Travelling with cats can be tricky and very daunting. Especially if it’s your first travel and have no idea what to expect, therefore preparation is key if you intend on providing a smooth transition from your home into a cat-friendly Surrounding to suit your travel plans.
It’s always scary when you introduce something new to your cats daily routine,you want this process to be gentle without causing any stress on the cat.
1. Choose a Mode of Transport.
When traveling with cats across country you have two possible options of transportation. Driving or by plane. Each option have it’s own pros and cons which must be weighed accurately to find the best possible match to suit your cats state of preparation and wellness to travel.
The driving option is more longer and can be strenuous. Driving across country is an hassle since it covers a further and more prolonged drive. The good part of driving is that you will be in control. You are able to take regular breaks, stop at a motel to get some sleep or you could make the journey adventurous.
That said, when driving with cats long distance, your cat must be prepared and comfortable inside the car or RV in which you are traveling. The ride will be long and tiring so include toys and interesting things for your feline to fidget with. Also include snacks and some calming herbs or sedatives to help with the ride.
The biggest advantage of choosing to drive is that you are able to make changes to your travel plans to how you see fit, to what suits your cats needs. Traveling with cats can be very rather stressful , at least if you do so you want to travel in your own vehicle just incase your cat acts out, you can act on it.
However when traveling with cats in a car, you must prepare for accidents. To ensure the car is protected especially the seats its extremely important to get a good waterproof seat cover. This works well for cats that are traveling out of a carrier.
If you chose to fly with your cat it’s good to know what to expect especially if it’s your cats first flight. Flights can be very noisy and turbulent at times, the two main factors that can freak the cat out.
Some cats are probably used to it while other cats are totally spooked out by it. In this case you need to find a possible relaxer that is safe to use on flights.
However, when flying with cats, tranquilizers are not recommended as it could cause respiratory and heart problems. A safe possible option is a calming collar, pheromone spray or catnip.
The benefits of flying is that it’s the fastest and most efficient mode of transportation. Its convenient, time saving and affordable. However there are certain requirements that must be met before the cat is on board.
- Cat must be flying in an Airline approved carrier.
- Cat must have health certificates.
- When booking flights, specify that you will be traveling with a pet, since only a certain number of pets are allowed per flight.
- Cat must be free from pests.
- The cat mustn’t inconvenience other passengers that are flying on board.
- For cabin travels, the cats carrier must be the right size to fit along side you.
2. Decide On The Best Route.
Most people often travel across country by car or Rv to enjoy the scenery and adventure, after all it is more affordable. Therefore you want to have a fixed plan on the route you want to persue to get to your destination. Before your travel date you want to research and familiarize your self with the directions and stops you going to be making during the ride.
Luckily for your convenience you can use a GPS like Google maps or any other app that will help with directions. This will ensure you get to your destination safely, on time and you will be able to plan breaks along the way, preventing the cat from being overly tired.
The route that you choose must be familiar with well constructed roads so that the drive can go on smoothly. Dusty gravel roads with potholes make for a bumby ride which can cause motion sickness for you and the cat.
When choosing a route, pick one that will lead you to your destination, for instance if you going to be traveling for a really long time it’s best to stop at a nearby motel or hotel to rest. Make sure the accommodation is cat friendly and is on route.
The route that you decide to take must also be the shortest and should have regular gas station stops. When you do make stops to get fuel or to grab a meal, Never leave your cat in the car alone. In some states you will get a ticket from the police, your cats will be confiscated if they appear to be in distress due to the rapid heating of the car’s interior due to the sun.
3. Pet Health Certificate.
When traveling across country your pet will need a Health certificate. This is just documents that state the cat is healthy and well for travel. The vet will only issue this certificate if all necessary procedures and treatment have been completed.
The first step is to arrange a visit to your nearest veterinarian, take all necessary documents and records. Notify the vet of your travel and ask for advice for the best care. Be sure to do this prior to your travel date as this could take time to get your cat ready to travel.
Make sure every procedure is done that is required, such as microchipping for identification, vaccinations, flea and tick removal. If the cat isnt microchipped, get a good name tag.
