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It can be daunting to think about traveling with your cat. But it is possible, and some smart prep work can help make it easier for both of you.
While some cats are lively travel companions who enjoy an adventure, others may be better off in their usual surroundings where they feel safe and comfortable. Here are some options if you decide it's best to leave your cat home:
If you're into pet tech gadgets, you may want to purchase a two-way video device so you can check in on your cat at any time. Some even let you toss out treats or play laser games with your cat from an app on your phone.
You should also know that there are boarding options for cats if you ever need one. Some cater to cats only while others keep cats separated from their dog guests.
If you decide to leave your cat at home, you may be considering an auto-feeder that can freely dispense dry food for your kitty. While these auto-feeders are convenient for cat parents, they can put cats at risk for gaining weight and becoming obese. Obesity can lead to all sorts of health problems, from diabetes to joint disease.
Auto-feeders that portion out wet meals at set times may be a better choice to help avoid overfeeding your cat. But keep in mind these auto-feeders need to be filled and cleaned out regularly so that harmful bacteria doesn't build up.
If you decide to use an auto-feeder for your cat, you should still invest in a pet sitter or have someone stop in while you're away. That person can give your cat a little attention, make sure the auto-feeder is full and working properly, check your cat's water supply, and scoop out the litter box. They may also be able to help in other ways, like bringing in the mail and watering your plants.
If you decide to go on a trip with your cat, you can make your life easier and help ensure your cat stays safe with some prep work.
You'll need to use a cat carrier to restrain your kitty in the car. This will help keep them safe during the ride especially if you hit an unexpected bump, make a sharp turn, or get in a fender bender. If they're in a carrier, they'll also be less likely to distract the driver, which could cause an accident.
If your cat is new to a carrier, you can leave it out in your house so they can get used to it gradually. Put a few treats or feed your cat a meal in the carrier to entice them to go inside and associate it with something good. You can also place a blanket or towel at the bottom to make them more comfortable.
Your cat should wear a collar and ID tag. A tag is the first thing someone will see if they come across your cat.
You should also microchip your cat since collars can slip off. A microchip can help ensure your cat gets returned to you quickly and safely. Be sure to keep your microchip registry updated with your current contact information.
If your cat hasn't been to the veterinarian in a while, it's smart to take them for a wellness visit before a big trip. Your veterinarian can help make sure your cat doesn't have any health conditions brewing. They can also give you advice on keeping your cat safe, healthy, and happy during your trip.
If your cat hasn't had much experience driving around, it's a good idea to take a few short trips to help them get used to the sights, sounds, and smells of the car.
These short trips can also help you identify problems, like motion sickness or hyperactivity, that you'll want to address before a long drive. Cats with motion sickness may drool excessively and throw up even if there's nothing in their stomach. Hyperactive cats tend to go bonkers in the car. They may pant, salivate, yowl, meow, and bounce around their carrier. If your cat has either of these issues, you should talk to your veterinarian for advice. They may recommend a safe anti-nausea medication or sedative for your cat.
You can also consider some other options instead of or in addition to medication. For instance, you can try spritzing the carrier with a product that contains synthetic pheromones, which can have a calming effect on cats. Or your cat may benefit from wearing a snug-fitting shirt in the car. Such a garment swaddles your cat tightly and may help relax them.
If you're traveling a long distance with your cat, be sure to take breaks. Cats need to stretch their legs too. When you stop, give your cat the opportunity to use the litter box and have a drink of water. Depending on the length of the ride, you may need to plan for a meal break as well.
While you can take your cat on a plane, it can be a stressful experience for you both, so you might want to avoid it if possible. If you need to fly with your cat, these tips can help:
If your trip will include an overnight stay, look for a cat-friendly hotel online using a site like Go Pet Friendly or Pets Welcome. You may still want to call ahead to make sure they haven't made any changes to their pet policy. You can also ask them if there any extra charges or restrictions for cat guests.
If you're staying with friends or family, don't assume they know you're bringing your cat along. Talk with them in advance and discuss any logistical issues, like family members with allergies or other pets in the home. It can be a nice gesture to offer some help vacuuming or bring along a cat lint roller.
If you're traveling with two cats, you'll need to pack extra supplies. You'll probably also need two cat carriers, unless your cats really love being close together, and the carrier is large enough to fit them comfortably. You should do the same prep work with each cat. For instance, take some short trips together to help them get used to the car and visit the veterinarian for a check-up before you go.
This cat packing checklist has cat essentials, as well as some optional items that might help during your trip.
And of course, you'll need a litter box.
Wondering how to travel with a cat litter box? There are disposable, collapsible, and easy to carry plastic options. Keep litter handy, so you can put some in the box if your cat needs a pit stop. Poop bags can also be helpful in case your cat goes outside of the box.
On the day of the trip, you can leave food and water out for your cat as usual but take them away around 2 to 3 hours before the trip. This way, your cat won't have a full tummy when you leave, which can help reduce the chances they'll throw up during the ride.
Then if you've done all your prep work, you should be good to go. Take a deep breath and enjoy your adventure with your cat!
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.