It’s Travel Season! Can you travel with a cat?

by Rita Reimers

“Wanna go for a ride?”

Say these words to a dog and he’ll be running for the door faster then you can put on your shoes. Say them to a cat and, well, you’re in for a challenge! Take it from me; I drove cross- country with my six kitties when I relocated from South Carolina to California. That was FOUR DAYS in the car! While cats are hardly the happy travelers that dogs are, with a little planning and preparation you can make traveling with kitty a safe and relatively painless experience. If I can do it, so can you!

Before you leave:

• However you are traveling (car, plane, or train), be sure you get a carrier that fits the situation. Larger is not always better, as cats tend to feel more secure when in small spaces. Be sure to line your carrier with absorbent pads in lieu of a litter box; most cats will not use the box when inside a carrier. Also include bedding from home so the carrier has some comforting and familiar smells. It also helps to let your cat play inside the carrier by leaving it out for a few weeks before your trip. The carrier then becomes a safe and familiar place for her.
• Get your cat microchipped and also make sure she is wearing a collar with an ID tag. On the off chance your cat gets lost, having these things will help reunite you and your cat as quickly as possible.
• If you are traveling internationally, well before your trip you should research the requirements of bringing your cat. Some countries require a lengthy quarantine period, as well as proof of vaccinations, before your cat can accompany you.
• Ask your veterinarian for a mild sedative just in case your cat needs some help relaxing during the trip.
• If your trip spans several days and includes over night stops, go to http://www.petswelcome.com/ to find hotels where pets are welcome and accommodations are equipped to handle their needs.

During the trip:

• Your cat may cry and become agitated during the trip, and you may want to medicate her. Talk to her in soothing tones, and offer some treats and some toys from home to help keep her calm. She may just settle down and go to sleep with no need for medication.
• If you are driving, never let her loose inside the car. She could climb under the seats or get under your feet as you are driving and cause an accident. Keep her inside her carrier, or set up a cage or larger crate in the back seat where she can roam about securely. If you do the latter, be sure you use a small carrier to take her to and from the car.
• When you stop at a hotel for the night, and also when you arrive at your final destination, make sure the room where you are staying has no loose wallboard or open ventilation ducts where your cat could hide or escape. Check this BEFORE you let your cat out of her carrier. If you spot a potential problem, ask for another room.

Pay special attention to your cat once you arrive at your final destination to make sure she handled the trip unscathed and that she is settling into her new surroundings well. Offer her some of her favorite foods and treats, and make sure she is eating and acting normally. As long as she is with you, she should come through the journey with flying colors and will be happily purring on your lap no matter where you two may roam.

Editors note: Cats are such creatures of habit and love their own territories so much that travel can become stressful. A good alternative to taking kitty along is to leave her at home and hire a professional pet sitting service, such as Cats90210, to care for your cat in the comfort of her very own home.





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