If you're thinking about taking your cat on a trip and feeling a bit anxious about it, don't worry! In this article, our veterinarians at Sun Valley Animal Center will share tips on how to travel with your cat stress-free.
Preparing For Any Trip With Your Cat
If you are planning on traveling with your cat, whether it's for a move, a visit, or a vacation, there are some important things to keep in mind.
First, it's crucial to check if your cat's vaccines and protection against parasites are up to date. Different states have different regulations regarding vaccines for pets, but in most states, keeping your pet's rabies vaccine current is the law. So be sure to schedule a visit to your veterinarian before you leave so that your cat's core vaccines can be brought up to date, your kitty can be vaccinated against any lifestyle diseases that are common in the place you are headed to, and any parasites can be treated or prevented.
Different Journeys & Different Preparations
When you're traveling with your cat, the preparations you need to make depend on how you're getting there and how far you're going. In this guide, we'll explain how to travel with your cat in a car, on a plane, and even on a train or ship.
Traveling by Car with Your Cat
Purchase a Suitable Cat Carrier
Most cats don't enjoy car rides, and it's safer for both you and your furry friend to keep them in a carrier. Make sure to fasten the carrier with a seat belt to prevent it from moving around and potentially harming your cat.
Don't Put Your Cat in the Front Seat
Even when in a carrier, the deployment of airbags in the front seat can be dangerous for your pet - for this reason, it is best to always keep your cat's carrier restrained in the back seat(s) of your vehicle.
Keep Your Cat's Head Inside the Vehicle
If your cat's head is sticking outside the window, they're at risk of debris striking them or the cold air harming their lungs. Never transport your cat in the back of an open pick-up truck.
Bring a Human Designated to Care for Them
If possible, it is best to have a human who is there to monitor and comfort your cat riding with them in the back seat. This will help your cat feel comfortable during the journey.
If Your Journey is Longer than 6 hours, They'll Need Litter
If your journey by car is shorter than 6 hours, then your cat will most likely be fine in a standard carrier. If your cat will need to be in their carrier longer than that, you will need a larger accommodation that gives them space for a small litter box. It's a good idea to consult your vet before traveling for advice on the kind of kennel or carrier best suited to your cat's needs and the journey ahead.
Don't Ever Leave Your Cat in the Car Alone
Leaving a cat alone in a car is very dangerous. The heat can harm them, and what feels like a short time for you can feel like forever for your cat.
For instance, when it's 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour. On an 85-degree day, even with the windows slightly open, the temperature inside your car can reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes. Irreversible organ damage or death is possible after only 30 minutes alone in a vehicle - even if you don't expect it to take that long to return, it is not worth the risk.
How to Travel with a Cat on a Plane
Do cats enjoy flying? In most cases, no. But sometimes, you have no choice but to take them on a plan. Here's what you need to know about flying with your feline friend.
Air Travel Can be Dangerous for Cats
Air travel can lead to oxygen deprivation or heat stroke in animals. Persian cats, in particular, are susceptible to these effects, as are other animals with "smushed-in" faces.
Consider All Alternatives Before Flying
Because flying is so stressful for cats, we recommend taking another option if possible. Driving is generally superior to flying. There may be boarding options available that can let your cat relax comfortably at a home away from home.
Chose an Airline that Will Allow Your Cat in the Cabin
Many airlines let you bring your cat into the cabin for an extra fee. But when animals travel in the cargo area, there's a risk of harm or loss due to extreme temperatures, poor ventilation, or rough handling. To be safe, always tell the airline in advance if you're taking your cat with you. If your cat must go in the cargo hold, choose an airline known for good animal care.
If You See Something, Say Something
If you see any mistreatment of an animal by an airline, yours or otherwise, make sure you say something about it! You could save a life.
How to Travel with a Cat on a Train
Some pets and service animals are permitted on many trains. You will have to verify with the railway if pets are permitted on your train journey. If they are, then similar guidelines to traveling with a cat in a car apply. Passengers will be expected to exercise and feed their cat(s) at station stops.
How to Travel with a Cat on a Ship
Most cruise lines don't allow pets, except for assistance dogs. Even when they do, it's typically just on ocean-crossing voyages. Some cruise lines do allow pets in private cabins, but most keep them in designated kennel areas. Before your cruise, contact the cruise line to learn their pet policies and find out which ships have kennels. If your pet will be in a kennel, make sure it's sheltered and visit your pet regularly to ensure their well-being.