Safe Travels: Tips & Tricks for Traveling With Cats

January 31, 2018
traveling with cats

Unlike dogs, cats may not travel very often with us when we go away from home. The most common reason for pet cats to travel is for a visit to the veterinarian. Other cats may travel on family visits with their humans, or need to travel when their human is moving away.

As cat families know, cats are creatures of habit and generally do not do well with change. Some cats are star travelers, but most can be frightened and upset by any irregular travel. So how can we help our cats travel more contently, and with less stress and fear?

Choosing & Using Carriers

First, choose a good carrier. A good carrier has the following features:

  • Sides that are reinforced to stay intact even when the door is open
  • At least one entry/exit door, as well as an option to open the top of the carrier to lift the cat out if necessary (especially important for fearful or reluctant cats, or cats experience pain)
  • The option to be taken apart in the middle, in case your cat is more comfortable for his/her physical examination in the bottom of this carrier
  • Windows that can be covered, in case your particular cat does not like to see everything around them.
  • Big enough for your cat to be able to turn around in
  • An easy to clean surface in case of soiling

You can make the carrier a more comfortable, less fearful place for your cat by:

  • Leaving the carrier in the home setting for use as a bed. Provide blankets inside and consider taking the top half off of the carrier if your cat won’t sleep in the covered carrier
  • Spray the carrier and/or blankets in the carrier with FELIWAY™
  • Add blankets in the bottom of the carrier for comfort, as well as removal if soiling occurs
  • A blanket or cover in case of cold weather or if your cat is more comfortable covered up inside the carrier and does not like to see everything around him/her

Cats & Cars

Cats don’t get to travel in the car very often. As a result, they are often stressed by the trip. In addition, since they often visit the veterinarian after car travel, they may have added negative associations with the car.

You can make the car ride more pleasant, with fewer negative associations by:

  • Properly securing the cat carrier while in the car. It is recommended that the cat carrier be secured on the floor of the vehicle behind the front seat whenever possible. Crash test studies have shown that seatbelts do not sufficiently secure cat carriers.
  • Bringing your cat in the car regularly for brief rides around the neighbourhood or to your veterinarian’s office for a quick hello and/or weigh-in to reduce negative associations
  • Choose a veterinarian that is Cat Friendly Certified through the American Association of Feline Practitioners. This certification ensures that your cat will receive friendly, gentle care, with a focus on reducing his/her anxiety during the visit
  • Ask your veterinarian about the possible need for anti-anxiety medications or sedatives in case your cat gets very stressed. There are many safe options available to us for these situations

High Flying Felines

When planning to fly with your cat, contact your airline well in advance of booking your ticket to find out their policies on flying with cats. Your airline may offer the option of having the cat in the cabin with you, or may require that your cat be in the cargo hold with other pets.

There are strict rules surrounding the care of pets during air travel. While we sometimes recommend low-level anti-anxiety medications or sedatives for pets for air travel, the airline may not agree, particularly if the pet is travelling in cargo.

Contact your veterinarian and seek out his/her advice once you have determined how your cat must travel with your airline of choice. Plan ahead for any medications allowed, as your veterinarian may suggest trial dosing to ensure the drug and dose has the desired and safe effect on your pet before the day of travel.

Cats can travel too, and it shouldn’t just be to the veterinarian for needles! Ensure all of their travel experiences are positive and reduce their travel anxiety for future trips by following our cat travel friendly tips!

For more information on cat carriers, visit

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