Cat Travel Tips

These cat travel tips can help you get your kitty from here to there more smoothly. Armed with these and the supplies in the cat travel checklist, you and your kitty can journey onward with a higher degree of safety, more convenience, and less stress.

Car tips

Planes, trains, and ships

Boats

Tips For Car Travel

Frankie cat on top of the suitcaseFrankie cat gets ready for travel by lying down on the suitcase.

Whether it's holiday trips, a visit to the veterinarian, or an outing for the day, the car is the most common carrier of cats and their owners.

On that note, the below cat travel tips are written with car rides, especially long ones, in mind, but you'll see that some of the concepts will also apply to shorter trips and other types of travel as well.

  • Heat Stroke
    I know this has been said many times before, but it keeps happening. When the weather is warm, leaving your cats, dogs, or any living thing in the car unattended can be fatal, even with the windows cracked.
  • Use a cat carrier
    Always have your cat secured in the carrier while in the car. Frightened cats may flee when the door opens or attempt to hide under the brake pedal.

    Curious cats will explore areas under your feet. Your cat may panic and scratch you. None of these is a good scenario while driving.
  • Secure the carrier
    Use a seat belt and harness if needed to secure the carrier.
  • Multiple Cats
    If you have more than one cat with you, use separate carriers for each. The last thing you need is a cat fight while you're flying down the highway at 70 MPH.
  • Letting the cat out of the bag
    If you let your cat out of the carrier, do it with the car in park, and the doors of the car closed. Secure your cat with a harness and leash before opening the door.
  • Buy Feliway Spray
    About 15 to 20 minutes before you put your cat in the car, spray the inside of the car with Feliway to help ease anxiety.
  • Get the plug-in
    If your cats are particularly nervous, your cat travel plan should include using a Feliway plug-in diffuser at home beginning several days before the trip. Then, take that plug-in with you in the car.

    You can buy a power inverter that runs off the cigarette lighter and converts DC to AC. Plug the Feliway diffuser into that and you'll have your cat enjoying the sweet smells of kitty relaxation potion throughout the car.
  • Rescue Remedy
    Use Bach's Rescue Remedy before and during the trip to help calm your cat's nerves. If you set up a water bowl in the carrier, you can add a couple of drops to that. If not, then serve Rescue Remedy in water at rest stops.
  • Bathroom breaks
    Remember that if your cat drinks a lot, she'll have to relieve herself at some point. If you set up a large enough carrier with a small litter box, your cat will be able to use that during the ride. Some cats, however, may hold it until the end of the trip for the day.
  • Walking
    Most cats don't take to a harness and leash right away, and a stressful trip is probably not the right place to start leash training. If you haven't leash trained your cat before, it's probably best if you don't try to walk her. Instead, keep her in the car and use a small litter box.
  • Lost Cats
    There have been many cats who have gone missing on trips, even short trips to the store. Finding a lost cat can be difficult as it is. But, if your cat gets lost far from home, you may never recover her.

    When your cat is in the car, keep the doors and windows closed. It's so easy for cats to leap out the window. If you take your cat out of the car, make sure she's in the carrier and the carrier is closed up tight.

    Secure your cat at all times!

Planes, Trains, And Ailurophiles

Unfortunately, planes, trains, and ships are not always well equipped to handle pets. Rules and restrictions on travel for your cat by plane, train, or ship varies almost as much as the accommodations and carriers themselves.

  • Travel by air
    Some airlines allow cats in the cabin with you, but have a limit, such as number of pets or a weight limit. Other airlines place cats in a special cargo area that is pressurized and climate controlled.

    Prior to having financial difficulty, Pet Airways used to be devoted to transporting pets by plane. They resurrected their company to provide charter flights where you can bring your pet along.
  • Trains
    For trains, some rail lines allow cats to travel, and some, like Amtrak, don't allow it at all. You're more likely to find the trains in Europe to allow cats than in the US.
  • Cruising with cats
    You'd think that with the rich history of cats and ships the world over, cruise lines would roll out the red carpet rather than make felines walk the plank. Cruise lines differ in their policies on pet travel, but alas, you likely won't be sipping that margarita on the lido deck with your cat.

Whether traveling by air, rail, or sea, you'll want to check with the particular carrier you're using to see what their current policies are. And make sure you read the fine print, as there may be unexpected restrictions or they may not allow your cat to travel with you at all.


Cats On Boats

Despite being mostly snubbed by the commercial cruise ship industry, cats can make excellent and proud boating companions. After all, they've done so for many years.

For those who live on house boats, or travel a lot by boat, a calm, leash trained cat would be best.

Cats can make ideal companions for those who live on boats. The best seafaring cats have short hair (easier to keep clean in the salt air) and claws (to be able to climb up a rope ladder in case of falling overboard). They need to be comfortable traveling in carriers and have easy-going personalities. They also need to be leash trained and be ready to accept wearing a harness.

-Arden Moore, The Cat Behavior Answer Book

While some cats seem to enjoy travel, many clearly find it an unpleasant experience. The most important of the cat travel tips is of course, to keep your cat safe at all times, and make her as comfortable as possible during the trip.

Do you have experience traveling with a cat? Submit your stories, ideas, and tips.


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