Thinking of bringing your kitty along on your next trip? Our Portland vets share a few tips on how to travel with your cat and what to consider before your journey.
Preparing for Your Trip
If you are planning to travel with your four-legged companion - whether visiting loved ones, jetting off on a vacation, or moving - you'll need to plan.
Sometimes, traveling with your cat is unavoidable - for example, if you are moving to another city or state and already have a feline companion. In that case, your question may not be, 'Should I travel with my cat?' but, 'How can I ensure my cat is as calm and comfortable as possible on our trip?'
One essential point to consider is whether your cat is up to date on their vaccines and parasite prevention. Different states have different regulations regarding vaccines for pets.
However, most state laws require your pet's rabies vaccine to be current, so be sure to schedule a visit with your vet before you leave to update your cat's core vaccines. This will help ensure your kitty is vaccinated against any lifestyle diseases that may be common in the place you're headed to, and that any parasites can be treated or prevented.
Different Preparations for Different Journeys
The length of your upcoming journey and your method of transportation will factor into how you need to prepare and help you decide on the best way to travel with a cat. Here are some tips on how to travel with a cat in a car, how to travel with a cat on a plane, and even on a train or ship.
Traveling by Car With Your Cat
There are several safety precautions and aspects to consider before you and your cat drive off into the sunset. Here are some tips to make sure your cat stays calm, comfortable, and safe on your road trip.
Purchase a Suitable Cat Carrier
Generally, cats are uncomfortable traveling in cars and should stay in a carrier for their safety and yours. It's important to secure the carrier with a seat belt to prevent it from bouncing around and hurting your cat.
Don't Put Your Cat in the Front Seat
Even if your cat is in a carrier, an airbag that's deployed during a collision can be dangerous for your pet if they are in the front seat. This is why it's always best to keep your cat's carrier restrained in the back seat of your vehicle.
Keep Your Cat's Head Inside the Vehicle
If your cat leans their head outside the window, they're at risk of debris striking them. The cold air may also harm their lungs. Never transport your cat in the back of an open pickup truck as they may fall out or get injured.
Bring a Human Designated to Care for Them
When thinking about how to travel long-distance with a cat, remember that interaction with someone they like will help keep them calm.
If possible, bring someone along who can ride in the back seat, and monitor and comfort your cat. This will help your cat feel comfortable while you focus on driving.
Bring Litter If Your Journey is Longer Than 6 Hours
Is your car journey shorter than 6 hours? Your cat will most likely be okay in a standard carrier. If your cat will need to stay in their carrier for longer than this, you'll need a larger accommodation to allow space for a small litter box. It's a good idea to ask your vet for advice about the kind of carrier or kennel best suited to your cat's needs and your journey before you travel.
Don't Ever Leave Your Cat in the Car Alone
Leaving a cat alone in a car is a serious health hazard. Heat is a risk to pets and a short time for you could be an eternity for your feline companion. 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 like to travel by air? The short answer, of course, is no but sometimes it cannot be avoided. Here are the things you should know about traveling with a cat by plane.
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 will allow you to fly with your cat in the cabin with you, for an additional fee. While most animals flown in the cargo area of airplanes are fine, you should be aware that some animals are killed, injured, or lost on commercial flights each year.
Excessively hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation, and rough handling are often to blame. in either case, you must inform the airline well in advance that you are bringing your cat with you. If you must travel with your animal in the cargo hold, research airlines and select one with a good reputation for animal handling.
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
Except for assistance dogs, pets are welcome on only a few cruise lines — and usually on ocean crossings only. Some lines permit pets in private cabins, but most confine pets to kennels.
Contact your cruise line in advance to find out its policies and which of its ships have kennel facilities. If you must use the ship's kennel, make sure it is protected from the elements and check on your pet frequently.