9 Tips to Make Traveling with Your Cat Easier

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The idea of traveling with a cat might seem stressful to you, and you’d be right. Cats are creatures of habit, and they don’t usually do well on long trips. Rather than putting your cat and yourself through a lot of stress, it’s generally better to get a trustworthy cat sitter. However, if you’re moving or just travel around a lot and don’t want to leave your cat behind, there are ways to make travel easier for both of you.

Here are a few tips that can help make traveling with your cat easier.

1. Familiarize her with the carrier

Your cat will spend most or all of the time in the carrier, so make sure that you pick a good one and start getting her used to it. The cat carrier should be well-ventilated and large enough for her to stand up and turn around. First, leave the open carrier somewhere in your house so that the cat can investigate it freely. Then start putting her favorite toys in it, and later her bed. Give her treats when she’s in the carrier to make the experience as positive as possible.

2. Make her comfortable

Make the inside of the carrier as comfortable as possible. Put thick and soft padding inside the carrier, and make sure that it won’t move around or bunch up during the trip. If traveling by car, secure the carrier with the seatbelt to stay put. Surround the carrier with a familiar smelling item, perhaps a blanket or a piece of your clothes. Give her catnip and treats during the trip to help her relax.

3. Identification

You should equip your cat and the carrier with multiple pieces of identification information. If your cat is microchipped, ensure that the info is up to date. You should also have a copy of your home and your destination information and numbers on the carrier and on the cat’s harness or collar (the harness is a better option since it’s less likely to slip off).

4. Talk with your veterinarian

Take your cat for a general health check, and discuss your trip with the vet. If you’re traveling by plane, especially traveling abroad, you will need papers that document your cat’s vaccinated and healthy. Your vet will also advise you on the following:

  • Whether to use sleeping medication for your cat
  • What to do in case of nausea
  • Vaccination requirements for your place of destination

5. Pack lots of supplies

Traveling with your cat means that you’ll have to take plenty of additional supplies with you. What you’ll need varies with your mode of transport and your destination, of course. Pack extra cat food and medication if your cat is taking any. You might need a portable litter box and litter. Pack plenty of toys treats, and items familiar to your cat. If you’re traveling by car, you could bring some bottled tap water because your cat might have a hard time adjusting to local water.

6. Get her accustomed to the car

Take some time before the trip to get your cat accustomed to the car slowly. Let your cat explore the closed, unmoving vehicle, and get her back to safety if she starts to get overwhelmed. Repeat this several times a day until she starts getting comfortable. When she seems calm in the car, you can start giving her meals in it. Eventually, move her carrier in the car, and start going on short test rides.

7. Traveling tips

If the trip is about 6 hours or shorter, your cat will be fine inside the carrier the whole time. If it’s longer, plan pit stops to give your cat food, water, and litter box access (it’s best to buy disposable litter boxes for this). Only let your cat out of the carrier when the car is parked! And it’s best if your cat has a harness and leash the whole time, just in case. Never leave your cat alone in the car.

8. Check the airline requirements

Some airlines allow cats to travel in the cabin, while others put them in the cargo hold. Call and check beforehand to find out. There will also be additional costs, especially if the pet travels in the cabin. You also need to make sure that your carrier is approved by the airline. The number of cats you can bring with you will also be limited.

9. Cabin vs. cargo tips

Don’t give your cat food for about 12 hours before the trip since you won’t be able to clean up if she vomits. Cover the carrier with a cloth if your cat is traveling in the cabin. Your cat will be less stressed if she can’t see anything. If your cat is prone to making a lot of noise, consult your vet about sedating her for the trip. 

If your cat is traveling in the cargo, make sure that the cat carrier is sturdy and won’t break open if treated roughly. Put a picture of your cat and all of your info on the outside of the carrier in case your cat escapes. Write ‘Live Animal’ on the carrier, and draw an arrow that points to which side should be up. Notify the flight attendants that you have a cat in the cargo hold so that there’s less chance she will be left behind in case of an emergency landing or transfer.

Final thoughts

With these tips, we hope to make traveling with your cat less frightening and more of a smooth and predictable experience, for both yours and your cat’s sake! We know how traveling can be exhausting, especially with the added stress of your pet’s safety and mental state resting on your shoulders.

If you’ve recently adopted a new kitten, be sure to check up on our guide for preparing for a new kitten’s homecoming!