So, you want to get away from it all this summer, but you don’t want to leave your cat behind. The good news is, with more and more places becoming pet-friendly, you can take a relaxing break and bring your cat along, too.
Whether it’s taking a road trip with a cat or traveling with cats on a plane, we have several tips to make summer travel a treat for your cat and you.
Preparing for Your Trip
Checklist for Traveling With Cats
- Make sure your cat’s shots are up-to-date.
- Ensure your cat fits comfortably inside their carrier.
- Get your cat microchipped. If your cat is already microchipped, check with your veterinarian to make sure their information is up-to-date.
In the weeks and days leading up to your trip, make sure to familiarize your cat with their carrier. If your cat isn’t used to their carrier, give them time in the days and weeks leading up to the trip to get familiar.
Put the carrier someplace where it can be a part of their everyday environment. Let them explore the carrier and even leave a cat treat or some catnip inside the carrier to help them form positive associations with it.
Before you leave, put a packing list together to include:
- A well-fitting harness and leash
- FortiFlora to help prevent any travel stress-induced digestive upset
- A towel in case your cat gets wet or muddy
- Medications and a list of medications and dosages for your cat in case they get lost
- Portable litter box
- Cat litter
- Cat food
- Water bowl
- Cat treats
- Grooming tools
- Comfort items like a favorite blanket or bed
Also, do a search for “cat-friendly” hotels, restaurants, attractions, etc., for the destinations you’re considering. Map your journey ahead of time and draw up a list of all the places near your route that you could enjoy with your cat. Call ahead to hotels, parks, beaches and roadside attractions to make sure cats are welcome.
Taking Your Cat on a Road Trip
There’s nothing quite like a road trip, and having your cat along for the ride can make it even more fun. Before you blaze a trail down the highway, however, there are a few steps you should take in preparation.
Once your cat has become comfortable with their carrier, it’s time to take them out to the car in their carrier. While the vehicle is parked, spend time playing with your cat while they are still in the carrier. Praising, petting them and giving them treats during this time will teach them that a car is a place where good things happen.
When your cat seems to become comfortable in the car, help familiarize them with the sounds of the car, like the engine or air conditioner. Then take them on a few short car trips. To create positive associations for cats riding in cars, they should get plenty of praise and attention.
Unless indicated by the manufacturer, most cat crates should not be buckled in, but instead be placed on the floor behind the driver or passenger seat.
It’s best to have another person in the car to do this so you can focus on the road. Give your cat at least a week of getting used to riding in a car before taking them on a road trip.
Remember, it’s important not to leave your cat or any animal alone in a parked car. Cars can get hot very quickly and can cause your cat to overheat with potentially life-threatening results.
Traveling With Cats on a Plane
Just like going on a road trip, traveling long distance with cats needs to start with them getting used to their carrier. Once accomplished, there are a few vital steps to take before the day of the flight.
Before you do anything, check in with your veterinarian to ensure that they feel confident your cat is healthy enough to fly. Many airlines require proof of vaccination for animals, so ask your veterinarian for their medical records. Also, look up local veterinarians for your destinations, and keep their information handy in case a medical issue arises.
Call the airline or visit their website to research in-cabin pet rules and regulations. Ensure your cat’s carrier fits the airline’s specifications. See what paperwork or certifications your cat may need before flying.
Also, book your cat’s ticket early, as there is often a limit on in-cabin pets on commercial airlines. If possible, try to book a direct flight, as this will shorten travel time and reduce any travel-related stress your cat may experience.
On the day of travel, try to follow the same routine as usual, whenever possible. Leading up to the trip to the airport, try to keep the same feeding schedule and try not to distract your cat from their usual trip to the litter box so they can eliminate before flying.
When booking, it may be a good idea to schedule a flight that won’t interfere with your cat’s regular feeding schedule. Ideally, you don’t want your cat eating any later than four hours before the flight to reduce the likelihood of airsickness.
On the way to the airport, in the airport and during the flight, be sure to communicate with your cat. Give them plenty of praise and try to encourage a sense of calm. The two of you are now ready for an adventure.
Cat-Friendly Travel Options
Traveling with your cat is becoming easier than ever, as pet-friendly lodging, parks and retail stores are increasing. Just a little bit of research will help you find some great places near and far to take your cat on a fun and memorable trip.