Tips for Traveling with Cats

It can be fun to take your cat along with you when you travel.  However, there are many things to think about and be aware of before you take kitty on a trip. Your cat’s comfort and safety are most important!  Here are some tips for traveling with cats, the biggest one being, plan ahead!

Taking Your Cat on a Vacation

Plan Aheadhow to travel with a cat

Provide comfort from home.  Bring along your kitty’s favorite blanket or toy.  Something that feels (and smells!) like home will help calm your cat.

Clip their claws. Trim your cat’s nails before the trip to reduce the chances or your getting scratched while trying to put him in and out of the carrier.  If you’re not sure how, it’s best to let your vet do it.  Most vet’s offices will provide a quick trim either for free or for a low fee. Places like Petco will also trim your cat’s nails for you.

Identification and vaccinations. Make sure your cat is wearing a collar with a tag attached showing the cat’s name and your phone number. You can purchase these at And make sure to use your CELL phone number – you don’t want someone calling your house if you lost your cat while you’re away.  And remember not everyone checks, or even knows about micro-chipping – so make sure your phone number is on your cat’s ID on his collar. If you’re traveling across state or country borders, you need to have up-to-date vaccination records with you.

traveling with your catCarrier Travel

Pick the right carrier. Carriers are a must for traveling with your cat.  Make sure you pick the right size carrier – the cat should be able to stand and turn around inside the carrier.  I find the best prices for cat carriers on Amazon. And always check that all the hinges are closed correctly – many cats have dropped out of carriers because the carrier wasn’t latched all around.

Train your cat to be in the carrier. It’s important to get your cat used to being in a carrier, not just for travel, but for regular trips to the vet as well.  Your cat will be much more comfortable and calm when traveling if he’s already used to the carrier.  I recommend starting by putting the carrier in your living room with its door open.  Let the cat explore it.  Put a soft blanket in the bottom of the carrier, along with a couple of treats.  Catnip too if your cats likes that.  If your cat won’t go inside on his own, put him inside the carrier – letting him jump right back out the first time.

Put him in more and more often over a period of several days – providing positive reinforcement each time (cuddling, petting, treats). Little by little, he’ll get used to being in the carrier.  Then start closing the door, leaving your cat in the carrier for just a few minutes at first, then longer periods of time.  You might also put him in the car, without the car running – for a few minutes.  Then maybe a short drive around the block…you get the idea.  Take your time allowing your cat to get used to the carrier before just tossing him in there and taking him on a road trip!  LOL

checklist for a new puppyCar Travel

Keep your cat safe.  When driving, always keep your cat in a carrier in the backseat, fastened with a seat belt or harness to keep the carrier from being thrown in case of an accident, and also to keep you from being distracted with the cat wandering around the car.

Putting your cat in the car without a carrier is extremely dangerous – he could jump out and run when you open the door, he could crawl under the seats and up under the gas and brake pedals – he could distract you to the point of causing an accident.  Please always use a carrier.

Provide water.  The best way to provide water in the carrier is to use a hamster water bottle.  Put that in place when you’re training your cat to use the carrier so he’s aware he can get a drink from that when you’re traveling. A few drops of water from a hamster water bottle is enough to satisfy a thirsty cat.

Keep your cat calm. Keeping kids calm in the car requires entertainment. Keeping cats calm in the care requires QUIET and BOREDOM.  Don’t crank the music, and don’t constantly interact with your cat. If you feel your cat will not stay calm and is in distress, talk with your vet.  There are mild sedation medications that can help a scared kitty.

indoor cat vaccinationsFeed your cat. Cats are more likely to eat a whole meal if it’s canned cat food instead of dry.  So if your cat doesn’t already eat canned food (which you should probably switch to, by the way, it’s better for them) – then for a few weeks before the trip start getting them used to it. Make sure you offer a small meal at regular intervals when traveling with your cat.

Try to keep the schedule as close to usual as possible.  And remember if your cat is taking any medication to help calm him, it usually needs to be taken with meals.  If your kitty tends to get car sick, talk to your vet about anti-nausea medication. For more information on what you should be feeding your cat, refer to this article, Best Food for Your Cat.

Never take your cat out of the car without the carrier!  People think their cats are calm and they have a, “He’ll stay with me” mentality.  But please – realize that when you’re away from home, it’s an unfamiliar environment, not to mention there are several things (car doors slamming, horns honking) that can startle your cat.  Don’t take the risk of your cat jumping out of  your arms while you’re away.  If they run, you may never seem them again.  It’s just not worth the risk. Put them inside the carrier with the door latched before opening the car door.

Plane Travel

Bring your cat in the cabin. Cats who are “checked” like baggage and end up riding in the belly of a plane are at risk in extreme weather and can get lost, just like luggage.  The safest way to fly with your cat is to bring your cat into the cabin with you.  Find an airline that allows pets in the cabin (which may include a fee) and make advance reservations. You will also need an airline-approved carrier and a health certificate signed by your veterinarian.

Anticipate emergencies. Be prepared.  Bring a couple of hand towels to line the carrier in case the cat vomits or pees, along with a few plastic bags to dispose of the soiled towels if necessary.  Carrying some paper towels and cat-safe cleansing wipes can also help with a clean up.

traveling with your catTraveling With Your Cat Doesn’t Have to Be a Traumatic Experience for Either of You.

By planning ahead, training your cat, and getting him used to traveling, you can take kitty lots of places! I hope you’ve found this article useful and please, comment below if you have more tips!

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3 thoughts on “Tips for Traveling with Cats”

  1. I haven’t traveled with a cat ever, but i had one and i know the pain when you try to go somewhere with it. Especially if you’re going somewhere on a plane. Some of my friends travelled with their cats and it was a real struggle for them. Thanks foo the tips!

  2. Thank you for pointing out that cats will not ALWAYS stay with us, especially in an unfamiliar place. We used to keep ours on a leash if making a quick trip to the pet store. In the car he would be in his carrier. However, after a long trip from one state to the next to visit family we stopped bringing him with us. The “Moving Room” (the car) was too much for him so we stopped.

    He got too stressed out and it would take days before he would get back to normal. So we never took him with us on plane trips.

    How a pet deals with travel needs to be taken into consideration and you may not be able to take your pet with you anymore depending on how they like travel and recover from it.

    1. You are so right. Sometimes I feel sorry for dogs because people will drag them along to fairs, flea markets, all-day events on hot pavement in 90 degree weather. And I think, “Is the dog really enjoying this?” Sometimes I think, as much as we’d love to take them with us, our pets are better off at home with someone checking in on them. I don’t think they get the itch to travel the world like we do…LOL…I think they prefer home, and a blankie! 🙂 Thanks so much for your great comment. Sounds like you’re a good pet parent!

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