The holidays are for spending time with family, and for a lot of us, family includes our four-legged members. Traveling can be a fun way to bond with your furkiddo, but should you bring your cat along on your winter holiday adventures? The answer depends on your cat, your destination, and several other factors.
Read on to find out about the pros and cons of traveling with a cat, how to travel safely with a cat in tow, and how to make sure your feline is well taken care of if you’re leaving them behind.
Cats are very territorial creatures who spend a lot of time setting up their turf. They generally find it stressful when they’re taken out of their own space, so most cats aren’t too keen on traveling. That said, some cats make great travel companions and enjoy going on trips. So how do you know if your cat is a good candidate for traveling? Let's take a look at some important factors.
Is your cat confident and outgoing, or are they nervous and anxious? Are they relaxed in their carrier when going to the vet, or is it a challenge to get them in? Are they curious and likely to take a change of environment in stride, or do they get scared about leaving the house? Are they already used to traveling? How do they do in the car? The answers to all these questions can tell you if your cat is craving an adventure, can handle the changes involved in leaving their home, or are better off staying where they are.
Some felines may not be fit for travel, such as senior cats and those that require medications or have physical limitations. Air travel can also be dangerous for brachycephalic cats like Persians and Exotic Shorthairs, as their short nasal passages make them more vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heatstroke. Be sure to talk to your vet if your cat has a condition that may make it more difficult for them to travel.
How cat-friendly is your itinerary? If you’re visiting family and friends, is your feline companion welcome in their homes? Will they be safe and comfortable there? Are there any resident dogs or other pets? And where will your cat stay while you’re doing human things with family and friends? Planning ahead can often tell you if the environment you'll be in is a good fit for your feline pal.
Think your cat may be a good candidate for travel? Let's look at some reasons to bring them along.
Should you take your cat with you on your travels, or would it be better if they stayed at home? Here are some pros and cons of traveling with a feline friend to help you decide.
You don’t have to miss your cat or worry about them. With your kitty tagging along, you can vacation with peace of mind. No need to regularly check your phone for updates from the sitter, or wonder how your cat is doing home alone.
You’ll discover new places and meet new people. Traveling with your four-legged pal necessitates you to look for pet-friendly destinations, which you probably wouldn’t find if it weren’t for them. Companion animals are also excellent icebreakers, so don’t be surprised if strangers come up to start a conversation with you.
It forces you to slow down and live in the moment. Travel can be exhausting, especially when you try to do a lot in a short period of time. It’s understandable to want to make the most out of your vacation while you’re there, but having a jam-packed schedule can backfire. When your cat is with you, you’re forced to go at a slower pace, which allows you to enjoy every moment of your vacation.
You get to spend time with your cat. The best part about going on vacation with your cat is seeing new places and experiencing new things together. You’ll create memories that will last a lifetime, have pawsome photos and videos to look back on, and build a stronger bond with your furbaby. Priceless!
It can be expensive. Between health certificates, insurance, and airline and hotel pet fees, the costs of traveling with your feline friend can quickly add up even before you leave home.
You’ll be packing for two. Forget traveling light when your kitty is coming with you. Just like you, your cat has a number of travel essentials, including their carrier, food, treats, food and water bowls, harness, leash, litter tray, litter, and toys.
You need to plan your trip around your kitty. While it’s possible to have a great vacation with your cat, a lot of places are off-limits to felines, including restaurants, museums, and other indoor attractions. Many hotels also do not allow companion animals to be left unattended in rooms. Often during the holidays, we are also staying with friends and family who may not be able to host an animal too.
Travel can be stressful for your cat. Many cats aren’t fans of traveling and would be happier staying at home in a familiar environment.
If you've decided to bring your furbaby along to your holiday adventures, these tips can help to make traveling with your cat as smooth and easy as possible this holiday season.
Plan ahead for your trip. It’s never too early to prepare your cat for travel. In the weeks or months prior to your departure, teach your cat to use their carrier, have them practice walking on a leash, and take them on short journeys to get them used to traveling.
Take regular breaks on long road trips. If you’re traveling by car, stop regularly to check on your cat, offer them water, and give them an opportunity to use the litter box. You can let them out of the carrier and allow them to stretch their legs inside the car as well.
Bring enough food. Ideally, you’ll want to bring enough of your cat’s regular food to last the entire trip, as changing their diet while you’re traveling can cause stomach upset. You may also want to package their meals in individual containers for easier feeding.
Pack a couple of comfort objects. To make travel less stressful for your cat, bring a few familiar items from home that they have spent time with. A favorite toy or an unwashed blanket, for example, will have your cat’s scent on it and help ease their nerves during the trip.
Choose the cabin when possible. If you’re traveling by air, your cat will be happier and more comfortable flying in the cabin with you than in the cargo hold. Be sure to book your flight early, as there is a limit on the number of animals permitted on each aircraft. If your cat must travel in the hold, choose a direct flight to avoid possible mistakes and delays.
Provide a heads-up. If you’re visiting family and friends, always check with them first about hosting your cat. Someone could be allergic to cats or have a dog that doesn’t get along with felines, or they may have someone who is immune compromised and can;t be around dirty litter.
Explore different calming strategies. If your cat is extra anxious, ask your vet about pheromone products and medication. Be sure to test any calming medication at home before you travel to see how your cat will react to it.
Anticipate a loss of appetite. Cats are very sensitive to shifts in their routine, and not eating is a common reaction to such change. Entice your cat to eat by giving them canned or wet food they love, adding a low-sodium broth to their food, or warming it a little in the microwave to enhance its smell. Fresh tuna is usually always a favorite too!
Invest in a cat backpack. A cat backpack is an easy way to bring your cat with you wherever you go once you reach your destination. It also doubles as a safe space for your cat and a place to nap when they’re tired.
Make sure your accommodation is cat-friendly. Some hotels that claim to be pet-friendly only allow dogs. One hotel brand that welcomes companion animals of all shapes and sizes at no additional charge is Kimpton. Not only that, but your furbaby will also get treated to pet-friendly amenities and you’ll receive complimentary access to Wag! Premium during your stay! That's meowstastic!
Need more help planning your pet-friendly adventure? Check out Pet Travel Tips for the Holidays [Expert Advice].
Not all cats are cut out for travel and that’s okay. If your cat isn't a good fit to tag along or the destination isn't the right place for them, there are many great reasons to hire a cat sitter and let your purrbaby lounge at home.
If your feline friend is skipping the holiday trip this year, book a cat sitter with Wag! to ensure they get the best care possible while you’re away.
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