Cats are notoriously independent creatures, but that doesn't mean they don't prefer being with you if you're going away! If you're planning on taking a fun trip with your feline friend, you'll want to research the best ways to do so. Here, our Rochester vets share how to travel with your cat for a safe, stress-free trip.
Traveling With Your Cat By Car
If you plan on traveling with your cat in a car, below are a few tips to help make the trip run as smoothly as possible.
Get a Carrier for Your Cat
Cats are generally uncomfortable traveling in cars and should be kept in a carrier for their safety and yours. You need to secure the carrier with a seat belt to keep it from bouncing around and hurting your cat.
Don't Keep Your Kitty in the Front Seat
Even when in a carrier, the deployment of airbags in the front seat can be dangerous for your pet - which is why you should always keep your kitty's carrier restrained in the back seat(s) of your car.
Make Sure Your Cat's Head Stays Inside the Vehicle
If your 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.
Take Someone Else With You to Care for Them
If possible, you should have a person in the vehicle with you to monitor and comfort your cat, riding with them in the back seat. This will help make your cat more comfortable on the journey.
Bring Kitty Litter if Your Journey Is Longer Than 6 Hours
If your drive is less than 6 hours, then your cat will probably be fine in a standard carrier. If your cat will have to be in their carrier longer than that, you will need a larger accommodation that has space for a small litter box. We suggest talking to your vet before your trip to get advice on the type of kennel or carrier that will be best for your pet.
Never Leave Your Cat Alone in the Car
Leaving a cat in a vehicle alone is a serious health hazard. Heat is a risk to pets and a short time for you could be an eternity for your feline companion. When it's 72° Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour. On an 85° day, even with the windows slightly open, the temperature inside your car can reach 102° in just 10 minutes. Irreversible organ damage or death is possible after only 30 minutes alone in a vehicle - even if you don't expect it to take that long to return, the risk isn't worth it.
Traveling With Your Cat on a Plane
Do cats like to travel by air? The answer is typically no, but sometimes it can't be avoided. Here are some things you should know about traveling with a cat by plane.
It Can Be Dangerous for Cats to Travel in the Air
For animals, air travel could potentially result in oxygen deprivation or heat stroke. Perisian cats in particular are susceptible to these effects, as are other animals with "smushed-in" faces.
Consider Alternative Options Before Flying
Because flying is very stressful for cats, we recommend taking another option if possible. Driving is generally superior to flying, and there might be boarding options available that can let your cat relax comfortably and safely while you are gone.
Select an Airline That Allows Your Cat in the Cabin
Most airlines will let your cat fly with you in the cabin for an additional fee. While most animals are generally fine flying in the cargo area of airplanes, you should know that some animals are killed, injured, or lost on commercial flights every year. Excessively hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation, and rough handling are often to blame. In either 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.
If You See Something, Say Something
If you see any mistreatment of an animal by an airline, yours or otherwise, make sure you say something about it! You could save a life.
Traveling With Your Cat on a Train
Many trains permit some pets and service animals. You will have 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 cat(s) at station stops.
Traveling With Your Cat on a Boat
Except for assistance dogs, only a few cruise lines welcome pets—and usually on ocean crossings only. Some lines permit pets in private cabins, but most confine pets to kennels. Contact your cruise line in advance to find out its policies and which of its ships have kennel facilities. If you must use the ship's kennel, make sure it is protected from the elements and check on your pet frequently.
The Benefits of Cat Boarding
Some boarding facilities, such as the one we offer at Ridgemont Animal Hospital, can also provide veterinary care and observation, as well as administer any medications your cat may need. This can be especially helpful with older pets or those that need medical attention.
Other benefits include knowing that your pet will have a daily routine with food and exercise, scheduled for the same time each day. For dogs, there is also an opportunity to socialize with others (both dogs and humans). Cats will often be spoiled with frequent visits by staff.