How to travel with a cat, according to a vet

Traveling can be a nightmare. Packing, traffic, safety lines, cost – it’s so amazing we put ourselves in just to get away. But traveling with cats is a completely different matter, which I dealt with personally.

In 2016, I moved from California to upstate New York with my two cats, Daisy and Fredo. There was a long layover between flights, so we had a good eight hours of travel time throughout the day. Neither cat enjoyed the trip; Daisy was howling and banging around her carrier the entire time, while Fredo froze in one place, refusing to make eye contact with me.

How to travel with a cat

These types of reactions are common in cats prone to anxiety, says Dr. M. Kathleen Shaw of Latham Animal Hospital in Latham, New York. The trick is to do everything you can in advance to keep your baby calm.

Using Feliway, which is available as a spray or wipes, is one way to do this. “It’s a calming pheromone,” she says. “We can’t smell it, but cats can. It’s been shown to reduce stress, and it seems to really help a lot of cats as they travel.” Another option is to put something that smells like you, like a T-shirt, in the holder.

Feliway Comfortable Wet Wipes for Cats, 12 ct

Gildan Blanc T-Shirt

Before embarking on any road or flight, make sure you have the necessary items to keep your cat safe. “Always keep a copy of your cat’s medical records with you,” says Dr. Shaw. “And put an ID on your cat that has your cell phone number.” This way, if your cat escapes on your way, you can be reached.

ROAD iD Cat ID Tag

I found that having a few additional items was helpful:

Disposable pad to absorb any urine and make the carrier more comfortable.

DryFur Pet Carrier Insert Pads Small 19.5

Wet wipes, small litter bags, and disposable gloves to clean cat poop from the carrier.

Dog and cat grooming wipes

Glad Small Garbage Bags

SAFESKIN Disposable Nitrile Gloves in POP-N-GO Pack*

Harness and leash, in case we had to open the carrier at a stop to clean it up.

Catit Adjustable Nylon Cat Harness and Leash Set, Large, Black

Small bowl of dry treats.

Collapsible Travel Dog Bowls, 2 Pack

A bowl of water and a water bottle we provided while we were off.

Prima Pet . stretchy and foldable silicone food and water bowl for pets

Should you give your cat anxiety medication when traveling?

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