5 Things to Consider Before Car Travel

Author: Emily Burt, Nursing Team

February 9, 2011

Chances are you may need to travel with your cat at some point. Here are some important things you should know before planning a car trip with cats.

A Secure Carrier is a Must
This is both for your safety and your cat's. Having a nervous animal loose in a car can easily lead to an accident. For longer trips, it may be nice to get a larger carrier with room for food, water, a litter box, and moving around. It is important to acclimate your cat to the carrier before travel. Make it part of their everyday environment at home by leaving it in a central location with the door open. For more skittish cats, moving the carrier closer to their food every day, and eventually putting the food dish in the carrier can help. Most cats will adjust within a week.

Never Sedate Except Under the Advice of a Veterinarian 
Some animals are very nervous when traveling. The truth is that sedation is not always advisable and under certain circumstances can even be harmful to your cat. If you are considering sedation, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. There are a number of options, including Feliway, that can help make your cat more comfortable without the need for sedation.

While Traveling, the Escape Risk Is Greater 
This would be a good time to get your cats a microchip and ID tag if they don't already have one. Always make sure the microchip information is current before travel. Provide a current phone number, preferably a cell phone that you will have with you. Anytime you're staying in an unfamiliar place it's always best to have at least two doors between your cat and the outdoors. For example, in a motel, you could keep your cat confined to the bathroom or perhaps even consider a lead and harness for some.

You May Need Veterinary Care on the Way 
Always take plenty of food and fresh water in the car. Before you leave, get copies of your cat's current veterinary records. This is especially important for any animal with chronic issues. And if your cat is on any medications, be sure to take an ample supply in the original packaging.

Interstate Travel Requires a Health Certificate 
Any time you cross state lines with an animal, you must have a current health certificate. This is issued following a veterinarian's complete physical exam of your cat, ensuring that they are healthy enough for travel and that they have a current rabies vaccination. For most states, these certificates are good for 30 days, but it is always good to check with the Department of Agriculture for the state to which you are traveling.

As you can see, there is a lot to think about before taking your cat on a vacation or a move. If your cat is staying home while you travel, consider a pet sitter or a boarding facility such as ours here at Cats Exclusive.  Feel free to contact us at 206-546-2287 if you have any questions.

Next week, we will be discussing the requirements for and hazards of air travel, including international travel.