Spring is in full swing and it’s time to start planning your vacation, but while you’re outlining all your family fun, don’t furget your feline family member! It’s a common misconception that you can’t travel with a kitty, but we’re here to help you navigate that eventuality.
Furst Thing’s Furst: Preparing for Travel
It’s no secret that cats are creatures of habit, so it’s important to help yours acclimate to the idea of travel ahead of time. Studies suggest that giving your furry friend a one-month lead up is the ideal time period to ease her into an excursion.
Let’s start with the carrier. You’ll want to pick a case that is sturdy and large enough for her to stretch, stand up and easily move around. In order to make it clear the carrier is a safe space, leave it open in an area she frequents. This allows her to explore without the fear of being closed in immediately. Place a few of her favorite toys inside along with an item of clothing that smells like you. Once she’s comfortable with the case, try closing the door for a few seconds and then giving her a treat afterwards. This will help her associate the carrier with a positive outcome.
After she gets comfortable being inside, try taking her on short trial trips in the car so she’ll get used to the noises and sensation of being in transit. Remember to give her treats and love after these mini-trips.
Next, you’ll want to make sure your kitty’s tags are up to date. Your feline friend’s ID collar should have a few different tags: one with your contact info, and one tag for each of her vaccinations. Make sure to remove any charms or trinkets from her collar that may get snagged on her carrier while on the move.
If You’re Traveling by Car
Be sure to secure the carrier with a seatbelt. If your road trip is under six hours, your cat will be A-OK hanging out in her case, but if your time in the car will be longer than that, you’ll want to let her out occasionally to drink water and use the litter box when the car is stopped.
The easiest way to travel with a litter box is to purchase a disposable one which comes with litter already inside. If you think your cat needs to “go”: stop the car, place the box on the floorboard and let her do her business. Once she’s finished, you can just toss it in the trash.
If You’re Traveling by Plane
You’ll want to check in with your veterinarian several weeks before traveling to insure your kitty is healthy enough for the flight. She’ll need to be up to date on all of her vaccinations as airlines typically require health certificates (filled out by your vet) within 10 days of flying.
Furthermore, you should expect to pay an additional fee for your furry friend; typically, around $100. It should also be noted that if your cat is traveling in the cabin with you, her carrier counts as one of your carry-ons.
For additional travel-ease, try to book a non-stop flight if possible. Layovers could be difficult if your total trip time is longer than six hours. Your cat will start to get restless, need to use the litter box and want food and water.
Upon Your Arrival
Whether you’re staying in a home or a hotel, you don’t want to overwhelm your feline fur-baby with the run of the house. Cats prefer small spaces and like being near familiar scents and objects. We recommend taking her to a small room without other people and simply opening the carrier, allowing her to explore at her own pace. After all, she’s had a long, eventful day and this is her chance to relax in her new home-base. Once she seems accustomed to her new area; you can allow further exploration on a room-to-room basis.
Above all else, make sure your cat knows that she’s safe and supported by reassuring her with lots of cuddles and treats. Travel can be stressful for anyone (even pets), but if you plan ahead, you’ll leave your kitty feline fine.