Brown cat on a plane staring out the window with the clouds and sky reflecting in it's eyes.

Tips for Traveling with a Cat Safely in Long Plane and Car Rides

September 8, 2022

If you have a cat, you already know there’s a lot of responsibility in caring for your pet. You have to do a lot to make sure your pet is safe and comfortable at home, but you can’t leave them there while you’re out on travel nursing assignments.  

Cats are often stubborn and quirky under the best circumstances. Traveling with a cat can be a totally different ballgame, but there are a few things you can do to make it less stressful. Here’s what you need to know about traveling with a cat before your start your trip.

Talk to Your Veterinarian

Before you commit to traveling with a cat, weigh the pros and cons and learn as much about how to travel with a cat from professionals. If your cat has anxiety or is sick, it might be best to allow someone else to care for it while you’re traveling. Should you decide that traveling with a cat is your best choice, discuss it ahead of time with your veterinarian. They’ll likely have specific recommendations based on the state of your cat’s health.

Tips for traveling with cats by car and plane.

Medical Problems While Traveling

Make sure you bring all of your cat’s prescriptions with you on your trip and give them to your cat on time. If this isn’t possible, ask your veterinarian if it’s safe to skip a dose before you make that decision yourself.  

Before you start traveling with a cat, you should also get familiar with where you might take your pet if it gets sick. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends making a list of reputable emergency hospitals and veterinarians that practice at your travel destination. It’s also best to keep a copy of your cat’s medical records with you so the veterinarian can make informed decisions about its care.

Quick Safety Tips for How to Travel With a Cat

Traveling with a cat carries an additional risk than the short car rides you both might be accustomed to. This can lead to unsafe situations which are more easily dealt with if you have emergency plans in place. Here are some things to remember to keep your cat safe:  

  • Know the number for poison control in case your cat eats or touches something dangerous.
  • Stop frequently when traveling with a cat to tend to their needs. VCA Animal Hospitals recommends your cat to travel on an empty stomach. Only give your cat small amounts of water during stops to prevent nausea and vomiting.
  • Get your cat microchipped. If your cat gets lost and someone finds it, returning it to you will be easier. Alternatively, your cat can wear a collar with your contact information on it.

Tips for Traveling with Cats in a Car

As cats get older, they may develop conditions that call for special care. The stress of traveling alone can take a toll on your cat, but traveling with a cat is possible. If your cat hasn’t traveled before in a car, test things out by taking it on a short drive. This way, you’ll figure out if your cat has travel-related anxiety or gets motion sickness, and your veterinarian might prescribe something to help.  

Also, use a carrier while traveling with cats in a car and put your pet in the back seat to avoid airbag injuries. Accidents happen, and you don’t want your fur baby to get hurt in one. If you’re driving to your travel destination, secure your cat’s carrier using seat belts in case there’s a car accident or you brake hard. The best cat carriers for long distance car travel feature a sturdy frame, windows, and good ventilation.

Tips for Traveling with a Cat on a Plane

Whether your cat needs accommodations for health conditions or not, you’ll need your veterinarian to fill out a health certificate if you’re going to be traveling with a cat on a plane. You have to make sure your feline friend is up to date with certain vaccines and tests for health certificates to be valid. These requirements change based on your travel destination, so make sure to do your research ahead of time!

How Long Can a Cat Travel on a Plane?

The AVMA and Humane Society do not suggest a maximum travel time for cats. However, both organizations highlight the dangers of flying and offer advice to help you protect your fur baby.

  • Keep your cat in the cabin with you
  • Book the shortest flight possible
  • Don’t travel during the busiest times  
  • Check on your pet right after your flight lands

Cat Travel Accessories You Need

When you travel with your cat, you’ll be packing for two: you and your cat. Pack anything that is part of your cat’s daily routine, but keep in mind that some things aren’t travel friendly. Instead, buy travel versions of items that are hard to pack, like collapsible food and water bowls.

Also pack items in case your cat needs to be distracted. If you sense anxiousness when traveling with a cat, these distractions might help calm your pet down:

  • Your cat’s favorite blankets and toys from home. This will teach your cat that its carrier is a safe place. If you plan on using something new, let your cat use it before your trip.
  • Calming sprays can help ease your cat's anxiety and help them feel better.  

Your kitty will need somewhere to use the bathroom. Litter pads can protect the inside of your carrier. They are disposable, but don’t contain big messes or smells. If your cat needs a litter box, there are travel friendly litter pans that might be helpful.

You might need to take your cat out of its carrier when you go through airport security. You can use a harness and leash to keep it close. Choose a cat harness that is easy to put on, adjustable, and isn’t easy to escape.  

How to Travel Long Distance with Multiple Cats

It’s easy to become disorganized when traveling with multiple cats. Here’s how you can achieve organized chaos:

  • Make a list before you begin packing and check it off to make sure you don’t forget anything.
  • Label your cats’ belongings and pack them separately.
  • Each cat should have its own carrier. Even if your cats get along at home, you don’t want to risk them fighting while you drive.
  • Keep separate folders with your cats’ medical records so important information is easy to find.

Bring your Fur Baby on Travel Nursing Assignments

Advantis Medical Staffing has plenty of travel nursing assignments that you and your fur baby can travel to together across the United States. Getting started is easy and convenient. Sign up on the AdvantisConnect job portal to get access to travel nursing, allied health, and post-acute care jobs.

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