When I think about traveling with pets, I admit I usually think about dogs, because most of our pets have been dogs. Of the few cats we had, none of them ever went on vacation with us.
However, our younger son and his wife have traveled throughout the US with their cat. And another friend recently asked what I know about traveling with pets, in her case, also a cat. So I decided this is a topic I should research.
by Dwight Sipler via WikiMedia Commons
The first suggestion I found for traveling with a cat was DON’T. Unless you are moving or plan an extremely long trip, find a nice pet sitter and let Miss Kitty stay at home where she’s more comfortable.
But if you are moving or absolutely must take Mr. Buddy along, be sure to get a crate that’s big enough for him to stand up, stretch, and turn around in.
Well before your trip, put it on the floor at home where he can sniff, walk around, and maybe go inside. You might place some treats inside to make it more appealing. And put a bathmat or something soft in the bottom – something that smells like “home.”
It’s also a good idea to put a harness (with an ID tag including your cell phone number) on the cat for a few days before your trip, so she gets used to wearing it. And if you’ve never used a leash with her, practice this a few times too. You might just let it drag around after her in the house – she’ll probably want to pounce on it!
by KB via WikiMedia Commons
Most of our tips are about traveling by car, but if you plan to fly, first decide whether Mr. Buddy will travel in the cabin with you or in the cargo area. Most airlines allow only a few animals in the cabin – some not any at all – and you usually have to pay for this privilege, so be sure to check with the airline you will be using. Also get written confirmation from whoever tells you that your cat is allowed to travel in the cabin. This might come in handy at check-in!
Next, be sure to have an approved crate – again, check with the airline to be sure. Have your pet’s health and immunization certificate, as well as your name and contact information, both with you and attached to the crate. And especially if the cat will be in the cargo area, be sure the crate is strong enough to withstand being dropped, as well as padded on all sides. If at all possible, wait until you get to your destination to take the cat out of the crate, attaching the leash first.
by Chachacha369 via WikiMedia Commons
Most of those tips also apply if you’re traveling by automobile, and there are a few more. Secure Miss Kitty in the crate, then buckle the crate into the seatbelt. Include her bed if she has one, and that old t-shirt or whatever, so she won’t get too stressed.
Depending on the length of the trip, that may be all you need to do until you arrive at your destination. But if the trip is longer, be sure to bring plenty of water from home and a litter box – or several disposable litter boxes – and food as well, but don’t put these in the crate – have them in a box on the floor or in the trunk.
When you’re ready for a break, park the car, fasten a leash to the harness (never a collar) and then let the cat out into the closed car. (Make sure the harness has some kind of ID tag, even if the cat has a microchip.) Then carefully exit the car while holding the cat and the leash. When you’re at a safe location, you can put Miss Kitty down, let her wander safely, give her some water, let her use the litter box, and stretch her legs.
by Helgi Halldorsson via WikiMedia Commons
Don’t feed Mr. Buddy before you leave or while you are driving – one feeding when you’re settled for the night will be enough.
If your trip includes an overnight in a hotel, it’s best to call the hotel directly to verify that they do allow cats. LaQuinta is the only hotel that I know of that allows dogs and cats at all their locations without a fee.
There’s a site called petswelcome.com that lists hotels in major cities that allow pets, which pets are allowed, and how much the pet fee is. Believe it or not, there are a number of hotels that allow dogs but not cats – sorry! But again, be sure to check with the hotel directly rather than relying on information on a website – they may have a new manager who’s allergic to cats!
by Entershikarisim via WikiMedia Commons
All hotels recommend that pets be crated when you are not in the room, and many forbid you from leaving them in the room alone at all.
Regardless of whether your pet is a dog or a cat, be sure to get down on the floor and look EVERYWHERE for anything that might be swallowed.
Especially in the case of cats, also be sure there aren’t any holes anywhere large enough for Miss Kitty or Mr. Buddy to squeeze in.
You really don’t want to call Maintenance to take down a wall to get the cat out…
One last tip: check with your vet before you leave to see if he or she recommends a sedative for your cat or dog during the trip.
Pets are members of our family, and they often travel with us. It’s important to make their trip as pleasant and comfortable as possible, which makes ours better too! Tell us about traveling with your pets!