Are you going to be traveling in the near future and plan on bringing your feline friend with you for the journey? Here, our Westfield vets share some tips for traveling with a cat and what you can do to ensure that your trip is stress-free.
Do cats like to travel?
No matter why you plan on traveling with your kitty, there are things you can do to prepare for your trip and to help ensure the health and safety of your feline friend.
One of the most important things you can do is to ensure that your cat is up-to-date with preventive care. This will give them adequate protection against a number of parasites, illnesses and diseases, some of which can be quite serious. Different states have different regulations regarding vaccines for pets 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.
How to Travel a 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.
Bringing Your Cat in the Car
Make Sure You Have 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.
Cats Belong in the Back Seat, Never the Front
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.
Don't Let Your Cat Stick Their Head Out the Window
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 Support Person Who Can Help With the Cat
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.
Bring Litter if You'll be More Than Six Hours
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.
Dont Leave Your Cat Unattended 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
You may be asking 'Should I travel with my cat? Is it safe to do so by plane?'. The answer is that while cats may not love it and it's not the safest option, it sometimes it can't be avoided. Here are the things you should know about traveling with a cat by plane:
Travel by Plane Can be Dangerous For Your Cat
Air travel can lead to oxygen deprivation or heat stroke in animals. Perisian cats in particular are susceptible to these effects, as are other animals with "smushed-in" faces.
Is Flying Your Only Option?
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.
Try to Choose a Flight That Allows Cats 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.
Say Something if You See Abuse of Animals
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
With the exception of 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.
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.