How to Travel with Cats

If you’re one of the lucky ones who gets to share your life with a feline companion, you know that any disruption to their routine can be stressful for them. But sometimes travel with your cat is unavoidable. The key is preparation and making the experience as pleasant as possible for both of you. As a cat owner, you want to do everything you can to keep your furry friend happy and reduce stress. The good news is, with some planning and the right tools, traveling with cats can actually be pretty smooth sailing.

Choosing the Right Cat Carrier for Travel

When traveling with your feline companion, selecting an appropriate cat carrier is essential. The carrier should keep your cat secure and comfortable for the duration of your trip.

For car travel, select a sturdy carrier that can be secured with a seat belt for safety. Carriers with more than one entry, such as a front opening and removable top, make it easier to place and remove your cat. Provide food, water, blankets, toys, and anything else to keep your cat content for longer drives.

If flying, follow the airline’s guidelines for carrier size and any restrictions. Typically, soft-sided carriers that meet carry-on size limits are allowed. Have proper identification for your cat and any necessary health certificates on hand.

Once at the airport, remove your cat from the carrier for security screening. Use a harness and leash in case your cat startles in the busy environment. Reassure your cat with gentle pets and a calm tone of voice.

For the flight, place absorbent pads, food and water in the carrier in case of accidents or delays. Covering the carrier may help reduce stress. Ask to pre-board to get settled, and place the carrier under the seat in front of you.

No matter the mode of transport, accustom your cat to the carrier before the trip. Leave it open with familiar scents, toys and treats so they associate it with positive experiences. This can help reduce carrier-related stress for travel.

With the proper carrier and preparation, you and your cat can enjoy a safe, low-stress journey together. Focusing on your cat’s comfort and needs will make the experience better for you both. Sweet travels!

Getting Your Cat Used to the Carrier at Home First

Before your trip, it is critical to help your cat become accustomed to the carrier in a gradual way. Simply placing your cat in an unfamiliar carrier and heading out the door is extremely stressful and should be avoided.

Instead, leave the carrier out in your home for a few days so your cat can explore it on their own. You can also place some treats, catnip, or your cat’s favorite toy in the carrier to help them associate it with positive experiences.

Once your cat seems comfortable going in and out of the carrier, practice short trips around the house with the carrier door closed. Give your cat praise, treats and play time after each practice run. This positive reinforcement training will help reduce stress and anxiety for your cat on travel days.

When it’s time for the real trip, place a familiar blanket, toy or item of clothing in the carrier with your cat’s scent to provide comfort. You should also avoid feeding your cat for 3-4 hours before travel to prevent motion sickness.

During the trip, speak to your cat in a calm, reassuring tone to keep them as relaxed as possible. Provide small amounts of water, but avoid feeding until you have reached your destination.

With patience and practice, your cat can become quite comfortable traveling in a carrier. The key is starting the carrier introduction process at least a week before your trip and keeping the experience positive through treats, praise and play. If done properly, your cat may even come to see their carrier as a familiar space for adventure!

Traveling by Car With Your Cat

Traveling by car with your cat can actually be less stressful than air travel for some felines. Since the familiar sights and sounds of home are still nearby, many cats feel more at ease. However, there are still some tips to keep in mind for a pleasant road trip with your furry companion.

First, make sure to bring essential supplies for your cat like food, water, litter box, litter, toys, bedding, medication, cleaning wipes, and paper towels. Having familiar items from home will help your cat feel more comfortable in a new environment. Offer small amounts of food and water during long trips to avoid upset stomachs.

Secure the carrier in the vehicle for safety. Buckle the carrier in with a seat belt or place it on the floor behind a front seat. This prevents the carrier from sliding around, which can startle your cat. Place a blanket over the carrier to provide a sense of privacy and security for anxious cats.

Take breaks to stretch, use the litter box, and get fresh air. Stop every 2-3 hours to check on your cat, offer a walk on a leash, give treats and playtime. This stimulation will prevent boredom and restlessness during long drives.

