Could You Use Some Tips For Traveling With A Cat?

Too bad cats can’t talk. It would make caring for them so much easier if we could explain what is happening to this little alien creature who shares our home. If you need to move or if you want to take kitty on a vacation with you, perhaps you could use some tips for traveling with a cat.

Cat ID And/Or Microchip

Black cat on rocky beach

Some things you must do whether you travel by car or plane, so let’s look at them first. These things will prove vital for your cat’s protection and security. First of all, make sure you have a cat ID fastened on the cat — a collar will hold it

You might also consider a microchip. I’m so impressed with this technology! I recommend getting a cat microchip for any cat who lives with you, whether traveling or not. If your cat ever disappears, it’s one way that you could possibly find kitty again.

Food, Water, And Treats

Don’t rely on the correct cat food being available at your destination. A travel trip is no time to change your fur baby’s diet. Be sure to carry enough food for kitty to last for the duration of the trip, and a little bit extra to account for the unexpected.

Also, carry a couple bottles of water, so you can give kitty a fresh drink when needed. Be sure to remember to bring bowls for water and food. If you wish to travel “uptown,” you can get special collapsible food and water dishes for your cat.

Along with food and water, be sure to bring a good supply of your kitty’s favorite treats. These will go a long way toward making him less unhappy about the whole process.

What Kind Of Carrier Will I Need?

It is a good idea to keep the cat in a carrier when the vehicle, either car or plane, is traveling. Containing the kitty equates to safety for him.

Cat looking through carrier screen

If traveling by plane, make sure you check with the airlines to learn their requirements. If kitty will travel with the luggage, he will need a hard case. If the carrier is allowed under the seat in front of you on the plane, you need to know the measurements of the space, to ensure you get a carrier that will fit.

Then, a soft-sided case that fits the space will fill the requirement.

For car trips, you might do well to get a dog crate. These have more space for the cat, so he can be much more comfortable. Put in plenty of blankets and your cat’s bed, and he will have a comfy place to travel.

Make Sure To Take Litter Box And Litter

Be sure you have this essential piece of equipment. It’s good to bring along enough litter to change the box a couple of times. You can also try a disposable litter box, which unfolds and has the litter already inside.

Collar, Leashes, And Harness

A cat needs a collar when traveling, allowing a good spot to attach the ID. A couple of leashes might become lifesaving if one leash gets lost.

If you can get the cat used to a harness or vest before traveling, you can then attach a leash to the harness to take kitty out at stops.

Grey cat in harness vest

Cleaning Supplies

Include a pet-friendly stain remover, lint brush, and a goodly supply of paper towels. You can also get products that will remove any odors that might accumulate. These make traveling more comfortable for you and for kitty.

Medications, Supplements, Pheromones

If your cat takes medicine, don’t forget it, and make sure you have enough to last the whole trip, plus a few extra days. If a pheromone plug helps calm your kitty, bring one to use when you reach your destination.

Health Certificate And Any Medical Records

Make sure to take your cat’s medical records. If traveling out of the country or sometimes even to another state, you will need a health certificate and proof of the necessary vaccinations. Also, get the number of a vet at your destination in case you need one when you arrive.

Make Sure To Include Some Favorite Toys

Does kitty have a favorite catnip mouse, or perhaps some small toy he likes to chew on? If so, be sure to bring these.


Cats often suffer from motion sickness, so if you can be ready for this problem if it arises, that will be helpful. Check with your vet before the trip to get his recommendation or medication you might need if your cat gets car sick.

One way to minimize this risk is to take the cat on short trips in the car before you make the big jaunt. You can help your cat get used to the motion of the car in this way.

Build A Cat Oasis

Cat and man on bed in boat

By creating a great space for kitty in the back seat, either with carrier or cage, you will make his trip easier. With familiar blankets that smell like him, a favorite toy or two, and a great place to snuggle, he will hopefully find his “nest” comfortable.

Never Leave Your Cat In A Hot Car

Doing so could result in your kitty’s death. Consider this: If it is 70 degrees outside, the temperature inside the car can rise to 89 degrees within 10 minutes, and up to 104 degrees within a half hour.

