Learn How to Travel with a Cat: An Ultimate Guide to Touring with Cats

Travel with cat
Image: Flickr.com

Cats are moody creatures. On the surface, they act like they don’t need anyone or anything other than food but on the road, they are little balls of anxiety. Traveling with a cat can be really difficult unlike with some other pets like Cavapoo dogs. But if you do proper research before hitting the road, it can be a very pleasant experience for you as well as your feline friend. Here are some travel tips you as a cat owner need to know about how to travel with a cat before taking a long distance trip.

How to Travel with a Cat Long Distance: Make Preparations

preparations before you travel with a cat

Before you start traveling, it is important to get prepared for the trip. In order to travel with a cat, there are a number of things you need to do first. These are necessary to ensure the comfort and safety of your cat during long rides. Here are some things that cat owners absolutely should not skip before going on trips with their cats.

This is especially important if you are the owner of an expensive cat breed. Since they’re more prone to health issues and require special care, getting approval from the vet is necessary.

Visit the Vet Clinic before Traveling with a Cat

Before you make your long-distance trip with your cat, one of your biggest priorities should be to make sure it’s healthy. Take your kitty to the vet clinic. Ensure that all her vaccination shots are up to date. Pick up any prescriptions you have to before making the trip. A healthy cat is a happy cat.

It’s important to make sure that your cat is healthy and passes all the health exams. The worst thing to happen on a nice relaxing road trip would be a veterinary emergency. After your vet gives the green signal, only then proceed with the trip. Delay the trip if your cat is unwell. However, even if your cat is all good, it is never a bad idea to stay in touch with her vet during the long trip. Additionally, keep track of all the veterinary clinics along the way.

Get her Accustomed to the Car

Before making the trip, let the cat roam around in the car. Doing this will spread her scent inside the car and make it seem familiar.  Leave the cat to be comfortable inside the car before you start it so it can claim this as its territory. Make sure that this happens under your supervision as you don’t want your cat to pee or defecate inside your car. It is normal for cats to do that in some moments of anxiety.

Remember to also keep one of their blankets, beds, toys or anything they’ve spent a lot of time with, in the car too. You basically need objects that already have their scent in them. Having the cat make itself at home this way will make it more relaxed and comfortable on your long-distance travels. It will recognize the car as a space that is not alien to them. Getting them comfortable being inside your vehicle should be on top of the list of how to travel with a cat.

Give your Cat Meals inside the Car before Starting the Ride

Another way to get your cat comfortable with the car is to give her meals inside it. Have it stay inside the car for 5 minutes every day for a week or so and feed it its favorite snacks. This makes the cat associate positive emotions with your car. Not only will this make the cat more comfortable but also less susceptible to emotional and physical outbursts inside the car.

Essential Items you Need in Order to Travel with a Cat

Here is a shortlist of all the essential things you need if you want to know how to travel with a cat safely. Not having even one of these items can cause you trouble along the way.

How to Carry a Cat: Pet Carrier for Cats

It’s important to choose the best cat carrier for your cat on the road. If your cat runs around inside the car due to anxiety and fear, it’ll be a safety hazard. For security’s sake, it is important to pick a good carrier for them so that they feel comfortable on the road trip. Unlike taking them to a quick vet clinic trip, a long road trip means hours a cat will spend inside your car. This will test the patience of even the most well-behaved cats. They will not feel comfortable on a road trip and will end up jumping around distracting the driver. Or worse, getting hurt by all the movement involved in a long-distance trip.

A comfortable carrier can ease the frustrations and anxieties of a cat considerably. You will notice them complaining less and being more relaxed once a few hours pass. So, choose a good quality cat carrier for them. Ideally, you want a hard-sided carrier with a removable fluffy liner as this will keep the cat happy, safe and satisfied while traveling.

A Pet Tracker to Prevent her from Getting Lost during the Trip

There are microchips available at almost all vet clinics nowadays. These trackers can be surgically implanted. For indoor cats, this is very important because they can get lost while traveling long distances. If so, they might not be able to survive more than a few hours in the wild as they are not used to the outside world. Here finding them as soon as possible is paramount to ensuring their survival.

