All About Traveling With Cats

Tristan Andrews says:

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If you are planning to travel with your cat, first ask yourself these questions: Are cats allowed at my destination? If so, will my cat adjust to conforming to regulations concerning pets and really be happy away from home? Cats tend to be creatures of habit and it is important that your cat can adapt to change.

The pets who travel best are those who have been trained to ride in a car. If you would like to include your cat in your travel plans, accustom it to riding in the car. Ideally this training begins in kittenhood and it should be a happy experience for the kitten. Dont make the kittens first car ride a trip to the veterinarian. Begin by allowing the kitten to sit in the car to become familiar with the surroundings. Then take it for a short drive each day, even if it is only around the block.

If your cat seems unable to adjust to travel, you may decide that you and your cat will be happier if it stays home. Search out a responsible sitter or a boarding facility. If you choose to board your cat, make reservations well in advance of the trip, particularly during summer months and around major holidays.

The policy regarding cats varies with motels and hotels. Contact the reservations department in advance of your trip to determine if your cat will be welcome. Do not leave a cat unattended in a room. If a maid were to enter, the cat could become frightened and might run from the room. If, for any reason, you must leave the cat alone in the room for a short period of time, place it in its carrier or post a do not disturb sign on the door. If your cat is not in a carrier or in a secure location at your travel destination, keeping it on a leash is recommended.

When you travel with a cat, a change in its environment and routine may be a jolt to its feeling of security. Your love and understanding are needed to reassure your cat and to help it become a good travel companion.

Preparing for the Trip: If you plan to take your cat with you, be certain its vaccination shots are up-to-date. Your veterinarian will also issue health and rabies certificates which may be needed if you fly and will certainly be needed if you cross international borders. Carrying these certificate with you is a good idea. If you should have to board your cat during the trip, the kennel may require proof of immunization.

Your cat will also need its grooming equipment and its regular grooming schedule should be maintained. This is particularly true for longhaired cats to avoid tangled and matted hair which can lead to skin infections.

Do not feed your cat for at least three hours before leaving on a trip. Feed it shortly after arriving at your destination unless the trip is a long one. In that case, provide a snack and water during the trip. If the cats usual diet is not available at your destination, take a supply with you so no digestive upsets will be caused by a sudden diet change.

If your cat is accustomed to wearing a collar (a stretch collar designed for cats) be certain an identification tag is attached to the collar. The ID tag should give the cats name, your name, home address and telephone number including the area code, and, if possible, your vacation address and telephone number. Take pictures of your cat and write a description of your cat, including its height, weight, color, and any distinguishing marks to take with you. If your cat should become lost, these identification aids could make the difference in finding it.

Traveling By Air With Your Cat: If you are traveling by air with your cat, ask about what health certificates are needed. They vary with airline and your destination. There are usually two basic options for air travel. Some airlines allow cats to travel (generally for a fee) with their owners if a carry-on carrier fits under the passenger seat. The other option is to rent or purchase a flight crate which meets airline regulations and the cat is transported in the crate in the baggage compartment.

Because some airlines have limited space to accommodate pets, always make reservation well in advance.

On the day of the flight bring a cushion or blanket to put on the crate floor. Check to see if the water cup is attached to the crate door. The cup should be deep and not too full of water to avoid spilling. On a short flight, you may wish to detach the cup and store it with your luggage and provide water for drinking at the end of the flight.

To reduce the risk of air travel for your cat, try to avoid peak travel periods when delays and stopovers are longer. Traveling in extreme cold or hot weather could be dangerous if your cat must wait very long before loading and unloading. Plan the trip with as few stops and transfers as possible. Pets in transit tend to sleep the hours away, but during stops and transfers they may become frightened. Airport facilities vary and, as a result, pets may be left in the sun or rain without adequate protection or inadequate food or water during long waits between flights. At the end of your trip, pick up your cat promptly.

Plane travel is the fastest way to reach your destination, but some risk is involved for kittens, older cats or cats with health problems. If you have doubts, consult your veterinarian.

International Travel: If you are planning on international travel or relocation or a trip to Hawaii, keep in mind that certain countries require a quarantine at the owner’s expense. When you return, a quarantine office at customs will check documents and inspect your pet. The official may require confinement of any pet you have purchased abroad. Normally this is in your home rather than in official quarantine. Pets purchased abroad all require proof of immunization, certificates of good health, and payment of import duty.

Traveling By Car With Your Cat: If you are traveling by car, a carrier is a must. It should be strong, well-ventilated and one the cat cannot escape from. Before traveling, place the carrier where the cat can become acquainted with it. Placing a favorite toy or blanket in the carrier may help accustom the cat to the carrier. Take the cat for several rides around town in the carrier before attempting a longer trip.

While you are driving, always keep the cat confined in the carrier. This ensures safe, comfortable driving for you and your cat. Place a soft mat or cushion on the carrier floor. During hot weather never put the carrier on the sunny side of the car where it will become overheated.

One of the greatest dangers to a cat is leaving it in a closed car, even for a few minutes during hot weather. Cars heat quickly and leaving windows open a few inches does not always provide sufficient circulating air to keep you cat cool and comfortable. Insufficient air can lead to heat stress, suffocation and death.

If it is necessary to leave your cat in the car for a short period of time, choose a shaded area. Leave the windows open as far as safely possible to provide air circulation. Keep the cat in the carrier. Check the car frequently and never leave your cat for an extended time. Motion sickness may be a problem with your cat. If this occurs and if taking your cat with you is essential, discuss preventive measures with your veterinarian.

If the drive is eight hours or longer, give the cat an opportunity to use a litter pan every three or four hours. If the cat is inclined to have accidents along the way, put newspapers on the bottom of the carrier and sprinkle cat litter on them. The newspaper and soiled litter can be removed as needed.

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