Heading out on a journey and want to take your cat along? Our Boulder County vets offer a few tips to help make the journey easier for both you and your beloved pet.
Preparing For Any Trip With Your Cat
If you are planning to travel with your kitty - whether moving, visiting, or going on vacation - you will need to plan ahead.
One essential point to consider is whether your cat is up-to-date on its 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
There are various things to consider and prepare for depending on your mode of transportation and the length of the journey. We'll go over how to travel with a cat by car, plane, and even train or ship in the sections below.
Traveling by Car with Your Cat
Purchase a Suitable Cat Carrier
Cats are generally uneasy in cars and should be transported in a carrier for their and your safety. To prevent the carrier from bouncing around and injuring your cat, use a seat belt to secure it.
Don't Put Your Cat in the Front Seat
Even if your pet is in a carrier, the deployment of airbags in the front seat can be hazardous to your pet; therefore, it is best to 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. If your cat will need to be in their carrier longer than that, you will need a larger accommodation that gives them space for a small litter box. It's a good idea to consult your vet prior to travel for advice on the kind of kennel or carrier best suited to your cat's needs and the journey ahead.
Don't Ever Leave Your Cat in the Car Alone
Leaving a cat alone in a car poses a significant health risk. Heat is dangerous to pets, and what seems like a short time for you could be an eternity for your feline companion. When it's 72 degrees outside, the temperature inside your car can quickly rise to 116 degrees. Even with the windows slightly open on an 85-degree day, the temperature inside your car can reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes. Irreversible organ damage or death is possible after only 30 minutes alone in a vehicle - even if you don't expect to be gone for that long, it's not worth the risk.
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 possibly 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.
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
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
Many trains allow some pets and service animals. You must check with the railway to see if pets are permitted on your train journey. If they are, then the same rules that apply when traveling with a cat in a car apply. At station stops, passengers will be expected to exercise and feed their cat(s).
How to Travel with a Cat on a Ship
Pets are welcome on only a few cruise lines, with the exception of assistance dogs, and usually only on ocean crossings. Some cruise lines allow pets in private cabins, but the majority confine pets to kennels. Contact your cruise line ahead of time to learn about their policies and which ships have kennel facilities. If you must use the ship's kennel, make sure it is weatherproof and that you check on your pet frequently.