If you're thinking of traveling with your cat, you might be wondering how to make the journey stress-free. Today, the North Madison Animal Hospital veterinarians provide guidance on traveling smoothly with your cat.
Preparing For Any Trip With Your Cat
Are you thinking of traveling with your cat? Whether you're relocating, going on a trip, or just visiting somewhere, proper planning is essential.
One essential point to consider is whether your cat is up-to-date on their vaccines and parasite prevention. Different states have different regulations regarding vaccines for pets, but in most states keeping your pet's rabies vaccine current is the law. 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, your kitty can be vaccinated against any lifestyle diseases that are common in the place you are headed to, and any parasites can be treated or prevented.
Different Journeys & Different Preparations
Depending on how you're traveling and how long the journey is, you'll have different things to think about and get ready. In the sections below, we'll discuss traveling with a cat in a car, on a plane, and even on a train or ship.
Traveling by Car with Your Cat
Purchase a Suitable Cat Carrier
Cats usually don't enjoy car rides, so it's best to keep them in a carrier for both their safety and yours. Make sure to fasten the carrier with a seat belt to prevent it from moving too much and potentially causing harm to 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
A regular cat carrier should suffice if your car trip is less than 6 hours. Choose a larger carrier for longer trips that accommodates a small litter box. Consulting your vet before traveling is recommended to select the right carrier for your cat's comfort and the journey ahead.
Don't Ever Leave Your Cat in the Car Alone
Leaving your cat alone in a car can seriously harm its health. The heat poses a danger to pets, and what might feel like a short time for you could be a very long time for your feline friend. For instance, when it's a comfortable 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can quickly rise to a scorching 116 degrees within just an hour. On an 85-degree day, even if you crack the windows slightly, the temperature inside your car can soar to 102 degrees in as little as 10 minutes. In only 30 minutes by itself in a vehicle, your cat could suffer irreversible organ damage or even die. So, even if you plan to be back sooner than that, the risk is simply not worth taking.
How to Travel with a Cat on a Plane
Do cats like to travel by air? The short answer, of course, is no, but sometimes it cannot be avoided. Here are the things you should know about traveling with a cat by plane.
Air Travel Can be Dangerous for Cats
Air travel can lead to oxygen deprivation or heat stroke in animals. Persian cats, in particular, are susceptible to these effects, as are other animals with "smushed-in" faces.
Consider All Alternatives Before Flying
As flying can stress out cats, it's better to consider an alternative if feasible. Driving is usually a better choice than flying. You might find boarding options that allow your cat to relax in a home-like environment.
Chose 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. 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
Feel free to speak up if you witness any mistreatment of animals by an airline, whether it's your own or another. Your voice matters and could potentially 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
Only a handful of cruise lines allow pets, mainly on ocean crossings. Some of these lines allow pets in private cabins, while others have designated kennels. Before your cruise, check your cruise line's policies and which ships offer kennels. If your pet will be in a kennel, ensure it's safe from the weather and visit your pet regularly.