Are you excited about the trip you are planning with your cat as a travel companion? Well, chances are your kitty does not share the enthusiasm.
Cats are “place-oriented” creatures of habit, and life on the road brings many unexpected moments. Therefore, for most cats traveling can be a huge stress trigger.
Luckily, there are several things you can do to take the stress out of cat travels – from purple blankets through calming soft chews to carrier training.
In this article, we will explain how to make life on the road less stressful for your cat and more guilt-free for you.
How to Prepare Your Cat for Traveling
Keep in mind that preparing your cat for traveling starts long before the day of the trip – it begins when your cat is still a young kitten and not afraid to step out of its comfort zone. Here are some practical tips.
Make the Carrier a Happy Place
The first thing you need to do is teach your cat to use the carrier. This will come in handy not just with cat travels but in many other situations, including vet visits. A study showed that carrier-trained cats are less stressed during transportation than cats unfamiliar with carriers’ concepts.
Interestingly, the environment within the carrier is essential. According to a study, “hues in the soft yellow to violet range” are considered fear-free colors for cats. In more practical terms, getting a yellow or purple blanket for the carrier might keep your cat more relaxed.
Put Some Effort into Leash Training
Leash training is probably the last thing you thought about when you became a cat owner. However, letting your cat stretch its legs freely while making a stop can be dangerous hence the leash training need.
Some cats get used to the leash right away, and with others, it takes extensive indoor practice before you can successfully make it to the backyard. However, with patience and positive reinforcement, everything is possible.
Get your Kitty a Microchip and an ID Collar
When stressed and spooked, cats can quickly bolt and get lost. Yes, accidents happen, and this is a possibility you need to be prepared about. To ensure your cat’s safe return, you need to have it microchipped and invest in an ID collar.
Cats are routinely microchipped while kittens. However, you should make sure the personal information carried within the microchip is accurate and up-to-date. As for the collar ID, you can put it on only when going out or traveling.
Plan Frequent Micro-Trips
Start with short trips that are close to home and do not have any specific destination. Micro-trips are beneficial for your cat as they will help her get used to spending time in the car and being on the road.
Micro-trips are also beneficial for you. Namely, they can help with the travel logistics – reveal which points of the travel you have well-covered and if there are potential issues you have not considered before making the trip. Once you have mastered the art of micro-trips, you will be ready for the real deal.
Learn how to Speak Cat Language
Nobody knows and understands your cat better than you. We are not saying that you should become a cat whisperer, but you should be able to pick up the signs indicating your cat needs a break – to potty, to eat, or simply to stretch its body.
Reading your cat or speaking its language is not something you can learn overnight. It takes time, patience, and practice – the more traveling you and your cat do together, the easier it will become to notice its body language.
Do not Forget to Pack your Cat’s Bag
You need to have a cat travel bag to pack essential items like collapsible food and water bowls, an extra leash and collar, cat-friendly wipes, a litter tray and litter, and some dehydrated cat food and treats.
It is also recommended to have a first-aid box with some disinfectant solution, wound cleaner, antibiotic ointment, activated charcoal, cotton balls and swabs, bandage tapes, gauze pads, self-adhesive bandage cover, blunt-tip scissors, tick remover, and nail clippers.
Use Calm Cat Soft Chews
The Honest Paws calm cat chews are essential when it comes to cat travels. The soft chews are made in the USA using globally sourced natural ingredients like chamomile flower powder, passionflower, organic full-spectrum CBD oil, and silvervine.
Each ingredient is carefully selected because of its stress-relieving features and mixed in a blend that promotes calmness. Plus, featuring cat-friendly salmon flavor, the soft chews are enticing even for a cat with a sophisticated palate.
Traveling with Your Cat by Plane
With the basics of travel preparation covered, we give some more specific tips on traveling by plane.
Choose the Traveling Option
Depending on the airline policy, your cat can travel in the cabin with you or in the cargo hold. Obviously, option number one is more desirable, but it is not always possible. Some airlines charge extra for the service, and others do not allow it all.
Get an Airline-Approved Carrier
Airline-approved carriers have specific dimensions and are relatively small since they need to fit below the seat. If you are not sure whether your carrier is acceptable, it is best to call the airline and get the required specifics.
Make sure you Get to the Airport Early
Some airlines limit the number of pets in the cabin and work on a first-come-first-served basis. Therefore, it is highly advisable to arrive early at the airport and secure your cat’s place in the cabin.
Prepare the Carrier
The carrier needs to be adequately adapted in case your cat needs to go into the cargo space. By adapted, we mean well-padded with soft blankets and an absorbent in case your cat tends to urinate while inside. Also, put a label with your information on the carrier – your cat is the one luggage that must not get lost.
Have your Cat’s Paperwork with You
All airlines require a pet passport and documents confirming your cat’s vaccination status. Depending on where you are going, there can be additional requirements like dewormers or anti-flea preventives.
Cover the Carrier
Once you and your cat are inside the plane, you should cover the carrier with a blanket. Cats are calmer when they cannot see what is going on around them. Plus, dim light settings are naturally more relaxing for cats.
Traveling with Your Cat by Car
If traveling by plane is not an option and you and your cat are going by car, we have you covered. Here are some detailed car travel tips.
Choose the Right Carrier
The first thing you need to do is get a high-quality and preferably crash-proof carrier. The size of the carrier is essential – it should be big enough to let your cat feel comfy yet small enough to be easily portable. And do not forget to cover the carrier’s floor with a purple blanket.
Secure the Carrier
Safety comes first, and seatbelts are a must during car drives. The same applies to your cat. Make sure the carrier is well-secured and fastened with the seatbelt.
Skip Breakfast on the Day of the Travel
Everybody can get nauseous while driving, including cats. To prevent vomiting in the carrier, we recommend skipping breakfast on the day your car travel begins. If your kitty has motion sickness, talk to your vet about proper medication.
Make Frequent Stops
If the trip is supposed to last more than 6 hours, you should make a stop schedule. You need to take your cat outside the carrier during the stops and let it stretch (while on a leash). This is also an excellent time to give your cat a treat or water and let it relieve itself (there are special disposable litter boxes).
Have your Cat’s Paperwork on Hand
If you are crossing state lines, you must have your cat’s complete paperwork with you. Before leaving, it is recommended you visit the vet and check whether your cat is up-to-date with its shots, dewormers, and anti-flea treatments.
Never Leave Your Cat in a Hot Car
This is particularly true during hot summer days. Cats are prone to heat stress, and spending time in a hot car with A/C off is a recipe for disaster. If making a stop for eating, make sure the dinner is pet-friendly so you can take your cat with you.
The Benadryl Conundrum
Benadryl has a mild sedative and anti-motion sickness effect and is available over-the-counter. Although efficient, Benadryl has a bitter taste, and forcing a pill into the cat’s throat can be stressful. We strongly recommend talking to your vet before self-medicating.
Our Final Thoughts
All in all, cats can make lively and enjoyable travel companions as long as you put some effort into making travels a pleasant experience.
In fact, traveling with your cat is an excellent physical and mental stimulation for your pet and a great way of strengthening your mutual bond.
Luckily, with some advance planning and covering the cat travel logistics, you and your cat can become an adventuring duo.
We hope this article has brought you and your cat one step closer to your long-planned travel.