Travel Safely With Your Cat This Summer

A veterinarian offers tips for putting your cat in a carrier before making a long car trip.

Posted: June 27, 2007, 5 a.m. EDT

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Summer months mean summer vacation for many cat owners, and some owners prefer to bring their cats along for the trip. A Purdue University veterinarian offers cat owners tips to help coax their feline friends into the cat carrier.

“The pet carrier or pet car seat ensures the safety of the animal, as well as the driver,” said Lorraine Corriveau, wellness veterinarian at Purdue’s School of Veterinary Medicine. “Owners can help their pets get comfortable with the idea by taking the carrier out of the closet a few days before departure.”

Corriveau also suggested putting the cat’s bowl in the carrier at home and placing some catnip in the carrier ahead of time. When it comes time to leave the house, the owner also can place the carrier on end, “and put in the kitty ‘butt’-first,” Corriveau said.

Some cats might become anxious about traveling and require sedative medications, Corriveau said, but she emphasized that this is dependent on the individual pet. If the cat doesn’t vocalize excessively, drool or salivate, vomit, defecate or urinate while traveling in the car, a sedative might not be needed.

“Sometimes, a low-dose antihistamine can be enough to take the edge off many pets if the symptoms are mild, but as with any medication, owners should check with their veterinarians for advice,” Corriveau said.

Corriveau also offered these tips to make traveling with your cat go more smoothly:

  • Have your veterinarian fill out a health certificate within 10 days of air travel.
  • Bring medical/vaccination records.
  • Research pet-friendly hotels and parks ahead of time.
  • Bring water and food that your cat is used to.
  • Stay on the cat’s regular schedule.
  • Update your cat’s I.D. tag and add a temporary tag with the phone number of your travel destination.
  • Consider a microchip implant as a means of permanent identification.
  • Bring an extra leash and harness.
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Reader Comments

Marielle    Mississauga, ON, AE

6/27/2007 12:02:38 PM

I have taken the carriers out a few days ahead and my cats play in them. But, when we went to the cottage, one of them was traveling in hte carrier and she cried the all way there. On the way back, she got to ride on the front passenger seat with her harness attached to a pet seatbelt clip and she was fine. She just wanted a little bit of freedom (not enough to interfere with driving) and to look outside. My other cat was clipped in the backseat between kids for the way there and back so the kids could pet her and reassure her on the way. That works well for us.

Kiraz    Sandwich, MA

6/27/2007 11:06:15 AM

This information was really useful.Nobody would know how painful travelling with cat better than me.My cat is a tough little traveller.But no matter what i do she always gets anxious which makes me very upset.

Moni    Boise, ID

6/27/2007 10:58:11 AM

My cat Zoey loves her carrier. I incorporated it into her play area and she plays and sleeps in it. It is a safe zone for her when I take her outside. I am trying to get her acustomed to the sounds of traffic and other people and she goes into her carrier when she wants feel safe.

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