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

If you need to go away from home for a while and you have a cat then you may be wondering: 'Should I travel with my cat?' and 'Do cats even like to travel?'. Here, our Bedford vets talk about the best way to travel with a cat and how to travel with a cat on a plane or in a car for a stress-free trip.

How to Travel Long Distance With a Cat 

If you need to go away, whether for work or play, then you will need to decide if you should bring your cat with you or have them boarded.

If you choose to bring them with you then you will need to do a little planning. The first thing to do is ensure your cat is up-to-date on their vaccines and parasite prevention.

Different states have different regulations regarding vaccines for pets, but in most states, it is required by law for your pet's rabies vaccines to be up to date. So be sure to schedule a visit to your veterinarian before you leave so that your cat's core vaccines can be brought up to date.

What is the Best Way to Travel With a Cat

Depending on your method of transportation and the length of the journey there are different things you will need to consider and prepare for. Below we cover the necessities for traveling with your cat by car, plane, train, and ship.

How to Travel With a Cat in a Car

  • Purchase a Suitable Cat Carrier. Cats are generally uncomfortable traveling in cars and should be kept in a carrier for their safety and yours. It is important to secure the carrier with a seat belt to keep it from bouncing around and hurting your cat.
  • Don't Put Your Cat in the Front Seat. Even when in a carrier, the deployment of airbags in the front seat can be dangerous for your pet - for this reason, it is best to always keep your cat's carrier restrained in the back seat(s) of your vehicle.
  • Keep Your Cat's Head 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.
  • Bring a Human Designated to Care for Them. If possible, it is best to have a human who is there to monitor and comfort your cat riding with them in the back seat. This will help your cat feel comfortable during the journey.
  • If Your Journey is 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. You can consult your vet on best practices for fitting a litter box in the same crate or kennel as your cat.
  • 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 and a short time for you could be an eternity for your feline companion. when it's 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour, even with the windows slightly open.

How to Travel with a Cat on a Plane

  • Air Travel Can be Dangerous for Cats. Air travel can lead to oxygen deprivation or heat stroke in animals. Persian cats are particularly susceptible to these effects, as are other animals with "smushed-in" faces.
  • Consider All Alternatives Before Flying. Because flying is so stressful for cats, we recommend taking another option if possible. Driving is generally superior to flying, there may be boarding options available that can let your cat relax comfortably at a home away from home.
  • Choose an Airline that Will Allow Your Cat in the Cabin. Many airlines will allow you to fly with your cat in the cabin, for an additional fee. While most animals flown in the cargo area of airplanes are fine, you should 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. You must inform them well in advance that you are bringing a cat with you.
  • If You 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.

How to Travel with a Cat on a Train

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

How to Travel with a Cat on a Ship

Except for assistance dogs, pets are welcome on only a few cruise lines—and usually on ocean crossings only. Some lines 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 protected from the elements and check on your pet frequently.

Reliable Pet Boarding in Bedford

We understand how stressful it can be to leave your pet when you go out of town–especially if they are sick, or as they are recovering from a surgery or procedure.

At Fine Animal Hospital, we want to help put your mind at ease. We offer complete general boarding services for all of our patients, along with medical boarding services for pets with conditions that standard boarding centers may not be equipped to accommodate.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you are planning on taking a trip then you should schedule your feline friend in for their routine vaccinations as soon as possible. Contact our Bedford vets today.

We're accepting new patients! Book your pet's first appointment today.

(914) 666-8061 Contact