If you're considering taking your cat with you on a trip, you may be wondering how to do so without causing them stress. Our veterinarians in Kennesaw are here to share some tips and tricks to make traveling with your feline friend a smoother experience.
Preparing For Any Trip With Your Cat
If you are intending to bring your cat along for your travels - be it relocation, a visit, or a holiday - it is important to plan ahead.
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 pet vaccines, 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
Depending on your transportation method and the journey length, you will need to consider and prepare for different things. Below we cover how to travel with a cat by car, how to travel with a cat on a plane, and even on a train or ship.
Traveling by Car with Your Cat
Purchase a Suitable Cat Carrier
Cats are generally uncomfortable traveling in cars and should be kept in a carrier for their safety and yours. Securing the carrier with a seat belt is important to keep it from bouncing around and hurting 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 always to 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
For the best experience, having a human accompany your cat in the back seat is recommended to provide comfort and monitor their well-being during the journey. This will help your cat feel at ease throughout the ride.
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 your cat alone in a car can pose a serious health risk. The heat can be dangerous for your pet, and even a short amount of time can feel like an eternity for them. When it's 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature in your car can skyrocket 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. It's important to note that irreversible organ damage or even death is possible after only 30 minutes alone in a vehicle. Even if you don't expect to be gone for that long, leaving your cat alone in a car is not worth the risk.
How to Travel with a Cat on a Plane
Is it safe to travel with cats by air? The answer is generally no, but sometimes it is necessary. If you must travel with a cat by plane, there are important things you should be aware of.
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
If you have a cat, it's best to avoid flying due to the stressful nature of the experience. Instead, driving is typically a better option. You could also consider boarding your cat at a facility that provides a comfortable 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 witness any mistreatment of animals by airlines, whether it's your own or not, it's important to speak up about it! Your actions could potentially save a life.
How to Travel with a Cat on a Train
Before bringing your pet or service animal on a train, confirming with the railway company whether they are allowed on board is important. If they are permitted, you'll need to follow guidelines similar to traveling with a cat in a car. While on the train, passengers are responsible for exercising and feeding their cat(s) during station stops.
How to Travel with a Cat on a Ship
With the exception of assistance dogs, pets are generally only allowed on a limited number of cruise lines and usually only on ocean crossings. While some cruise lines may allow pets in private cabins, most require pets to stay in kennels. It's important to contact your cruise line beforehand to learn about their specific policies and which ships have kennel facilities available. If you do end up using the kennel, make sure it is well-protected from the elements and check on your pet regularly.