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Traveling with Your Cat How to Transport Them Safely

cat travel cat carrier pet transportation traveling with pets cat safety

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Summer is approaching, and with it comes vacation time. While some people opt for pet sitting services when they’re away and have a cat, others find it impossible to separate from their feline companions for various reasons such as cost, organization, or emotional attachment.

Whether you are traveling with your cat by car, train, or plane, it is essential to prepare for the journey in the best possible way, as it can be stressful for your feline friend.

Choosing the Right Cat Carrier

A cat carrier is a must for any type of travel.

Most cats are not accustomed to leaving their comfort zone or being transported in a moving vehicle, so they can easily get scared.

Transporting them in a carrier or travel bag ensures a secure and calming space where they can take refuge and hide (usually at the back). It is imperative for the safety and well-being of your pet.

Before buying a carrier or travel bag, make sure to do your research. Whether you are traveling by plane or train, you will likely have to pay an additional fee for your pet’s transport and adhere to specific dimensions. While most train companies allow animals to be kept beside their owners, not all airlines permit this, and they may recommend transporting pets in the cargo hold. Some categories of airlines may even refuse animals on board altogether.

Be sure to gather all the necessary information in advance to avoid any unpleasant surprises during the boarding process.

If you are traveling by car, you have more flexibility in choosing a carrier for your pet.

Which Cat Carrier to Choose?

There are two options: rigid carriers and soft travel bags and baskets.

Rigid Travel Carriers for Cats

Rigid carriers or crates are made of sturdy and durable plastic. They offer more protection to the animal in case of impacts or turbulence.

They are generally cheaper than fabric bags, but they can be a bit bulky and sometimes difficult to fit into a vehicle. Make sure to take accurate measurements.

Soft Travel Bags and Baskets for Cats

Another solution is using soft travel bags and baskets, which are more flexible and generally lighter. These bags provide added comfort due to their composition, which includes slightly padded (yet waterproof) fabric.

As a bonus, they come in various colors, almost like a fashion statement (solid colors or patterns).

Regardless of the chosen model, it is essential to consider the following:

  • The carrier or basket should provide enough space for your cat to stand and turn comfortably.
  • It should have adequate ventilation.
  • It should have one or more openings for your cat to observe the surroundings (which can help reassure them by seeing you, for example).

My Cat Refuses to Enter the Carrier

Unless you have familiarized your cat with the carrier from a young age, it can be challenging to get them to enter it easily.

Prior to your departure, place the cat carrier near a spot your cat enjoys spending time in, so they can become familiar with it. Feel free to put something they like inside the carrier, such as a blanket, towel, stuffed animal, or toy. Occasionally leaving a treat inside can also encourage them to enter, and remember to praise them when they do.

If your carrier has a removable top, take it off to reduce your cat’s stress levels. Once your cat starts entering the carrier naturally, gradually add the top until they feel comfortable with it. Repeat this process until they are calm even when the door is closed.

Lastly, remember to clean the carrier thoroughly between each trip. Due to stress, your cat may release stress pheromones that they can smell during subsequent journeys.

Traveling Safely with Your Cat

During the Journey

Ensure that your cat is protected from heat and direct sunlight. Placing a damp towel on the carrier can help keep your pet cool.

If your cat tends to get motion sickness during travel, consult your veterinarian for medication that can help reduce potential discomfort such as nausea or vomiting.

Make regular stops to offer water to your cat and, if needed, a few treats (although cats can go several hours without eating).

Unlike dogs, cats do not require opportunities to stretch their legs. For their safety and to prevent escapes during a break, avoid taking your cat out of the carrier. Instead, secure them with a harness or leash specifically designed for cats. Never leave your cat alone in the car without supervision, even for a short time and even if the car is parked in the shade.

Worried about your cat using the carrier as a litter box? Generally, cats can hold it in for a long time during travel. However, it’s a good idea to have spare bedding and cleaning supplies on hand in case of accidents.

Where to Place the Carrier in Your Car?

If possible, your cat will be better protected from impacts by placing their carrier on the floor behind the front seats of the vehicle.

You can also position the carrier on the back seat, but make sure to secure it using a seatbelt or a strap.

Finally, never place your cat in the trunk! It can become excessively hot for them.

mahatma gandhi portrait

- Mahatma Gandhi

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”