Need to take your cat on a trip by car, taxi, or train? Or perhaps just need some advice on how to travel long distance with a cat? Read our guide on making travelling as easy and stress-free as possible for you and your cat.
We know that most cats find travelling stressful. They feel safe in a familiar environment and are not used to the different smells, noises and sensations of travelling in a vehicle. Even the sight of the pet carrier being taken out can stress some cats because they associate it with a sign of an upcoming trip.
It is best to only take your cat on trips if absolutely necessary, but some journeys, like going to the vet or moving to a new place, may be unavoidable.
If your cat gets very stressed when travelling, speak to your vet as they can discuss further options.
One of the first things to prepare before travelling is to have a cat carrier that is safe and comfortable.
It should be well-ventilated and made of sturdy material such as plastic or metal wire that is also easy to clean in case of any accidents.
To help your cat feel more comfortable, get them used to the carrier at least a few days before the trip. Place the carrier in a room where they like to relax and leave it open so they can explore and get to know it better in their own time. You can also put in their familiar blanket and add some treats.
For more nervous cats, a pheromone spray like FELIWAY® can be used inside the carrier around 15 minutes before going on a trip.
When going on a short trip with your cat such as to the vet, apart from having them in the carrier you can also bring their favourite toy or blanket.
For longer road trips, you should take the following to ensure your cat has everything they may need:
If your cat hasn’t travelled in a car before, introduce them to travel gradually. Start with a short trip and go on a slightly longer journey the next time.
Your cat may be loud and meowing excessively. This is a sign of stress, but they should settle down eventually. You can show them attention and help them calm down a little by talking to them gently and reward them with treats when the journey is over.
To keep everyone safe, your cat should be kept in their carrier at all times when driving. Leaving your cat loose in the car can be a distraction and put you at risk of an accident. To secure the carrier, it’s best to put it on a backseat and fasten it with a seat belt.
There may be situations when you need to go to the vet urgently or take your cat somewhere quickly, and if you don’t have a car, a taxi can be a good option.
As for taxis, whether or not you can travel with your pet depends on the taxi company or driver. Some companies may charge extra to bring a pet. Depending on your location, there may be a pet-specific taxi service in the area.
If you’re wondering whether you can take your cat on a train, you should know that in the UK each passenger is allowed to travel with up to two pets, free of charge.
If you want to take your cat on a bus, the bus driver may decide at their discretion whether you are allowed on with a pet, depending on how busy the bus is and whether there are other animals on board.
Other things to be aware of when travelling on a train or bus are the many different smells, unfamiliar faces, and other animals, all of which can scare your cat. You can try booking a ticket outside of peak hours and, if possible, find a quiet place during the journey. Do not leave your cat unattended, and keep the carrier close to you. Throwing a light blanket over the carrier can help prevent overstimulation but ensure there is adequate airflow.
On average, cats with no underlying health issues urinate two to four times daily and poop about once a day.
However, being in an unfamiliar environment such as in a car is stressful for your cat so they might hold in their urge to go to the bathroom. But sometimes they are not able to hold it and will need to use the litter box right away.
If you notice that your cat suddenly becomes extremely loud and shows signs of distress or wanting to get out, it might be the time you will need to let them use the litter box. It’s advisable to avoid letting your cat in and out of the carrier frequently but, if needed, have the litter box ready next to them and let them use it once you stop for a break.
Motion sickness is a common occurrence in many cats. There can be several causes, but the most common cause of motion sickness in cats is anxiety and stress associated with travel. If your cat experiences this, you may notice the following symptoms:
If you see any of these signs, you should let your vet know so they can do a physical exam to rule out any health issues or advise you on ways to manage your cat’s anxiety when travelling.
Although desensitising cats to travel can take some work and patience, over time your cat should become more comfortable when going on a trip.