We know that all cat parents consider their kitties to be part of their families. If you are planning to travel long distances because of holidays, your new job, or because of family reasons, in this article you will find answers to all your questions.
Do you really need to travel long distances with a kitty?
Valuing their own comfort and security, surrounded by familiar scents and sounds, any travel – even a short vet visit – can be a big deal for fluffy balls and can cause unnecessary stress. Studies on cats’ transportation show that travelling can cause stress in pets, and thus needs to be well considered.
If you are planning vacations and thinking as to whether to travel long distances with your fluffy ball, you can consider alternatives to long distance travel such as engaging your friends or other family members to take care of the kitty, or rehoming them, finding a pet-sitter, or arranging the cat’s stay in a boarding facility. Pet parents need to consider all situations and solutions, particularly when their cat is in their golden age, has health-related issues that need to be under control, is pregnant, or their age is less than 8 months.
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Travelling long distances – essential guide
When deciding on travelling long distances with cats, careful preparation, planning and management are always required to minimize stress in cats, any disease transition and ensure your pet’s comfort.
Tip #1 – always check the distance and how many hours you might need to reach your final destination. After 6 hours of drive, it is recommended to have a 1-hour stop to enable your kitty to go about their business, feeding and drinking. If you continue your drive for longer than 6 hours, then you need to have an 11-hour rest before your next journey.
If you will be travelling with kittens, then you can drive 7 hours maximum with a 2-hour stop. As research indicates, a midway stop provides rest by decreasing cortisol and thus lowering stress levels in pets.
Tip #2 – you need to know where cat-friendly (pet-friendly) hotels are while you will be travelling, if they impose any additional fees per cat, or if they charge per night or the whole stay, so you can understand how expensive a hotel will be if you stay there with multiple cats.
Tip#3 – before the trip visit your vet to take precautions if your cat suffers from chronic diseases or is in their golden age. You can also ask advice about sedatives to help your pet during the long journey.
Tip#4 – emergencies on the road or during travel might occur, and you might need to consult or visit a vet while you will be travelling with your cats. Check out vet emergency services available on your route, have a copy of, or take with you, your cat’s documentation such as health and vaccines records and/or certificates
Tip#5 – if you are moving to another state, country, or internationally you need to recognise the local laws and legal requirements as vaccination and tests might vary. If your kitty will need any vaccinations, plan your vet visit to be done a minimum 3-5 days before the planned journey.
Tip#6 – if your fluffy friend suffers from car sickness, avoid feeding your pet for 3-4 hours before your trip.
Tip#7– test drive your cat and take occasional rides to get them familiar with the carrier and adapt to travelling in cars.
Tip#8 – prepare a list of food and other supplies you need to have while travelling long distances with cats, and buy them in advance.
Tip#9 – while travelling long distances the person who your kitties are most attached to should stay as close to them as possible.
Tip#10 – control the temperature in the car, particularly if you are driving in large SUVs. Sun might come in the windows, so a pet will be hot even though the air conditioning is on. When you travel long distances during hot seasons, increase the number of midway stops so that you can take them for a walk in parks or other shady places.
Tip#12 – invest in a well-constructed, well-ventilated and leak-proof carrier. A great feature to have in the carrier is many pockets where cat owners can pack essential items they can access easily any time during the journey. When purchasing the carrier, it is important to remember that:
- your pet must be completely inside it, will feel comfortable to move, stand, sit, turn around, stretch, and rest. The recommended carrier size is 1.5 times your cat’s size;
- a divider is helpful when you want to transport two cats and divide their space;
- a pet owner needs to know the maximum acceptable dimensions of a carrier if they will be travelling by plane;
- all elements of the carrier must be durable;
- the carrier is an investment as a good one provides extra security for your kitty;
- pet owners can easily latch and unlatch the top, and the sound of snapping cannot be loud and scary to the pet;
- the carrier should be easy to clean, cozy, and comfortable for the pet;
- multiple doors are nice-to-have so everyone has a variety of ways to help a pet without removing it from the carrier;
- the carrier should be cat-friendly, particularly if they are veterans.
Tip#12 – pet owners can also choose a larger crate that will have a litter box and a bed in it.
Tip#13 – in most cases it is better to transport cats in separate carriers (singly).
Tip#14 – it’s a well-known fact that cats do love boxes, which are not a safe option throughout the journey as pets can chew them and it’s difficult to clean up the mess.
Tip#15 – according to the research undertaken by Bristol University, cats feel less stressed when their bedding, washable mat, or towel is present in the carrier. A carrier with a towel or bedding in the bottom (you can spray it with Feliway approximately 30 min before you place your kitty in the carrier – more details here) allows pets to feel cozy and be surrounded by familiar scents.
By having a pad inside the carrier, pet owners can also control and clean the carrier easily if a pet urinates, gets carsick and vomits, or defecates.
Tip#16 – to make trips less stressful, prior carrier training can be helpful.
Tip#17– while preparing for your journey, always check the carrier for holes and its zippers.
Tip#18 – secure the carriers with seat belts in the car. Even if your kitty is a great traveler, it is safe to keep them in the carrier for long distances. If an accident happens, your 4-legged friend can escape, be injured, get lost and won’t know what to do in the unknown surroundings.
Tip#19 – your pet will feel more relaxed having their favorite toys, blanket, or other belongings, with them during the travel.
Tip#20 – packing to be ready for all potential situations is better than under-packing. An absorbent pad, plastic bags, paper towels or baby wipes for cleaning up will be helpful in unexpected situations during the journey.
If you are travelling by plane, make sure all items meet TSA standards.
Other helpful items to take might be:
- collapsible silicone bowls for food and water
- dry food
- a large bag of Premium cat food
- big plastic dog dishes to be used as litter pans
- bottles of water
Tip#21 – the kitty’s carrier should be labeled with their name, as well as the owner’s and vet’s names, and should include emergency contact information.
Tip#22 – if you are travelling inside your country or internationally by plane, you need to research the policies and specific rules set by your airline, as well as the requirements of your destination.
Travelling with your fluffy friend by car or plane can be stressful for all sides involved, but sometimes you cannot avoid it. If you get all the information in advance, plan and prepare your journey to fit your cat’s personality and follow the above guidelines, then your kitty will become your travel companion who enjoys travelling long distances with their owners.