How to travel with a cat, according to a vet

Traveling can be a nightmare. The packing, the traffic, the security lines, the cost — it’s amazing what we did to get away. But traveling with cats is an entirely different matter, one I’ve personally dealt with.

In 2016, I moved from California to upstate New York with my two cats, Daisy and Fredo. There was a long wait between flights, so we had a good eight hours of travel during the day. Neither cat enjoyed the trip. Daisy screamed and thrashed around her carrier the whole time, while Fredo froze in one spot, refusing to make eye contact with me.

How to travel with a cat

Dr. M. Kathleen Shaw of Latham Animal Hospital in Latham, New York, says these types of reactions are common in stress-prone cats. The trick is to do everything you can beforehand to keep your fur baby calm.

Using Feliway, which comes as a spray or wipes, is one way to do this. “It’s a calming pheromone,” she says. “We can’t smell it, but cats can. It’s been proven to reduce stress and seems to really help a lot of cats when they travel.” Another option is to place something that smells like you, such as a t-shirt, in the trunk.

Feliway Adaptil Cat Comfort Wipes, 12 Ct

T-Shirt Gildan Blank

Before embarking on any road or air journey, make sure you have the necessary items to keep your cat safe. “Always carry a copy of your cat’s medical records with you,” says Dr. Shaw. “And put an ID tag on your cat that has your cell number on it.” That way, if your cat runs away while you’re on the road, you can be contacted.

ROAD ID Cat ID label

I found that having a few extra items was helpful:

A disposable pad to absorb any urine and make the wearer a little more comfortable.

DryFur Pet Carrier Insert Pads Size Small 19.5in x 12.5in Blue - 2 Pack

Wet wipes, small trash bags, and disposable gloves to clean cat poop from the case.

Pet care wipes for dogs and cats

Happy little garbage bags

SAFESKIN disposable nitrile gloves in POP-N-GO packaging*

A strap and a strap, in case we had to open the carrier on a layover to clean it.

Catit Nylon Adjustable Cat Harness and Leash Set, Large, Black

A small container of dry treats.

Collapsible Travel Dog Bowls, 2-Pack

A bowl of water and a bottle of water to provide during our stay.

Prima Pet Expandable/Foldable silicone bowl for food and water

Should you give your cat anxiety medication when traveling?

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