In some cases, you may need to do a blood test to test for any ailments or allergens. The vet may also want to run other tests depending on the cats health.
Once all procedures are checked and the cat is clear, the vet will issue a health certificate, however, due to the jurisdictions in some countries and airlines a simple health certificate won’t be enough
Therefore you need a USDA certificate which can be easily obtained from your nearest USDA vet services. This process can cost anywhere from $50-$1000 depending on the amount care and treatment the cat need.
If the cat is on track with vet checkups and is in good health, the most you’d pay is about $100.
Its important that you prepare your cat in advance. Cats hate anything that’s unfamiliar and out of routine. If you can get the cat used to the car before the travel, it will help alot in the way the cat reacts and behaves when the time comes.
Follow these simple steps to help prepare the cat.
- Make sure your cat is familiar and acclimated with the carrier, harness, leash and litterbox. This process can take weeks or months. The use of a pheromone spray can speed up the process.
- With car travels you can start straight away by doing short rides. Create a cosy bed within your car for the cat, also include all the necessary things such as Carrier/crate, litter box, blankets, toys etc . You want to mimic an actual road trip to observe your cats reaction and see how you can improve their experience.
- Allow your cat to be exposed to different environments and elements within the car. Let them hear the horn, the sound of the engine and the shutting of the car doors.
- Train the cat to stay in the carrier or crate for long in the car provided the crate is big enough. It will take a while until they get used to it. The more often you train them the faster they will get used to the car and the carrier.
- Reassure your cat by touch and speech. Cats hear and can understand, your mini pep talk can be a sigh of relief for your kitty and can prevent anxiousness. After all these pets seek your assurance.
- Reward your cat with favourite treats and cuddles.
- Lastly create a good atmosphere, since cats feed on the emotion we project on them. Treat your cat good and try to prevent anything that breaks the peace. With travelling you get exposed to many different things, your cat will sometimes feel scared, anxious or happy. It’s your responsibility to be their safety, their home.
While booking into a fancy hotel or resort can be pretty easy, you must be careful since not all pet friendly accommodations allow cats.
Most hotels and motels approve themselves as being pet friendly catering only for dogs, with the fine print stating “no cats allowed”. This is because cats have the tendency to scratch which can damage furniture also because cats urine and faeces have a strong smell and is difficult to get rid off.
Read my previous post for more information on why hotels allow dogs and not cats.
Accommodations that do infact allow cats are,
- Motel 6, allow two pets cats or dogs. This affordable chain is budget friendly costing $50 per night.
- La Quinta, two cats allowed.
- Red Roof Inn, one cat allowed, but can accommodate two. $75 per night.
- The Hilton, two cats allowed. $75 per night with water, food and bed included.
- Four Seasons, two cats allowed. $75 per night which Includes treats, a bowl, fresh Evian water, and a luxurious pet bed.
Before you decide, make sure you understand the needs and requirements of your furry friends. The last thing you would ever want is for them to be unsettled and irritated, learn how to cat proof your hotel room. When choosing the right accommodation it is important to follow these steps which will assist in your selection
- Place with good ventilation and air conditioning.
- Spacious with enough room to walk around.
- Area free from toxic plants and hazards.
- Pools that are covered if applicable.
- Skip the carpets even if your cat is potty trained. Carpets collect dust and could also breathe bacteria. Go for tile or wood floors which are easy to clean
- Decor can also be a problem however you can easily remove all lose lying objects that are around if the accommodation allows.
- If your cat has allergies be mindful of the surroundings. Any smell or dust or even too much exposure to sunlight could be fatal.
If you traveling to California checkout my list of top cat-friendly hotels and accommodations situated along the beach.
6. Pet Carriers, Cage or Crate.
The safest way to travel with pets is with a carrier or cage. Having cats freely in a car while traveling is dangerous and distracting for the driver. For this reason get your cat a good cage or carrier months in advance so the cat get acclimated to the cage.
These days they are a variety of carriers such as the handheld, airline, backpack and the trolley carrier. However, I’ve noticed that certain carriers aren’t fully equipped for the needs of the pet, specifically a cat.
