A lot of things can come into play when it comes to traveling with a cat, but once you’ve got those sorted out, you should be good to go.
For many people, cats are the perfect pet. They’re independent, low-maintenance and they’re somewhat fuss-free. When going on long trips or relocating to a new home, you want to make sure your cat is comfortable and cared for —
Cats are pretty chill…until you wanna travel with one, then things can get really messy real fast, but with proper guidance and adequate preparation- you can travel smoothly with your cat and nobody has to die !
Take these points into consideration to ensure you have a nice trip with your cat.
1- Make sure that your cat is healthy enough for travel.
Trips in a car can be physically and emotionally stressful on cats. Before you embark on yours, have your veterinarian review your cat’s health and make sure it is healthy enough to travel.
You can also consider application of synthetic pheromones.
Synthetic Pheromones can help a cat to settle and feel content. Pheromones are signal-carrying hormones that are released to promote a specific response by another member of the same species.
Studies show that synthetics used in multi-cat homes can reduce aggression between cats and urine spraying by 90%.
Side note: Feed your cat before starting the trip.
Your cat should have a light meal three to four hours before your trip begins. That way, your cat won’t go hungry, but won’t be overfed either.
It will minimize the chances of your cat vomiting in the carrier during the trip.
For trips under 2 hours, you won’t need to feed your cat on the road. Otherwise, feed it every 2 to 3 hours. Your cat may not want to eat or drink while traveling.
Don’t feed your cat while moving in your vehicle, as there are risks that it could choke, become sick, or get loose in the vehicle. If you need to feed your cat en route, stop first.
Pro tip: keep in mind the seasons.
If you are travelling in the heat of summer
Bring several ice packs or frozen bottles of water and keep them in a cooler, if your air conditioning runs out , you may be too far from home and your cat will overheat very quickly- they cannot sweat effectively like you can to counteract the heat.
If this happens, you can line the inside of your cat’s carrier with ice packs wrapped in a cloth of some kind to try to help keep your cat cool.
If you are travelling in the dead of winter, be sure to bring extra blankets for your cat as well as yourself.
2- Preparing your cat for travel.
Its very much recommended to get a carrier, that’s the safest place for your cat to be while traveling in a car. Your cat may not enjoy being in the carrier, but it will protect it from harm while you are on the road.
Choose one that is:
• Large enough for your cat to sit, stand, turn around, and lay down in.
• Made of a sturdy material, whether soft (cloth or mesh) or hard (plastic or wire).
And since your cat is gonna be in it for quite a while, make sure it’s sized properly for your cat.
Get your cat used to its carrier.
Leave the carrier in your home near one of your cat’s favorite places, with its door or flap open so that your cat can enter. If your cat has time beforehand to inspect the carrier, nap in it, etc. It might feel more comfortable and less stressed in it later on.
Please note that cats are a bit more attached to their surroundings than their canine counterparts when it comes to travel.
According to an article from Forbes:
“Cats are very territorial creatures and spend lots of time setting up their territory,”.
Side note: Try short trips first.
If you know that your cat will accompany you on an upcoming long drive, take it on some short trips first. Gradually increase the length of time you are on the road. Hopefully, these short trips will acclimate your cat to being in its carrier and in your car, so that the longer trip goes more smoothly.
Pro tip: Collar your cat.
As a precaution, get a tag made for your cat that lists your phone number, your home and destination addresses. If you don’t want your cat to wear a collar and tag normally, this only has to be a temporary one. It is an invaluable precaution in the event that you and your cat are separated during the trip.
3- Hitting the road.
When traveling, be sure to pack a cat traveling kit, you’ll want to make sure that your cat has all of its regular essentials, as well as any supplies specifically needed for traveling. Before you leave on your trip, make sure to pack:
• Favorite toys, pillows, blankets, etc.
• Food and water
• A litterbox and litter
• A waste scoop and/or plastic bags
• Brushes, combs, and other grooming supplies
• Any medications your cat takes
• A pet first-aid kit (ask your veterinarian about getting one)
• Travel papers (showing vaccinations, health records, etc.) as it might be requested for in your destination.
Make sure that your cat is securely in its carrier before you place it in your car. It may take some coaxing to get your cat to enter and stay in the carrier, so offer it some treats or a favorite toy and be patient.
Letting your cat loose in the car while traveling is not safe. If your cat is not safely in its carrier, it may crawl to a dangerous place (such as under your feet), or it may become even more stressed.
Be sure to bring enough water for your cat, but only give it to your cat when you are parked.
Do not leave a water bowl in your cats carrier while driving- it will only spill and make a mess, and you will end up with a wet unhappy cat.
It may also help to bring a gallon jug of water your cat drinks at home, whether it is tap or filtered water- cats might not always drink water that taste different.
Be sure to bring paperwork from your veterinarian showing your cat’s current vaccination status. If you are travelling over state lines, by law you also need a health certificate from your veterinarian.
Unlikely anyone will ask, but it’s better to be safer than sorry.
Pack the car with your cat’s travel crate in mind. Riding in the front vs the back makes little difference, as long as your cat has plenty of breathing room.
Make sure there’s nothing blocking the openings in the carrier. If your cat is in the front seat, the best option is to place the carrier sideways so that the door faces you. This allows the cat to see you while not being in the direct line of the air conditioner/heater vents.
Secure the carrier so it doesn’t slide into the floor or around the seat.
Only let your cat out of its carrier when you are safely at your destination or a stopping point.
Side note: Keep your cat comfortable.
During your journey, make sure that your car stays at a comfortable temperature, and that your cat’s carrier stays out of direct sunlight.
• The safest place to keep your cat’s carrier is in the backseat.
• Don’t leave a car window down while traveling with your cat. It might try to escape, the noise might bother it, or the wind might make it cold.
You should also endeavour to keep it quiet while driving, cats will appreciate you keeping it quiet in the car when traveling. If you have a stereo on, keep it at a low volume.
Keep the windows rolled up to reduce road noise and try to avoid any excessive traffic noises (such as honking your horn) as these may startle your cat.
Pro tip: Make periodic rest stops.
Stop every now and then to check and make sure that your cat is comfortable, and to see if it needs food or water. Many rest stops have enclosures for you to let your pet out without having to worry that they will run off. It may also need to use its litterbox. You can also stop and let your cat stretch its legs, as long as you use a harness and leash.
Stay with your cat.
Never leave your cat unattended in a car. During hot weather, a parked car can quickly become overheated, which can cause heatstroke or worse. In cold weather, a parked car can become frigid, and your cat could freeze.