Try natural calming aids like Feliway sprays, calming collars, or Composure chews. These products release calming pheromones and supplements to ease anxiety and promote relaxation. You can also ask your vet about medication for anxious cats during travel.

Keep the carrier in a temperature-controlled area of the vehicle. Make sure your cat does not get too hot or cold, as temperature extremes can cause health issues. Place the carrier away from vents blowing hot or cold air.

With some preparation and patience, a road trip with your cat can be a smooth ride. Paying close attention to your cat’s needs, providing familiar comforts from home and taking frequent breaks will help ensure a stress-free adventure for you both. The extra effort will be worth it when you arrive at your destination with a happy, healthy feline companion by your side.

Flying With Your Cat – Airport and Airplane Tips

Once you arrive at the airport with your cat, there are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure a smooth experience for you both.

Check-in and Security Screening

When checking in for your flight, clearly indicate that you are traveling with your cat. The airline staff will check that you have the proper carrier and other documentation for your cat. They will also inform TSA that you have a cat, so they are prepared for you during security screening.

During security screening, you will need to take your cat out of the carrier and carry them through the metal detector. Have your cat’s leash and harness on before removing them from the carrier, for their safety. Speak to your cat in a calm, reassuring voice throughout the screening process to keep them relaxed. Place their carrier on the X-ray belt to be screened before walking through the metal detector with your cat.

Once through security, find a quiet area to return your cat to their carrier before proceeding to your gate. Offer your cat some water to keep them hydrated during this stressful time.

At the Gate and On the Plane

At your gate, try to find an area away from the crowds to sit with your cat’s carrier. Again, keep speaking to your cat softly to provide comfort. When boarding begins, inform the gate agent you have a cat in a carrier before entering the walkway to the plane.

On the plane, keep the carrier under the seat in front of you. Do not place heavy bags or other items on top of the carrier. Offer your cat small treats, food and water during the flight to reduce stress, especially for long flights. Most airlines do allow you to carefully remove your cat from the carrier during the flight, but keep the carrier close by in case they need to go back in.

Following these tips will help make the airport and flying experience as low-stress as possible for your feline companion. With patience and preparation, you and your cat can have a smooth trip.

Keeping Your Cat Calm and Reducing Stress During Travel

To keep your cat as calm and stress-free as possible during travel, preparation and planning are key. There are several things you can do to make the experience easier on your feline companion.

Provide familiar scents from home. Bring items like a favorite toy, blanket, or scratching post that smells like home. The familiar scents can help your cat feel more at ease in an unfamiliar place.

Give your cat time to get used to the carrier. Place the carrier in an area your cat frequents, with the door open and a familiar blanket inside. This allows your cat to go in and out on their own, getting accustomed to it at their own pace. Offer treats, praise and play inside the carrier to help them associate it with positive experiences.

Keep a routine as much as possible.

Stick to your cat’s normal feeding and bathroom schedule. Give any medications as usual. Maintaining familiar rituals can help reduce stress and anxiety.

Speak in a calm, reassuring tone. Your cat responds to your energy and emotions. Remain patient and confident to keep your cat feeling secure. Gentle petting and belly rubs can also be comforting.

Once you’ve begun your trip, limit excessive handling and stimulation. Keep carriers covered or placed in a quiet area away from loud noises and activity. Only open the carrier when necessary, and be careful not to startle your cat upon opening.

Offer small amounts of food and water if traveling for long periods. But don’t give too much to avoid nausea or needing to use the bathroom during the trip.

With preparation and by keeping your cat’s needs in mind, you can have a successful trip together. Staying calm and maintaining a routine will help ensure your cat remains happy, healthy and stress-free during your travels.


So there you have it, the keys to stress-free travel with your feline companion. While it will take some preparation and patience, following these tips can help ensure a smooth trip for both you and your cat. Once you arrive at your destination, be sure to give your cat some time to adjust to the new surroundings before letting them out of the carrier. Offer lots of praise, treats and play to help them associate this new place with positive experiences. With the proper planning and care, you and your cat can have many adventures together. After all, home is where your cat is!


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