How to Travel With a Cat – Making Journeys Purrfect for Your Feline!

how to travel with a cat

Traveling with dogs has become very popular, but cats are even more portable because of their size. If you have a feline who likes to be with you all the time and enjoys a little excitement (don’t they all?), traveling with your cat is a lot of fun as long as you are prepared and bring everything you may need.

Cat lovers and pet parents can’t go away without missing their fur baby, and it can be easy to put most cats in a carrier and bring them along. Car travel with your furry friend is better than without them and just requires a bit of training.

However, please consider your feline’s “personality” and feelings. If they prefer to be home and car travel or air travel gives them motion sickness or is very stressful for them, think about leaving your cat home to prevent anxiety. Adventurous felines like traveling, but shy cats may not. If they stay at home, an automatic feeder will help your cat sitter.

How to Travel With a Cat

Embarking on a journey with your feline companion? Uncover essential tips and tricks for a smooth and comfortable travel experience together.

Essentials to Carry along

Essentials to Carry When Traveling with Cats

how to travel with cats

Food and water, favorite treats to train and reward, a cat carrier, a vest, litter, toys, medications, and bedding are essentials when traveling with cats. An empty stomach is a good idea to prevent nausea and vomiting, so refrain from feeding from 4-6 hours before traveling.

Regular Food and Treats

Well-fed cats are happy cats. It’s often easier to find human food on the road than your feline’s favorite cat kibble and treat. Pack all the stuff Frisky likes to eat.

Cat Carrier

best way to travel with cats

The key piece of cat travel equipment is a comfortable and well-ventilated carrier that will keep your feline friend safe. It’s easy to find a proper pet carrier because there are many out there.

On road trips, the carrier is your pet’s universe during the car ride. Put something of yours in the carrier so your cat is soothed by your smell. Train them beforehand so they are comfortable in their crate.

Cat Harness and Seatbelt Loop

Speaking of safety, when you’re on a road trip, you want Fluffy to be secured inside their crate and attached to the seat of the car. A harness will give you control so they can’t escape, and a seatbelt loop will fasten the carrier to the seat of the car. You might need to do some training. With positive reinforcement, your smart cat will quickly demonstrate their brilliance.

Litter Essentials

Don’t forget your cat’s Litter-Robot or travel litter box. Perhaps a pair of disposable gloves may be helpful in case clean-up gets messy. Some people just use a flat surface with litter on it. See what your cat likes best.

Toys

traveling with cats

Bring your kitty’s toys so they have items they enjoy from home. Toys make a carrier a cozy space. Kittens have all that crazy energy, so bring lots of toys if you’re traveling with a baby.

If you have an adult cat, you know they always retain that playfulness and can’t resist a toy on a wand being wiggled around. After being in the carrier for a while, cat playtime will be much needed. Many cats also enjoy catnip.

Bedding

It’s always nice to have a super cozy bed, and when our furry friends are away from home, we want to make sure that they are especially comfy tucked into a soft blanket in their crate. Humans love a fluffy hotel pillow. Pet owners want their furry friend’s car travel experience to be fun and luxurious.

Medications

Don’t forget to make sure your cat has a full supply of meds for trips. It helps to make a list of necessities in advance.

Other Accessories to Carry

In addition to the supplies listed above, other helpful items include a bottle of water, a cat brush, bitter spray to protect things at your destination, an Airtag for cats to track your kitty, wee wee pads, calming treats, and claw clippers if it’s going to be a long trip.

First Aid Kit

traveling with a cat

When you’re out on the road, a first-aid kit is a great tool to ensure your cat is safe. Bond Vet recommends: disinfection liquids to flush wounds, cotton balls, Q-tips, sterile gauze pads (including non-stick pads) and gauze roll, bandaging tape, self-adhesive vet wrap, bandage scissors, and clean cloths or towels. There are many ready-made kits to choose from.

Bowls 

Cats should have bowls for food and water. There are portable bowls that are easy to transport for hydration on the go. Hydration is very important, so bringing a bottle or thermos of water with water dishes is helpful in a car, on a train, or in mid-air and also make sure to know about the required water intake for your cat.

Traveling Litter Box

A traveling litter box is extremely portable. Some have zippers, some are collapsable, and so on. Being able to potty easily is priceless. The less room your litter box takes up, the better. It’s a good idea to show your cat the traveling litter box before your trip and do some training in advance so it’s not a complete surprise when you offer it to them.

