Traveling can be stressful for both felines and their owners, if certain things aren’t planned or taken care of ahead of time. Long trips, often by plane can mean the pet being separated from their owner and in a strange and noisy place. Short trips are often in the car, which, for the cat, is routinely for the vet’s office, more than anywhere else. Even if you’re going to be flying, trips in the car are usually the most common, and therefore where most of the stress occurs. One way to help alleviate this stress, is if possible take your cat on car rides to places other than the vet’s office, this will teach your cat that not every trip is something to worry about. In general though there are a few things you can do to help make the ride itself less stressful.
To help make the ride more pleasant for your furry friend, here are a few tips:
- Get your cat used to its carrier. The carrier itself should be comfortable, tall enough for you cat to stand in, and wide enough so that it can turn around.
- Train the cat to associate its carrier with positive places and events. This can be done by either keeping the carrier in a place the cat likes, or by keeping the cat’s favorite toy in the carrier, or sprinkling catnip in the carrier.
- Get your cat used to the car, let him or her spend some time in there, either in the carrier or on their own.
- Cat pheromone sprays, which may be purchased at a pet store, can help calm the cat in the vehicle.
- Finally, if none of the above is successful, it may be best for the administration of a sedative. Before this step is taken though, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian first to determine if this is the best step to take, and if so, how to proceed.
If your travels with your cat will involve air travel, the same rules for helping your cat get comfortable with their carrier still apply. What’s also important when flying with a feline is shopping different airlines based on their pet policies. Some airlines allow for pets to fly in the cabin, rather than with luggage, if certain requirements are met. Having your cat stay with you in the cabin is recommended for not just their comfort, but their safety as well. Furthermore, due to complaints of inconsistency online about certain airlines, it’s best to call an airline confirming their policies, and arrive extra early for a flight, to make sure everything is properly sorted out before take-off.
One final note: cats need to come out of their carriers when going through security, so they should have a snug-fitting harness and leash. You will carry them through screening while the carrier will go through the x-ray scanner.