How to Travel with a Pet
Let's get one thing straight — traveling with a pet is not always easy, especially if that pet is a cat. However, there are tips and tricks that can help you have a safe and enjoyable road trip with your cat. Here are 10 of them to get you started…
#1 Eyes on the Road!
Your attention should always be on the traffic, not on the cat! If your traveling pal is a good traveler, it might curl up next to you on the seat and, ah ... well, take a cat nap. Do not ever allow a pet to go near the driver side floor where the brake and gas pedals are located. And the dashboard must be out of bounds for safety sake.
Anyone can get carsick, even cats! Try desensitizing your cat with repeat short, uneventful trips. Gradually accustom your cat to spending time in the car with the engine off, then with the engine on, then short trips, then the cross-country adventure. An "all-dayer" is basically just a bunch of short trips anyway, right?
You can also ask your veterinarian about anti-motion sickness medications to help settle your cat's stomach and prevent drooling or nausea. Just in case, bring a roll of paper towels.
If you must travel with a hyperactive, medication to sedate the kitty will surely make the trip safer, easier and less stressful for both you and the cat. The key is to administer them medication well before the trip starts.
Be nonchalant, sneak a little medication in a treat, and don’t mention the C-A-R anywhere near the cat prior to your trip. If you believe your cat may be a candidate for medication, be sure to do a leisurely pretrip trial well ahead of the time you really need it.
Seat Belts for Cats?
We strongly recommend buckling up pets in a car just as you would a child. Unfortunately, while there many types of restraining devices for dogs, there are only a few for cats. You may want to look into travel crates or cat carriers.
These inventions are very handy. Your cat, if happy and comfortable in a crate, will be safer and you will have the peace of mind knowing it is secure when you must leave your friend alone for short periods. If you do use a crate, be certain that the cat is totally accustomed to it well prior to the trip. You might consider using a padded fabric type of crate for your cat instead of the plastic or wire crates in order to keep your cat in place during a trip and to ensure additional safety in case of an accident.
Plan ahead … well ahead. If you know you will be staying overnight somewhere, be sure to have reservations at an establishment that welcomes pets. A handy list of pet friendly hotels can be found if you do a little searching. And don't forget to bring along some disposable cat poop bags. Your portable litter box may not be the cat's first choice, so you must be socially conscious about where your kitty chooses to relieve itself. Be prepared!
Food, Water and Supplies
It wouldn’t hurt to pamper your pal — bring along your cat’s own food and drinking water from home and you will be better off. Not that you’re fussy, right? And a few old towels or rags will make good cleanup devices if the cat happens to discover a mud puddle or contacts something nasty like spilled ice cream sundaes!
Emergency first-aid kits are very handy for you and the cat if a sudden cut, sliver or rash intrudes upon your day. Anti-itch medication, bandages, and antibiotic ointments may save the day when you least expect something will go wrong.
It is also good idea to have your veterinarian give you a copy of the cat’s medical history to take with you just in case a visit to a veterinarian along the way becomes necessary.
Yeah, that's right ... plural. Bring two leashes. That way you’ll have a spare when you misplace one. Cats are notorious for doing Houdini-like escapes from their collars. A harness is much more secure, especially the ones that will adjust according to the amount of tension placed against it. The harder a cat pulls the tighter and more secure the slip harness becomes.
Leaving a cat alone in a car has a number of potential risks, including heat stroke. Always be conscious of the effects of heat buildup in a parked car. It only takes a few minutes for the internal heat to build up 40 degrees above the outside air temperature, especially if the car is in direct sunlight. Even the cat’s body heat (expired air in the cat’s breath is 102 degrees!) will act like a heater inside the car. Heat stroke is a dire emergency and one from which many cats do not recover. And you'd be shocked to find out just how fast it can happen.
Don’t forget to bring along some fun toys and tasty treats when traveling with a cat ... you know, so that the kitty knows that this road trip stuff is really fun. Oh, and don’t forget the camera too!