Traveling with a cat for the holidays can be an emotional time for cat owners.
There’s the joy of having guests play with your cat when everyone is home for holiday dinners. There’s the sneaky fun of the gifts you’ll put under the tree. And for some cat owners, there is the stress of traveling with a cat.
The normal stresses of the holiday travel season – long security lines, hours of traffic, missed connections – can be exacerbated when we travel with our feline companions. Yet with the right planning, traveling with your cat can be as smooth as any other trip.
Given that knowing how to travel with a cat is not always obvious, it’s important to do some research beforehand. To help make your feline-related festivities a snap, we’re sharing 7 of our favorite tips for traveling with a cat.
7 Tips For Traveling With A Cat During The Holidays
Pick The Right Cat Carrier For Traveling
There are a few qualities to consider when picking a travel-friendly cat carrier. For one, you’ll need to keep in mind what kind of travel it is that you’re doing. If you’re going on a road trip, the backseat of the vehicle will give you more flexibility when it comes to the size and weight of the cat carrier. Airlines, on the other hand, will have more restrictions that could also lead to a higher travel budget.
The second quality is the size of the carrier. Like Goldilocks, you’re not looking for a carrier that’s too big (your cat may get uncomfortable sliding around) or too small (where they’ll be cramped). Aim for the sweet spot of a cat carrier that is 1.5x your cat’s size, as this will give them room to stand up, sit, and turn around.
Get Your Cat Comfortable With Their Carrier
You’ve gone through the work of finding the right-sized carrier for traveling with a cat. The next step is making sure your cat is actually comfortable traveling in it.
Part of that comfort will come from familiarity. Start by leaving the carrier out in your home for at least a week before the trip. This will allow your cat to recognize it as part of their space. You can help this process by putting familiar objects like toys or blankets inside.
Plan For The Flight In Advance
While human travelers can book spur-of-the-moment flights, a cat’s holiday travels should be planned in advance.
Depending on the type of travel and the destination, you could have more variables to consider. That includes checking vaccination information and medical documentation of the place you’ll be visiting (especially important if it’s a different country), as well as getting your cat ready. That can include getting your cat microchipped if they haven’t been already.
On-The-Go Cat Litter
While cat litter is one of the most convenient parts of cat ownership at home, it is a different story when you’re on the road.
Prepare yourself to travel with a cat by grabbing disposable cat litter boxes so that your cat can go while you’re on the go. These litter boxes often contain built-in baking soda, which helps to keep any odors to a minimum.
Consider Medication For Feline Anxiety
If your cat tends to be a bit more nervous or skittish, the sights, sounds, and rumblings of holiday travels can be alarming.
While it is possible to train cats to handle these feelings, it may not work for your cat. If you are concerned about how they’ll react to traveling, consider speaking to your local feline clinic about anti-anxiety medication.
Meal Planning For Your Travel Days
Thinking about what snacks you’ll pack for your cross-country flight? Make sure your cat gets the same treatment.
When we think about how to travel with a cat, it’s good to find ways to keep consistency for them. One of the best ways to do that is with the food they know and are comfortable eating. To that end, try and bring enough of their food to last the entirety of your trip.
As far as what to avoid doing, try to go light on the milk. Given that it can upset their stomach, you’re better off leaving out water the day of the trip.
Have A Cat-Friendly Landing Spot
Traveling is about the journey, not the destination, right?
In this case, we might have to make an exception. Traveling with a cat can be stressful for both of you. For both your sakes, knowing that the stress is temporary will make it easier to endure.
That’s all the more possible when you know your destination will be a comfortable spot. Maybe you’re staying at a family member’s house, and you already know where they’ll have their litter box and food. Maybe it’s a cat-friendly hotel and you’ve seen pictures of the room beforehand.
By knowing in advance how you’ll set up your cat’s new (albeit temporary) routine, that will help make your cat travel experience smoother.
Out Of Town For The Holidays? Schedule Your Cat’s Next Appointment Early
Does your cat’s regular check-up fall during the holidays this year? Do they need to get some vaccinations before traveling?
At Catonsville Cat Clinic, we’re here to help you and your cats get ready for the holiday season. Schedule your appointment with us today.