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How to Travel With a Cat: Tips For a Low-Stress Trip

If you plan on traveling with your cat, you may have questions about how to do so without stress. Today, our vets in Rancho Palos Verdes discuss the different options for traveling with a cat and advice on how to make your journey a success.

How to Travel a Long Distance With Your Cat

Many people ask, 'Should I travel with my cat?' If you are planning to travel with your cat, you will need to take time to plan appropriately.

One essential point is whether your cat is up-to-date on their vaccines and parasite prevention. Different states have different regulations regarding pet vaccines, but in most states, keeping your pet's rabies vaccine current is the law. So be sure to schedule a visit to your veterinarian before you leave so that your cat's core vaccines can be brought up to date, your kitty can be vaccinated against any lifestyle diseases that are common in the place you are headed to, and any parasites can be treated or prevented.

Do cats like to travel?

While cats will usually tolerate travel, most are creatures of habit and would be happier with their daily at-home routine. That said, many cats don't mind going on adventures as long as they have been appropriately planned.

How to Prepare to Travel With a Cat in a Car, Plane, Train or Ship

Depending on your transportation method and the journey length, you will need to consider and prepare for different things. Below, we cover how to travel with a cat by car, on a plane, and even on a train or ship. 

Traveling by Car with Your Cat

Use an Appropriate Cat Carrier

Cats are generally uncomfortable traveling in cars and should be kept in a carrier for their safety and yours. The carrier should be secured with a seat belt to prevent it from bouncing around and hurting your cat.

Never Let Your Cat Sit in the Front Seat

Even in a carrier, deploying airbags in the front seat can be dangerous for your pet. For this reason, it is best always to keep your cat's carrier restrained in your vehicle's back seat.

Don't Let Your Cat Stick Their Head Out of the Window

If your cat's head is sticking outside the window, they're at risk of debris striking them or the cold air harming their lungs. Never transport your cat in the back of an open pick-up truck.

Bring Someone to Help Care for Your Cat

It is best to have a human there to monitor and comfort your cat, riding with them in the back seat if possible. This will help your cat feel comfortable during the journey.

Bring Litter if You'll be Traveling For More Than 6 Hours

If your journey by car is shorter than 6 hours, then your cat will most likely be fine in a standard carrier. If your cat will need to be in their carrier longer than that, you will need a larger accommodation that gives them space for a small litter box. It's a good idea to consult your vet before traveling for advice on the kind of kennel or carrier best suited to your cat's needs and the journey ahead.

Never Leave Your Cat in the Car

Leaving a cat alone in a car is a serious health hazard. Heat is a risk to pets – a short time for you could be an eternity for your feline companion. When it's 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour. On an 85-degree day, even with the windows slightly open, the temperature inside your car can reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes. Irreversible organ damage or death is possible after only 30 minutes alone in a vehicle - even if you don't expect it to take that long to return, it is not worth the risk.

How to Travel with a Cat on a Plane

Do cats like to travel by air? The short answer, of course, is no, but sometimes it cannot be avoided. Here is what you should know about traveling with a cat by plane.

Use Air Travel as a Last Resort

Air travel can be dangerous for pets. It can lead to oxygen deprivation or heat stroke. Persian cats and other animals with 'smushed-in' faces are particularly susceptible to these effects.

Because flying is so stressful for cats, we recommend taking another option if possible. Driving is generally superior to flying. There may be boarding options that let your cat relax comfortably at a home away from home.

Book a Flight That Allows Cats in the Cabin

Many airlines will allow you to fly with your cat in the cabin for an additional fee. While most animals flown in the cargo area of airplanes are fine, you should be aware that some animals are killed, injured, or lost on commercial flights each year. Excessively hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation, and rough handling are often to blame. Either way, you must inform the airline that you are bringing your cat well in advance. If you must travel with your animal in the cargo hold, research airlines and select one with a good reputation for animal handling.

Say something if You See Mistreatment

If you see any mistreatment of an animal by an airline, yours or otherwise, make sure you say something about it! You could save a life.

How to Travel with a Cat on a Train

Some pets and service animals are permitted on many trains. You must verify with the railway if pets are permitted on your train journey. If they are, then similar guidelines apply to traveling with a cat in a car. Passengers will be expected to exercise and feed their cat(s) at station stops.

How to Travel with a Cat on a Ship

Except for assistance dogs, pets are welcome on only a few cruise lines – and usually on ocean crossings. Some lines permit pets in private cabins, but most confine pets to kennels. Contact your cruise line in advance to learn its policies and which ships have kennel facilities. If you must use the ship's kennel, ensure it is protected from the elements and check on your pet frequently.

What is the best way to travel with a cat?

While travel is possible through all the abovementioned methods, one option reigns supreme. While not always possible, car travel allows for the most flexibility and easy monitoring of your feline friend.

Cat Boarding in Rancho Palos Verdes

If your cat isn't a fan of travel, then you may want to consider booking them into our pet boarding facility in Rancho Palos Verdes.

We prioritize your pet’s happiness, safety, and health. Our pet boarding facility is located within our hospital, so our doctors are just a step away and can respond quickly should a medical concern arise or should medications need to be administered.

We're serious animal lovers, and our whole team enjoys giving our boarders all the attention and care they deserve while staying with us.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you have questions about traveling with a pet or other options, contact our vets in Rancho Palos Verdes today for more information.

New Patients Welcome

All Pets Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Rancho Palos Verdes companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact (310) 547-2784