How to Travel With a Cat

Are you unsure of what to do with your cat when you travel? Our Sharpsburg vets explain the best way to travel with a cat, how to travel long distances with a cat, and how to make the journey easier for your pet. 

Should I Travel With My Cat?

If you are planning to travel because of moving or vacation, you can travel with your cat as long as you consider how you’ll transport your feline friend and keep them safe. 

One thing to consider is whether your cat is up to date on their vaccines and parasite prevention. Each state has different regulations regarding vaccines for pets, but in most states keeping your pet's rabies vaccine current is the law. Be sure to schedule a visit to your veterinarian before you leave so that your cat's core vaccines can be brought up to date, your kitty can be vaccinated against any lifestyle diseases that are common in the place you are headed to, and any parasites can be treated or prevented.

Different Journeys & Preparations

Depending on your method of transportation and the length of the trip you are taking, there are different things you will need to consider and prepare for. In the section below, we cover how to travel with a cat by car, and how to travel with a cat on a plane, on a train, or ship. 

How To Travel With a Cat In a Car

Purchase a Suitable Cat Carrier

Cats are often uncomfortable when traveling in cars. Due to this, cats should be kept in a carrier for their safety and the safety of others around them. It is important to secure the carrier with a seat belt to keep it from bouncing around and hurting your cat.

Don't Put Your Cat in the Front Seat

Even when a cat is in a carrier, the deployment of airbags in the front seat can be dangerous for your pet. It is best to always keep your cat's carrier restrained in the back seat of your vehicle to protect them from harm.

Keep Your Cat's Head Inside the Vehicle

When a cat's head is sticking outside the window, they're at risk of debris striking them or the cold air harming their lungs. Never transport your cat in the back of an open pick-up truck.

Bring a Human Designated to Care for Them

If possible, it is best to have a human who can monitor and comfort your cat while they are riding in the back seat. This will help your cat feel comfortable during the journey.

If Your Journey is Longer Than Six Hours, They'll Need Litter

If your journey is less than six hours, your cat will most likely be fine in a standard carrier. If you need to keep your cat in their carrier for longer than six hours, you will need to give them space for a small litter box. Consult your vet before traveling for advice on the kind of kennel or carrier that will best suit your cat's needs for the journey.

Don't Ever Leave Your Cat in the Car Alone

Leaving a cat alone in a car is a serious health hazard because heat is a risk to pets. When it's 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour. On an 85-degree day, even with the windows slightly open, the temperature inside your car can reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes. Irreversible organ damage or death can occur after only 30 minutes. It is not worth the risk to leave your cat alone in a vehicle.

How to Travel with a Cat on a Plane

Do cats like to travel by air? The short answer, of course, is no. However, sometimes it cannot be avoided. Here are the things you should know about traveling with a cat by plane.

Air Travel Can be Dangerous for Cats

Air travel for cats can lead to oxygen deprivation or heat stroke in the worst cases. Persian cats are more susceptible to these effects, as are other animals with "smushed-in" faces.

Consider All Alternatives Before Flying

Since flying is so stressful for cats, we recommend taking another option if possible. Driving is generally superior to flying but if that is not possible there may be boarding options that can let your cat relax comfortably at a home away from home.

Chose an Airline that Will Allow Your Cat in the Cabin

For an additional fee, a handful of airlines will allow you to fly with your cat in the cabin with you. While most animals flown in the cargo area of airplanes are fine, sometimes accidents can happen. You should be aware that animals can be killed, injured, or lost on commercial flights. Excessively hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation, and rough handling are often to blame. In any case, you must inform the airline well in advance that you are bringing your cat with you. If you must travel with your animal in the cargo hold, research airlines and select one with a good reputation for animal handling.

How to Travel with a Cat on a Train

Some pets and service animals are permitted on trains. You will need to verify with the railway if pets are permitted on your train journey. If they are, then similar guidelines to traveling with a cat in a car apply. Passengers will be expected to exercise and feed their pets at train station stops.

How to Travel with a Cat on a Ship

Except for assistance and service dogs, pets are only welcome on a few cruise lines. Usually, they are only welcome specifically on ocean crossings. Some ships permit pets in private cabins, but most confine pets to kennels. If traveling by boat with a pet, contact your cruise line in advance of your trip to find out its policies and if it has kennel facilities. If you must use the ship's kennel, make sure it is protected from the elements and check on your pet frequently while on your trip.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Planning on traveling with your cat? We can help you prepare for your upcoming journey by making sure your kitty is up to date on their vaccines, free of parasites, and in good overall health. Contact East Coweta Veterinary Hospital today to book an examination for your feline friend.