Here's How To Travel With Your Cat By Plane, Train And Automobile

The best cat travel tips, according to a vet 🚗✈️

If you’re planning on traveling with your cat, you might be looking for advice so she doesn’t have a total meltdown.

Many cats aren’t the best at coping with new situations, so you’ll want to do some research to make sure your cat’s safe and comfortable on your trip.

The Dodo reached out to Dr. Catherine Lenox, a veterinarian and regulatory veterinary manager at Royal Canin, for some cat travel tips to make the next excursion with your BFF totally stress-free.

JUMP TO: Do cats like to travel? | Tips for traveling with your cat in a car | Tips for flying with your cat | Can cats travel on trains? | Cat travel supplies

Do cats like to travel?

Most cats aren’t too fond of traveling because they like to stick to their routines and can get stressed out by sudden changes to their environments. They’re also territorial, so being taken out of their home and brought to a new area that’s not theirs can make them feel out of place and scared.

So before traveling with your cat, think about whether or not it’s totally necessary to bring her with you. In some cases, like when moving, your cat doesn’t really have any other choice but to make the trip.

Some cats, on the other hand, are super adventurous and love traveling, so it just depends on your individual cat.

If you think your cat will be OK coming on your trip, it’s totally possible — just be sure to prepare ahead of time and pack all the necessary supplies to keep your cat comfy.

Tips for traveling with your cat in a car

Your cat might not like riding in the car right away, so it’s important to take the time to make sure she’s comfortable.

Before you hit the road, you should consider getting her a cat carrier, which can be a super safe way to travel with your cat in the car.

Try this carrier from Amazon for $35.99

Once you have a cat carrier, Dr. Lenox suggests some steps to make the car ride less stressful for your cat.

Let her get used to the carrier

Some cats will simply refuse to go into a carrier, so instead of forcing her (which you should never do), introduce her carrier slowly so she can gradually get used to it. “Keep it out so your cat can explore it during its normal day-to-day behavior so it doesn’t seem scary when it shows up for a car trip,” Dr. Lenox told The Dodo.

You can also put treats inside her carrier every so often so your cat knows that good things happen there.

Pack your cat’s favorite things

Right before your trip, you’ll want to make sure you have a few of her favorite items packed, like her bed, so she stays happy and calm. Bringing items from home with you will make your cat feel more at home in the car and wherever you’re traveling.

“When you get to the car, make the ride as comfortable as possible with familiar bedding, small amounts of treats (not enough to make your cat carsick) and toys,” Dr. Lenox said.

Keep the carrier covered and secure

Bring a blanket with you to cover your cat’s carrier in case she gets nervous, which can help her feel more hidden and protected.

“Cover the carrier in the car, and make sure the carrier is secure so it doesn’t move around with your cat inside of it,” Dr. Lenox said.

Most carriers include straps where you can attach a seat belt to secure it to the seat. If you’re looking for a cat carrier for car travel, make sure it has that feature to keep your cat safe.

Go for a test run

If you’re going on a longer car trip with your cat, Dr. Lenox suggests taking some shorter test drives before the longer trip to get your cat familiar with traveling in the car.

Feed your cat treats during the test run, and avoid driving to places that might freak your cat out, like the vet. You want to help your cat create positive associations with driving in the car and not negative ones.

Talk to your veterinarian

If your cat has severe anxiety, you may need to consult your vet to get some tips on how to help her be less stressed out about traveling.

“If your cat is very anxious and stressed in the car, talk to your veterinarian before taking your cat on a ride,” Dr. Lenox said. “There are medications and other products, such as pheromones, that may help reduce stress so the car ride can be comfortable for your cat.”

Tips for flying with your cat

According to Dr. Lenox, preparing to fly with your cat on a plane is similar to how you’d prep her for a car ride, so many of the same tips apply.

But there are some major differences, too, since on a road trip, you’ll be in your own car, while on a plane, you’ll have to follow the airline’s rules. So it’s super important to make sure you know all the regulations ahead of time so you can plan around them.

Make her carrier comfortable

You’ll want to make sure your cat’s carrier is as comfortable as possible for the plane ride. Put familiar bedding and toys in her carrier before the trip (without overcrowding it — she should be able to stand up and turn around comfortably in her carrier), and keep the carrier out days before so she can get used to it.

Only take her in the cabin

While you can check your cat on an airplane as cargo, it’s much safer to bring her as your carry-on. Flying in cargo can be extremely stressful for any pet since it’s super loud and dark, and your cat won’t know where you are or what’s going on. Some pets have even injured themselves trying to get out of their carriers because they’re scared.

Some reputable airlines go the extra mile to make sure your pets are comfortable in cargo, so if flying with your cat as a carry-on isn’t an option, make sure to do your research.

Check with your airline, but most will accept your cat as a carry-on as long as she can fit comfortably in an airline-approved carrier under the seat. Some airlines only allow a certain number of in-flight pets, so double-check that there’s room available for your cat before you book.

And because each airline has different pet policies, including weight limits, paperwork and carrier size, you should read over all their rules so you know what to expect.

Talk to your veterinarian

You’ll likely need to provide the airline with paperwork that documents your cat’s vaccinations and health status, so make sure you talk to your vet ahead of time to get all the info you need.

And since many cats get nervous about flying, your vet can also give you tips on how to help your cat be more relaxed.

“Your veterinarian will be your best resource to come up with ideas to keep your cat comfortable during the trip,” Dr. Lenox advised.

Can cats travel on trains?

Cats are allowed on some trains, but they usually have to be kept in their carriers for the whole trip.

There are some restrictions, too. On Amtrak, for example, the maximum combined weight allowed for the pet and carrier is 20 pounds, and they’re only allowed on trips that are less than seven hours long.

Just like when you take your cat on a plane, you’ll have to provide proof that your cat has all her vaccinations and is perfectly healthy before you board the train.

(Service pets are exempt from some of these restrictions.)

And if you do take your cat on a train, make sure you follow the same steps to keep your cat comfortable and safe in her carrier as you would if you were traveling in the car or on a plane.

Cat travel supplies

Here are all the supplies you need if you’re taking your cat on a trip:

If your cat’s an anxious traveler, you should consider calming products to help ease her stress. According to Dr. Lenox, there are several products, including medications, pheromones and special food, that can help keep your cat calm when faced with the drama of travel.

Some calming products you can try are a ThunderShirt, which you can get from Amazon for $39.95, and Feliway pheromone wipes from Amazon for $9.89.

Cats might not be super adventurous, but you can still have a smooth trip with your cat if she needs to go with you. Just prepare ahead of time, pack all your cat’s supplies and make sure your cat’s comfortable and calm, and you’ll have a stress-free adventure together.

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