Many people travel with their pets each year, and as they prove time and again, it isn’t an impossible thing to do. For cats, it may take a little bit more work than usual, since cats are known to love being in the place where they’re most comfortable: at home. However if you ever need to or have been itching to take your cat on a trip, we’ve complied a good list of tips for you to take into consideration before you head on out. Here are the top 20 cat safety travel tips that you’ll find most useful for your upcoming plans.
Talk with your vet and obtain a health certificate.
If you plan to fly or drive with your cat for travel, regardless of the distance, make sure you let your veterinarian know ahead of time. The vet will let you know if your cat is cleared for travel to begin with. There are many situations when a cat may be unsuitable for any type of travel whatsoever. Cats that are too old may not be suitable for long distance travel. Cats that have illnesses may not manage travel either. Talking to your vet will give you an idea of what type of travel you can do with your pet. In addition, your vet will give you tips as well that’s specific to your cat regarding travel. Get the appropriate vaccinations need to protect your pet from contracting diseases, and make sure to obtain a health certificate identifying proper vaccinations for your pet. You’ll find that you might need these depending on what airline you use and where your destination will be.
Obtain necessary sedation or medication.
Sedation should be your absolute last option. Don’t use it unless you or your pet really needs it. If you feel like you need to sedate your cat for travel, you might need to rethink whether your cat should be going with you in the first place. As far as medication is concerned, if your cat takes certain medications regularly, make sure that you obtain enough from your vet before your travel. It’ll be more of a hassle when you find yourself away from home and needing to purchase medication specifically prescribed for your cat. Being prepared by knowing how much medication you’ll need to bring along will take away a lot of stress on your part and difficulty on your pet’s part.
Deal with motion sickness.
Cats are not known for being the best travelers. The best way to deal with motion sickness is to prepare your cat for it. If your cat has never been in a car before, how do you expect it to survive a 4-day road trip without getting sick? At some point in our lives, we’ve all probably felt some type of motion sickness, and it’s something that we’re sure you wouldn’t want your pet to have to go through. Prepare for motion sickness by building up your cat’s tolerance for it. Slowly get them used to the motion of any vehicle. Take your cat out for a quick spin around the block to introduce them to the motion, and then gradually build up the duration and roughness of the ride. If you plan to fly with your cat, check with the airlines to see what the company regulations are as far as traveling with a pet or a cat specifically. It’s highly likely that you won’t get to keep your pet with you, and it’ll more than likely be placed in a hold that may not be the most suitable area for pets. Preparing it for that will be the best thing you can do for your cat. Otherwise, there are motion sickness medications you can utilize just in case.
Get a well-ventilated and padded carrier.
The carrier you purchase will make a big difference. Having good ventilation is one of the most important aspects you should look at when shopping for a travel cat carrier. You’ll also want one that has enough space for your cat to be comfortable in. You wouldn’t want your cat to feel suffocated in its carrier, especially if it has to stay in it for long hours at a time. It also makes a difference if the carrier is padded. It’ll just provide a little bit more comfort for your pet, especially when it isn’t free to move about.
Make sure the carrier can be secured.
Before you go ahead and purchase a carrier, make sure you take measurements of your car space to guarantee a good fit. Unfortunately, there aren’t many cat carriers that are made to be secured with a seat belt, but there are some. If you get lucky enough to find one, it’s good thing for you and your pet. You can set the carrier on the front seat of your car, but it’s actually preferable if you placed your pet on the backseat for the same logic why children sit on the back as well. If you can’t find a carrier that can be secured on any of the seats, the best place to put a carrier will be on the floor of the back seat. That way, the carrier can be snug and won’t be sliding around in your car.
Get your cat used to the carrier.
Regardless of what kind of carrier you end up buying, it’s important that you allow your cat to get used to being inside the carrier, especially if you expect the cat to be in their for long periods of time. You’ll want your pet to get used to being inside the carrier, so when travel time comes, it won’t feel anxious being in a strange place. You can gradually build this up by putting your cat in the carrier at odd times, prolonging the duration as you go. Leaving it open at home and allowing the cat to enter the carrier as it pleases will also help. The more familiar the cat gets with its new carrier, the better everything will be once travel time comes.
