Tips To Keep a Cat Calm While Travelling
Written by FELIWAY, published on 8 June 2022
First Consider - Do You Need To Travel With Your Cat?
Do you have a big trip, house move or holiday coming up?
Travelling can be a big adventure for humans - but our kitty friends aren’t always so excited! For cats, any change in their normal routine or environment can be a cause of stress or concern. For that reason, though we always want our pets to come with us, it’s important to consider if the journey is really best for your cat or if a cat sitter or kitty hotel may be better!
If you’re going on a short break such as a holiday, leaving your kitty is often best - though you will miss each other! But if you’re making a one way trip, of course, your cat will need to come with you!
With lots of considerations to make, planning for kitty travel in advance is important. But with the right support and preparation, it’s possible to reduce kitty stress and make the journey easier - however you plan to travel.
Tips to Keep a Cat Calm While Travelling
Start with the cat carrier
However you plan to travel with your pet, they’ll need to stay safe inside their carrier! So to help reduce any travel related stress, help your kitty develop a positive association with their cat carrier. If the only time they ever see it is on a scary visit to the vet, it’s no surprise that they may be a little wary!
Instead, during time at home, place your pet’s carrier in an area of the house that they feel safe in. Leave the doors open and place cozy blankets inside - then let your cat explore it in their own time. Putting the occasional kitty treat inside can encourage them! With time, your cat should be confident enough around the carrier and they don’t mind you closing the door. Gradually work with your pet in steps to help them feel calm while inside the carrier, with the door closed, and when you pick up the carrier and move it.
Check with the vet
Before travelling anywhere, make sure your cat is fit, healthy and able to cope with the stress of moving! If your kitty is sick or has any underlying health concerns, be aware that travelling may make them worse. Always check that your pet is healthy and well enough to travel before making any trip. Keep in mind that your cat’s vaccinations should be up to date before travelling to reduce any risk of infection - and if you’re planning to travel by air, your particular airline and arrivals destination may require certain health and vaccination certificates. Make sure you are prepared for this well in advance!
Calm cat travel tips
- Use the right carrier. There are lots of considerations when choosing a carrier that can help your cat feel more calm! Make sure your cat can stand up inside, stretch and turn around easily. Using a hard carrier can also help to protect your pet - and choosing a carrier with minimal windows and handles on the sides (rather than the top) can help to reduce motion sickness. Line the carrier with cozy blankets and newspaper and your kitty will be ready to go!
- Bring litter tray options. We all need a quick comfort break when travelling all day! If you are making a short trip your pet may be fine to wait - but be prepared with spare newspaper and cleaning materials for any accidents! For longer distance travel however, bringing a disposable litter box, and offering regular toilet breaks to your pet can help to make the journey more comfortable.
- Keep kitty hydrated. Refreshment breaks are also an important part of travel! Bring lots of water with you for your cat, and offer this at regular travel stops. It’s best not to leave a water bowl in the cat carrier as it will spill! To reassure your kitty, it can also help to bring water from home - water in different places can smell and taste different, which can put your kitty off!
- Avoid food while travelling. Feeding just before or during travel should be avoided so that your cat doesn’t feel sick. However, once you arrive at your destination, make sure your pet has access to their regular familiar food. They may take a while to settle in and feel hungry, so be patient if they turn their nose up at first!
- Consider the weather. Keeping your cat at a comfortable temperature can make their travel experience much easier! In the summer, travel can be very hot, so bring ice packs or frozen bottles of water with you in a cooler - if there is no air conditioning you can place a cool ice pack, wrapped in a cloth, inside the carrier to keep your kitty cool. In winter, make sure your cat has lots of extra blankets!
- Tire out your cat first. Exercising your cat ahead of travel with a fun play session can not only help them feel happy and relaxed - but it may help to tire them out so they can sleep through the journey! A tired kitty will be more likely to settle and feel less agitated on the trip.
- Bring all the resources your pet needs. What is your destination? Is it a cat-friendly location? Will your pet have access to all of the resources they need and have at home, such as their usual food, a scratching post, litter tray, familiar bed?
When travelling by car, you should also:
- Help your cat feel safe around the car - allow them to explore inside the car while it is parked so they are used to the smells.
- Try a few short practice trips in the days and weeks before the main journey.
- Make sure the cat carrier is always secured with a seatbelt.
- Drive as carefully as possible to avoid sudden jolts, and keep the car atmosphere quiet and relaxed with the radio turned low.
- Keep kitty inside the cat carrier at all times while you are moving and fasten the carrier carefully. Letting your cat out can be dangerous and is forbidden in most countries.
- Stop for regular comfort and refreshment breaks every 2-3 hours on longer trips. If you let kitty out of the carrier (only while parked), make sure all doors and windows are closed to avoid any escapes.
- Make sure your pet is wearing a harness and lead.
- Never leave your cat in the car!
On public transport:
- Keep your kitty inside the carrier at all times. Make sure they are wearing an ID collar or harness, plus a lead if you need to open the carrier - a lead can be easier to grab than a cat if kitty decides to try and escape!
- Reassure your pet in calming tones through the journey.
- As with car travel, try to stop for regular refreshment breaks where suitable.
- Covering the cat carrier with a blanket can help to minimise stress caused by visual triggers.
- Arrive in good time for your transport to keep travel as calm as possible.
- Always check with your specific airline months in advance. Some airlines will have specific carrier type and size requirements or may not allow pets. They will always need to know that you plan to bring your cat in advance, and will be able to advise on specific requirements.
- Make sure your pet adheres to any medical requirements - find out from your vet what vaccinations, paperwork and travel ID your cat needs to have.
- Check that your destination location will allow you to bring your kitty with you.
- Arrive at the airport well in advance on the day of travel, as check with a pet in may take longer.
Other Travel Considerations To Keep In Mind
Always travel with ID and paperwork!
Make sure your cat is wearing ID the entire time that they are travelling. This may be a collar or harness with your name, number and address.. You should also have your pet microchipped, if this has not been done already. Keep copies of your pet’s travel documentation and certificates with their carrier at all times, as well as with you. Especially for air travel, make sure to check with a vet in case certain vaccinations or a health certificate are needed ahead of travel.
Check with your destination
If you’re staying somewhere - whether it’s at a hotel or with friends or elsewhere, always check in advance that it’s ok to bring your cat, and safe to do so. Never try to sneak your cat in! Hotels tend to accept pets more than they used to and some advertise that they’re pet friendly so they’ll even provide some of the resources your pawsom pal needs!
Once you arrive at your destination, it’s a good idea to do a quick cat safety check before you let them out of the carrier. Make sure there are no windows or doors open unexpectedly, and look high and low around the room to make sure there is nothing that could harm your pet - such as an open cupboard they could get trapped inside. Once you’re sure everything is safe, set up a safe space for your pet - such as a quiet room or corner - with some water food and their bed (or carrier) then allow your pet to come out in their own time. Don’t worry if they take a while, they may still be feeling shaky from the journey and need a while to recover!
If you can’t take your furry friend with you there are other options available - consider getting a cat sitter in to look after your kitty in your home or you could take your cat to a cattery.
Using a FELIWAY Help! Diffuser plugged into the space (such as your hotel room) can help your pet feel safe and secure as they adjust to a new location. With a 7 day supply of comforting messages, it can help to support and calm your pet.
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