You may have heard that cats aren’t too keen on travelling, and they are not afraid to let you know. If you’ve tried to take your feline for a car ride, you probably know the struggle. Now, imagine bringing your cat on a long driving or flying trip. The experience can end up being very stressful. The thing is – cats like routine; they like the safety of their home, and they don’t like change. If you are planning travelling or moving with your cat, there are some steps you will need to take in order to ensure a more enjoyable experience for both of you.
Choose the Right Cat Cage
Cat cages are a must when planning on travelling or moving with a feline. There are three main types of cat cages:
- Cardboard cages – These cages are often found at cat adoption facilities and are suitable only for short-term use. That is because they aren’t strong enough to stand up to cat’s scratching. After a couple uses, you may find that your cat has opened up a few holes and is gearing up for a breakout. Furthermore, if your cat urinates in it, you won’t be able to adequately clean the box for future use. Cardboard cages are also not allowed for airline use.
- Soft-sided cages – Often made of nylon or ballistic nylon, these cages are lightweight and easy to carry around. Although sturdy and quite popular for pet travel, a soft-sided cat cage should only be used for cats that are well behaved and calm travellers. There is a chance for cats to tear out the nylon mesh ventilation panels if they become extremely agitated.
- Hard-sided cages – This type of cage is generally made of plastic and it is very sturdy and durable. It is also the easiest to clean. While it may be a bit harder to fit under an airline seat, in case of a heavy object fall against it, it will offer much more protection to the cat than a soft-sided carrier. The best hard-sided cat cages will come with a steel mesh door that is much sturdier than plastic mesh.
Regardless of which type of cage you choose, it must be sized for the occupant. The cage should offer adequate room for standing up, turning around, and lying down. If it will be used for longer travel, it should allow room for food, water, and, in some cases, a small box of kitty litter.
Check All the Rules for Flying With a Cat
If you will be travelling by plane, make sure you do your homework upfront. First of all, confirm that your cat can travel in the aeroplane cabin with you under the seat in front of you. In any circusntance choose to transport your cat in the cargo/luggage hold. Check with your airline what are the precise dimensions under the seats as this will determine the size of your transport cage. Also, ask about what paperwork you must-have for travelling with your pet. This often includes vaccination records and a health certificate for travel. Consider asking your veterinarian about medication and other calming techniques to make the flying a less stressful experience for your cat.
Be prepared for cat emergencies. For the plane ride, bring some towels to line the carrier in case your cat vomits or eliminates. Also, pack a few plastic bags in your carry-on, so you can dispose the soiled towels without causing inconvenience to the other passengers.
Confirm that Your Hotel is Pet-Friendly
Check the hotel’s website for details and then call them to confirm. Some hotels charge their clients a deposit or a fee for each pet. Usually, extend-stay hotels have the best pet policies as the rooms are designed for long-term visits. Also, these hotels often have a full kitchen and access to laundry facilities, which can come in handy when staying for more than one night.
Place a collar on your cat with identification and contact information before travel. It is also a good idea to label the cage with contact information. Before going through airport security, you must remove your cat from the carrier. Hold him tightly and walk it through the metal detectors. The cage will go through the x-ray machine. Whenever possible, keep the cage closed while you are in open areas.
When travelling by car, your cat must ride inside a cage. Keep in mind that a loose cat becomes a furry projectile in case of an accident. Plus, as a driver, you need to concentrate on the road and traffic, not the kitty on your lap or under the pedals. Even a well-behaved cat loosed in the vehicle can get injured. For example, an airbag will crush your cat if he is in the front seat during an accident. So make sure you cage train your cat before you hit the road.
Practice Cage Training
Cat behaviour experts highlight the importance of training cats to be in a cage. They recommend cage training in stages at home, as your cat will be most comfortable there, and lots of practice. To begin, place the cage on a chair or sofa and allow your cat to explore it. Add his favourite toy or blanket inside the cage and let him sniff and explore a bit. Offer positive reinforcement with food at every step. As your pet becomes more comfortable with the process, work your way up to closing the cage door for a short time, placing the cage in the car without starting the engine, starting the engine but not going anywhere, taking a short drive around the block, and then going on longer trips around the neighborhood. This gradual training will make your cat less resistant to travelling.
Travelling or moving with your cat doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience for either of you. By training your pet and getting him comfortable and safe with travelling, you can pop him in his cage and go anytime. By using the tips above you should be able to move and take your kitty to a trip, and it will be a trouble-free experience.