Quick Travel Tips - Cats

Cat owners should keep in mind that most cats will not be happy about the travel process and may be easily stressed by change. Here are some quick tips that will help make travel with your feline friend more pleasant.

Air or Train Travel

Air travel will be the most stressful for cats, especially if you have a connecting flight. It is often not safe to let your cat out of the crate to “stretch his legs” or to use the toilet. The best way to avoid excess time in the carrier is to take the most direct, quickest route to and from the airport. This may mean spending more money by hiring a taxi or driving your own car. 

The benefit of air travel, especially in Europe, is that your cat will spend less time overall in the carrier compared to a long journey by train or car.

Train travel can be similar to air travel. You may have to remove your cat from its crate when going through security checkpoints at airports or train stations.  Plane and trains can also be delayed, requiring your cat to wait longer periods in confinement. Airports and train stations can be very noisy, so seek out a quiet location – even at a café – and talk to your cat, reassuring and calming him.

Travel Tip: Carrier or Crate

  • If your pet is travelling with you inside the aircraft cabin, a soft-sided carrier may be more lightweight and will fit under the seat better. 
  • For cats travelling in the cargo hold, a hard plastic crate is required. These crates provide more space for your cat compared to the soft-sided carriers. Contact your airline for crate requirements and specifications.
  • A few days before your tip, set the carrier out in your house and open the doors. Your cat, naturally curious, will become accustomed to its presence and may not be as afraid when it is time to go into the crate.

Car and Ferry Travel

Many cats will fall asleep in their crate during a car trip. For additional security, use the car’s seat belt to strap the crate to the seat. A sudden stop could send a crate flying – scaring the cat and potentially causing injury to others. 

Your family and cat will need regular toilet breaks on a long car journey. But how can your cat toilet in the car safely?  First, carry with you a clean, new plastic litter tray and a zip-top bag full of clean litter.  Lock the doors, have the children stay in their seats, and put the litter tray in the floor board of the car, in front of one of the seats. You can also place it in the baggage area if it is accessible. Let your cat out of the crate and allow time, up to half an hour, for him to explore the car and use the toilet.  Many cats welcome this opportunity. Allowing your cat to toilet will help prevent problems like bladder infections.  If your cat does not toilet, don’t worry – try again in a few hours.

Many people choose to take their car to the Continent or across the Baltic Sea by ferry. Never leave your cat in the car unattended. Some ferry operators require pets to remain below decks in a special holding area away from the cars.  If you take an overnight ferry, your cat may be allowed in the sleeping cabin with you. Your cat will welcome this opportunity to “stretch legs” and use the toilet in the privacy of your own room.  

Travel Tip: Harness

  • Fit your cat with a harness (the type that goes around the shoulders, neck and chest of the animal) before going into the crate. The harness will allow for secure control when you take the cat out for airport security checkpoints. A small leash can also be snapped on for greater security. 
  • Don’t be tempted to use a collar around the neck. These can slip off easily and cats generally are not well controlled with a collar. 
  • The harness can help you get your hands on the cat when returning him to the crate after a toilet break in the car.

Travel Tip: Helping your Cat to Relax

Pheromone Therapy
Cat pheromones can be purchased either as a spray, disposable cloth or diffuser. These products contain “feel good” pheromones which can help put your cat at ease. Spray a small amount into the carrier once a day for a few days up to departure. 

For more information: Feliway Feline Pheromones 

Motion Sickness
Some cats do become motion sick while travelling by car or ferry. If your cat has vomited during travel in the past – it is likely to happen again. Talk to your veterinarian about a product called Cerenia – it is labelled for the treatment of motion sickness in some countries. Also, feed your cat a couple of hours before you start your journey. Feed him small meals throughout the day at regular meal times and offer water often.

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