How can I minimize stress on my cat when traveling?
Our question this week was:
Dr. Debra, I have to take my cat traveling with me. What is the best way to make traveling comfortable and less stressful for my cat?
Hi Raquel – thanks for your email. You have asked a very good question – how can you minimize stress on a cat when traveling.
There is no prefect way. How much stress a cat has and how he or she deals with it depends on the individual cat and your method of transportation. Tips will vary if you are traveling by car vs. by plane and the length of your trip.
If traveling by car – the safest way to travel with him is to ensure he is confined in a pet taxi or carrier. You can put him in with food, water and even a litter box if it is a long trip. For shorter trips, those items aren’t necessary. You may also include a toy and a familiar blanket with his familiar smells. Make sure the temperature is comfortable in the vehicle. You can talk to him in a calming voice, which can be soothing to some cats. Some cats are stressed no matter what you do but doing these things can help. Most cats prefer travel with the windows up as they find outside noises and the air on them stressful.
If traveling by air, make sure he has all his exams, vaccinations and health certificates. Make sure you have an airline-approved carrier. Call the airline and confirm everything you need when you book and the day before to ensure there are no problems. If possible, keep him with you in the cabin under the seat in front of you. I personally prefer this where I can see him and make sure he is doing okay.
For more tips, read the article Traveling with Your Cat.
You may also consider choosing a cat sitter. I think in many circumstances, some cats would prefer to be left at home in their familiar environment with a good cat sitter. For more information, read How to Find a Good Pet Sitter for Your Cat.
Best of luck!