Make the carrier feel like home.
Let’s just say it. We know you want to go above and beyond to make your pet comfortable on a trip, no matter how long. Sometimes the best way to do that is to bring home with you. It may sound like a bit much, but it really isn’t. All you need is something that smells of home to comfort your cat. A small common blanket or maybe a towel from home will suffice. Place the blanket or towel inside to line the bottom of the pet carrier for your cat to lie on. This will bring comfort to your cat like no other. Otherwise, you can purchase pheromone sprays made specifically for cats to help them calm down. One famous brand is called Feliway. Just make sure to test it out beforehand in case of any negative reactions. There’s always a chance your cat will think the smells are from another cat and end up the opposite of calm and become fully aggressive.
Get a harness and leash.
You’ve probably never had to get a harness or leash for your cat ever, but if you’re planning on traveling with your pet, a harness and leash will definitely come in handy. For long road trips, having a harness will allow your cat to be out of the carrier while the car is stopped. The leash is for when you want to take the cat out on a pit stop. You never want to let your cat roam free without a leash because you can never fully know the surroundings you are in. Your cat might feel an impulse to just chase after something, run to the road out of fear, or any other incidents you might think of. It’s always best to be safe than sorry. By harnessing and leashing your cat, you’re protecting it more than anything. It also helps to take some leash training before your trip, so your cat can get used to the feeling and purpose of the leash.
Pack a kitty travel bag.
Even cats have essentials and necessities like we do. Make sure you have a travel bag specifically for your cat’s things. Not only will this make it easier for you to look for things your cat may need at any given moment, it will also prevent issues along the way. You may pack anything you can think of, just don’t go overboard and pack as much as you have for yourself. The basics you’ll need to carry will include snacks, water, medication, toys, and anything else that your cat may like from home that will bring it comfort while away. Make sure the bag is accessible to you if you’re driving on the road just in case of emergencies. If you’re traveling by air and have the cat with you in the cabin, make sure to have at least a small travel bag of your cat’s necessities just in case.
Bring a kitty litter box.
We have better control of bowels as humans. For cats, they can’t quite control bathroom urges as much. Having a cat litter in your car while traveling might save your car in the end. There are a few precautions you can take to make sure your cat don’t go often or too soon, but it’ll happen whenever nature calls. Luckily, there are disposable cat litter boxes that already come with litter in them. If your cat ever feels the need to go, you can easily set this up (or have it already set up) somewhere in your car. You can easily dump the box and all its contents in the next pit stop.
Take a scratch post along.
If you plan to be in your destination for a long time, bringing along a small scratch post from home will be a lifesaver for your cat and your car or wherever place you might be going to. Scratching is a natural part of a cat’s behavior, and depriving them of a scratch post will only cause them to scratch up anything they see. You can better prepare for this by simply bringing a small scratch post along. It’ll be a good thing for everyone and everything involved in travel, especially your cat. It’ll also help keep your cat’s nails trimmed while away.
Make sure your destination takes pets.
Different hotels have different rules for pets. The same goes for people and their homes. Even if you were staying at a friend’s house, don’t assume that it’s just okay to bring your cat along. Clear it with whoever and wherever you’re staying at first. If you’re staying at a hotel, talk to a manager to make sure that you can bring your pet into your room. If possible, get the confirmation in writing, so you don’t encounter any problems once you get to your destination. Collect the names of the person that you’re directly communicating with.
Make sure your destination is comfortable for your pet.
It’s more than just making it feel like home for your pet. It’s the simple things such as controlling the volume around you and making sure that your cat has enough room to roam around. Also, make sure that you place all of your pet’s things where they are visible. Have a kitty litter available and easy to spot. The same goes for a scratching post. Have toys available to play with as well as food and water. You know your cat more than anyone else, and you’ll know how to keep your cat entertained.
Scout the area for places of cat business.
Make sure there’s a vet clinic close by just in case of emergencies. You might also want to look for and locate where pet shops may be in case you run out of supplies. Large chain grocery stores typically carry animal supplies as well, so finding the closest one to you should suffice. Other than that, you can also look for places your cat might enjoy such as a pet park or maybe just the balcony of your hotel room.
