If you have a fur baby, the chances are that you love the idea of bringing it with you wherever you go. However, if that fur baby is a cat, then traveling should not be taken lightly. Most cats are notoriously poor travelers and do not like being forced out of their comfort zone. It is inevitable that reasons for travel will occur, and who can leave their best friend behind? Know that there are things you can do ahead of time to help your cat be a better traveler, whether internationally or across town.
There are a few things that you should start thinking about well in advance of your trip if you want to take your feline friend with you. Here’s a look at some of the essential things you need to consider.
Consider whether you really need to travel with a cat
The first thing to consider is that cats aren’t like dogs. An important thing that people often overlook when trying to help their cat be a better traveler is that cats are extremely territorial animals, which means that they don’t enjoy going to new places.
Cats feel mosts comfortable when they are in familiar surroundings, seeing familiar sights and smelling familiar smells. Travel is highly likely to cause your cat panic and distress, so it’s important that you only travel with them if really necessary. If you are going away for a short period of time, a better option would be to arrange for a friend or family member to check on them while you are away or even pay a pet sitter to come and stay in your house with them. This task is a lot easier when looking after a cat than a dog, due to how independent your pet likely is. It will still need to be checked up on every day, with it’s litter boxed emptied regularly and it’s food and water topped up.
Consider your cat’s personality
Take a minute to evaluate your cat’s personality. Is your cat friendly and outgoing or very suspicious of strangers? Is it independent or does it follow you around the house much of the time? Has your cat been handled frequently, especially when young? If an indoor cat, does your cat long to go outside?
Generally, cats that are exposed to different environments during their lifetime can turn out to be good travelers. Also, cats that welcome visitors and new experiences may surprise you with their willingness to travel.
If you have a cat that is very independent, prefers its own company rather than the company of others and shows signs of territorial dominance, you will need to spend more time to help your cat be a better traveler.
How healthy is your cat?
Another thing to consider when planning travel is whether or not your cat is in good physical shape. If they aren’t, then traveling could put them at risk.
If your cat has a chronic health condition, they are overweight, or they are advanced in years, then traveling is likely to be difficult for them.
How do you know whether your pet is overweight enough to constitute a health risk? Some breeds are naturally heavier than others. Diamond Pet has provided a detailed source about if an overweight cat is an unhealthy cat which will give you a better idea on this.
Closely related to the health of your cat, you also need to visit your veterinarian to ensure that your cat is fit to travel, up to date on any vaccinations, treatments and health certificates that it needs for travel, primarily if you’re traveling internationally, as many countries won’t let live animals enter unless their pet import requirements are met. It’s a good idea to get your cat vaccinated for rabies, feline calicivirus, feline panleukopenia (enteritis), feline rhinotracheitis before an international trip for it’s own safety, as there can be harmful diseases in other countries that it might not be protected against.
Keeping your cat comfortable while traveling
If you are going to be traveling with your cat, then it’s important to do all that you can to keep them comfortable. As cats gain a lot of their knowledge about what’s going on around them by smell, a good way to do this is by surrounding them with familiar smells while they are traveling.
So, if they have a favorite blanket or toy, be sure to put these in with them, and if you’re going to be using a travel pet crate or carrier, then have it in the house for a few weeks or more before you travel. Encourage your cat to sleep in it if you can. This will help the cat build up an association to the carrier and feel more safe and comfortable going inside it. It might also be worth using a different carrier when taking the cat to the vet, so that it doesn’t build up any negative connotations with the case you intend to travel with. If you’re traveling over a long distance, be sure to let your cat out of it’s carrier every now and again to stretch its legs to help with circulation but to also release some energy that it may have built up. Be sure to use a cat lead, so that you don’t lose it.
Flying with a cat
If you’re going to be flying with your cat, it’s important that you check your airline’s pet policies on pet travel as soon as possible so that you have time to plan everything you need to. Each different airline will have its own rules about whether they allow pet travel, and if they do, whether your pet will be allowed to be carried on as hand luggage or whether they will have to be put in the hold. If your cat has to be put on hold, consider how it might react to that. The hold of a plane can be loud a little chilly, creating a distressing environment, so if you haven’t booked a ticket yet, do try to find an airline that will allow your cat to travel in the cabin, as this will be more comfortable for them. There are also likely to be rules about the size of pet carrier that is permitted, but usually, most cat cases are fine due to their petite size.
They will generally require that pets be fully vaccinated and that you acquire a health certificate from your vet to confirm that they are in good health.
Every cat owner wants to help their cat be a better traveler when the time to relocate arrives. Time and patience are a must, especially if your cat is overly independent and territorial. Dothe best you can to prepare your cat ahead of time. Every minute you spend will pay off come travel day.