One of the neat things about sharing your home with a cat is that they are pretty self-reliant, and this is especially obvious when you have to leave the house; all you need to do is set up some extra food and water bowls, additional litter boxes, and plenty of safe toys, then off you go. But if you need to be away for a long spell, you might want to bring your little pal along. If that's the case, it's important to know how to travel with your cat. Today, we'll talk about a few things to make the process easier.
Packing for the Road
If you're going to travel with your cat, it's essential that you pack carefully. There are the standard things like food, clean water, and travel bowls; a familiar, comfortable crate; bedding; toys; and a harness or collar, and leash - assuming you use them. But there are plenty of other things you'll want to have handy. For instance, if your kitty is on any medications, you'll of course have to bring them with. In some cases, you might also have to make special preparations - for example, if the medication needs to be refrigerated, you'll have to keep a small cooler and ice at all times, or if it has to be measured very precisely, you'll also need to include a bag with all the required apparatus. Additionally, you'll also want to keep any health certificates, files, or vaccination papers at the ready.
Just to help you along, I've put together a printable PDF checklist. You can download it here.
Getting Kitty on the Road
If you want to travel with your cat, it's a good idea to start training him at a young age. Just like human babies, kittens and young cats are malleable. The first few trips might be tricky, and to be frank, some kitties will never really learn to love it. If you can swing it, though, I would definitely recommend starting as soon as you possibly can. You don't necessarily have to bundle your little one up for extended aways, and in fact, it's better to begin with short car rides around the neighborhood. As your little cat becomes accustomed to this, you can take him on longer trips, until, finally... the two of you can relish your holidays together!
Of course, training your cat for voyaging at an early age may not be an option. If that's the case, not to worry! Even mature felines can learn to at least tolerate trips outside of the home. As with kittens, it's a good idea to start with shorter jaunts - preferably in the confines of a safe, cozy, and familiar crate. On the first one or two trips outside, it's a good idea not to start the car at all. Simply take him out in his crate, allow him to smell the outside air, and get familiar with the sounds of the interior of your vehicle - that is, gently open and close the doors, carefully jangle the keys, etc. After you do this a few times, go ahead and turn on the ignition, but don't start driving yet! Again, just give him a moment to get used to the new sounds and smells.
This whole process takes a little longer, but when several days have passed, just letting him get comfortable with all of the new stimuli, you can then go ahead and take your grown up kitty on a short trip. Shorter drives can then become longer drives, and then out of nowhere, you'll become regular road warriors!
High Flying Feline
Although I wouldn't personally recommend it, there are times when it may be necessary to travel with your cat via air. When flying with your cat, it's important to do your research. Different airlines will have different rules regarding pet travel, so be as well-educated as you possibly can. Although there are many things to bear in mind, to keep your kitty as comfortable as possible, try to take him in the cabin with you - but, again, you will have to verify this option with your airline. On the day of the flight, withhold breakfast, as this will help prevent nausea. Finally, if it is absolutely necessary, ask your vet if some variety of medication might be suitable to help keep your cat calm.
Now that you've finally gotten your cat from point A to point B, it's time to get settled in - after all, if you're going to travel with your cat, you'll both need to stop and rest at some point! The first step to getting comfy is to get unpacked. Start with your own stuff, as all of the rustling and shuffling of baggage will almost certainly freak your feline out. Next, set all of his things up - find a place for his travel litter box, as well as food and water bowls, a nice cozy bed if you brought one, and all of his toys.
With all of that completed, you can now bring your buddy inside of his new space, but don't let him out of his carrying case yet. Just like with the car scenario above, your cat will need a moment or two to get acclimated to the new smells, sights, and sounds. Actually, more than a few moments. In fact, give him at least a half hour alone in his safe space. After some time has passed, open the door and let him come out in his own time - do not force the situation, let him decide when the time is right to explore.
If you're in a hotel room, you can allow things to unfold naturally; however, if you're bringing your kitty to the home of a friend or family member, you might have to take some extra precautions. Keep in mind any pets that are currently in the household - after all, you wouldn't want your buddy to make a feast of your friend's parrot, or have a surprise wrestling match with Aunt Mary's miniature poodle. Also, try to be considerate of your host's preferences. Some people would prefer that pets stay off of the furniture, out of certain rooms, or away from kids or other critters. If this is the case, you may have to keep your kitty confined to specific areas. The rule of thumb here is simply to ask before you even arrive!
Maybe you're on the move during the holidays. Maybe you simply need a week away from life. Whatever the case, knowing how to travel with your cat is a great way to ensure that you and your fluffy friend can have a safe and fun getaway whenever you feel the urge!
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