With a tracking chip, even if they get lost you can instantly know exactly where they are and find them with ease. The little critter will probably be scared witless on their own like that and will welcome the familiar faces of its owners. For just around $50 that’s a worthy investment, especially on the road.

Cat Treats are Staple to Travel with a Cat

Cats can be difficult creatures to predict. Their emotions can be spontaneous and seemingly for no reason. This is why it’s important to pack their favorite treats, toys, and some cat nip. They might seem irritable and moody on long road trips, however, a fist full of their favorite treat plus their favorite toy can definitely shift their moods in a positive way.

Remember not to give them the treats too early or too late. The timing is important. Monitor your cat’s strange behavior. They will initially be very anxious, in which case their toy will certainly help. After a while, if you see them still a little irritable give them a little treat and they’ll be good to go. There are also vet-recommended cat calming treats. You can give these to your cat and it will mellow her down almost magically. That’s an important step to knowing how to travel with a cat.

A Cat Litter Box for traveling

You cannot go on a trip with a cat without its litter box. Some people don’t like it because it makes the car smell really bad. However, you don’t want your cat to pee on the leather seats or the floor mats. That is why always keep a litter box inside the car.

You can choose biodegradable cat litter that also absorbs smells. Choosing this will eliminate some of the horrid smell. Moreover, make your to cover the litter box. You can also select a smaller litter box instead of the regular-sized one. But make sure it is not too small as it will make your cat uncomfortable.

How to Travel with a Cat Long Distance: 5 Best Tips to Keep in Mind On the Go

Beautiful black cat in a cage

Even after you’ve made all the necessary preparations, the actual journey can still be nerve wrecking. To learn how to travel with a cat comfortably in a car, keep these extra tips in mind.

1. It is Better to Travel Less everyday during Long Distance Trips

Basically, it’s a good idea to travel longer days so the cat will become more acclimated to its surroundings. Travel just a few hours more everyday so the cat’s mood stays well. However, remember that there is a limit to how long you can keep a cat in one spot before it starts going crazy.

Even if it’s advisable to let your cat acclimate to its new surroundings for as long as possible. It is not a good idea to keep her confined in one place for long. It is a complex balance that you’ll have to figure out. This might seem like too much effort but if you love your cat and want the best for her, it’s ultimately worth it.

2. Plan Meals

It is not enough to just feed your cat her favorite food. A big factor in keeping your car comfortable during a long trip is to plan her meals. Start 2 to 4 hours before the actual drive and then feed her according to her usual timetable. Do not feed her too much. Overeating can lead to health problems. Give her small treats to pacify her when she’s irritable.

3. Keep Bottled Water to Avoid Upset Tummy

Water is different at different places. And there’s a big possibility that it may not suit your kitty. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep bottled water with you. It is generally safer than tap water and won’t cause upset tummy.

4. Cover your Car Surfaces with Something Easily Cleanable

You might be tempted to let your cat outside her carrier for short whiles during the trip. That’s why, it is recommended that you cover the surfaces of your car with a plastic sheet. Something that can be cleaned easily is really helpful in case your cat gets motion sick and throws up. Not to mention it’s a tough job removing cat hair from the car. Cleaning supplies are always important on how to travel with a cat lists.

5. Take Breaks to Play with your Cat during the Drive

Do not just focus on the safety of your cat. It is also important that you make her enjoy the ride. Taking breaks along the way to play with your cat will keep her happy and tire her out to sleep well some of the way. So make sure to give her due attention during a long distance trip.

5 Mistakes to Avoid when traveling Long Distance with a Cat

Beautiful white cat in cage

Despite there being so much information out there on how to travel with a cat, people still make a lot of mistakes. Here are some of the most common mistakes people make if they don’t know how to travel with a cat. Make sure you should avoid them as much as possible.

