On Vacation With Your Pet
For many families, the pet is as much part of your family as anyone else. Because of this, when it’s time to go on vacation, you want to bring your pet with you. This is especially true if your pet also has problems with anxiety.
Too often, pets that are left at home with a sitter or are put into kennels suffer from acute separation anxiety. They can become ill or may even hurt themselves in their panic, according to WagWalking.
To keep their pets safe, many people opt instead to take their pet with them on vacations.
However, traveling with your pet, especially a cat, can prove to be difficult. Cats, especially, can become car sick, and if you’re going to be traveling on a bus for an extended amount of time, you can be sure your pet is likely going to be ill.
To help you out and provide the best comfort possible for your cat, this article will offer a few tips on how you can travel with your cat on a bus.
1. Crate Training
Perhaps the biggest boon you can offer your cat is to crate train them. Whether they’re indoor, outdoor, or a mix, cats need to be crate trained before an extended use of the crate.
This will help them significantly in becoming used to the crate, so they don’t become anxious.
The following video offers a few pointers on how you can train your cat for your crate, but the article will touch on the ideas here as well.
As the video suggests, you can first begin to train your cat by having them play with the crate. While cats seem to naturally enjoy fitting themselves inside of smaller spaces, the crate always seems to be a place of general unease for them.
To introduce the crate to them, toss some treats inside of it and watch your cat dive in and out for them.
Over time, they’ll understand that there isn’t anything to worry about the crate. You may even find that as you open up a treat bag, they may automatically run into their crate to catch the treat.
This is a sign that your cat has become comfortable being inside of the crate.
2. Crate Preparation
You’ll also want to make sure that the crate itself is prepared both for the travel and for the cat. When picking out your cat crate, you should have an idea of your cat’s measurements. You don’t want the crate to be too small, so they can’t move around inside of it.
If the crate is too small, then they may panic. This is just like any other living creature that is forced to occupy a space too small for its comfort. Think about yourself in a tiny room or wedged in a bus seat between strangers–not very comfortable.
To increase that comfort, you want a crate that offers them enough space to move around inside of, but that still meets the criteria for buses.
Because the bus has to maximize its space for occupants and deliveries that they may be making, they have requirements on baggage and the size of baggage.
Check with the bus company you intend to use and see what their regulations are regarding your pet and its crate. Some buses may not allow pets to be on board, and you may end up stuck at the bus depot as a result. Talk about a short vacation.
You may also not be able to bring the crate on the bus if it’s too large. Or, if you intend to place the crate on the seat beside you, then you may have to purchase an additional ticket.
To make the experience smooth for yourself and your cat, take the extra time to check with the bus and review their regulations.
Once you are sure the crate is large enough cat but still small enough to be acceptable for the bus, then you can prepare the crate on the inside.
A few blankets and a towel is an excellent idea to promote comfort for your cat. Crates have a hard bottom, and if you’re traveling in chillier climates, then the bottom can become cold.
This may make your cat uncomfortable and chilly as you travel. The blanket will offer them a warm space as well as give them enough cushion, so they’re not hitting against the hard bottom when the bus drives over those inevitable potholes.
A towel can further make sure the crate is protected in the event that your cat becomes ill.
The towel can mop it up, so the vomit doesn’t end running all over the crate and covering your cat with it. It can also provide a bit of grip, so the cat isn’t sliding back and forth with the movement of the bus.
Finally, the towel just adds one more layer of toasty warmth to keep your cat nice and warm.
3. Include Water
Since you may want to be avoiding foods for your cat until you arrive, you should at the very least offer your cat water throughout the journey. Just like yourself, water can do a great deal to help relieve nausea and dry mouth.
It also will ensure that your cat isn’t suffering too much without having access to food for a few hours.
You can easily find a few cat water bottles that can attach to crates. They come in varying sizes. Some even may be insulated to keep the water cool or lukewarm, depending on your cat’s needs and preferences.
Throughout your journey, you should check the water level. While you don’t want to give your cat too much water and have them urinate in the crate, providing some relief is an excellent idea for their dry mouths.
As such, you should only fill the water bottle with a certain amount and merely check on the status of it at certain intervals.
