When people think of traveling with their pet, they might first think of traveling with a dog. But many occasions call for toting your favorite feline along as well, from trips to the vet to family moves.
Dr. Liz Bales, VMD is a Philadelphia veterinarian and CEO of Feline Environmental Enrichment Design Co., a company that designs items for cats and their owners. Here are her eight tips for traveling with your cat:
1. Consider an Alternate Plan
Cats are generally stressed by traveling. Save your kitty travels for only the most necessary trips. Finding a reliable pet sitter and leaving your cat in her comfortable home environment may often be the best solution.
2. Plan Ahead
Depending on where you are going and how you are getting there, you might need a health certificate or certain vaccinations from your veterinarian.
3. Let Your Cat Get Cozy with Her Carrier
Weeks before you travel, get your carrier out of storage and put it in a place where your cat prefers to spend time. Add a snuggly bed inside and leave the carrier door open. Then, give your cat time to make happy associations with the crate.
"I even recommend putting a favorite treat inside every day and letting your cat find it in the carrier," says Dr. Bales. "Before you know it, your cat will see his carrier as a happy and safe place."
4. Try Feliway
Feliway is a synthetic cat pheromone that tells your cat everything is OK. This needs to be sprayed on a towel an hour or so before you leave. When you're ready to go, drape it over the carrier. Make sure the temperature is comfortable with the towel draped over the carrier so your kitty doesn't get overheated.
5. Travel with an Empty Belly
To avoid motion sickness, it's better for your cat to travel on an empty stomach. Don't feed your cat a large meal for 8 to 12 hours before travel.
6. Avoid Drugs
Most sedating medications have side effects that might be dangerous. Ask your veterinarian what might be safe for your cat, given her general health.
7. Ensure Your Kitty is Identifiable
Make sure you have a collar with an ID on it, even if your cat is microchipped. It's also a good idea to have a recent photo of your cat in case she is lost.
8. Bring Along Your Cat's Medications
If your cat is under a veterinarian's care for a chronic illness, make sure to bring along an ample supply of the medications she will need while you're away. It's a good idea to have your veterinarian recommend a colleague in the city you're visiting, just in case you need a refill or care.