Are you planning a road trip? Here’s an even bigger question… are you planning on taking your cat with you? For many cat parents, bringing kitty along on out-of-town trips is sometimes the only option. If that’s the case with you, here are some tips to help make the travel experience safer and a little less stressful.
1. Take the time to get your cat used to being in a carrier
Leave the carrier out and start conditioning your cat to become comfortable going in and out as well as having the carrier door closed. Work up to taking the cat (in the carrier) out to the car and then for short trips down the road. Every step of the process should be gradual because even just turning the car engine on could be upsetting to a cat who has never experienced travel.
2. Have identification for your cat
No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen and your cat can escape or get lost. The safest form of identification is to have her microchipped. This is a quick procedure your veterinarian can do. In addition to microchipping, it’s also a good idea to have a collar with identification. Cell phone numbers are the best ones to have on the identification rather than your home number so you can always be reached when on the road.
3. Pack a travel bag for your cat
The bag should include a supply of any medication your cat is currently on, food, water, bowls, plastic bags (for soiled litter), litter scoop, litter, travel-sized litter box (can be a disposable one), grooming supplies (very important for long-haired cats), treats, toys, pet wipes and towels (for clean up).
4. Keep your cat in a well-ventilated carrier
Even if your cat is calm and very well-behaved, it’s not safe to have her loose in the car. A pet loose in the car is a distraction to the driver and can cause an accident. Additionally, if an accident does happen, a loose pet has a greater chance of injury and getting thrown from the vehicle. Line the carrier with a towel and pack some extras in case that one gets soiled.
5. Secure the cat carrier in the back seat
The safest carrier to use is a plastic kennel-type carrier. Place the carrier in the back seat and secure it with the seatbelt. Don’t place the carrier in the front seat because of the danger of the airbag.
6. Never leave your pet in a parked car
In hot weather, the temperature inside a car can skyrocket in seconds. Even a car parked in the shade with the windows cracked open can get hot enough to cause heatstroke in an animal. If the weather is cold, temperatures can plummet enough to potentially cause your cat to freeze.
7. Feed your cat about four hours before leaving
Make sure your cat has eaten a light meal early enough and she has successfully used her litter box so the car ride will be more comfortable. If you’re going on a long trip you’ll have to provide access to a litter box during the ride. Don’t feed your cat in the car because it could upset her stomach.
8. Create a comfortable set-up for your cat at your destination
Whether your destination is a hotel room or grandma’s house, set your cat up in a small, safe area so she doesn’t escape and can get her bearings. Arriving at an unfamiliar location will be stressful so create a comfortable set-up so she can relax and feel secure.
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