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How to Travel With a Cat

Planning a trip away from home and want to take your beloved kitty along with you? Here are a few tips to help make the journey an enjoyable experience for both you and your cat.

Should I travel with my cat?

You love your feline friend and treasure your time together. If you are planning to travel, taking your cat along with you can be a great experience for both of you. That said, it will require some planning. 

Planning for Travelling with a Cat

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, but in most states keeping your pet's rabies vaccine current is the law. 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 many lifestyle diseases that may be common in cats living in the area you are headed to.

Your cat should also be protected against any parasites they may encounter along the way. This can include parasites that could be picked up while they are in a kennel on a ship or a plane, or parasites that can be found at your destination.

How to Travel Long Distance with a Cat

Depending on your method of transportation and the length of the journey there are different things you will need to consider and prepare for. 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. 

How To Travel With a Cat in a Car

  • Purchase a suitable cat carrier - Cats are generally uncomfortable traveling in cars and should be kept in a carrier for their safety and yours. It is important to secure the carrier with a seat belt 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 to always 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 kitty as you drive - If possible, it is best to have a human who is there to monitor and comfort your cat riding with them in the back seat. This will help your cat feel comfortable during the journey.
  • Journeys longer than 6 hours will require a litter tray - 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 prior to travel for advice on the kind of kennel or carrier best suited to your cat's needs and the journey ahead.
  • Never leave your cat alone in the car - 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? Planes are not the best way to travel with a cat and should be avoided if possible.

Here are the things you should know about traveling with a cat by plane.

  • Air travel can be dangerous for cats - Air travel can possibly 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.
  • Choose an airline that will allow your cat to stay with you 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. Verify whether the company you are traveling with allows cats. If they do, follow the guidelines for traveling with a cat in a car (above). 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, cruise lines don't typically welcome pets onboard. When dogs and cats are allowed, it is generally only for ocean crossings. Some lines permit pets in private cabins, but most confine animal companions to kennels. Contact your cruise line in advance to find out its policies on pets and which of its ships have kennel facilities. If you must use the ship's kennel, check that it is protected from the elements and check on your cat frequently.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Ensure that your cat is ready to travel. Contact Sharon Lakes Animal Hospital today to book a checkup and vaccine appointment for your feline friend.

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