Bags are packed. The mail’s been stopped. You’ve even cleaned out the ‘fridge so you don’t find a science experiment lurking on the top shelf when you return home.
Time to address the needs of your best friend-the furry dude that stands on your chest every morning because his food bowl isn’t sufficiently full.
Traveling with a cat is like traveling with kids. Only easier. Felines neither kick the seat in front of them on long flights nor do they cry if you don’t stop every time a McDonald’s billboard pops up along the roadside.
How will you be traveling? Plane? Train? Or is it to be a road trip?
Our guide takes an unflinching look at preparations that can mean the difference between a relaxing trip and one that makes a good cat fight seem a more pleasant alternative. Your goal?
Making sure you both arrive at your destination without losing fur or your sense of humor.
A list for you; a list for your cat
No matter which method of transportation you choose, there are preparatory actions to take so you don’t wind up being tattooed by your cat courtesy of the claws you’ve been respectful enough to allow her to keep.
Start by making a list. Carrier? Check. Food and toys? Check. If you travel by public transport, you may need copies of Fang’s health records and if you put together a hygiene kit (scoop, litter and waste bags), you’re almost there.
Even if your cat doesn’t wear a collar, she can’t leave home without an ID tag, so put a collar on her at least a week before you leave so she’s accustomed to it.
Travel bowls make a journey comfier and if you only own a hard-sided carrier, a soft-sided model could be easier to stow in some situations.
Finally, don’t assume that all hotels and motels are pet-friendly. You can use this link to see which ones are.
But, can she get frequent flyer miles?
According to FoxBusiness, Yes, it’s possible for Tuna to get frequent flyer miles on a few airlines if that’s your preferred mode of travel, but if you don’t fly the airlines offering this perk, you still enjoy the pleasure of a snag-free trip if you plan correctly.
Begin by reading through the Transportation Security Administration’s pet travel policy to “get the lay of the land” before you two take to the sky.
Your airline will have its own rules for travel, so perhaps you and Tuna could peruse them together. You’ll need a health certificate that’s recent; don’t wait until the last minute to get one from your vet.
Next, follow this vet’s advice, especially tips on vaccinations required for travel to some locations.
And you know that cocktail you like to have before takeoff? A pet tranquilizer can mean the difference between a traumatized cat and a mellow one by the time you arrive, especially if you two are on a really long flight.
Does Greyhound mind if cats are passengers?
Apparently, they do, because while taking crated and secured cats was no problem a decade ago, Greyhound and other high-profile bus lines now restrict four-legged passengers to guide and service dogs only.
There is a category of pet travel that’s appeared on the radar in the past couple of years known as “comfort animals,” say PetTravel editors, but this classification has yet to impact the commercial bus industry. For now, take bus travel off your list.
Happily, cats can ride the rail
Amtrak is either more enlightened than bus companies or train riders are more pet-friendly because America’s rail line not only invites cats to come on-board but the company devotes a segment of its website to explaining the rules and regulations of traveling by rail.
We’re not sure whether or not Amtrak terminals require cat parents to put their offspring on scales to meet Amtrack’s 20-pound limit, but if you’re worried that your Tabby has been looking chubby of late, don’t risk being turned away at the terminal. Weigh him before you pack.
And no worries about your cat adjusting to this mode of transport. It’s just another day on the rail for this frequent Japanese traveler.
Road trip? Yes, please!
A road trip with your cat checks all the right boxes. You can constrain his movement. Stop when necessary to feed and water him. The list of pet-friendly hotels and motels sprinkled across the landscape continues to grow.
While there are plenty of YouTube videos floating around cyberspace that depict cats roaming freely over driver’s shoulders and legs, it’s never wise to turn your pet into a free-range cat. All it takes is one serious brake action to put Jerome at the peril of being injured or worse.
We turned to CatingtonPost.com cat mom Brooke Arnold for her take on how to take cats on the road. Why follow her advice? Because she had the guts to drive her 7 cats from Florida to Missouri, and everyone arrived on speaking terms.
Here is her sage advice:
- She called her vet in advance of her trip to talk medicines and health certificates.
- Brook used large crates that housed two felines each plus disposable litter boxes.
- She monitored the sun, so crates stayed cool. Windows remained closed to keep all riders calm.
- Food was withheld after the cats ate an early breakfast. She fed them small bits of food each time they stopped.
- When she stopped, the cats got “prison breaks” with windows closed so they could “stretch their legs and paws” within the car’s interior.
- Her pre-trip motel reservations took lots of pressure off her shoulders.
- She didn’t feed the cats until everyone got into the motel room.
Mew & the Loo
Wondering what topic gives cat owners the most amount of concern when they prepare to take their buddies on a trip? They worry about the litter and elimination issue, fearing a cat could get sick if they can’t eliminate waste for long periods of time.
But Dr. Ilona Rodan urges moms and dads to relax. Dr. Rodin told VetStreet.com writer Kim Campbell Thornton that in her experience, cats use litter boxes fewer times a day than owners realize.
“My 16-month-old kitten did not use a box for 18 hours and did not act upset,” recalls Dr. Rodin, though she does remind her patient’s parents that cats suffering medical conditions may need the litter box more often.
The disposable cardboard litterbox may be the next best thing for feline travel to come along ever, but cats are smart.
They don’t always take new stuff quickly or readily. So as soon as you start getting Jezebel ready to travel, start using a disposable box early enough to avoid traumatizing her (and you, too).