Traveling can be an exciting experience, but when it comes to bringing along your feline friend, it can seem a bit daunting. Unlike dogs, cats are generally not known for their love of travel. Their territorial nature often makes them more comfortable staying in familiar surroundings. However, with the right preparations and learning how to travel with a cat, it’s possible to make the journey mostly stress-free and comfortable.
How to Travel with a Cat
Similar to going on a road trip with your dog, before you even walk out the door, it’s important to make preparations for the adventure ahead. Here are some of the steps you should take to make traveling easier not only for your cat, but also for you as pet parents.
Request a Vet Visit
Before setting out on any journey, it’s a good idea to have your cat examined by a veterinarian. This can help your cat in the following ways:
- Health Check-up: The vet can conduct a thorough health check to ensure that your cat is in good health and fit to travel. This can include checking heart rate, temperature, weight, and other vital signs.
- Vaccinations: Depending on your destination, many cats need additional vaccinations or boosters. The vet can advise you on what vaccinations are required and ensure that your cat is up-to-date.
- Parasite Prevention: It’s essential to ensure that your cat is protected from fleas, ticks, and other parasites, particularly if you’re traveling to an area where these are prevalent. The vet can provide appropriate treatments and advice.
- Prescriptions: If your cat requires any medication, the vet can provide enough to last for the duration of your trip. It’s also a chance to discuss how travel might affect the administration of the medication.
- Diet and Hydration Advice: The vet can provide guidance on how to manage your cat’s diet and hydration during travel, including advice on feeding schedules and how to ensure your cat is drinking enough water.
- Travel Fear: Travel is stressful for most cats. A vet can provide advice to help calm cats or even medication if your cat suffers from severe anxiousness.
- Travel Carrier and Safety Measures: Your vet can provide advice on the best carrier for your cat and other safety measures to ensure the trip is as comfortable and safe as possible for your four legged friend.
Your Cat Needs Appropriate Identification
Before taking your cat on car rides, even if they’re just short car rides, it is crucial to have both a microchip and an ID tag for your pet. A microchip is a small device implanted under the skin, usually between the shoulder blades, that carries a unique identification number. If your cat goes missing, a vet or animal shelter can scan the microchip to retrieve this number, which can then be matched to your contact details in a pet recovery database.
However, not everyone who might find a lost pet has access to a microchip scanner. That’s where the ID tag comes in. An ID tag, usually attached to your cat’s collar, provides immediate, visible identification information. It should include your cat’s name and your current contact information.
Using a microchip and ID tag together can significantly increase the chances of a lost pet being returned home. Remember, even the most cautious and prepared pet owner can face unexpected circumstances during car rides, so it’s essential to take these steps to ensure your cat’s safety.
Invest in a Good Cat Carrier
A sturdy, well-ventilated cat carrier is crucial for cat travel. Cat carriers should be big enough for your cat to stand, sit, and stretch in. You may also want to look for carriers that provide an area for the seat belt to go through. A seat belt will ensure the cat carrier won’t slide around the seat. Seat belts also keep your cat safe by preventing the carrier from flying around the car if you were to get into a car accident.
Whether you choose a soft carrier or a solid carrier, you should make it a positive place for your cat by placing soft bedding, treats, and toys inside. Before the trip, let your cat get used to the carrier. Start with short stints in the carrier and gradually increase the duration. You want your cats to associate car rides with something positive, and this is a good place to start.
Help Your Cat Stay Calm
A natural supplement, like full spectrum hemp extract, can be useful for your cat’s stress from traveling, hospitalization, moving, or other situations that may cause anxiousness. In addition to these benefits, full spectrum hemp extract can help in the following ways:
- Helps keep your pet calm and relaxed
- Helps maintain contentment during separation, travel, motion sickness and tension caused by changes in your pet’s daily routine
- Can help avoid motion sickness by helping you cat cope with external stresses
- May help curb destructive behavior
- Provides help for restless animals which can be beneficial to cats with motion sickness or anxiousness during car rides
- Aids in reducing occasional loose stools due to environmental stress
- May help with occasional gastric distress
- Supports normal recovery from stress
On the Road: Traveling by Car
If you’re traveling by car, there are a few things to keep in mind. The following are important steps to take:
- Fasten the carrier: For car travel, ensure the carrier is securely fastened with a seatbelt to prevent movement. Never let your cat roam freely in the car while you’re driving, as they can cause distractions.
- Take breaks: During long drives, schedule breaks to provide water and a chance for your cat to use the litter box. Portable litter boxes are recommended for this reason. But remember, unless in a secured area, keep your cat in the carrier during breaks to prevent them from escaping.
- Watch the temperature: Our feline friends can be sensitive to temperature changes. Keep the car’s interior cool and well-ventilated.
Up in the Air: Traveling by Plane
Traveling by plane is much different than traveling by car. Here are some good tips to keep in mind:
- Check the airline: Airline policies on pet travel vary widely. Some allow small pets in the cabin, while others may require them to be transported in the cargo hold. Check your airline’s pet policy well in advance of your travel date.
- Prepare the carrier: If you’re bringing your cat in the cabin, the carrier will need to fit under the seat in front of you. If your cat is going in cargo, the carrier must meet specific airline and IATA (International Air Transport Association) requirements. Label the carrier with “Live Animal,” along with your name, address, and phone number.
- Limit food intake: Before air travel, limit your cat’s food and water intake to prevent discomfort and the need for bathroom breaks.
How to Find a Pet Friendly Hotel
Finding a pet-friendly hotel can take a bit of research, but here are some steps to make the process easier:
- Use pet-friendly search engines and websites: There are numerous travel websites and search engines that allow you to filter results for pet-friendly accommodations. Websites like BringFido, PetTravel, and even major booking sites like Expedia or Booking.com offer this feature.
- Check the hotel’s website: Once you’ve found a hotel that seems to be pet-friendly, visit its official website to verify its pet policy. The policy will usually specify whether pets are allowed, what kind, any size restrictions, and any associated fees.
- Contact the hotel directly: To avoid any misunderstanding, it’s best to call the hotel directly. Ask about their pet policies, including any extra charges, the number of pets allowed per room, specific rules about leaving pets unattended, and whether there are designated areas for pets to play or relieve themselves.
- Read reviews from other pet owners: Check hotel reviews on websites like TripAdvisor, paying special attention to those from other pet owners. They may have useful insights about their experiences, such as how well the hotel staff treated their pets or whether the surrounding area is conducive to walks if your cat prefers to walk outside on a leash.
- Look for pet amenities: Some pet-friendly hotels go beyond just allowing pets and offer special amenities like pet beds, bowls, treats, pet-sitting services, or even pet spas. If these are important to you, check the hotel’s list of amenities or inquire directly.
Remember, even pet-friendly hotels will require that pets be well-behaved and that owners clean up after their pets.
Once You’re At Your Destination
Upon arrival, set up a small, quiet space for your cat with their carrier, litter box, food, and water. This gives your cat a chance to gradually acclimate to the new surroundings. If possible, let your cat stay in their safe space for as long as they need to. They will come out to roam when they feel comfortable.
Traveling with your feline friend requires some extra preparation and patience, but with these tips, you can ensure a smoother journey for both you and your feline companion. Remember, each cat is unique, and what works well for one might not work for another. Knowing your cat’s behaviors and needs will go a long way toward making travel a more enjoyable experience for both of you.
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