Tips on How to Move Or Travel With Your Cat

Is it in the cat's best interest to be included in the travel plans?

Many people like to take their animals with them as they travel. While cats are most comfortable in their home environment, some cats can adapt to travel rather well. Certain life situations such as relocation, an extended stay with a relative who is ill, or a serious relationship headed toward marriage or cohabitation, may require your cat travels with you on an as needed or routine basis. I discourage traveling with cats, because they are incredible athletic and it's is extremely easy to loose your pet as you pack, travel, stop at rest areas and once you've reached your new destination. Most cats get very nervous traveling and may become dehydrated or ill. If you are relocating, your cat is likely to become agitated and may try to run away before or after your move. If it's in the best interest of your pet to include them in your travel plans, or if you are relocating, the following tips may help.

Preparation.

Before you plan a trip with your cat make sure that the pet will have a safe place to stay once you reach your destination. When you stay at a hotel, even if you've stayed at the same hotel dozens of times, confirm each time you travel that they still accept pets. When you stay with friends, don't assume they will love your cat as much as you do, and make sure no one has a cat allergy. Find out if they have pets and whether their pet is very friendly with all animals in their home. Many friendly dogs and cats become very aggressive when another animal is placed in their home. Most often, I discourage anyone from subjecting a cat to another animal for a short period of time. It's traumatic to most cats and increases the likelihood your cat will run away--given any small opportunity.

Help your cat love the carrier.

Several weeks prior to your trip or move, purchase a cat carrier for each cat. It should be large enough for them to stretch, turn around and lie down. If you have more than two cats, they all get along very well, you have a long trip, and you have a vehicle like a mini-van, you may want to consider buying a dog kennel that will accommodate all your cats. Whether you're using a cat carrier or a dog kennel, pad the bottom of the carrier with a fluffy towel, or an old sweatshirt. If the towel or sweatshirt smells like you, your cats comfort level is increased. Get the cat comfortable with the carrier a few weeks before you travel. Keep the carrier door open and feed them in or around the carrier. For example if you have two cats and two cat carriers, I suggest placing a little wet food in each carrier at meal time. Do this 3-4 times a week for a few weeks before your trip. Leave the carrier door open so the cat can leisurely walk in and out of the carrier.

Avoid injury and minimize trauma for the cat.

Never haul cats in a carrier in the back of a pick up truck exposed to wind, weather and the elements. If you're moving and renting a moving truck, keep the cat in the carrier with you in the truck cab. Never load a cat in the back of a loaded truck or moving van. The carrier and your cat could get crushed as your belongings shift. You could kill or injure your pet.

What to do when your trip or move is in the near future.

Shortly before you begin your trip or move, locate and pack your pet's health certificate or veterinary records. When you travel with pets the rabies vaccine must be current. Many states have additional requirements. If your pet needs any vaccinations, get these done at least two weeks prior to your trip. This gives the cat an opportunity to recover from the vaccinations, and minimizes the risk of illness. Tape the health certificates or veterinarian records to the top of each carrier. Be sure your veterinarian's phone number is on the record as well in case you have an emergency or a law enforcement official needs to check your records. If you do not normally use a collar on your indoor pet, it would be good to do so now. Write your phone number on the collar so it can be read from a distance, and make sure it's easy to read. It's wonderfully, shocking how many lost cats are reunited with their guardian because their collar had a phone number.

If you are relocating, your pet is old, or your trip is more than a couple hours, purchase a small, flexible, disposable litter pan for each cat. These can be placed in the carrier (before you load the cat in the carrier) the day you travel. Your cat may lie in the litter, but it encourages your cat to use the litter pan. If your trip is less than two hours, a towel or sweatshirt in the bottom of the carrier is sufficient.

The night before your trip or relocation.

Keep cats enclosed in a familiar area, such as a bedroom or kitchen-make sure they have a litter box available. Cats seem to be amazingly psychic and like to hide the day of the trip. Put the carrier in the room and leave the carrier door open. This will make it easier to load the cat in the carrier in the morning. Feed the cat its normal meal the night before your trip, but do not over feed. You may want to try and use an herbal produce called pet remedy. I use this every time I relocate with my cats and it helps reduce their stress. At least 5-6 hours before your trip remove all food. Remove water a few hours before your trip.

On your day of travel

Make sure your vehicle is packed first and in such a way as to leave room for the carrier(s). Pack the cat(s) last. Be patient! If your cat has been easily going into the carrier with a little food try to get them to do so again. If they won't go in, pick them up, gently place them on the floor in front the carrier with their tail or butt near the carrier's open door-you are going to back them into the carrier. Keep one hand around the cat's ribcage, take your other hand and with an open palm press against the cats face so they will back into the carrier. It helps to have the carrier back against a wall. Once the cat has back into the carrier, keep one hand on the cat and gentle swing the door closed as much as possible. Slide your hand out but keep an open palm as you close and lock the door. This keeps the cat from bolting out of the carrier. Make sure the carrier door is secure and load your cat in the car. Try to get this right the first time. The more often you're unsuccessful at loading your cat in the carrier, the more difficult this procedure becomes. Feel free to practice this once or twice several weeks prior to your trip. (When practicing prior to your trip, open the cat door immediately after a successful load, and give your cat a treat or meal.)

Begin your journey.