Considering taking your cat on vacation with you? There is a lot to consider; what to pack for the cat, the best way to travel, pet friendly lodging, and more.  I have some great tips to help your vacation go as smoothly as possible for you and your cat.

Let the Cats Stay Home

Day 20: "After Dark" Manna enjoying a little nip after dark.

Manna likes being at home with her giant mouse.

In truth, cats that aren’t used to traveling are better off left at home when you go on vacation. Whenever I vacation I leave Cinco and Manna safe at home. New places, people, and the unusual sensation of a moving vehicle can cause great anxiety to a cat. If your kitty isn’t feeling well, it is definitely not a good time for him/her to travel. Traveling while you’re sick is miserable for everyone! Your cat may be much happier in his/her own surroundings with the care of a friend, family member, or trustworthy pet sitter while you’re gone.

Plan ahead and make sure you find the right person to care for your cats. If it isn’t someone who is frequently in your home, you may want them to come over a few times and let the cats get to know them. Make a list of feeding times, medications (with doses, times, and any other instructions), litter box  maintenance instructions, locations of food and supplies, and likes and dislikes of each cat. Go over all of these in person with the person who will be watching your cat to make sure they understand. Always leave a number where you can be reached while you’re on vacation.

Items to Pack in Your Cat’s Suitcase

If you are planning to take your cat on vacation, there are a few things your are going to need.

Take Alla too

Photo Credit: Quinn Dombrowski

  • Car-safe carrier
  • Travel food and water dishes
  • Travel litter box
  • A plentiful supply of your cat’s usual food (you don’t know that it will be available where you are going).
  • A plentiful supply of your cat’s usual litter.
  • Any medications your cat is taking.
  • A few of your cat’s toys
  • Your cat’s favorite blanket (for the bottom of the carrier).
  • Your cat’s vaccination records and other important medical records. You may need these for traveling across state lines, to travel internationally, and in the even of an emergency.

Drive to Your Vacation Destination

Driving is the safest way to get to your kitty to your vacation destination. The cat should be placed in a car-safe carrier in the back seat of the car. There should only be 1 cat per carrier and enough room in the carrier for the cat to stand up and turn around. Have travel food and water dishes and a travel litter box on hand. If the trip will take several hours, make sure you take breaks and give your cat the opportunity to eat, drink, and use the litter box.

If your cat doesn’t travel often, take the time to familiarize the cat with his/her carrier and with the feeling of being in the car. Start as early as you can preparing your cat. Cats are very territorial creatures and they need to feel that the carrier is a part of their territory before they will be comfortable being transported in it. At first leave the carrier out where the cat can inspect it. Place a blanket that the cat has slept on inside the carrier so that they cat’s smell will be present. Once the cat has grown accustomed to the carrier, try going for some short car rides. Make sure to reward your cat for going (avoid going to the vet on these trips). You want your cat to think of taking a ride in the car as a positive thing.

If You Must Fly

The Humane Society does not recommend taking pets on airplanes because of the number of them that are injured or killed every year. If your vacation plans require you to travel by air, contact the airline as far in advance of your vacation as possible to learn about their pet policies. Airlines have very specific rules about carriers, vaccination records, and medical histories. Be sure to follow all of their guidelines as closely as possible or you could get turned away at the gate!

PER Int.Pr. Felinidad's Molly

Cats with short noses should avoid air travel. Photo Credit: Nickolas Titkov via Flickr

Try to take your cat in the cabin with you if possible. The risk to your cat is much higher when they have to be handled by baggage handlers. Conditions in the cargo hold may be crowded and it is hard to say what the air pressure and temperature will be like throughout the trip. Cats with short noses (like Persian cats) should avoid air travel because they are much more sensitive to lower oxygen levels.

If you have to put your cat in cargo hold, travel during non-peak times. This will lessen the chance that the baggage carriers will be hurrying to to get from one airplane to the next. When you pick your cat up from the baggage claim area, check to see that everything is okay. If there are any problems at all, get the necessary veterinary help and file a detailed report with the airline.

Home Sweet Hotel

Not all hotels are pet friendly and not all pet friendly hotels are cat friendly. Be sure to ask about pet policies when you make your reservations . It would be horrible to show up at your hotel after a long day of travel only to be turned away! Be ready with your cat’s vaccination records in case the hotel needs to see them.

Even the most well-traveled cats may not be very happy about being at a hotel. Once again, cats are very territorial and this is not a part of their territory. I had to take my cats to a hotel for a week once (our house had some problems) and they were definitely not happy. It took Cinco a couple of days before he would come out of the carrier. Manna came out within a few hours and began her inspection of the room. Don’t force your cat to be social if they aren’t ready. One thing that really helped my cats to be more comfortable was telling maid service not to visit our room. Cinco and Manna were on edge enough without having strange people with vacuums barging in. Another helpful thing was that I created areas where Cinco and Manna could hide. Your vacation will be the best when everyone is comfortable and happy.

Have you ever taken your cat on vacation?

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