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There are many pet-friendly places to visit around the world. Traveling with cats is more exciting than leaving them behind with sitters and worrying about them during the whole vacation, but some preparation is needed if pet parents want to bring their cat along. When pet parents know how to travel with a cat, they can make it an enjoyable experience for themselves and their pets.
To ease a cat's stress, their parents should always plan ahead when they want to travel with them during the holidays. They should know where they'll stay and what they'll do during their trip.
Pet parents will also need to prepare in a few other ways when planning to travel with their cats:
Pets can travel via airplanes and cars, so trip lengths will vary. Their parents can get them relaxed and accustomed to traveling by taking them on short trips away from home and then extending the length of each journey. They can gradually introduce nights and then weekends away from home.
When pet parents are first learning how to travel with a cat in a car, they should ensure that their cat's carrier can be buckled with a seat belt. Pet parents should check that the carrier's manufacturers have crash-tested the carrier to ensure the seat belt won't crush it in an accident.
Even when pets are safely secured in a car, they can still be anxious or experience adverse physical reactions to a vehicle's movement. It's important to have motion sickness medication for cats readily available if they get car sick. Pet parents should talk to their veterinarian about prescription anti-anxiety medication like gabapentin, which helps calm cats in stressful situations.
Parents of cats who experience motion sickness can also cover the airplane or car seat with a blanket that can quickly be wiped clean. That way, if a cat gets sick or spills food, it's easy to clean up.
Experts have different opinions on whether it's a good idea to sedate cats before a flight since there are health risks associated with sedation. Instead of sedating them, cats can be kept calm with anti-anxiety medication or calming sprays. Pet parents can spray a cat's blanket, carrier, and other items that will be taken on the trip with a pheromone spray. These sprays help ease a cat's anxiety.
Cats should explore their carrier before they travel since it will be their safe space away from home, and it should comfortably double as a bed when traveling. Their carrier should accommodate their favorite blanket and other items that help cats to form positive associations between it and their home. A soft-sided kennel is a good option for traveling since it's lightweight, foldable, and has straps that make it easy to carry.
Cats are different; while some can comfortably stay in a carrier for up to eight hours, others require breaks every two hours to remain relaxed. They should also be given plenty of time to get accustomed to their harness and leash. TSA will likely require a cat to be removed from a carrier for evaluation while going through security, so comfort with a harness, leash, and coming in or out of the carrier will be useful in reducing stress or the cat's escape risk.
Pet parents who call airlines for details on how to travel with a cat long distance will notice that some are more pet-friendly than others. Some airlines will allow cats to travel as their parent's carry-on, but others will only allow pets to be transported as cargo. If pet parents know that their cats suffer from separation anxiety and can't be away from them for long periods of time, they should avoid having their pets travel as cargo since that could be a traumatic experience for the cat. If a cat travels as a carry-on, they should be able to sit quietly in a small, ventilated carrier. Their carrier should comfortably fit under the seat in front of their guardian.
Some airlines limit travel options according to an animal's size or breed, and cats usually need to weigh 20 pounds or less to go in the cabin. Other airlines don't have any size or breed restrictions in place. In some cases, parents may have to pay a one-way fee that's collected at check-in. Some airlines only allow a few animals per flight, so pet parents should always call ahead and reserve space for their pets before booking their flight.
Flying can be stressful for cats, especially if they're elderly, very young, or have health challenges. However, giving them cat food and plenty of water four to six hours before their flight will help decrease the risk of nausea or vomiting.
Cats can have a bit more water before their flight. If necessary, they can also have a little during their journey.
Cat travel is more relaxing when pets have essential items like litter boxes. Cat parents can select a travel litter box that's lightweight, foldable, and won't leak. The box should be used with a cat's regular brand of litter, and their carrier can be lined with pee pads as an extra precaution.
Cats will also appreciate having some of their favorite toys with them. Pet parents should pack waste bags and sanitary wipes to clean up messes and bring collapsible food bowls, cat treats, and extra leashes.
If a pet is boarded or sent to day care at some point, they'll need proof of vaccination. Boarding facilities won't take a parent's word that their pet is current with their shots. Pet parents should always keep this document in their travel bag. Their cat will also need it if they have health issues and require veterinary care while traveling.
Pet parents can minimize their pet's stress while traveling by giving them anti-anxiety medication and acclimating their cat to travel. They should also ensure that a cat's vaccination records, favorite toys, and other essentials are with them on their trip.
Sign up for a Fuzzy membership today and consult a veterinarian online to learn how traveling with cats can be a relaxing experience.