Traveling is exciting. With a variety of means of transportation and thousands of great destinations that are easily accessible, we can go nearly anywhere we choose. When going on vacation, we want to take the entire family – pets included. However, many of us choose to leave our furry feline friends at home due to the misconception that traveling with a pet is more of a hassle than an enjoyment.
While this can be the case if you aren’t prepared, if you plan your trip the right way and go into it with plenty of knowledge, it can still be a blast. To enable you to enjoy a vacation with your best friend, here is the ultimate guide to traveling with a cat.
How To Travel With A Cat
Traveling With A Cat In The Car
The benefits of traveling in a car with your cat is that you can stop as many times as you want should you feel that your cat needs a bathroom, food, or water break. You can also keep your cat in the car with you instead of having to stow him in the trunk (the equivalent of the baggage hold), as you may have to with planes.
Before The Trip
To prepare for a road trip, you need to make the decision of how to transport your cat. You can either use a pet seat belt and harness or your cat’s carrier.
If you choose to use a seatbelt/harness combination, your cat will have a bit more wiggle room. However, this transportation method can also be challenging if your cat is particularly scared of the car or does not want to hold still. When opting for this route, be sure that your cat’s harness fits securely and snuggly. You do not want your pet to be able to wiggle free. The downside of this is that cat seat belt harnesses are often hard to come by.
So, if you end up using a carrier, you’ll want to be sure that the carrier is big enough for your cat to be kept in for a few hours at a time. This is especially important if your road trip is long distance and will be completed over the course of a few days. You’ll also need to ensure that the cat carrier has its own seat.
Your cat carrier needs to be treated as if it were a person and deserves its own seat and seat belt.
During The Trip
Before moving, be sure that the cat carrier is properly secured with a seatbelt. It should not jostle or rock when lightly pushed on. If it does, it is not secure enough and could potentially be a safety hazard for both you and your cat should an accident occur.
- It’s important to remember that many cats hate car rides. This being said, your cat may “cry” or meow for a good portion of the trip. Try not to become too distracted by this and rest assured that as long as your cat is secured properly, there is nothing wrong with him or her
- If your cat is new to riding in a car, he or she may be wanting some extra attention. Try to let your cat know that things will be okay. Use a soft, soothing voice and pet your cat when the opportunity arises.
How To Fly With A Cat
The air isn’t a natural place for your kitty. Your cat will be uneasy and require a great amount of extra care.
Your cat may suffer from altitude related pain and discomfort, as well as be denied the use of the litter box for longer periods of time. It also means that, depending on your airline, your cat may not be able to ride in the main area of the plane. He or she may be required to ride in with the cargo.
Before The Trip
This being said, preparation is slightly different but still follows many of the same premises. When taking your cat on a plane, you’ll still need to ensure that he or she has ID on his cage and collar. You’ll generally be required to have veterinarian documents.
Since these documents can take some time to come in, it’s a good idea to order the documents well ahead of the time of your trip. Many airlines will also require a veterinarian signed document stating the good health of your pet. These documents should be dated no more than 10 days before your fight.
If your cat has to ride in the baggage hold, you can rest assured that it is pressurized and temperatures are regulated. However, it’s still ideal to travel during the coolest part of the day and/or to have your cat in the cabin with you.
Before your pet is handed to transportation personnel, ensure that the bolts keeping the two halves of his cage together are secure and in place. Make sure the door is shut tight and locked and that the handles of the carrier are not loose, broken, or going to fall off. You can also request that your cat be carried by hand to and from the plane.
It might also be wise to clip your cat’s nails. This can prevent their nails from becoming caught in their cage and causing discomfort and injury. When setting up the carrier, place one or two puppy training pads in the bottom in case your cat has an accident.
During The Trip
If your cat is going to be in the cabin with you, this is a great thing. You still need to make sure of a few things, though. For example, it’s never a bad idea to sit with your cat’s carrier under the seat in front of you facing you. In this position, your cat can see you and may find comfort.
If you’re sitting beside someone, you’ll want to let them know that you have a cat on board in case they have allergies or a phobia that may require them to move before at some point during the flight.
- If you can help it, avoid bringing cats with “flat faces” such as Persians on flights where they will be required to ride in with the cargo. Their flat faces and nasal passages combined with high altitude and thin air can cause discomfort and, in some rare cases, injury or death.
- To take a pet on a plane, you need to be of legal age. This means, in many countries, you need to be at least 18 years old. In the US and a select number of other countries, you will need to be 21.
How To Travel With A Cat On The Bus
Although bus travel isn’t as common as plane or car travel, it does still have a place in society. There are times where your cat will need to be taken aboard the bus.
Before The Trip
Before your big bus trip, you’ll need to do a bit of preparation. Your cat, as most cats are, is probably going to be a bit spooked at the prospect of taking a bus ride. Try to keep your cat’s carrier as close to you as you can. If you’re able, stick a finger or some snacks into the carrier so your cat can see and interact with you.
You will want to double check with your bus company to ensure that pets are permitted. If they are, be sure to find out if your cat needs to have any certain vaccinations and/or identification such as veterinarian records in order to board.
While you’re at it, you can ask your veterinarian if there is any medication that your cat should have before going on the trip. This is unlikely, but depending on your end destination, your veterinarian may find it necessary to prescribe certain antibiotics.
