Traveling with a cat
Whether you’re moving across the country, want to take your cat on vacation with you, or are simply taking your feline friend to the veterinarian’s office, you must know how to travel with your cat so they’ll be safe and comfortable.
It’s reasonable to wonder how you travel with your cat, especially if you’re going on a long journey when you’ve only ever taken short car trips with your cat in the past. Your cat still might not love traveling, but you can make it as low-stress as possible with some preparation.
Traveling with cats long distances
However you’ll be traveling with your cat, there’ll be a carrier involved. For many cat owners, the most challenging part of traveling with their pets is getting them in the carrier. Rather than hiding your cat carrier away until it’s time to go on a journey, you can make it into a safe space by keeping it out all the time.
No need to draw attention to it; just leave the door open, and your cat will eventually decide to explore. Most cats love finding hiding spots, and a carrier can make the perfect place to retreat to. You can make it even more of a fun place for your cat to hang out by occasionally putting a few treats and toys inside. Once your cat is used to their carrier, getting them in it won’t be such a hassle, and they’re more likely to feel relaxed once they’re in there.
Traveling with cats in a car
You’re most likely to find yourself traveling with your cat by car, whether you’re popping down the road to the animal hospital or moving cities. It’s relatively easy to keep your cat comfortable when traveling by car, but don’t expect your feline friend to love it.
Choose a suitable carrier
Hard-sided cat carriers are the best option when traveling by car with your cat because they offer some protection in the event of a collision. Make sure it has plenty of ventilation, so your cat doesn’t overheat. The carrier should be large enough to fit your cat comfortably, but don’t get a carrier that’s larger than you need because it will be more challenging to carry and fit in your car.
Secure the carrier
It’s best to position your cat’s carrier on a car seat rather than in the footwell. Your cat can either travel on one of the back seats or the front passenger seat. Thread the seatbelt through the handle on top of the carrier and buckle it up to secure the carrier so it won’t move around if you turn sharply or brake suddenly.
Make your cat as comfortable as possible
We’d recommend putting a small crate pad or a soft blanket at the bottom of the cat carrier to make your cat feel more comfortable inside. If they have a favorite blanket, use it — and don’t wash it first so that they’re comforted by the familiar scent.
Prepare for comfort breaks
If you’re going on a long journey, you’ll need to get your cat out of the carrier at some point to drink and go potty. Ensure the car windows and doors are all closed before you let your cat out of the carrier, and consider using a harness to keep your cat safe. Bring water and a travel bowl with you, and consider using a disposable litter box.
Traveling with a cat on a plane
We wouldn’t recommend traveling by air with your cat unless necessary, such as a permanent move. When only going away for a few weeks, it’s best to leave your cat in the care of a pet sitter or at a cattery. If you must travel with your cat by plane, choose an airline that will allow you to bring your cat into the cabin rather than being transported in the cargo hold.
Check airline requirements
All airlines have their requirements for transporting pets. Some airlines won’t allow you to travel with kittens under 16 weeks, some won’t fly flat-faced cats, and most will need to see up-to-date vaccination records. Also, check your specific airline’s carrier size requirements.
Prepare for taking your cat through security
When traveling with your pet in the cabin, you’ll need to take them through security. Airlines must check cat carriers like luggage. You’ll either need to have your cat securely harnessed while the carrier is x-rayed or arrange a secondary screening not to remove your kitty from its carrier.
What you need to buy for traveling with your cat
This hard-sided carrier is perfect for car travel. It is comfortable for pets up to 10 pounds.
An airline-approved carrier that fits the dimensions required for in-cabin pet transport. It is comfortable for pets up to 16 pounds.
If your cat gets stressed while traveling, Feliway’s pheromone-based spray may have a calming effect. It seems to work well for some cats and not for others, but it’s worth a try.
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Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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