Since you are going to be traveling across country, you want to get something more spacious and relaxed. These are guidelines which I’ve come up with to assist in choosing the perfect carrier to suit the special needs of cats.
- Make sure the carrier is big enough so that the cat can be comfortable. The cat is going to be traveling in this cage/carrier for hours. It must be spacious.
- Check the fabric of the carrier/Cage, don’t chose something that retains heat.
- The carrier must be breathable, wind can pass through
- Should have adjustable gadgets to provide the most comfortable fit
- Chose one with a shaded area to prevent from direct sunlight.
- Simplistic, easy to enter and exit.
- Washable with good quality. Should be able to withstand the weight of the cat. Keep in mind some carriers have a specific weight requirement.
- Lastly chose a bright colour so that heat can be reflected and not absorbed also needs to be appealing to the eye.
If your cat hates carriers, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best backpacks and carriers to suit them.
Recommended Travel Crates and Carriers.
One For Pets Portable Travel Crate
The ONE FOR PETS PORTABLE TRAVEL CRATE fits the above criteria. It’s much more effective than a regular carrier as it provides enough space for them to move yet be confined and safe. It’s breathable to control temperature and is perfect for multiple cats.
It’s easy to travel with as it stretches perfectly along the backseat of a car. Its also fully collapsible and it comes with a bag so it can be packed and stored when not used. This carrier crate can be used in 3 ways.
- Can be used as one big carrier.
- Can be separated for two individual carriers.
- Can be connected together yet separated by a mesh so that each pet have its own space.
Rated 5/5 stars. Check out the great reviews that other cat travellers have left after using the ONE FOR PETS PORTABLE TRAVEL CRATE, on Amazon.
SportPet Designs Cat travel Crate
Get it now conveniently from Amazon.
7. Sedation and Calming Aids.
Long distance across country trips with cats are very challenging and daunting as there are a lot of things which can go wrong. Firstly, cats hate surprises and anything unfamiliar, with traveling the cat is being introduced into a new surrounding with strange sounds and motions.
Therefore they will complain and become difficult to hand with all sorts of vocalizations and unpleasant behavior. This is the typical reaction of most cats, while some cats who are properly trained and acclimated to traveling will handle it much better.
In some cases where the cat is fearful, anxious or severely stressed a sedation could be the solution. The most commonly used sedatives are Acepromazine, catnip, melatonin or Gabapentin. There are also a variety of calming collars, anxiety jackets and natural herbs to help with the difficulties of traveling.
Natural sedatives such as chamomile and catnip. Many people drink chamomile tea for relaxation however its shown to be just as effective on cats. Catnip, on the other hand, is a plant that contains an oil called nepetalactone when cats smell this it stimulates their receptors and aids in bringing forth a sense of euphoria and an overwhelming sense of happiness. Check out my previous article in which I’ve shared a list of effective sedative products for cats while traveling.
Recommended Sedative products
- Virbac Anxitane Chewable Tablets, perfect for cats of all ages. It’s quick digesting and works within minutes. It allows the cat to remain at ease even with changing surroundings when travelling. Get it now on Amazon.
2. Fedciory Calming Collar that contains active ingredients which promotes long lasting happiness and a soothing sensation. perfect for traveling, grooming or when faced with a stressful situation. Check out the latest price on Amazon.
3. TOULIFLY Calming Spray which contains pheromones that help eliminate aggression and unpleasant behaviour as it promotes comfort and relaxation. Chew out the positive response this product have been getting on Amazon.
For more information Visit your local vet to find out more about the different types of sedation, dosage, and side effects, if any. Be sure to mention any allergies or sickness as certain sedatives could have an adverse reaction. Checkout my previous post for a list of most effective cat sedatives for travel.
This could seem petty and can be taken for granted, like who forgets to drink water? I can assure you once vacation mood steps in and you overwhelmed by the authentic scenery. The last thing on your mind is water for you or for your pet.
I highly suggest a daily water intake reminder. luckily there are a number of apps that can help track your pets water intake. A quick set up will be required which will include timing, interval, water limit, and rest. These will be followed by notifications to remind you throughout the day.
