As a rule, cats are animals that struggle with travel. One of the reasons for this is because cats adopt a territory and grow comfortable with it.
Removing a cat from its surroundings can be traumatic for them, more so than
for a dog, just because of the nature of felines. Although there are
exceptions, cats can tend to be more nervous, upset and detatched when stress is imposed on them.
If your cat is easy going and not upset when their daily routine is changed, consider yourself lucky. Traveling with a cat, especially on an airline, poses a whole new set of challenges that dog owners do not typically experience.
How to make cat travel easier?
Whether you are working with a kitten or full grown cat, the most important step is to prepare. As far in advance as possible, purchase a cat carrier or crate and get your pet used to it. Make it a happy place for them (this is a hard part) by bribery, if necessary. If you are acclimating your cat to a softsided carrier, put it on its side and put a used t-shirt of yours in it. If a hardsided crate is what your cat travels in, leave the top off. A catnip toy is always good and maybe a treat or two. Keep your distance and watch to see if your kitty starts to check it out.
If your cat does not show interest, move the carrier to another place that is meaningful to your cat: next to your bed, in a quiet corner, on a couch. Next comes lots of praise and encouragement. If your kitty likes attention, you have a chance to pull this off. Spend time with your cat playing in and around the carrier. Take time as it will pay off later. Getting your cat accustomed to its carrier is the single most important thing you can do to ensure a pleasant trip.
After a while, put your cat in the carrier and sit beside it. Don't go anywhere, just communicate with your kitty through the bag. Talk to them and stroke them when they are in the bag. Leave them in there for a few minutes, then let them out and give them a treat. These sessions can grow longer until your pet does not cry or fuss anymore when in the bag.
The next step is to take them outside. If you have time, don't go anywhere. Justa short walk or sit in the car and let them become used to the smells. You can start the engine and go around the block, but keep it short. Try doing this everyday for a week and note your cat's behavior. It should get better and better.
Travel Day has arrived!
On the day of travel, be sure and put familiar bedding and toys in the carrier. The airlines will not allow toys in a crate, but you can always put the old t-shirt in with your kitty. Don't feed them the usual amount. We don't want any upset stomachs. Be sure and offer them water.
At this point, if your kitty still cries, offer them an all natural pet calmer so both of you will enjoy the trip.
If you are traveling with your cat in the cabin, you will have to go through the security checkpoint. It is extremely important to be prepared for this. You will have to remove your cat from the carrier and walk through the scanner which your carrier is going through the xray machine. We have a cat harness and leash that is non-metalic to it will not have to be removed and you can control your cat. If you have any doubts that your cat will be too difficult to deal with, request a room away from the crowd. If your request is denied, ask to speak to a supervisor. Every airport has an inspection room for situations like these.
Cat Travel by Car
If you are traveling with a cat by car, be sure and load them after everything is in the car and you are ready to go. Put them in the same place that you practiced with them. Be sure and buckle them in for safety. Once you are on the road, the vibration of the engine may calm them down and put them to sleep.
Here are some more hints for traveling with a cat:
- Get a good pad for your carrier - some cats will urinate when they are upset or angry. Cat urine is not what you want to travel with.
- Keep the privacy flaps on your carrier closed - your cat will do better if they cannot see what is going on around them unless they are of the laid back variety
- Keep your cat close to you - carry the crate or carrier if you can. Your cat will do better if it senses that you are near.
- Keep the carrier zipped up - given the opportunity, your cat may just bolt out of fear. Don't take that chance.
- Stay calm - your cat will sense it if you are upset. Always speak in a soothing voice to your cat.
More Information on Traveling with a Cat
Hopefully, these hints will help you when you are traveling with your cat. A little effort and planning will go a long way to happy cat travel.