Traveling with Your Cat: The Must-Dos!
Traveling to a new place with your cat is far from imPAWssible! I, Laszlo, will share with you some nuggets of wisdom (not the ones found in my litter box) to help ensure that you and your feline friend(s) will be able to travel safely and with less stress!
If you’re traveling for fun or moving to a new home with a pet, being prepared for the trip beforehand is the most important part of the plan. Mom and I have put our heads together to bring you the best tips for ensuring that both you and your kitty are ready for anything!
- Get a good cat carrier. A cat carrier is mandatory at all times in the car when bringing your cat with you. The last thing you want is for them to start climbing all over you and the seats. By keeping them in a cat carrier, you can focus on the road, keeping both you and your kitty safe. Most importantly, be sure to secure the carrier with the seatbelt so it stays in place. If you intend to board a plane with your kitty, you’ll need to invest in a pet carrier designed to fit under your seat. You should also include comfy and absorbent bedding for your cat in the carrier in case they have an accident (or a nervous bladder).
Even with absorbent bedding, a cat carrier should be easy to clean in case of accidents and motion sickness. The carrier should also be durable enough so that your feline friend won’t break out during the trip and cause chaos for everyone and themselves.
2. A breakaway collar or a collar with an elastic opening should be worn by your kitty while traveling. Even if you are diligent about keeping your kitty safe, accidents like getting their collar caught or snagged on something can happen. In this case, the benefits of a breakaway collar could be lifesaving, therefore freeing your cat and preventing them from choking.
Your cat’s breakaway collar should include ID tags, including their name and a current cellphone number. We also recommend carrying extra ID tags and a collar with you in case your cat has to break free from their collar and get loose. This way you will be able to provide identification to authorities if necessary.
3. Leash and harness training your cat is a must before introducing them to travel and walking with you out in the open. We strongly recommend beginning their leash and harness training from the time they’re independent as a kitten, when they’ll have an easier time getting used to being leashed and wearing a harness than as an adult. You still can leash and harness train an older cat, but it will likely require more patience and time for the kitty to feel comfortable with them on. Every cat is different and may require alternative approaches on how to harness and leash train your cat.
Helping your cat grow accustomed to wearing a harness and leash is necessary to maintain control over their safety if you intend to walk them outside, so they can enjoy and explore the outdoors safely. Not every cat who travels with their owners, will learn to walk on a leash outside well. If your kitty doesn’t like it, do not force the issue – and let them travel in their carrier like kings and queens.
4. Pack necessities for your cat. Even if you like to travel light, there are still some things you should always pack into your kitty’s suitcase whether traveling on vacation or moving to a new home.
a. A portable water bowl/dispenser. Many pet stores sell them, and they are convenient in that they both carry water and provide a reservoir or bowl for your cat to drink from over the course of the trip. Most have lids or resealing features, which makes bringing water onto a plane a lot less messy should your kitty get thirsty during the flight.
b. Prepare a cooler for raw food. When you’re traveling with a raw food diet for your pet by vehicle, you’re going to need a good, portable cooler. If you’re planning on a few days or less of travel time, you can use a cooler to keep their meals fresh and preserved. It’s also a good idea to portion out the food into servings appropriate for the amount of days you and your kitty will be spending on the road. Storing your cat’s meals in air-tight containers will keep them fresh longer and make it easier to pack them into the cooler and serve them later. If you’re getting on a plane with your cat, your best option is to take the freeze-dried raw food route. Simply bring an extra bottle of clean water designated for hydrating your pet’s meals on the go. Remember not to feed your kitty for about 4-5 hours before departing on road or by plane, as this can lead to
c. Your pet’s medications. Be sure to pack your pet’s supplements and any medications that they need to take while you are traveling. Also include a first-aid kit in case of any accidental injury along the way.
d. Litter and cleaning supplies. If you’re traveling by vehicle, keep a disposable litter box in the car for your kitty to use, and be prepared to clean up after them. The only time you should have them outside to do their business is if they are leashed and harness trained and are wearing both. This will keep your cat safe from running off without warning.
e. Be sure to bring your kitty’s favorite things! Does your kitty have a favorite toy or blanket they like to curl up on? Something that smells like you, their favorite human? Whatever makes your cat purr is something you should consider adding to your baggage for the journey, or even better, in their travel crate where they can keep it close for the long ride! Everyone has that special thing they like to take with them on a trip, especially when they’re moving to a new place and can’t bring everything they want in one go. Just as most humans changing homes or going on vacation like to bring something that reminds them of home or a loved one they’re going to miss, kitties need comforts, too!
Not all places are pet friendly, and it’s your responsibility as a cat parent to make sure we are welcome wherever you choose to stay for the night. Some places charge extra for our stay (too bad they don’t accept cat ‘gifts’), mainly to cover extra cleaning to rid the space of any pet allergies between guests. Finding pet friendly hotels doesn’t have to be like searching for a flea on a Persian. Fortunately, furry guests are becoming more common now, and now there are many cat friendly hotels around the world! Many of them are brands you may already be familiar with.
Anywhere you plan on staying overnight over the course of your trip with your cat will expect them to be well-behaved and that you take full responsibility for any accidents, messes, or mishaps that may occur. Please take any behavior change in your cat into consideration when you’re expecting them to settle in and not act out while staying in a different living space than what they’re used to. As I said before, comforts from home and extra necessities will make the experience easier for everyone involved!
It might be a good idea to bring a foldable playpen to house their toys and comfort things and set it up in a separate area. Your cat will have their own space to play and be around familiar smells that will help them get more comfortable where you are staying over the course of the trip. The toys will help keep your cat busy and entertained, while other favorites of theirs in the playpen will provide them with a sense of security, which cats need in order to adjust smoothly
to new situations and environments, however temporary.
Traveling with your cat whether on the road or in the air to any destination is one that only work if you and your kitty are both happy and secure throughout the journey and upon arrival. Change can be a big or small event for you, but will almost always be a big event for your beloved furry friend. The better you can take care of them while they’re experiencing new and unknown things, the smoother the transition for both you, your cat and anyone else involved will be. Moving with your cat or any other pet is a great bonding opportunity for them and you, and when they know you’ll be there for them during uncertain times, rest assured they’ll be there for you.