Traveling with Kitty

“Wanna go for a ride?”

Say these words to a dog and he’ll be running for the door faster then you can put on your shoes. Say them to a cat and, well, you’re in for a challenge! Take it from me; I drove cross-country with my six kitties when I relocated from South Carolina to California. That was FOUR DAYS in the car! While cats are hardly the happy travelers that dogs are, with a little planning and preparation you can make traveling with kitty a safe and relatively painless experience.  If I can do it, so can you!

Before you leave:

  • However you are traveling (car, plane, or train etc.), be sure you get a cat carrier that fits the situation. Larger is not always better, as cats tend to feel more secure when in small spaces. Be sure to line your carrier with absorbent pads in lieu of a litter box; most cats will not use the box when inside a carrier. Also include bedding from home so the carrier has some comforting and familiar smells. It also helps to let your cat play inside the carrier by leaving it out for a few weeks before your trip. The carrier then becomes a safe and familiar place for your cat.
  • Get your cat microchipped, and make sure she is wearing a collar with a cat ID tag. On the off chance your cat gets lost, having these things will help reunite you and your cat as quickly as possible.
  • If you are traveling internationally, well before your trip you should research the requirements of bringing your cat. Some countries require a lengthy quarantine period, as well as proof of vaccinations, before your cat can accompany you.
  • Ask your veterinarian for a mild sedative just in case your cat needs some help relaxing during the trip.
  • If your trip spans several days and includes overnight stops, you may want to check to find hotels where pets are welcome and accommodations are equipped to handle their needs.

During the trip:

  • Your cat may cry and become agitated during the trip, medication such as a mild sedative could help. Talk to your cat in soothing tones, and offer some treats and toys from home to help keep your cat calm. Your cat may just settle down and go to sleep with no need for medication.
  • If you are driving, never let your cat loose inside the car. Your cat could climb under the seats or get under your feet as you are driving and cause an accident. Keep your cat inside the cat carrier, or set up a cage or larger crate in the back seat where your cat can roam about securely. If you do the latter, be sure you use a small carrier to take your cat to and from the car.
  • When you stop at a hotel for the night, and also when you arrive at your final destination, make sure the room where you are staying has no loose wallboards or open ventilation ducts where your cat could hide or escape. Check this BEFORE you let your cat out of her carrier. If you spot a potential problem, ask for another room.

Pay special attention to your cat once you arrive at your final destination to make sure your cat handled the trip unscathed and is settling into the new surroundings well. Offer your cat some of its favorite foods and treats to make sure your cat is eating and acting normally. Your cat should make it through the journey with flying colors as long as its with you, and will be happily purring on your lap no matter where you two may roam.

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