How to Travel Safely with Cats | PetFirst
Safely traveling with Cats
Pet Care & Health

How to Travel Safely with Cats

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
2 years ago

Who wants to be in a car on a long road trip with cats? Not many of you raised your hand, right? It seems that most cats only leave their houses and go into a car when they are going to the veterinarian. The rest of the time, cats happily reside inside their homes, rarely stepping foot outside.

Whether you travel with your cats, like I do, or if you only take your cat outside when you’re going to the vet, we have tips for how to travel safely with cats.

Unlike dogs who will bound for the car the moment you say, “Who wants to go for a ride!” cats will likely run away when they see the cat carrier coming out of the closet. If you don’t want to wrestle your cat into a carrier and listen to him howl the entire ride, you may want to take more frequent trips. If your cat associates cat carrier with car ride with the “scary” veterinarian, it’s understandable why you end up with scratched up arms.

How to safely travel with cats

Practice makes perfect; this may not make sense, but if you expose your cat to his carrier throughout the year, he may get accustomed to seeing it. If you leave your cat’s carrier in an easily accessible spot, you may be able to show him it’s not an item to be feared. Feed your cat in proximity of the carrier. Move the dish closer every few days until it’s bumping up against it and your cat shows no fear of it.

Put a few treats into the carrier, show your kitty they are in there and leave him to decide whether he’s hungry or motivated enough to get in and get them. Consider putting his food bowl in the carrier. Put the carrier in his favorite patch of sun. Make the carrier part of his every day routine and it won’t be such a struggle to get him in it when you have to get in the car.

Take car trips. Once your cat is accustomed to the carrier, take him for short trips. If your cat takes short trips that don’t result in him having to go to the veterinarian, he may not howl as loudly when you’re traveling with him.

Microchip or collar and tag. You can get a cat accustomed to wearing a collar if you start when she’s young. If your cat wears a flea collar you should be able to get her to wear a cat safety collar. When she wears her collar make certain it has an identification tag with your current contact information on it.

As a back-up, before you travel with your cat, you may want to have her microchipped. A microchip is ideal if your cat gets lost only if the person who finds her knows enough to take your cat to get scanned and if the chip is universal enough that the vet or shelter scanning it has a scanner that will recognize it. That being said, having a collar and a microchip may up the changes of your getting your cat back if she escapes. 

Secure the carrier. When you put your cat in the carrier in the car, secure the carrier with the seatbelt. This will prevent him from getting injured if you need to stop quickly. This will also protect him if there is a car accident.

Start young. The younger your cat is when you expose him to car travel, the more likely he is to grow accustomed to traveling this way.

I started traveling with my Devon Rexes when they were young, just three months old. One of them cried for the first trip; the other never made a peep. Now, both of them go into their carriers and are quiet for the four-hour car trips we take every couple of months. We have one cat, our sixteen-year-old senior, who has only taken car trips to the vet’s office until the past year when we tried taking him on the four-hour trip to our other house. He is terrified and because he is old and set in his ways, we now leave him home with a family member and he’s happier for it.

Also, don’t forget to take kitty litter and a disposable litter box. Plan how you would let your cat out of the carrier to use a litter box and practice that at home; you don’t want to be at a roadside stop trying to figure out the logistics!

Take your cat’s medical records. If you’re traveling, you need to have your cat’s up-to-date medical records as well as his cat health insurance records and policy number. If your cat gets ill or injured while you’re away from your regular veterinarian you need to have his medical records so he can be treated.

When you’re traveling with cats for a vacation, you will want to take their food and any treats they enjoy with you. Take other familiar items from home – their bed, a favorite toy or other item that may make them comfortable when you arrive at your destination. 

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

Robbi Hess is a full-time pet blogger and multi-published author. She shares her life with a diva Poodle, a goofy Goldendoodle, two Devon Rex, a senior ginger kitty and three reptiles!

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