1. Having the Cat Sit Shotgun

Your cat should not be sitting in the front seat as it could get seriously hurt in an accident. A good rule of thumb is to make both the cats and the kids stay in the backseat. It’s where they are the safest. You don’t want your cat flying out of the windshield in the worst case scenario. A car’s backseat is the safest place for them even if it’s just you and your cat in the car. So keep the urge of having your beloved friend as close as possible to you and prioritize her safety.

2. Best Way to Travel with a Cat? Find a Cat-Friendly Hotel in Advance

Mark the spots where you plan to make stops in advance. Locate all the pet-friendly hotels in the available area where you can rest. Finding them at the very last moment can be extremely difficult, not to mention exhausting after a long day’s drive, even if that ride was on the best driving roads. It might even be impossible as there could be no pet-friendly hotels nearby at all. So it is important to plan out your route and your stops in advance while keeping in mind all the pet friendly hotels that you will be staying in along the way.

3. Don’t Leave Pets in a Hot Car while Traveling

One of the biggest and most obvious mistakes any cat owner can make is to leave their cats inside a hot car. Remember never to leave your cat in a hot car while you make a quick stop to a restaurant. Either leave the window open or crank up the AC. You don’t want your cat to suffocate or get a heat stroke. So, be a responsible pet owner and never ever leave your cat in a hot car especially not for long periods of time.

Schedule Bathroom Breaks

You don’t want your car to smell like urine and feces. Your cat doesn’t want your car to smell like urine and feces. And no one definitely wants their cars to smell like a cat’s urine and feces. So schedule bathroom breaks for your cat so it doesn’t have to defecate inside the car, leaving a horrid smell that you’ll have to deal with for the rest of the trip. Even if you have a litter box inside the car, it is still advisable to let your cat outside. A few moments of respite in the outdoors can do wonders for her mood.

5. Screaming and Yelling while Driving Agitates the Cat

This should be obvious but keep your cool and don’t yell or get angry inside the car with the cat. Cats can sense when you are getting upset. Their moods are greatly affected by yelling and screaming. So do yourself and your cat a favor, and keep calm. Whatever is annoying or upsetting you, it’s not worth upsetting the cat over.

Flying with a Cat? Here’s How to Travel with a Cat by Plane

Image: Pintrest

Traveling with cats on road by car is easier but sometimes it may not be an option. If you’re traveling with your cat by plane, there’s a whole other set of rules you’ll need to follow. Here are some of the things you must consider if you want to know how to travel long distance with a cat on a plane.

Check your Airlines Pet Policy

First of all, you need to check out various airlines and their pet policies. Some are more favorable than others. Start doing this a month before the actual travel because setting things in order can take a long while. With airplanes, you can either travel with your cat in the cabin or ship them as cargo. Both are equally distressing for the pet. However, if you ship them as cargo, they’ll be alone most of the time, causing significant anxiety in them. If you keep them in the cabin, they can get anxious due to the over-crowdedness.

Not to mention that there are a lot of restrictions and additional fees or charges for traveling with pets. Make sure you know all of these before booking your airplane ticket.

Adhere to the Cat Carrier Guidelines

Since cats and other pets have to stay inside their carriers for the whole duration of the flight, it is extremely important to choose a suitable carrier for them. In fact, airlines have strict guidelines regarding pet carriers. If you don’t follow them you won’t be allowed to board. Typically, a suitable carrier should be large enough that your cat can sit, stand, lie down and move around in it comfortably.

Get your Cat’s Vaccination and other Health Certificates in Order

As a part of the procedure, airplanes require cat owners to provide vaccination and other health certificates of their pets. This is to ensure that the pet does not carry a harmful disease. Also, this makes certain that the pet is healthy enough to endure the harsh conditions of the flight. Get your cat checked at the vet and get her certificates two weeks before traveling because airlines only accept the most recent documents.


In conclusion, it is a lot of effort to travel safely and comfortably with your cat. But when done right, it can be a very rewarding experience. All you need is to know everything about how to travel with a cat and follow the guidelines.

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An avid reader of fiction, aspiring writer and editor at SpoliaMag. I wish to share my ideas with the world at large, to bring benefit to those around me and lead a happy and healthy life with snuggles (My cat) by my side. Simple goals, right?