8 Things About Traveling With A Cat That All Owners Should Know

It's no secret that most cats aren't too keen on traveling, and they're not afraid to let you know it. My ex-girlfriend and I share custody of two felines, so I know this firsthand: One of our cats tolerates car rides during these hand offs while the other one acts like he's being tortured. There a some things to know about traveling with your cat that we've discovered by trial and error, and a little preparation can make the experience a lot less stressful for both of you. If you've never taken your cat on a trip, PetMD suggests taking your kitty on short car rides around town before embarking on a long road trip.

My cats have accompanied me from Ohio, to Maine, to Washington, D.C., to California — and, getting to know how they feel about life in the car helped save me from some potential fiascos on the road. "If your traveling pal is a good traveler, it might curl up next to you on the seat and, ah ... well, take a cat nap," PetMD noted. "Do not ever allow a pet to go near the driver side floor where the brake and gas pedals are located. And the dashboard must be out of bounds for safety sake." If you and your feline friends have no other option but to embark on a trip together, here are some things to know about traveling with your cat.

1You Can Consult A Vet To See If Medication Is Necessary

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If your cat gets super anxious while traveling, medication might be an option to help them feel more comfortable. "If you must bring the hyperactive cat with you, medication to sedate the kitty will surely make the trip safer, easier and less stressful for both you and the cat," PetMD advised. "Talk to your vet to see what options you have. Once you have the medication, the key is to give it to your cat well before the trip starts." Your vet might give you a prescription, or another suggestion to help ease their anxiety. Some cats also get carsick, and you might need a medication for this as well. Make sure to have your vet show you how to give a pill to your cat if you've never done it before.

2Crating Can Calm Your Cat's Nerves

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While cats are known for thinking boxes are the best toys in the world, this doesn't necessarily extend to the car. For short trips, I crate my cats, and it truly does help. Of course, during our myriad of cross-country jaunts, I let them roam free in the back of my SUV and I set up a baby gate so they can't get up to the driver's seat, and I ensure there's a litter box and food all ready for them back there. This seems to be the best option for us, and it cuts down on the howling and yowling. When doing test drives with your feline friend, feel free to try both options to see what's best for you and your kitty.

3Bring Your Cat's Favorite Stuff

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If your cat has a favorite blanket or toy, make sure you bring it along on your trip. "Bring a blanket or bed they like to sleep in. Something that smells and feels like home so they can feel more secure and safe," Meowingtons wrote on its blog. "Pack the same litter and food you use at home so you don't shock them any more than they need." My cat Ziji loves this tired old ribbon attached to a stick that we call Stickie. She drags Stickie around during the night and meows at it. So, wherever Ziji goes, Stickie goes too.

4Check All The Regulations For Flying With A Cat

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If you're taking your kitty on an airplane, make sure you do your homework up front. "Confirm that your cat can travel in the airplane cabin with you under the seat in front of you; avoid transporting your cat in the cargo/luggage hold at all costs," VCA Animal Hospitals noted on its blog. "Identify the precise dimensions under the airline seat as this will dictate the size of your transport carrier. Determine what paperwork you must have in preparation for travel including vaccination records and a health certificate for travel." Additionally, ask you vet about medication or other calming techniques to make the adventure less stressful for kitty.

5Take Precautionary Measures

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If you're going on a long road trip, make sure you are extra careful when opening and closing the car door. Cats are skilled escape artists, and they're likely going to want to flee from the car. Any time I let my cats roam free in the car, I always crate them before I take them inside of a house or into a hotel. If you try to hold your kitty in your arms and it scratches you, your instinctive reflexes could cause you to accidentally let go of the cat, which could be pretty dangerous. This is why it's also important to make sure your pet has an ID tag with your information on it, and a microchip.

6Make Sure Your Hotel Is Pet-Friendly

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During my myriad of relocations around the country, I traveled with my cats and my dog. While a lot of hotel are dog-friendly, not all of them are cat=friendly. I am the type of person to ask for forgiveness instead of permission, and I will admit that I snuck my cats into every hotel we stayed at. However, it's always good to err on the side of safety and confirm ahead of time that your hotel is cat-friendly, Pet Finder advised on its blog.

7Don't Leave Kitty In The Car

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Hopefully this goes without saying, but you should never leave any pet in the car. Even if it doesn't feel that hot outside, temperatures on the inside of your car can climb dangerously high pretty quickly. When I stopped to eat during my long trips, I would get my food at a drive through, find a grassy spot to eat, crate my cats, leash my dog, and then we'd all go outside to eat together.

8Accept That It Might Be Stressful

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Even with preparations and precautions, traveling with a cat can be stressful for both humans and felines. Just know ahead of time that things could go awry. Your kitty might cry the whole time, throw up, or have a potty accident. Make sure to bring paper towels and pet-safe cleaning supplies so you can quickly mop up messes. "Most importantly, be prepared for anything and accept that the first few trips may take longer than anticipated or may not go as smoothly as expected," Adventure Cats wrote on its blog. "This is a learning process for you and your cat. The end result can be incredibly rewarding for the both of you, so be patient and pay attention to your kitty’s cues."