be sure to reward your cat with treats after each practice session. By doing this you will help them adapt to the process. You may not be able to practice with multiple plane rides, but you can certainly warm them up with vehicle travel.

Travel With A Cat – What You Need To Bring

Once you are ready to hit the open road or open air with your feline friend, you will need to gather a few supplies to help you throughout the process. Being prepared for anything that comes your way will make the process easy, and limit any unnecessary stress for your cat.

Some of the supplies that you will need to bring include:

  • A travel approved crate that your cat is comfortable with.
  • An amount of food that is appropriate for your adventure, as well as bottled water.
  • Your cat’s food and water bowls.
  • Blankets or a cat bed that fits easily in their crate.
  • A potty pad that slides easily into their crate in case of accidents.
  • Any toys that your cat enjoys or finds comfort in.
  • All medical records, identification cards, medications, etc.
  • Treats to offer your cat throughout the journey.
  • A leash or harness, just in case you need to have your cat out of their crate.
  • A litter box, as they will need a familiar area to do their business at your end destination.

If you are traveling for extended periods of time, or are vacationing at your end location, you may need large amounts of these supplies. You should also consider additional comfort items such as scratching posts, cat beds, an abundance of toys, and any other comfort tool your cat may enjoy.

How To Travel With A Cat In Your Car

The first step of taking your cat on a road trip should involve familiarizing them with their crate. As we discussed above, it is important to make their carrier a happy place. Not only can their crate aid in keeping them safe throughout your travels, but it can also offer them comfort if they are feeling nervous. If a cat associates a positive experience with their carrier, the process of traveling will not be as scary.

Once you have introduced your cat to their crate in the weeks leading up to your travels, you can dive into the steps below.

  1. Make sure that their crate is strapped in by a seatbelt at all times.
  2. Make sure your cat is wearing a collar with proper identification.
  3. Keep a folder of all medical records or pet documents on hand if you need them.
  4. Keep the temperature in your car at a comfortable level for a cat.
  5. If your trip is longer than 6 hours, you may need to stay at a hotel along the way, or stop at a safe and confined resting zone.
  6. If you do stay at any hotels along the way, you should always make sure they allow pets. You should also plan to check the hotel room for any possible cat hiding spaces, and block off any dangerous areas if you find any.
  7. Account for the weather at every point throughout your trip. If it will be cold, pack plenty of warm blankets. If it will be hot, be sure to have a cooler that contains ice packs that can be placed in their bed if needed.
  8.  You can even purchase a battery powered fan that can be placed on their crate.
  9. Make sure you have gathered and checked off the supplies we listed above.

If your cat has any health conditions, you should always discuss any upcoming trips with your veterinarian. They may offer you additional tips that can help your furry friend, or suggest any supplies that you may need along the way.

How To Travel With Your Cat On A Plane

As we mentioned above, one of the first steps of travel will always involve familiarizing your cat with their carrier. Once they have become comfortable with their crate, it is time to prepare for their plane travel in other ways.

  1. Speak with your airline at the point of ticket purchase about all veterinary documents that you will need. Get a detailed list of what to collect, as well as the name of the person you spoke with. This can help you if there is any information that is missed.
  2. Be sure that you are aware of if your cat is traveling with you, or under the plane. Some planes do not allow animals to travel in the cabin, and you will want to know this before your travel date. If you can, we suggest choosing an airline that allows you to keep your cat with you. As always, try to get the name of the person who verified this information for you.
  3. Make sure your cat is up to date on all vaccinations, and that you have dated documentation of those vaccines.
  4. Be sure to have a small amount of cat food with you in case of any flight delays or changes in travel plans.
  5. It’s always best to carry a small leash or harness with you. Some airlines require you to take your cat out of their crate when you check in, and snapping a leash on them can prevent an escape.
  6. Always put a pee pad in the crate with your cat in case they have any accidents. This will make clean up easier if needed.
  7. Always arrive early to the airport in case there are any pet questions that take extra time.
  8. If your veterinarian prescribed any sedatives, be sure to give this to your cat before entering the airport. You can do this in your car before departure, or right before you leave home.
  9. Do not take your cat out of the crate until you reach your end destination. This will limit any chance of escape.

Can Cats Experience Motion Sickness?

Yes, some cats can experience motion sickness during travel. This can be a combination of simply being nauseous due to movement, or the result of being stressed. If you think your cat may experience motion sickness, there are prescribed medications that can help with nausea.

Some cat owners have turned to Benadryl for motion sickness in cats, but this approach has been proven to lead to additional nausea in some cats. Purchasing an approved medication from your veterinarian will be safer in the long run, and will be much more effective than Benadryl or Pepcid.

Another factor to consider is whether or not your cat requires any sedation for travel. Some cats experience high levels of stress, and need a bit of relief to make it through their travels comfortably. Your veterinarian can offer your cat medication to ease their anxiety, as well as help them rest throughout the adventure. However, we only suggest this option if you are able to keep an eye on your cat at all times. You should not sedate your cat if they are traveling under the cabin.

Planning For The Unexpected

No matter how prepared you are, the unexpected can always happen. A bit of additional planning can  protect you and your pet in a dire situation, as well as make the unexpected less stressful.

Some of the best tips in planning for the unexpected include:

  • Keep your regular veterinarian’s contact information on hand
  • Having all medical and identification documents for your cat on hand
  • Know the contact information for animal clinics in your set destination, as well as any stops along the way (specifically emergency vets if needed)
  • Pack more cat food than you need, just in case your trip is longer than expected
  • Make sure your cat is microchipped in case they get lost at any point throughout your journey

Traveling with your cat does not have to be a stressful experience. Be sure to review the tips we discussed above, and your cat can be a wonderful travel companion going forward.

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