Cats are not fans of travelling. They are homebodies who prefer familiar surroundings. Of course, there are always exceptions. You only need to look at Instagram and you will find an account of an adventurous cat, roaming the globe with his human, and a pesky canine sidekick, used primarily for a pillow. The majority of domesticated cats are less audacious.
Cats like to stay home, and perhaps battle a ferocious moth. They are fond of their routine, their household where everything is recognizable, and consistency.
While I applaud people who adopt adult and senior cats, the reality is that in order to have a feline who appreciates travel, adopting a well socialized kitten is your best bet. Youngsters are versatile, and adapt to change quicker than older cats, Regular travel in “kittenhood” will acclimatize your cat to the activity, making him a happier globetrotter in the future. If your feline is a mature adult who has never ventured far from home, a babysitter is best. However, if bringing your little buddy on a trip is a must, you need to plan well ahead and cover all your bases. If your cat is miserable, chances are you will be as well.
Top tips for travelling with a cat:
Bring a Carrier
Unless you’re in the habit of taking your cat for quick trips around town, your cat will associate the car with “vet” or “groomer”. The two places most car rides lead to, and the two places most cats hate. Unfortunately, cats also make the same connection with carriers. Many people need to call for backup when putting a cat in a carrier. Carriers are an absolute must though, regardless of how your cat feels about them. It is extremely dangerous to allow a cat loose in your car. Cats can transform into freakishly miniscule beings that hide in tiny spaces, and spook easily. It wouldn’t take much for your cat to wedge itself under your break peddle or end up in the dash chewing on wires. For long car trips get a larger carrier (large dog carriers work great) that will fit a litter box and have space for securely fastened food and water dishes. Always bring your cat’s usual litter box and whatever litter you normally use. Cats are very picky about their lavatory. They may refuse to go if their usual box and litter are not available, and that can lead to constipation, urinary infection, and other health issues.
Keep your Kitty Comfortable
Cats get motion sickness. The stress of travel coupled with motion sickness can result in panting, drooling, vomiting, trembling, restlessness, and even bowl movements and urinating in the carrier. There are both homeopathic and prescription remedies for motion sickness, stress and anxiety. Discuss your options with a vet. Try to introduce your cat to a carrier ahead of time. Let him sleep and play in it at home. Line it with blankets that smell like him. Put in a familiar toy, and a bit of catnip. You can also cover the carrier with a very light sheet when it’s in the car. Animals tend to relax when they can’t see their surroundings. Check to make sure they aren’t too hot. Avoid loud noises by keeping your windows rolled up and your radio turned down.
Flying with your Cat
If you are travelling by plane find an airline that allows cats in the cabin. Do not put your pet in the cargo area. Besides all the horror stories of pets lost on flights, the commotion and noise that animals are exposed to can cause significant trauma. Some airlines have heated and pressurized holding areas for animals, but even those are not suitable for most cats. Keep the carrier as close to you as possible. Talk to your cat, stay in their sight, and give them a pet whenever you get the chance.
If you are staying in a hotel confirm they allow pets. If you are camping, plan to have your cat restrained at all times. A large crate and/or a long lead will give your cat freedom to move without any chance of losing him. As I mentioned before, cats spook easily and campgrounds are full of new and scary noises. Although cats are said to have nine lives, their sense of direction isn’t stellar, especially if they are running scared. A cat in panic mode can easily get lost, or end up in a tree, and the notion that a cat will always come down on its own is a myth. The onset of liver failure can start three to four days after a cat has gone without food or water. Once cats are in liver failure they no longer feel hungry. So it’s imperative you keep kitty safe, so he can’t escape.
Travelling with a cat may not be optimal, but if you want to give it a try remember to plan ahead, keep things familiar, and make sure your pet has some sort of ID with your current information. It may turn out that your cat actually loves travelling, and the next thing you know you are adopting a canine your cat can use for a pillow, while the three of you explore the world.
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