Backpack

cat travel

Cat backpacks are a convenient way to travel with your cat. Strap them to your back and go. They often have a transparent part that offers your cat a view. Some allow kitty to peek out an open area and see what’s happening. Some have pockets for food and water.

Cat Sedative for Traveling with a Cat

If some people use sedatives for travel, why shouldn’t your cat benefit from modern science?! Although strong sedatives can affect breathing, pheromones are a natural treatment to help your cat enjoy the adventure.

If you anticipate that they will be nervous, you can reduce stress and anxiety by being proactive with medication. Ask your veterinarian for her advice. CBD oil, essential oils, and calming gummies are other options.

Health Certificates

travelling with a cat

If your final destination is another country, you’ll need a certificate documenting that your pet is in good health. You’ll also have to present proof of rabies vaccination, medical records, and the like. Double-check that you have the required paperwork. You’ll want to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Traveling with a Cat on a Plane

traveling with a cat on a plane

Flying with cats is a little different than taking a road trip, but you just need to review the rules. Be prepared to fly by taking your cat to the human bathroom (or any quiet area you find) and setting up their travel litter box for them to use.

Airports have dog relief areas. If your cat doesn’t mind sharing a “restroom” with canines, you can set it up there. A treat is certainly well-deserved after using the litter box in the airport. Whether you’re flying with a cat or flying with a dog, being prepared will ensure a smooth trip in the sky.

Choose Cat-friendly Airline

United, JetBlue, American, Alaska, and Hawaiian Airlines are pet friendly. Their policies are different, so call them to confirm that you have everything you need.

Read the Cabin Rules Thoroughly

Make your reservation well ahead of time because some air carriers only allow a handful of animals in the cabin. Air carrier regulations differ between airlines and are subject to change. Look at the USDA website for Pet Travel for the latest information to stay current on documents, travel bag regulations, etc.

The cargo hold is considered pretty safe, but you and Patches will feel more comfortable and calm if you’re together. The Bureau of Transportation Studies found that in 2022, carriers reported seven animal deaths, injuries to one other animal, and one lost animal. That total of nine incidents decreased from the 19 incident reports in 2019. 

Cat Travel Carrier Tips

Your cat or kitten will need an airline-approved size carrier to slide under the seat ahead of you. When you arrive at security, your cat will have to get out of the carrier. You can carry them through the metal detector, and their carrier will be inspected.

Make sure your cat has a vest and lead on so escape is not an option. They will be a bit out of their comfort zone, and stress can make their behavior unpredictable.

Veterinarian and Health Records Tips

Schedule a visit with the vet to check your pet’s health and to talk about anti-nausea and anti-anxiety medications while obtaining health records. Ask about giving your kitty Dramamine or something else. Don’t feed your feline for 4-6 hours before the flight, so she and her stomach won’t suffer from motion sickness.

You’ll need a health certificate issued within 10 days of your trip for domestic travel and proof that your cat doesn’t have an infectious disease. Your cat has to be at least eight weeks old with up-to-date vaccination certificates from your veterinarian.

If you’re flying internationally, your cat has to have a rabies vaccination and a titer test, and results may take a couple of months to receive. A USDA-certified vet has to complete health certificates for international travel, and some international destinations require parasite prevention and relevant vaccinations. Check with your air carrier to be sure.

Traveling with a Cat in a Car

best way to travel with a cat

Here are some tips for traveling with your cat in an automobile. A safe kitty crate and practice traveling help make cats safe.

Ensure Your Cat’s Security

A little preparation will help set up you and your cat for a successful and enjoyable journey.

Never Leave Your Cat in a Car

Remember that the high temperature inside of a motor vehicle in the summer can be deadly, so don’t leave your feline in a hot car because they could have a heat stroke. Watch the temperature and keep your cat cool.
Don’t forget water and water dishes for your pets. One of the most important parts of cat auto safety, as well as dog car safety, is protecting them from the heat inside of the car.

Practice for Car Trips in Advance

Practice makes perfect, even when traveling with a cat on road trips. Get the cat’s carrier and go for a ride in the car. Familiarize them with leash training so your cat acclimates to it. Being used to traveling in a vehicle will help your cat not be nervous and to stay calm.

