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How to Travel With a Cat: Tips for a Low-Stress Trip

Planning for vacation can be stressful enough, this can be even more true if you have pets at home. Do cats like to travel? Here, Our vets at Marcello Veterinary Hospital talk about how to prepare to travel with your cat and how to travel with a cat in a car, train, boat or plane.

Should I travel with my cat?

Traveling with a pet requires planning. The very first thing you should do is schedule an appointment with the vet for an examination, vaccinations and parasite prevention.

Different states have different regulations regarding vaccines for pets, but in most states, it is required by law for your pet's rabies vaccines to be up to date. So 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.

What is the best way to travel with a cat?

If you decide to bring your furry friend with you then you will need to consider how to travel a long distance with a cat. Here we talk about how to travel using different modes of transportation:

Traveling by Car with Your Cat

  • Purchase a Suitable Cat Carrier. Cats are generally uncomfortable traveling in cars and should be kept in a carrier for their safety and yours. 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 in a carrier, the deployment of airbags in the front seat can be dangerous for your pet - for this reason, it is best to always keep your cat's carrier restrained in the back seat(s) of your vehicle.
  • Keep Your Cat's Head 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.
  • Bring a Human Designated to Care for Them. If possible, it is best to have a human who is there to monitor and comfort your cat riding with them in the back seat. This will help your cat feel comfortable during the journey.
  • If Your Journey is Longer than 6 hours, They'll Need Litter. If your journey by car is shorter than 6 hours, then your cat will most likely be fine in a standard carrier. You can consult your vet on best practices for fitting a litter box in the same crate or kennel as your cat.
  • Don't Ever Leave Your Cat in the Car Alone. Leaving a cat alone in a car 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 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour, even with the windows slightly open.

How to Travel with a Cat on a Plane

  • Air Travel Can be Dangerous for Cats. Air travel can lead to oxygen deprivation or heat stroke in animals. Perisian cats in particular are susceptible to these effects, as are other animals with "smushed-in" faces.
  • Consider All Alternatives Before Flying. Because flying is so stressful for cats, we recommend taking another option if possible. Driving is generally superior to flying, there may be boarding options available that can let your cat relax comfortably at a home away from home.
  • Choose an Airline that Will Allow Your Cat in the Cabin. Many airlines will allow you to fly with your cat in the cabin with you, for an additional fee. While most animals flown in the cargo area of airplanes are fine, you should be aware that some animals are killed, injured, or lost on commercial flights each year. Excessively hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation, and rough handling are often to blame. You must inform them well in advance that you are bringing a cat with you.
  • 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.

How to Travel with a Cat on a Train

Some pets and service animals are permitted on many trains. 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.

How to Travel with a Cat on a Ship

Except for assistance dogs, pets are welcome on only a few cruise lines—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.

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.

Before you set off for your vacation with your feline friend, protect them by making sure their vaccinations are up-to-date. Contact our vets at Marcello Veterinary Hospital to get started today.

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Marcello Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Louisiana companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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