If you’ve never taken a trip with your cat you're probably going to be more than a little nervous about how you and your furry travel companion will cope if you decide on a journey of any distance.
Whilst taking your cat travelling with you isn’t for the faint-hearted, you can plan everything so that neither you nor your cat is stressed.
In this article, we’ll cover the core things you need to know before you take that first journey with your cat.
Familiarise Your Cat with Short Trips
First things first. Your cat will probably associate being put in a cat carrier with a trip to the vet, and we all know that most cats hate that.
So, if you’re planning on taking your cat travelling over any significant distance and time period, then it’s really smart to get a lot of short local practice trips behind you.
Popping your kitty companion in the carrier and taking them on a short local journey in your car, on the bus or train, or just for a stroll around your area is going to get them used to be out and about in the carrier.
More importantly, it’s going to get them acclimatised to the fact that when they go in the carrier they are not going to end up somewhere they dislike.
An extra tip for this is to leave the carrier near a favourite sleeping spot at home with a favourite blanket in it all the time, with the top and any side doors open. This will encourage your cat to see this as a safe place to sit and sleep, as their own choice.
Encouraging your cat to get to know anyone you might visit on your travels and generally be around new people without getting skittish is also a good idea.
Of course, all the new sounds and smells your cat is going to encounter in new places are a possible trigger to cause them upset, so these short trips are going to introduce them to some of those as well.
Choose the Right Cat Carrier
This is a no-brainer and goes hand in hand with having your cat get comfortable with their carrier and going on trips.
There’s a real trend these days for cat backpacks (which we love), but they are more suited to hiking with your cat (yes, that is very much a thing!) or shorter trips. They can function perfectly well for travel in vehicles, but we’d recommend the more rigid trunk-like shape of a carrier for serious travel.
Not least, if you plan on ever flying with your cat, most airlines will require that the carrier fit under a seat and most backpacks will struggle with that.
We prefer carriers that have top and side access.
Whatever you choose, we recommend looking for a very strong floor that doesn’t flex and that has some lip before rising to open sides.
This helps with rigidity and security for your cat, but it also means you can deal with accidents and spillages.
Layer the bottom of your carrier with absorbent pads, blankets, or towels (and take spares). Your cat may well need to go to the toilet mid-journey and your options will be very limited. If the carrier is sitting on your lap things can get messy in a hurry.
Lastly, make sure that the carrier you choose has the right combination of privacy and ventilation.
Make it Feel Like Home
Your feline friend is a territorial animal and likes to know where they are and they want to make sure that other animals know this is their patch.
They do this by marking behaviours and other rituals. They are also very likely to keep to a schedule driven by instinct.
However, you can reduce the level of stress that this could cause in your cat simply by bringing items that you know they have marked with their scents (not by spraying, just by use), such as blankets they sleep on and favourite toys.
If you’re then staying somewhere new with your cat bring some other items such as their usual cat bed and so on.
You and Your Cat - Travel Ready!
If you take these tips and apply them to your cat, whose nature and behaviour you know best, then you’ll be set to travel safely with your cat and have a trip that both of you enjoy.
Happy Kitty travels!
About the Author
Sam Jones is a feline expert focusing on cat behaviour, cat health, and cat care. She has lived with cats her entire life and has been writing about cats for as long as she can remember. She is currently a senior contributing editor at We Love Cats and Kittens.