Tips For Taking Your Cat On Vacation With You

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If you’re planning on taking a trip, you may be tempted to bring along your beloved feline companion. After all, the only thing that could make a vacation or a camping trip better is having your four-legged bestie by your side! However, your wish to share the adventure with your pet is not the only thing to consider when deciding. Unlike dogs, cats don’t really like to travel and can get really stressed out when you take them out of the environment they are used to. Sometimes, even moving can be very nerve-wracking for a feline, let alone a road trip or going away for a vacation! Not all cats are alike, of course, and some might be easy-going enough that traveling doesn’t bother them. Still, there are steps you need to take to ensure your vacation will be as enjoyable as possible for everyone involved.

First Ask Yourself: Does Your Cat Really Want to Go on Vacation with You?

The first thing you need to consider is whether or not your cat would really enjoy going on vacation with you or not. Are you making the decision to bring him along because you will really miss him and you don’t want to have to worry about him while you’re away from home and he’s all alone? Or do you think that going on a trip would be an enjoyable experience for your pet as much as it would for you?

Related: Cats And Car Rides: How To Get Them To Mix

The majority of felines out there would actually prefer to remain on their home turf, where they have their own routine, they’re familiar with the environment and what to expect every day, and they have their comfy bed and fun toys to play with. However, if your cat is an exception to the rule and one that actually does really well with changing environments and travel, you can go ahead and bring him along for the journey. Some cats live for the adventure and might seek out opportunities for exploring new surroundings- just look at felines such as Vladimir the traveling cat or Simon the backpacking kitty. Even if your kitty is not one of those that live for the adventure and the outdoors, you might still have no options but to make him your traveling companion. If you absolutely cannot find anyone you trust to cat sit while you’re away, your only choice is to bring him with you. 

Either way, whatever your reasons may be, when you’re taking your cat with you on a trip, it’s imperative to do everything in your power to make the journey as stress-free and safe as possible.

Making the Journey a Stress-Free Experience

Depending upon your mode of transportation, you will need to take steps to ensure your cat will be safe at all times and will be as calm as possible. It’s not the same if you’re going on an hour-long car trip and if you need to travel by plane to your destination. In any case, it’s recommended that your cat is an adequate transporter for the occasion. Pet carriers, travel crates and similar are the only way to safely transport your cat. Again, if your cat is easily frazzled by change, the pet carrier, car rides, etc., it really is best to just let him stay home while you go away. Hiring a reputable cat sitter or having a friend or relative visit your cat at least once a day will ensure he’ll be safe, any emergencies that arise will be addressed promptly, and he’ll have plenty of food, water, and clean litter until you get home.

Related: Sleepypod Pet Carriers Earn Top Honors from the Center for Pet Safety

If you are bringing your cat along, though, you can use natural remedies, such as Bach Flower Essences and feline pheromone sprays, to ease your pet’s anxiety naturally. These products rely on natural relaxants that could calm down your pet without having to resort to medications. A soft-sided carrier filled with a soft blanket and a familiar toy may also help your cat feel at ease- it will remind them of home.

Tips for Traveling by Car

Because most train and bus companies won’t allow pets onboard, the best option for traveling with your cat is by car. If, however, your cat gets car sick or stressed, this could be a challenge. There are anti-nausea medications for cats available, so if your pet is prone to car sickness, consult with your veterinarian about possible treatment. No matter what, keep your pet in his carrier, and strap the carrier to the car seat using a seat belt in order to keep him safe in the event of an accident.

Most cats will be very vocal at the beginning of a car ride, but they usually quiet down and end up napping. If your cat is really stressed, though, you may need to get sedatives from your veterinarian to ensure a smooth journey.

Bring along a small litter pan and litter for your cat to use in the car until you reach your destination, and be sure to bring plenty of fresh food and water, too. It would be good if you opt for some of your cat’s faves and treat meals instead of their usual chow. If there’s a brand of wet food your pet likes specially or maybe canned tuna and such, offer that up for their meal during the drive: it might coax them into cooperation.

Tips for Traveling by Plane

Traveling by plane can be stressful and sometimes dangerous for pets, especially when they’re placed in cargo. Therefore, make arrangements with your airline to bring your cat onboard with you. The carrier should fit beneath your seat. Otherwise, you need to be sure you purchase an appropriate carrier that’s properly labeled with your information and destination so that you can be reunited with your pet if he’s accidentally misplaced at any point during your travels. Also, booking a direct flight is usually a lot less traumatizing than taking multiple flights, and it also reduces the risk of your pet getting lost.

Book a Pet-Friendly Hotel

Most hotels don’t allow pets, so your choices will be limited. Once you settle into your hotel room, though, set up a collapsible pet tent or other enclosure for your cat to stay in whenever you aren’t in the room. Even keeping your pet in the crate or carrier if you’re not gone for long is advisable. The last thing you’d want is for the housekeeper to open the door and let your cat out. For precaution sake, make sure that your pet has a collar with ID tags attached: in the case they manage to get away in an unknown environment, having clear identification on them could be a life-saving thing. 

Vacationing with any pet can be difficult, but felines are especially challenging. They are naturally reluctant to change their routine and thoroughly dislike when something disrupts their habits. However, training your cat to tolerate travel at a young age and taking steps to reduce your pet’s anxiety, will ensure your kitty can certainly go on a fun getaway with you. Exposure and socialization at an early age can help with a lot of behavioral issues down the road, as well, so even if you’re unsure if you’ll be traveling with your kitty when they grow up, it doesn’t hurt to socialize them for it just in case