With the holiday season approaching, many people will be traveling to visit family. For cat owners, this could entail taking your furry friend along with you onboard the plane. If this is your first time traveling with your cat, the experience can be a little nerve wracking for both of you. Prepping ahead of time will help keep your cat comfortable and make the trip go more smoothly.
Getting Your Cat Ready for Air Travel
Air travel can be an alarming experience for cats with lots of new sights and feelings. While it is hard to mimic that environment before the actual event to help get your cat comfortable with it, there are still some steps you can take to make the different elements of an airplane flight less alarming such as:
- Purchase Your Carrier - You can buy a hard sided or soft sided cat carrier, but make sure you get one that meets your airline's requirements and is small enough to fit under the seat.
- Get Your Cat Comfortable - The day of your plane flight should not be the first time that your cat goes in her carrier. Get your cat comfortable with it with a slow acclimatization. You can start by setting the carrier out in an area where your cat hangs out and add bedding or toys to make it more comfortable. When your cat goes inside, provide treats. Once your cat is comfortable, start moving the carrier around your home and then transition to short car trips with your cat in the carrier. Three to four weeks is the recommended time for getting your cat acclimatized.
- Pack Your Cat’s Things - Make sure you have packed all of your cat’s luggage as well as your own. Include everything your cat will need on the flight in your carry on. This includes a water bowl, training pads for accidents, wipes to clean up any messes, a small amount of food in case of a delay, and your cat's vet records.
- Forgo Feeding Morning Of - If you are traveling with an adult cat skip, any morning feeding. This will help prevent any nausea. If you have a kitten or cat with medical concerns, you should feed as normally or as recommended by your vet.
- Calm Your Cat Down - There are different substances and medications that can help relax your cat. Herbal remedies and pheromones can keep your cat calm, or you can discuss options for a prescribed sedative with your vet. Giving something to your cat before you depart and having something on hand with you just in case will help keep your cat relaxed. Follow any manufacturer's guidelines for dosages.
Even when you have everything you need to successfully travel with your cat, travel and change can still be stressful and unpleasant for many cats. Sometimes, it makes more sense to leave them at home with a trusted cat sitter so that you can focus on your vacation knowing your cat is safe and comfortable.