Pack enough water and snacks.
While you don’t want to continuously feed your cat while you’re on the move, you’ll want to bring enough to keep it sustained. More importantly, your cat will need to have water from time to time to prevent it from getting dehydrated. Especially during the summer months, you also have to make sure that your mode of transportation is cool enough for yourself and your cat. The last thing you’ll want while you’re traveling is to have to take your pet to the vet because you didn’t give it enough water. At the same time, don’t give your cat too much food or water; otherwise, you’ll be dealing with cat pee and cat poo constantly. Find a balance; plan it out; then proceed with preparedness.
Feed your cat around 4 hours before leaving.
If your destination is just around 4 hours away or under, you’ll have less worries as far as your cat’s physical state. If you feed your cat too close to your travel time, you’re just increasing the likelihood that it’ll get sick and throw up. 4 hours is just enough to allow your cat’s stomach to settle down before your trip. If your travel time is longer than 4 hours, you’ll have to plan for when you’ll get to feed your cat again. Chances are your cat can last longer than that, and you’ll know how to plan for pit stops just in case, which brings us to our next tip.
Make pit stops as often as necessary.
Just because you’re traveling with a pet doesn’t mean you’ll have to stop every hour. Apart from feeding and relieving, the only thing you could use a pit stop for is to just stretch out and recuperate from being enclosed in a small space so much. The same goes for your cat. If you’re on the road for a while, plan a few stops where it makes sense. That way, you can feed your cat and let it sit for a little bit before getting back on the road. You can also allow your pet to relieve itself outdoors, or you can get rid of any cat waste you might have already accumulated. Your cat will also need and probably appreciate a chance to stretch its paws, so pit stops will be great times to take out your new cat leash and put them into good use. If you’re flying somewhere long distance, it might help to befriend a flight attendant or two, so you can ask them gently to check on your pet whenever possible. It’s never a guarantee to happen, but it never hurts to ask.
Expect some hyperactivity.
Like we said from the get go, cats are not known to be great travelers. There’s a likelihood that your pet will become excitable during the trip. Different cats manifest this in different ways. Some might whine or pant a lot. Other cats may jus salivate continuously. Then there will be cats that will try to claw their way out of their carriers and attempt to destroy all that it sees, including seats, ceilings, and even drivers. This is where practice makes perfect. Observe your cat and how they react while in the car. If it gets too excited after just a few minutes of driving, you might need to take other measures to calm your cat down. Talk to your vet to see what you can do. If you’re completely against medicating your cat, there are other options still. There are all-natural essence drops you can put into your cat’s water to try and give them calm and stress relief. Some of the most famous ones are made from flower essence. These are generally harmless for cats, but you should still consult your vet to make sure you’ve covered everything.
Get an updated ID tag on your pet.
You might be used to not having any tags on your cat at home, especially if the cat’s never left the house. You’ll need to get an ID tag taken care of before you go anywhere, and you’ll need to keep it on your cat at all times. If your cat is not used to wearing a tag, make sure you get it one ahead of time to allow the cat to get familiar with its new tag. It’s preferable that you practice on the actual tag that you’ll be using for good because any new tag collars can just cause discomfort. If you haven’t done so yet, you should look into getting your cat microchipped. So many cats end up in shelters each year because they either don’t have their ID or have lost it, and there’s no other way to figure out where they belong. Having a microchip means that your cat will always have your information on it, and it can never be lost.
Never leave pet in a parked car.
It’s sad that this tip still has to be put on here, but believe it or not, thousands of pets die each year due to overheating and suffocating in cars. It’s simple. Never, ever leave your pet in a parked car for any period of time. You never know what can happen. It’s easier to bring your pet along with you than have to deal with the consequences after. You must value your pet’s life enough to care for it on a daily basis and even take it on trips. One of the best ways you can protect and care for your cat is to just keep the cat at home or with you, not in a parked car that can harm your cat and even cause death. Again, utilize your leash and just take the cat with you whenever you come out. You’ll be glad you did so in the end.