Depending on the state of your vacation temperatures may be really high especially if it’s along the summer months, traveling with a feline can be rather challenging. To prevent dehydration make sure the cat receives a steady water intake throughout the road trip.
Water intake is dependant on the size of the cat and the weight of the cat. Typically cats need between 4 – 5 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight. For cats around 10 pounds body weight, they should be consuming between 8 – 9 ounces of water per day.
Symptoms of dehydration in cats include
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Decreased skin elasticity
A simple way to check if your cat is dehydrated is to check the cat’s skin elasticity. Gently lift the skin on the back of the cat’s neck in a controlled manner. If the skin is firm and tightened the cat could be lacking liquids since the normal anatomy of cats skin allow for flexibility and should be fluid and elastic.
For this reason, a water bowl is important as well as a water bottle for refills. There are many kinds of water bowls from plastic, steel to silicon flexible bowls. It’s always good to choose one that is not space consuming and easy for travel. A good option is a water dispenser like the LitaiL Pet travel Water Bottle which is perfect to prevent spills.
9. Snacks and Kibble.
Travelling across the country can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, therefore the cat will need food. Kibble and snacks are preferable since it’s less messy and quick digesting.
The idea of feeding a cat while traveling may seem daunting since you have to worry about motion sickness, vomit and defecating. Therefore you need to feed the cat foods that are light and quick digesting. For more information of feeding cats while traveling checkout my previous post.
Kibble is great for traveling as it’s easy while still being nutritious. The Rick when feeding is to feed several small portions rather than one or two full meals.
This will result in the cats food digesting much quicker, decreasing the chances of vomiting. Snacks are also a good way to keep cats going while traveling.
Snacks like the Purina Fancy Feast Chicken & tuna treats are great for cats. It’s natural and retains all nutrients from healthy lean protein meat. It’s great for travel as it comes in 10 stay fresh packs, suitable for each serving.
It’s also Amazons Choice product rated 5/5 stars. Get it now conveniently delivered to you.
A Litter-box is essential when it comes to long-distance travels. The cat will need to eat, drink and will therefore need to relieve itself. The difficult part is preparing the cat to use the litter box in an unfamiliar place like a car.
If you intend on getting a portable litter box be sure to do so months in advance. This extra time must be used to get the cat acclimated to the new litter box.
The first step is to get a litter box that is portable and easy for travelling. The Pet Fit For Life Collapsible Portable Litter Box is perfect since it can be used at home and for travelling. It also comes with a collapsible water bowl absolutely free.
The next time to allow the cat to get used to the new litter box. This will take time but with enough practice the cat will be acclimated to it. The use of a pheromone spray can help with this part.
Once the cat is used to its Litter box create an area in the vehicle for it. If the carrier or crate is big enough the litter box can be placed inside it, if not find an area to place the litter box.
In a car a good place for the litterbox is in the backseat floor, or if you riding in an Rv than behind a door or near the toilet should be fine.
For untrained cats like kittens or elderly cats that are sick, you can use pet diapers. This is a great way to prevent any messy situations from happening while saving your cars seats.
Long distance travels are strenuous and tiring for both feline and human. Its required that a person should take a 15 minute rest after every 2-3 hours of driving.
Its extremely important that you take planned breaks at safe and convenient places. When preparing the route of your travel make sure to discuss appropriate places to rest.
You can stop at the gas station, at a nearby motel or even at a parking bay if you traveling in an RV. Often cross country travels take a few days and therefore you will need to take several rest periods.
During these rest periods, grab something to eat and give kitty a little snack or a small meal. Also remember to hydrate properly. You also want to allow the cat to relieve itself if needed.
When taking breaks with the cat make sure to have them fully leashed. In some cases, the cat might try to run away from you because they disapprove of the ride. The last thing you would want is for the cat to go missing in an unfamiliar location.
For this reason a microchip is very important, but if for some reason the cat isnt microchipped. A suitable personalised tag should be fine.
- How much does it cost to travel with a cat? flying with a cat average cost $125. International flight prices are around $150 to $500. Shipping a cat cost between $275 and $300.