• 02/12/2023

8 Tips for Safely Traveling With Your Cat

safely traveling with cats

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Your cat is your baby, and of course, you want to take the best care of them. While many felines can survive just fine for a day or two independently, too much alone time can cause behavioral issues — and cause undue stress on your best friend. Traveling is also stressful for cats, but sometimes, you have no choice but to take them with you.

When you do, protecting their safety is paramount, as is minimizing their anxiety and providing them with the comforts of home. Here are eight tips for safely traveling with your cat.

1. First Comes the Vet 

Visiting the vet before traveling with cats

First, you must ensure your furry friend is able to begin traveling. This checkup includes their physical well-being and acquiring any paperwork you may need if traveling internationally. Please beware regarding the latter — some countries require you to go through months of red tape to take your fur-baby with you. Start early. 

Your vet will put your mind at rest about any health conditions and advise you on the best way to travel with your companion. They’re also your 1-stop shop for prescription medications that can eliminate your kitty’s anxiety. 

Please be aware that many vets are loath to prescribe sedatives for cats because their small body size, paired with the potency of many medications, puts them at risk of severe complications and death. If your vet recommends holistic herbal alternatives, please consider them unless your cat’s anxiety is so extreme that they risk self-harm from going unmedicated. 

Your vet can also inform you of unique dangers to your pet in your port of call. Hopefully, you’ll keep your companion safely contained in your hotel room, but even there, you must take additional precautions. You don’t want housekeeping coming in and letting out your precious friend. 

2. Ensure They’re Chipped 

Having your kitty go missing when you’re far from home is a nightmare. You might not have extra days in your itinerary to spend searching for a missing pet, and departing without knowing where they are, with slim hopes of ever seeing them again, can break the strongest heart. 

There’s, unfortunately, no failsafe in life. However, technology does make it easier to keep tabs on your fur-baby and have them returned to you, even after you depart. If your feline isn’t yet microchipped, please get them so. Veterinarians worldwide scan for these devices to help reconnect lost pets with their parents. 

3. Contact Your Airline 

Flying with your fur baby is an adventure. Fortunately, most cats are small enough to meet airline regulations and travel in the main cabin with you, not in the cargo hold. Of the half-million pets who flew in plane bellies in 2016, 26 died, and 22 suffered an injury. There are always risks of sliding and tumbling during travel, and long groundings for necessary mechanical repairs can cause temperatures below to soar. 

Approved carriers for flying in cabins are 17 inches long by 11 inches wide and 9 inches high. Your pet must show proof of immunization, even for domestic flights — another reason for that pre-travel vet check. They must remain in their carrier the entire time and must often fit under the seat in front of you. 

The most important thing to remember is to contact your airline in advance to make arrangements for your baby. Let them know you’re traveling with cats and obtain written permission to take them in the cabin with you. That way, you won’t have any last-minute surprises with your precious cargo. 

4. Invest in the Right Supplies 

traveling with cats - buying a harness

You need a soft-sided carrier that abides by your airline’s regulations. However, you’ll need far more than a suitcase to ensure your kitty travels in style and safety. 

For one, you’ll need a leash and harness for going through security — yes, they will X-ray your pet. It’s a smart idea to put on the harness before you arrive at the airport, so clipping on the lead is a snap.

You’ll also need a soft space for them to lay and sleep. A blanket from home is ideal. Cats hate to travel because they’re extremely territorial, rubbing their pheromones on everything to mark their spot. Surrounding them with objects covered in their scent is one way to ease anxiety. 

They’ll also need plenty of toys. While you may feel tempted to invest in a fun new traveling party set for cats, they’ll appreciate the smell of familiar objects from home much more.

A fresh travel litter box and their familiar food and water bowls round out the list. It’s also wise to include a small pet first aid kit in your luggage — ask your veterinarian for recommendations. 

5. Remember, Empty Bellies 

Traveling stresses out cats, and all that anxiety can result in digestive upset. You don’t want to spend the first leg of your vacation cleaning up vomit or diarrhea. 

Therefore, empty bellies are best on travel days. However, it’s critical to give your pet water throughout your journey. Cats are a bit more reticent to drink than dogs, getting most of their moisture from food — offering them a familiar bowl may coax them into sipping. 

6. Swaddle Them in Familiar Comfort 

It bears repeating — the most stressful part of travel for your kitty is being away from their territory. Surround them with as many comfort objects from home as possible. 

You might also have luck with pheromone-based relaxant aromatherapy. For example, Feliway makes products specially designed for calming kitties during transit. 

7. Never Leave Your Pet Unattended 

traveling with cats - lost cat

Although you’ll hear the announcement repeatedly at the airport, it should go without saying that you shouldn’t leave your luggage unattended. This rule goes double for your precious kitty. 

It’s particularly vital when you’re road-tripping. Numerous pet parents have come back to tragedy after running into the store for “just one thing,” getting distracted and leaving their feline to swelter in the car. Your vehicle’s interior temperature can soar to 113° Fahrenheit when the outside temps are a balmy 70° — drop your angel at the hotel first, please. 

8. Provide a Safe Place to Land 

Cats don’t get into the whole “home away from home” aah-factor as humans do. The most luxurious hotel room means little to them. 

However, they love being surrounded by familiar things. You may feel more like a toddler mom than a pet parent when schlepping your kitty’s bed and favorite toys around the country, but it will keep your feline much happier on the road. 

Tips for Safely Traveling With Your Cat 

Cats don’t travel as well as dogs. However, sometimes you must take your precious feline on the road as a pet parent. 

Follow the above tips for safely traveling with cats. You’ll enjoy a much more peaceful journey by covering the basics before departure. 

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