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How to Travel With a Cat: Tips for a Low-Stress Trip

Embarking on a journey and looking to take your cat along? Our Riverside vets share a few tips to help make travel easier for both you and your beloved kitty. 

Preparing for a Trip With Your Cat

Whether you're moving, visiting a friend or heading off on vacation, you'll need to plan ahead if you'd like to travel with your cat. 

One critical factor to consider is whether your cat is up to date on all of their vaccines and parasite prevention. Different states have different regulations about pet vaccinations.

That said, in most states you must keep your pet's rabies vaccine current is the law, so make sure to see your veterinarian before you leave so your cat's core vaccines can be brought up to date.

Your vet will check that your kitty can be vaccinated against any lifestyle diseases that are common in the location you're headed to, and that any parasites can be treated or prevented. Pets that are traveling with their owners will also need a current health certificate, which indicates that the animal meets the health requirements of the location you are traveling to. 

Different Preparations for Different Journeys 

Depending on your method of transportation and the length of your journey, you'll need to consider a range of factors and prepare for different scenarios. In this post, we'll explore how to travel with a cat by car, how to travel with a cat on a plane, and even on a train or ship. We'll also discuss animal health certificates for travel and what's involved in obtaining one. 

Traveling by Car With Your Cat

Buy a Suitable Cat Carrier 

Cats are often uncomfortable traveling in cars and should remain in a carrier for their safety and yours. It's imperative to secure the carrier with a seat belt to prevent it from bouncing around and your cat from getting injured. 

Bring a Person Designated to Care for Them 

If possible, it's best to have someone there to watch and comfort your cat riding with them in the vack seat. this will help your cat feel comfortable during the journey. 

Don't Place Your Cat in the Front Seat 

Even when your cat is in a carrier, airbags can deploy in the front seat, which can be dangerous for your pet. This is why it's best to always keep your cat's carrier restrained in your vehicle's back seat(s). 

Keep Your Cat's Head Inside the Vehicle 

If your cat's head is sticking outside the window, they'll be at risk of debris striking them or the cold air hurting their lungs. Never transport your cat in the back of an open pickup truck. 

Bring Cat Litter if the Trip is Longer Than 6 Hours 

If your road trip is shorter than 6 hours, your cat will likely be fine in a standard carrier. If your cat will need to be in their carrier longer than that timeframe, you'll need a larger accommodation that allows space for a small litter box. It's a good idea to check with your vet before traveling for advice on the type of carrier or kennel best suited for your cat's needs and the journey ahead. 

Don't Ever Leave Your Cat in the Car Alone

Leaving a cat alone in a car is a serious health hazard. Heat is a risk to pets and a short time for you could be an eternity for your feline companion. when it's 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour. On an 85-degree day, even with the windows slightly open, the temperature inside your car can reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes. Irreversible organ damage or death is possible after only 30 minutes alone in a vehicle - even if you don't expect it to take that long to return, it is not worth the risk.

How to Travel with a Cat on a Plane

Do cats like to travel by air? The short answer, of course, is no but sometimes it cannot be avoided. Here are the things you should know about traveling with a cat by plane.

Air Travel Can be Dangerous for Cats

Air travel can possibly lead to oxygen deprivation or heat stroke in animals. Persian cats in particular are susceptible to these effects, as are other animals with "smushed in" faces.

Consider All Alternatives Before Flying

Because flying is so stressful for cats, we recommend taking another option if possible. Driving is generally superior to flying. 

Choose an Airline that Will Allow Your Cat in the Cabin

Many airlines will allow you to fly with your cat in the cabin with you, for an additional fee. While most animals flown in the cargo area of airplanes are fine, you should be aware that some animals are killed, injured, or lost on commercial flights each year. Excessively hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation, and rough handling are often to blame. in either case, you must inform the airline well in advance that you are bringing your cat with you. If you must travel with your animal in the cargo hold, research airlines and select one with a good reputation for animal handling.

If You See Something, Say Something

If you see any mistreatment of an animal by an airline, yours or otherwise, make sure you say something about it! You could save a life.

How to Travel with a Cat on a Train

Some pets and service animals are permitted on many trains. You will have to verify with the railway if pets are permitted on your train journey. If they are, then similar guidelines to traveling with a cat in a car apply. Passengers will be expected to exercise and feed their cat(s) at station stops.

How to Travel with a Cat on a Ship

With the exception of assistance dogs, pets are welcome on only a few cruise lines—and usually on ocean crossings only. Some lines permit pets in private cabins, but most confine pets to kennels. Contact your cruise line in advance to find out its policies and which of its ships have kennel facilities. If you must use the ship's kennel, make sure it is protected from the elements and check on your pet frequently.

Obtain a Veterinary Health Certificate For Your Cat 

Many travel destinations have specific health requirements and deadlines you must meet to be able to bring your pet with you. If you have a trip coming up and are taking your pet with you, one of the first things you'll want to do to obtain your pet's health certificate is to contact your vet near Riverside to book an appointment.

Be sure to bring your contact information, your pet's previous records from other veterinary clinics, information about your destination and dates of travel, and a signed rabies certificate and date of microchip implantation, if required to your pet's appointment. Also remember to review the requirements for pet travel to your destination and to contact your airlines. 

If you have any questions about cat and dog travel certificates for travel near Riverside and beyond, our team would be happy to address them. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.

Prepare ahead for your cat's journey by ensuring that your kitty is up-to-date on their vaccines and free of parasites. Don't forget to obtain your pet's travel health certificate. Contact our Riverside vets to book an appointment today.

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Riverside Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Riverside companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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(951) 683-4200