Are you planning a road trip, an overseas vacation or a relocation to another state? Traveling with your cat is bound to be stressful for both of you. You have to carefully organize everything, from creating the itinerary to making sure your pet is safe and comfortable. By planning in advance and preparing for unexpected situations, both you and your cat will be able to travel stress-free and reach your destination safely. To come to your help, we’ve compiled a list of 7 tips that will teach you everything you need to know before embarking on a journey with your cat.
ID Tags, Microchip and Documents
Weeks before you hit the road with your cat, be it by car, train or plane, you must make sure it has ID tags or a microchip. If your cat wears a collar, it’s always a good idea to personalize it and include its name and your phone number. You should also stick a note with your phone number and your address on the crate your cat will be travelling in. Make sure the note is safely secured to the crate and that it can’t fall off accidentally.
If you’re planning to leave the country with your cat, you will most likely need to have your pet’s documents on you. Consult your veterinarian when you start planning the journey. They will guide you through the process and inform you about mandatory vaccines and other requirements. Your cat might need a microchip or other documentation to leave the country, so you’ll also have to check the regulations of the country you’re visiting.
Crates and Carriers
Whether your cat will be spending a few hours or half a day in its crate, take your time when choosing a carrier. First and foremost, take into account your means of transportation. If you’re traveling by car, the crate should be small enough to fit in the backseat and be secured with the seat belt, yet still roomy enough for your cat to be comfortable.
Traveling on a plane comes with its own set of rules. You will have to check with the airline and follow their guidelines for crate dimensions. If your cat will be travelling with you in the aircraft cabin, the carrier must fit under the seat in front of you. However, if your cat will be travelling in the cargo pet area, the crate can be bigger so as to allow your cat to stand up and still have 5-6 inches of free space above their head. The crate should also have a secure lock and a bowl for water.
Regardless of the crate you choose for your pet, make sure to buy it in advance and allow your cat to get to know it. For a cat, there’s nothing more stressful than an unknown environment. As soon as you buy the carrier, leave it somewhere accessible for you cat to sniff and even sleep in it. This way, they will learn it’s a safe and comfortable place.
Traveling by Car
Are you planning a long car ride but your cat has never seen the inside of your vehicle? Then it’s high time you introduced the two of them. Traveling with your cat by car is one of the easiest ways to get from one point to another. It allows you to take breaks to feed your cat and even take it out for a short walk. However, don’t expect your cat to enjoy car rides from the very beginning.
Try getting your cat accustomed to drives months before the big journey. Slowly increase the duration of the car rides without stressing out your cat. Always give them treats at the end of each drive. To make the experience more enjoyable, put a blanket or a toy in the cat’s crate. Some cat owners even add in one of their worn t-shirts, which is believed to soothe anxious cats and make them feel safe (with Gabby we keep one of mommy’s hoodies in the crate).
Traveling by Plane
Covering long distances is faster by plane so if this is your only way of transporting your cat, you will have to thoroughly plan your journey ahead. Traveling by plane with your cat can be nerve wrecking both for the owner and the cat. If you need help with organizing everything, you can reach out to a team of professionals who will take care of all the details for your cat’s air transport.
If you choose to handle everything yourself, you will have to sync with the airline and make sure you follow their rules and regulations to the letter. In general, for short, domestic flights, you will be able to take your cat with you and keep it under the seat in front of you. International flights might require your cat to fly in the cargo area where it might be among other cats or dogs. Here, your cat won’t receive any food, but it will have a fresh supply of water at all times. You will be able to retrieve your cat at the customs after it passes an examination and after all its documents are inspected.
Water, Food, and Supplies
When possible, you’ll want to bring water, snacks, and supplies with you for the journey. These can help soothe your pet’s anxiety and make the traveling less stressful. Pack your cat’s favorite food as well as its feeding and water bowls. Bring some treats with you to reward your cat after they go for a walk or use the litter box. If space allows you, bring your cat’s litter box with you on car rides.
Harness and Leash
You might not be using a harness and a leash with your cat at the moment, but it’s worth giving it a try before traveling with them. We’re not used to seeing cats on leashes, however, they can be trained to go on walks just like dogs. Using these allows you to take frequent breaks when you’re traveling and give your cat a chance to stretch its legs.
Whether it’s a park, a forest or just the side of the road, your pet will be grateful to take a breath of fresh air. The harness and leash will make sure your cat can’t get too far or run away. Keep in mind that your cat won’t feel comfortable walking on a leash unless you train it months in advance. Kittens accommodate easier than adult cats so the sooner you begin, the better for everyone.
It is also helpful to keep a harness and leash on your cat when traveling just in case they try to make an escape. Losing a cat at a rest stop is probably the worst situation we can imagine, and keeping a hold of a leash on your cat can help mitigate this risk.
Prepare the New Home
You might be relocating or just going on a vacation – either way, make sure the permanent or temporary home is all set for you and your cat. This means making sure the place is safe and that your cat can’t escape. Check the windows and doors to ensure no pets can sneak out and run away. Bring the same food, toys, litter and litter box that your cat is used to into the new home. This will help your cat acclimate easier.
An abundance of new things, smells and places can easily overwhelm a cat. A great tip when moving to a new house is to only allow your cat to be in a single room. This gives them time to sniff everything without being rushed and find a spot where they feel safe. As soon as they start feeling at home, introduce them to the rest of the house, one room at a time.