When it comes to preparing your carrier, make sure that the inside is fitted with a comfortable blanket and attach identification tags to the outside handles. It’s also a good idea to equip your cat with a collar if she doesn’t already have one that has your phone number or email address in case of separation. If your cat has a microchip, ensure that the details are updated.
If you expect that you’ll have to remove your cat from his carrier at any point during the trip, consider fitting your cat into a three point harness before putting him inside for the trip. While many cat owners use basic leashes for their cats, they are much too loose for cats who may be stressed out and scared, as they can easily slip out of them. A three point harness is the safest bet.
During The Trip
During your bus trip, you should try to limit the amount of food and water that your cat has. The more recently that your cat has had food and water, the higher chance that you’re going to have to deal with vomit. This being said though, be sure to avoid starving him or her.
On long rides, feed your cat once or twice a day until you reach your destination. But try not to let them eat or drink too much as they could end up having an accident in their carrier. If you’re traveling on a bus that does not have an AC unit during the summer, your cat will likely need more water: don’t be afraid to give them extra. You don’t want your cat coming down with heat sickness.
Buses stop frequently. Use this to your advantage by allowing your cat to use the litter box every few hours when stopped. On your carry on bag, consider bringing along one or two disposable litter boxes. They can be filled with litter, used, and then thrown in the trash can, completely eliminating the need to empty, wash, and tote around a traditional litter box.
You should also try to avoid jostling the carrier once it is in place for the trip. Moving the already freaked out cat around on a vehicle that is already moving will only serve to scare the cat more.
- You may want to consider using a cloth or material carrier, as this type of carrier is easily adaptable and can fit underneath of vehicle seats a bit better than their plastic counterparts.
- For long bus rides, try to be as present as possible for your kitty. Interact with him or her as much as possible. This helps your cat know that you are still there and that you won’t let anything bad happen.
On The Train
Traveling by train is much the same as by plane or bus. However, train travel with cats is often subject to more rules and limitations.
For example, Amtrak, a popular United States and Canada train company, has the following conditions when it comes to traveling with pets:
- Combined, cat and carrier must weigh under 20 pounds
- A trip must be under 7 hours long
- Customers are allowed one pet each
- Cats are only allowed in Coach Class
- Pets are an extra $26.00
- Pets must stay in a carrier when on the train
- Carrier has to fit under the seat
- The cat in question has to be at least 8 weeks of age
- Cats must have up to date shots and records of said shots
- Cats can’t be shipped; they must ride with a human
Before The Trip
As with any kind of public travel, your cat should be fitted with a collar and contact information, or a microchip.
You’ll also need to do some research into the rules of your specific train company to ensure that your pet’s carrier meets the standards set. Some standards to pay attention to include size and weight, but you should also ensure that the carrier is escape proof.
If your railway has specific standards for stowing your cat carrier, make sure that the carrier can fit into the specified space. If necessary, make use of a cloth or material carrier that is flexible.
During The Trip
During the trip, you should follow the same guidelines as the ones for bus travel. Trains and buses are closely related in terms of operation and layout, making traveling with a pet pretty similar regardless of which method you choose.
Try to stick as close to your cat as possible during the ride. Interact with him or her when you’re able. This helps your cat to know that everything will be fine and that you are still there. Try touching your cat if possible, giving him or her some snacks, and talking in a soothing voice.
Your cat isn’t going to be having fun inside his or her carrier. But you can make the trip a bit more bearable by being present and attentive.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Often Do Cats Pee?
This will depend on how much water you’re giving your cat and how comfortable he or she is. Just like humans, cats sometimes have to go to the bathroom when they’re scared or nervous, so it’s important to keep your cat calm.
Most cats pee about 2 to 4 times a day depending on various circumstances. Cats are clever and know where they’re living at. They do not like to pee in an area that they know they’re going to occupy in the near future. So your cat may be holding his or her pee in the carrier. It’s important to let your cat out to pee if possible.
As we’ve said above, try to keep a few pads in the carrier just in case. This is more important if your cat is older or gets nervous. Cats don’t like to use the bathroom where they’re living, but they’d rather pee than explode. Try to give your cat space to do his or her business if it’s an emergency.
How To Sedate A Cat: How Much Benadryl Can I Give My Cat?
If you want the trip to pass a lot faster for your cat, you can try to give him or her some knock out meds. Benadryl won’t harm your cat as long as you give it in a pretty small dose.
The most common recommendation is to give one milligram per pound. So if your cat weighs 5 pounds, you’ll want to give him or her half of a 10 milligram tablet.
You can also try giving your cat liquid benadryl, but many cats won’t like the taste. Good luck getting him or her to take that.
We recommend putting a small benadryl tablet inside of a wet food. Your cat won’t even know it’s there. When he or she wakes up, you can have finished your travels or gotten a lot further along the way.
This makes traveling long distance a bit easier on your cat.
Your Next Journey
Thanks for reading our post on how to travel with a cat! We hope this has been helpful for you. Will you let us know in the comments below if we’ve missed anything, or how we can make this post more helpful for you?
When it comes down to it, traveling with your cat is pretty simple. Be present. Pay attention. Plan ahead to make the trip as comfortable as possible.
Your cat will thank you for it.