Unlike dogs, most cats don’t make great traveling companions. To put it bluntly, they are usually completely freaked out by it. Because their dislike of it is so intense, it’s best not to put them through it, unless you absolutely have to. Obviously, there will be times where it just can’t be avoided. When those situations arise, make your life and your favorite feline’s a little bit easier by following these simple tips for traveling with cats.
For long car trips the burning question is often whether or not to leave your cat in its pet crate or to allow it to roam free. While you, as the pet owner, will be the best judge of your particular cat’s traveling tolerance, it is generally recommended that you leave your pet crated. Due to this, you may want to get a larger crate for this type of trip than, say, for airline travel where storage space is limited. Also, make sure you can secure it in case of an accident.
Unless your cat has demonstrated a propensity to come unhinged at any type of travel, most vets and many airlines say no to sedating pets during travel. In order to remain calm and carry on you should include in his or her crate a small blanket or towel with your scent on it and any toys he or she may be fond of. Items from home that represent stability can go a long way towards calming them. Placing your cat where he or she can see you may help, too.
Feeding Your Pet
Just like medical procedures, you don’t want to feed your cat just prior to travel. As a matter of fact, on your maiden voyage with kitty it’s a good idea to limit their last meal to at least six hours before departure. Carsickness can hit cats just as easily as humans and dogs. It’s also a good idea to make that last meal a dry one consisting of kibble and restrict water to a small amount. If they do well, you can introduce a little more of each during the trip, but don’t overdo it until you know how well they’re tolerating movement.
Pet Harnesses & Leashes
Yes, it’s odd to see a cat on a leash, but if you need to let your cat out to do his or her business on the road, you’ll need a pet harness and a leash to ensure they don’t run off, and believe me when I say they will if you don’t. A cat’s first instinct when it’s freaked is to bolt and hide, where as a dog will often look to its owner for safety and reassurance. Make sure the harness fits properly before leaving town.
Pet Health Certificates
Air travel definitely requires health certificates for pets, but even crossing borders by automobile can necessitate adherence to this rule. Save yourself the hassle and check the requirements for your route and destination and schedule a visit with your vet for an exam and any shots they may require. You’ll need a dated certificate proving that this has all been done before you leave. Also, make sure their tags are up to date and on their collar.
When traveling by air it’s a good idea to plan and book your trip well in advance when bringing pets along. That’s because many airlines don’t allow animals to be stowed in cargo holds anymore and there are strict limits on the number of pets allowed in the cabin. Even if you find an airline that does allow cargo storage, if you have a brachycephalic cat, don’t do it. Their little smashed faces with their shortened noses should not be subjected to those travel conditions.
By following these tips you can make a potentially stressful situation a whole lot easier. Happy trails!