My husband and I have moved a lot. We changed 3 apartments and 3 continents in a year! Our two cats travel with us, so over the years we have picked up on a few tricks. These tips for travelling with a cat helped us reduce the stress from the move on both us and our feline companions.
First let’s get some misconceptions out of the way. Yes, it is true that cats are creatures of habit and that they don’t like change. That being said, not all cats are alike. Our oldest, Nemo, has changed 5 apartments and has been a guest of honor in two hotels and is very much a happy and loving cat! If your cat is older and not used to moving, taking it on the road with you may be more challenging. However, there are a lot of things you can do to make the transition easier. Travelling with cats is not an oxymoron – it is totally doable if you prepare for it.
- Get them used to the pet carrier
If your cat is past the kitten age, she probably already has some pretty strong feelings about the pet carrier. You know, the place you put her every time before a trip to the vet. Our cat used to run under the bed as soon as we pulled the carrier out of storage. To avoid stressing your cat by chasing her around the house, help her create positive associations with the carrier. Pull it out at least a week prior to your trip. Place a favorite blanket in it and occasionally leave a treat or two inside. We actually have the carrier in our living room all the time so the cat knows it is no reason to get anxious.
- Check the airline requirements and set a vet appointment
If you are flying with a cat, you will need to check the airline requirements prior to your flight. You will need to schedule a vet visit for a regular physical exam for your cat before departing. Make sure that you have the vaccination records prepared as well.
Airlines refuse to ship animals if it is too hot or too cold. Check your airline’s requirements to make sure that your cat will be allowed to fly before buying a ticket.
- Avoid transfers
This one comes from a horrible experience with Delta. They somehow managed to lose our cat for a day and a half. The poos thing never made it on our connecting flight and flew to 3 different states before finally arriving. Needless to say, this was extremely stressful for him. Avoid this risk by booking direct flights whenever possible. Pets are allowed to fly for 8 hours uninterrupted, so most domestic flights will not be an issue. If you are travelling internationally, you will need to have a transfer for any flight longer than 8 hours.
- Use a travel agency if travelling overseas
We had a great experience using Pet Relocation when shipping our cat Nemo from the U.S. to Europe. They were absolutely amazing, took care of all the paperwork, and even sent us pictures of him from the airport to assure us he is feeling alright.
While it is possible to handle international pet relocation on your own, I strongly recommend using an agency instead. You will need extra paperwork, both from the exporting and from the importing country and it can be a pain. Everything has to be completed in just the right time window, too, making the move even more stressful. Even though the agency service may seem pricy at first, it is worth every penny!
- Bring extra liners
When travelling with a cat, accidents happen. Cats are clean animals and appreciate a clean environment. Make sure to bring extra liners so you can freshen up your cat’s carrier if necessary.
- Bring water
Your cat can last a long time without food, but water is essential. To keep your kitty hydrated, make sure to bring an extra bottle of water and refill their bowl regularly.
- Help your cat relax
Our cats sometimes insist on showing you their displeasure with the situation by meowing loudly in the car. This can be very exhausting, especially after a long flight. To help them settle down, we always bring a feline pheromone travel spray. You can spray your cat’s blanket with it and help it relax.
- Give it time
Once you arrive at your new place, make sure to give your cat plenty of space and time. Do not be alarmed if they don’t want to eat at first – they will probably be too overwhelmed by all the new smells and scenery. So, give it a few hours before trying to feed your cat treats. Immediately after arriving, set up your cat’s litter box and place it in it. This will help you avoid accidents. Don’t be alarmed if your cat does not pay attention to you and refuses petting – this is normal – she just needs a little bit of time to get acclimated. Before you know it you will hear her purring again!