Symptoms of heat stroke follow this pattern: panting, rapid breathing, restlessness, drooling, bright red gums, vomiting, sweaty paws, fever, collapse.

I cringe, thinking about such a horrible thing. Make sure the car is well-ventilated, and do not leave kitty there any longer than necessary. You don’t want to end a vacation by losing a furry family member.

Don’t Allow The Cat To Roam Freely In The Vehicle

Whether stopping or moving, letting a cat loose in the car would not rank as a good idea. He may escape and bolt, and may refuse to return when you call. Also, he can get under your feet on the control pedals, creating potential for a great accident.


You probably have figured out that your cat needs to be checked by the vet to make sure he is in good health and can meet all requirements if you journey to another country. Make sure vaccinations are up-to-date and that kitty has received all that are required for entry into your destination.

Pick A Pet-Friendly Airline

Call or email your airline before you travel to make sure your kitty can travel on that plane, and, hopefully, in the cabin with you.

grey & white cat traveling on lap in plane

The cat will count as one of your carry-ons, and normally only one pet per passenger will be allowed. Book early and fly direct if possible. Print out the receipt saying you paid for the pet and any other proof you need showing your cat has been approved to fly.

Get A Carrier Approved By Your Airline

The size of the space for the carrier will vary, so check with your airline. The standard acceptable size is 19 x 10 x 12. Carriers can have no wheels.

Consider lining the carrier with shredded newspaper or pee pads. Also, make sure to include a label on the carrier with full contact information: Name, home address, destination address, phone number, emergency contact.

Choose a window seat if possible, as then people won’t have to get by you and the carrier. Anything that reduces stress is important!

Before-Trip Preparation

Feed your cat well before time to fly. Provide plenty of water. However, take food and water away two hours before your flight.

Leave the cat carrier out and open for a couple of days before the trip, so kitty can check it out before time to leave.

Check-In At Security Can Cause Difficulties

Arrive at the airport about an hour earlier than usual. Be prepared for security, as you will have to remove the cat from the carrier, as it has to go through a scanner. At this point, it becomes very important that you have collar, harness, and leash in place, so your cat can’t escape.

Research For Cat-Friendly Accommodations

If you have to stay in a hotel or other accommodation, make sure they will accept your cat. Then, in the room, make your cat as comfortable as possible and spend some time with him. Hopefully, he made the trip with minimal stress.


For comic relief, consider my many trips back and forth from Kodiak to Spruce Island where my homestead was located, traveling in an open skiff, my Boston Whaler.

Many trips when the cats were securely settled in their carriers were easier, because the cats could remain in one place. However, on nice days, we’d let them roam freely about the skiff. Loose Cat liked to travel in the gunnels, as it was dark and closely confined, so he must have felt secure.

Not Uptight Cat — He wanted to see what was happening and where we were going. One time we traveled from Kodiak to Spruce Island, and for some reason I had just Uptight Cat. I had put him in a box with small air holes; I taped it shut securely, or so I thought.

We unloaded at the Kodiak boat ramp and I carried Uptight in his box down to our growing pile of freight, then went back for another trip.

When I returned, Houdini Cat had somehow gotten out of his box and was sitting on top of it, patiently waiting. The box was still sealed — I never did figure out how he got out of it.

Needless to say, he rode with the human passengers for that trip — No box for him!

When cats become part of the family, they have to go through many experiences that they might prefer to avoid. However, by considering their fears and likes, we can make things as easy as possible for them when we travel.

Some of you on my subscriber’s list travel with cats to shows. Perhaps you have some good suggestions you can add to this article. Please add them below this post in the comment section.

References I used for this post:

2 thoughts on “Could You Use Some Tips For Traveling With A Cat?”

  1. Against your advice about cats being free in the car, we used to take my black Persian, Inky Dink (CFA champion) to regional CFA cat shows. She would ride on the back of the driver’s seat, balancing like a horseback rider. People would pass and point and stare, as it was quite a sight seeing her watching the passing cars through the driver’s side window.

    • Your cat obviously felt unafraid and secure when riding with you. That must have been quite a sight…I would say that you need to know your cat and what her reactions would be, before chancing free riding.


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