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How to Travel With a Cat: Tips for a Low-stress Trip

How to Travel With a Cat: Tips for a Low-stress Trip

Need to travel and you want to take your cat with you? Our Powder Springs vets offer some advice to help make traveling with your cat a little easier.

Preparing For a Trip With Your Cat

Whether it's moving, visiting, or going on vacation if you are planning to travel with your cat you will need to plan ahead.

Your cat will need to be up-to-date on their 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 vaccines can be brought up to date for diseases that are common in the place you are headed to, and any parasites can be treated or prevented.

If you are traveling to a different country be aware of their requirement for your pet to enter the country.

How Are You Traveling 

We will cover how to travel with a cat by car, plane, train or ship. Depending on your method of transportation and the length of the journey there are different things you will need to be prepared for.

Traveling by Car with Your Cat

A Suitable Cat Carrier

Cats are normally not happy to travel in cars. You should keep your cat in a carrier for their safety and yours. Secure the carrier with a seat belt to keep it from bouncing around and hurting your cat.

Cat Carriers Should Be in the Backseat

The deployment of airbags in the front seat can be dangerous for your pet even when in a carrier. It is best to always keep your cat's carrier restrained in the back seat of your vehicle.

Designated Cat Watcher

If possible, have a human whose responsibility for the trip is to monitor and comfort your cat riding with them in the back seat. This will help your cat feel more comfortable during the journey.

All of Your Cat Stays 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.

For Journeys 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  the trip requires your cat to be in their carrier longer than that, you will need a larger carrier 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 is a serious health hazard. Heat is a risk to pets. When it's 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour. On an 85-degree day, even with the windows slightly open, 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. It is not worth the risk.

Traveling with a Cat on a Plane

Your car will probably no enjoy air travel 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 lead to oxygen deprivation or heat stroke in animals. Animals with "smushed in" faces in particular are susceptible.

Consider All Alternatives Before Flying

We recommend taking another option if possible, because flying is so stressful for cats, . Driving is often better than flying. There may be boarding options available that can let your cat relax comfortably and have their own vacation without the stress of the travel.

Look for an Airline that Will Allow Your Cat in the Cabin

Some airlines will allow you to fly with your cat in the cabin with you, for an additional fee. Animals that  are flown in the cargo area of airplanes are often fine, please 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,  do your research and select airlines with a good reputation for animal handling.

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.

Traveling with a Cat on a Train

Verify with the railway if pets are permitted on your train journey. If they are, then similar guidelines to traveling with a cat in a car apply. Passengers will be expected to exercise and feed their cat(s) at station stops.

Traveling with a Cat on a Ship

With the exception of assistance dogs, pets are not welcome on most cruise lines. Some ships permit pets in private cabins, but most confine pets to kennels. Contact your cruise line in advance to find out its policies and which of its ships have kennel facilities. If you must use the ship's kennel, make sure it is safe, suitable, protected from the elements and check on your pet often.

Prepare ahead for your cat's journey by ensuring that your cat is up-to-date on their vaccines, free of parasites, and in good health. Contact Powder Springs Animal Clinic today to book an examination for your feline friend.

New Patients Always Welcome

Looking for a vet in Powder Springs? Our experienced vets at Powder Springs Animal Clinic are passionate about providing outstanding veterinary care to pets and great customer service to their proud owners. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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