Traveling with Cats This Summer
July 1st, 2017
Time for a road trip! You must be all excited and ready to go. Your cat is purring loudly and can’t wait to jump in the car. It’s going to be an incredible trip. Nothing can go wrong, or can it?
Likely this ideal scenario does not reflect reality; we all wish we could load up the car and head on out without a care in the world. In case you haven’t heard the horror stories about cat travels, you may want to know that cats aren’t exactly the biggest fans of car rides. That said, being well-prepared is your best bet to have a trip that is as stress-free as humanly possible, and you and your feline friend may end up having a decent time after all!
The earlier you start preparing for your trip, the better. Try to take your kitty on short car rides ahead of time to acclimatize him/her. Make sure you compile a list of pet-friendly facilities in the event you need to stop overnight on the way. Also, make sure you have a portable or disposable litter box. You need to ensure that your kitty can answer nature’s calls!
Don’t forget the trip to the veterinarian, especially if you are traveling out of state. Requirements vary by states, but most will require health certificates and current rabies vaccinations.
Make sure you have your kitty’s food, water, dishes, extra treats, toys, and comfort items. You will probably need extra trash bags, paper towels, and wet wipes. Think of everything important to your furry friend. Oh, and don’t forget to take a camera with you to capture every precious moment.
Training your cat to walk on a secure harness and leash is a great idea if your cat is amenable to that. We trained our tiny six-pound cat, Echo, to tolerate her harness, and we let her walk around at all the rest stops when traveling throughout the state of Washington. She enjoyed leaving her carrier behind, romping in the sunshine, and cuddling with us. Find a harness that is secure, and be aware that cats can fold themselves into amazing origami shapes to escape from the harness. You can ask your vet or an expert at your local pet store about purchasing an appropriately-sized harness for your cat. We recommend practicing with the harness at home well ahead of your trip.
Get a Pet ID Tag
Hundreds and hundreds of animals end up in shelters because their owners never thought they would become lost on a trip. A form of pet identification helps anyone who finds your cat to locate you and reunite you with your precious feline. Microchipping your cat before travel is highly recommended.
Small Pet Carrier
Leaving your pet loose in a car is an absolute no-no! Always travel with your cat in a carrier or crate. Your kitty will feel much more secure if confined, especially if you include padding and throw in an item or toy he/she loves. The best size carrier is one where the cat can get up and turn around, but not much larger than that.
Make sure to secure your carrier using a seat belt, and place it where there is good ventilation. In the unlikely event of an accident, you wouldn't want your kitty getting loose, or worse yet, getting lost!
Never Leave Your Cat Unattended in the Car
Don’t ever underestimate how hot it gets in a car. Never leave your cat unattended in your vehicle, not even with windows slightly down. Don’t risk overheating your cat!
If All Else Fails, Medicate. And Enjoy Your Trip!
If your voyage is more one of necessity than pleasure, and your cat is not a lover of car travel, talk to your veterinarian about options for medicating your cat. There are some over the counter remedies, as well as prescription medications, designed to alleviate feline anxiety. It is important to try out the medication on your cat well before your trip to assess how your cat reacts to the medication. The better prepared you are, the easier your trip will be. Don’t forget to bring along plenty of tasty treats and a good sense of humor!
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