It also doesn’t hurt to bring along one-use cat litter either. These are typically small in size and can be easily disposed of when used. Whenever the bus stops, you should quickly leash your cat, and then give them the chance to do their business.
Again, if you’re concerned about filling your cat’s tummy with food, it may be a wise idea to skip this tip. However, if your cat has proven to be comfortable riding in cars and buses, then you may want to reward them periodically with treats.
While you shouldn’t overfeed them, in the event that they have to do number two in the crate, feeding them a treat here and there to reward them for their good behavior isn’t a terrible idea. It can certainly help them look forward to the next treat.
You may want to do a bit of research on the treat, too. Even if the treat is your cat’s favorite, you don’t want to give them something that’s a bit too exciting for their tummy. You may even ask your veterinarian for their advice on treats that are gentle for the tummy.
5. Car Training
Another aspect to fully prepare your cat for a trip on the bus is to start with the car. Once they are comfortable with their crate, the next obvious step is to have them comfortable with the car. You may, at first, opt to just have them wander in the car while you drive.
However, they may come to prefer this open wandering and end up despising having to be confined to a crate during a moving vehicle. As such, it’s more recommended that you train them from the start with the crate.
Once they’re inside, place the crate in the position that best simulates what they’ll be experiencing on the bus.
For some, this may mean that the crate is turned away from you and anyone. If the cat is not going to be able to see you on the bus, then they should be trained similarly in the car. In time, they’ll become used to the experience, thus making the bus trip seem like nothing.
If your cat is going to be able to see you on the bus, then position the crate in such a way that allows them to see you through the gate. You may also want to experiment and see if your cat feels better with music or without music.
According to PetPlace, Many studies have shown that anxious animals can be made more comfortable by having something soothing to listen to.
It may take a few attempts to find the right music your cat likes–if they like any at all–but you should start first with harp music.
Typically, cats seem to respond best to the soothing strings of a harp player. If that doesn’t seem quite like it’s doing the trick, then opt for general classical music.
After a bit of experimentation, you may find the perfect piece of classical music or style of classical music that keeps your cat calm.
Bringing a music player with some headphones that you can place in the crate isn’t a terrible idea, so long as it doesn’t upset the other passengers, and your cat actually enjoys it.
With enough exposure, your cat will eventually become used to the movement of the car. This can help them stay calm on the bus and may reduce the cat sickness they experience.
This training should be continued right up until the day you leave on the bus, so the cat is practically used to traveling by that point.
Even after you’ve tried to train your cat for the car, they don’t seem to be able to stop vomiting, then you may need to go the science route.
Take a trip to see your vet and determine if they have any suggestions for reducing nausea and anxiety in your cat. There are a few medications out there specifically devoted to calming the tummy of a cat.
With that in their system, you shouldn’t–hopefully–have to worry about any nasty surprises during the trip. Without the upset stomach, your cat may be more relaxed in general, too.
For cats who are super anxious no matter what you do, then you may want to speak to the vet about the anti-anxiety meds that are available for pets. They can help your cat become calm throughout the entire trip.
If your trip is a short journey, your vet may even be able to tranquilize your cat for a few hours. This is, perhaps, the easiest way to travel. Your cat can sleep during the entire bus ride.
Not all vets are comfortable sedating pets, however, so you should check to see if your vet is capable and comfortable with the action.
They can also tell you if your cat would benefit from sedation or if it would harm them in some way. Either way, if your cat is sedated, it just makes your job a lot easier.
7. Proper Paperwork
This is dependent upon if you’re traveling over state lines. If you are, then you’re going to need to have paperwork on hand that shows the vaccinations your cat has been given.
While these regulations may not always be reinforced, you don’t want to be caught unaware in the event that you do need to show them.
Otherwise, you may not be permitted to enter the state with your cat. You may just have to return home or find a way to have your vet fax that information to the regulator.
Either way, you could be losing valuable time on a transfer to another bus or your vacation time as a whole.
Travel With Ease
With these tips in hand, you can help make your bus transportation with your cat a lot easier. The cat and the passengers will be extremely grateful for the extra measures you’ve taken.