Add Stops During Traveling

Practice road trips with cats should include stops to get them used to being in and out of the car.

Be Patient

Try to remember that your cat isn’t accustomed to car drives like you are. Let them sniff around and get their bearings. There’s a lot of stimulus to take in, especially if they spend their life in the four walls of one house or apartment.

Traveling with a Cat on a Train

how to travel with a cat

Like air travel, train travel has rules to abide by. The more familiar you are with the regulations, the smoother your voyage will go.

Thoroughly Read the Carrier and Baggage Policy

Amtrak allows cats on many routes of rides that are seven hours or less, and that includes transfer time. Your cat plus their carrier can’t weigh more than 20 pounds, and there’s a $26 pet travel fee. You’ll also need veterinarian certifications. Your cat carrier may count as your free carry-on luggage.

Book Train Tickets for Non-peak Hours

Crowded and noisy train rides and the stress associated with them can be avoided by traveling off-peak. Skip rush hour and schedule your trip during a more peaceful time to travel.

Acclimate Your Cat to the Carrier

It’s important to help your cat get used to the carrier beforehand. This ensures that the carrier becomes a familiar and safe space for your cat, reducing stress during the journey.

Tips for Traveling with a Cat

Explore these handy tips to ensure a stress-free and enjoyable journey for both you and your furry friend:

Managing a Peaceful Environment

Although cats aren’t always peaceful at home–with the zoomies and knocking things over–you want to create a serene atmosphere when traveling with cats. Begin with a comfortable carrier with soft bedding, familiar toys, and a familiar scent. A heavenly cat chamber will make the journey more enjoyable.

Carrier Training

Unless your kitty is a seasoned traveler, they should practice living the life of a pet on a voyage. Take them places. Reward them with a few treats in the carrier.

Keep Comforting Your Cat Throughout the Trip

Remember to reassure them throughout the entire trip to manage their anxiety from the moment you depart your home till when you return from the trip. A treat or two is always appreciated. If only we could just explain, “We’re going to Grandmom’s, we’ll return home in a week.” Your poor pet has no idea what’s going on.

Calming Treats

You could try CBD oil, essential oils like lavender, pheromones, and other natural calming treats. You may want to ask your veterinarian for his thoughts. There’s no reason for cats to suffer from anxiety when there’s help out there. Yummy favorite cat snacks are positive reinforcement for behaving on the road.

Encourage a Spirit of Adventure

Have you always wanted a worldly kitty? If you are fond of adventure and want your cat to be your traveling companion, fostering a love of traveling in Fuzzy will entice them to want to accompany you on your next adventure.

FAQs

How to Calm a Cat in the Car?

You may want to consult your vets about helping your cat relax because a road trip can be disruptive as it’s a change of routine.

Your furry friend may benefit from anti-anxiety medications, motion sickness pills, anti-nausea medication, CBD oil, and/or essential oils that help pets stay relaxed. Also, you can soothe your kitty the old-fashioned way by speaking in a soft voice and petting them.

Is It Cruel to Travel with a Cat?

If your pet is an introvert who hates leaving home, you might rethink dragging them along with you around the country or world.

It’s difficult for cat owners to be apart from their cats, but a cat sitter might be a better option if you don’t want to stress them out in a crate for hours and/or ascend into the sky on a plane flight. You could also ask your veterinarian if he/she thinks your cat will be happy on a trip.

Final Thoughts

As you embark on your travels with your feline companion, remember that patience, preparation, and a dash of understanding can transform any journey into a memorable bonding experience. Your cat’s comfort is your guide – whether exploring new places or simply snuggling in a cozy carrier, every step you take together creates a unique adventure that strengthens your special bond.

Hope you enjoyed this article. Feel free to comment and/or share. Happy cat travels!

Elise Margulis
Elise Margulis is a talented animal writer and a devoted pet parent residing near Manhattan in a cozy suburb. With a Chow mix and a rescued Siamese as her loyal companions, she's been animal-obsessed since childhood. Penning informative articles on pet nutrition, health, and animal welfare, she's also an avid advocate for adoption and animal rights. When she's not writing, she serves as the editor of two local online news sites. Working from home with her fur babies, she advocates adoption and animal welfare through volunteering and social media. A true animal lover and vegetarian for over 31 years, she's on a mission to raise awareness and make the world a better place for all creatures.

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