Planning to travel with your cat? There is a lot to consider when removing your cat from the safety and security of their home. The majority of cats would definitely prefer to stay home and hear about your trip when you return, however we know there are cats that love to tag along and there are also trips that cannot be avoided. So, we hope this information will be helpful as you prepare for your adventure:
First of all, many people do not realize that traveling cats, whether state-to-state or to a foreign county, are officially required to have a veterinary inspection and to meet the particular destination’s health requirements. Each state and country requirements are different, so do your research prior to travel.
Visit the United States Department of Agriculture Pet Travel website to search what your destination requires. Most require a veterinary inspection within 10-30 days prior to travel to obtain a travel “Health Certificate”. This must be done by a USDA accredited veterinarian. All veterinarians at Cat Care Clinic are accredited with the USDA and happy to help you with this process.
*Before any travel, we highly recommend ALL cats be microchipped (a permanent means of identification) and that they are current on their flea, tick, and heartworm preventative, such as Revolution. Traveling exposes cats to much more risk, so protection is important. Hotels put cats at risk for fleas and different regions and climates have even higher tick and heartworm prevalence. Prevention is the best medicine!
*Make sure your cat is used to a comfortable, well fitted harness if you’ll be going through security in an airport or if you will be needing to remove your cat from the carrier. Collars can be wiggled out of, so harnesses are recommended. An ID tag with your cell phone is recommended as a first line of identification, but a microchip ID for back up is recommended for every cat.
*Have your cat’s nails trimmed prior to travel, to avoid any torn claws if they are nervous in the carrier.
*We do NOT recommend tranquilizers for cats during travel. If necessary, a safe anti-anxiety or anti-nausea medication may be prescribed. However, consultation and prescription by a veterinarian is important prior to administering anything prior to travel.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners has created this very thorough publication detailing recommendations for cat transport. Please check it out, one of your favorite CCC veterinarians, Dr.Rodan, is one of the lead authors:
Travel by car?
Cats are safest inside carriers, ideally ones they are familiar with. Put their favorite blanket inside and use Feliway spray or wipes to reduce stress about 30 minutes prior to travel.
At one time, it was recommended to put a carrier in the rear seat, strapped in with a seat belt. However, the newer safety recommendations are to put the carrier on the floor right behind one of the front seats.
Check early on with your airline for their requirements. Some airlines only allow a certain number of animals in the cabin, so get this booked early.
Some cats with the compromised nasal passages (brachycephalic breeds) like Persians have a harder time with thermal regulation, so its vital to avoid excessive heat or cold. They should always travel along with you in the cabin.
Will the airline allow you to take your cat in the cabin? Some only allow a small number of pets on a flight, so call early.
Does the airline have any special pet health and immunization requirements?
Does the airline require a specific type of carrier? Most airlines will accept either hard-sided carriers or soft-sided carriers (which may be more comfortable for your pet). Some have very specific requirements for carrier type and size.
Your pet’s carrier will have to pass through the security screening along with you. It’s essential that you have a harness on your cat so you can contain them safely when you need to remove them from the carrier.
Perhaps a train?
Amtrak now allows cats on select trains. The HSUS supports the Pets on Trains Act (H.R. 674) before Congress that will allow Amtrak to permit passengers to bring their beloved pets on certain trains.
If the travel regulations overwhelm you, there are companies that aid in the entire process, from airline plans to veterinary inspection and state/country requirements. We’ve worked with several of these and it does take a lot of burden off from cat owners, especially when traveling to countries with strict regulations.
As always, we’re here at Cat Care Clinic to help you with your cat, in all aspects of their safety, health, comfort, and well-being. Please call us for more guidance on traveling with your cat if needed.