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CAT / training & behavior

How to Travel with a Cat


Have a cat? Plan to travel? Though most cats aren’t as portable as dogs tend to be, a little planning will help ensure your feline gets where you’re going with fewer bumps along the way. 


Tips for Traveling with a Cat: 


Call Ahead - Call ahead of time to make sure cats are allowed at any hotels where you’ll be staying. If you’re visiting (or renting) someone’s home, be sure the owners allow visitors to bring cats.


Talk to Your Vet - Check with your vet well before the trip. Your cat may need certain shots, especially if you are traveling outside the U.S. Ask your vet for a current health certificate you can bring as proof that your cat is up-to-date on all vaccinations. They also might have tips for keeping your cat safe or how to mitigate the stress of travel and being in a new place


Make Sure Your Cat is Healthy - Do not travel with your cat unless they are healthy. The increase in stress could have a negative impact on their condition or put them at risk. 


Bring all the Supplies - Remember to bring your regular cat supplies like their food and cat treats. Bring a disposable litter box or arrange for one at your destination. A crate and pad, cat food bowls, some familiar toys and a blanket will help make your cat comfortable and will be a reminder of home.


Keep Them Hydrated - Provide plenty of water and make sure your cat stays hydrated while traveling.


Exercise Your Cat - Exercise your cat right before you leave. Use a laser pointer or other cat toys to run them around and tire them out. Doing this might help burn some excess energy, so they do not feel as stressed. 


Driving with Your Cat in the Car: 


Use a Carrier - Never let cats roam free in your vehicle; they can get startled or distracted and cause accidents. A cat carrier is a must at all times. Choose a hard-sided carrier just big enough for your cat to stand, lie down and turn around in. Secure the carrier in the backseat with a seatbelt.


Don’t Let Them Overheat - Never leave a cat in a warm vehicle, not even with the windows down. Bring your cat — in their carrier — with you if you get out of the car.


Plan to Make Stops - Stop every few hours to make sure your cat has access to water and a litter box. Doing this will minimize the likelihood of an accident in their carrier. 


Plan for Their Stress - If your cat is prone to stress or has a hard time with changes in their routine, then you might want to ask your vet if there is anything you can do to prepare your cat for the trip. Vets will sometimes prescribe your cat something to help them calm down. There are also calming products that might be able to help your cat maintain a calm disposition.


Use a Harness - if you plan to let your cat get out of their carrier and stretch their legs during a pit stop, then you need to make sure they cannot get away from you. A cat harness and cat leash can be a great way to let your kitty stretch and move while keeping them close by. 


Flying with Your Cat:


Check with The Airline - Check well ahead of time to be sure the airline will let you fly with your cat in the main cabin, and ask what size and type of carrier you’ll need. It’s important to follow all of their rules for a smooth experience. 


Avoid the Cargo Hold - Try your best to avoid traveling with your cat in the cargo hold. If your cat absolutely must travel in the plane’s cargo hold, clear it with your vet first. Do not travel in very hot or cold weather; the cargo area in a plane may not be climate-controlled.


Add Identifying Information - Add a cat ID tag to your cat’s carrier with your name, phone number and address (both your home address and the address of your destination) in case your pet is lost or misplaced in transit.


No Tranquilizers - Do not give your cat a tranquilizer. Some research suggests that it can have a negative effect on the animal’s body temperature and blood pressure while in the air. 


Avoid Food - Try not to feed your cat food just before flying. Cats can sometimes get upset tummies in the air, and you don’t want to have to clean that up while you’re in the sky. 


While traveling with your cat might add some extra steps to your routine, it can be fun to bring your cat along. You have a buddy for your journey and have them with you wherever you go. Just make sure to take all the right precautions and steps to keep your cat safe, happy and healthy. 


After reading all of this, if you feel that traveling may not be the best option for your feline friend, PetSmart offers PetsHotel as another option for cat parents. Your cat can stay at the PetSmart PetsHotel for the duration of your travels and then you can pick up your kitty as soon as you return home!