|"Inca" one of Paris and John's cats|
Friday, February 21, 2014
Traveling with Your Cat, A Guest Blog Post By Paris Permenter and John Bigley
We’re going to be the first to confess that we don’t travel with our cats.
As much as we love traveling with our dogs, we don’t vacation with our cats. We’d love to take them to the beach or even for day trips but we know that they would hate it. They’re homebodies, and they like it that way. They have their catio so they can safely enjoy a taste of the outdoors, a house full of toys and perches, and, if we’re traveling overnight, an attentive cat sitter.
But we also know some people do travel with their cats—and that travel doesn’t only mean a dream vacation. Travel also includes trips to the vet’s office, a move to a new home, and evacuation from storms and natural disasters.
If you’re going to travel with you cats, whether that’s around the block or across country, we’ve got a few tips to make your journey not only safe but successful:
Acclimate your cats to their carriers. Although we only take one cat at a time to the veterinarian’s office, we have a cat carrier for each one of our cats in case we should need to suddenly evacuate. We have the Kurgo Wander Pet Carrier which we like because it’s soft inside, giving our cats something to grip to rather than sliding around a hard plastic carrier; also, it folds up for storage if needed. Two years ago when wildfire danger was especially high in our region, we kept the carriers out 24/7 so they could be quickly accessed. It taught us an important lesson, though: by keeping the carriers out, opened, and filled with a soft blanket and special cat toy, it helped our cats lose their fear of the carrier. It no longer represented a trip to the vet’s office but the carrier became a home base for them. It’s now much faster for us to load each cat into his carrier, making it less stressful for them and far safer in the event of a sudden evacuation.
Research places to stay. Don’t plan on overnighting with your cats? What if a natural disaster means you need to evacuate? It’s a great idea to have a list of pet-friendly hotels in driving distance in case you find yourself in a hotel. If you’re in a hurricane area, maintain a list of cat-friendly hotels outside your evacuation zone.
Prepare for Cleanup. Let's face it: messes happen. We're always ready with our cleanup kit of paper towels and a cleaning product like Rug Doctor Spot & Stain Remover. We're happy to say we've never lost a hotel deposit. Although your cat's litter box use may be flawless at home, the scent of previous four-legged guests and other factors may lead to a mess.
Look at pheromone products. Cat pheromone products like Feliway produce an overall feeling of comfort and safety mimicking the pheromones released by a nursing cat. Sprays you can spritz on a cat carrier are easy to travel with; plug-in diffusers can be a great option for a hotel room or a new home.
Check and doublecheck before opening the carrier. When you arrive at a hotel room, do a sweep of the room—twice—to look not only for anything you don’t want your cat to get hold of but also for hiding places.
Travel with food and litter. While it takes up some space, it’s much easier to travel with your cat’s food and favorite brand of cat litter rather than shopping for it at your destination (or, worse, finding yourself having to buy a different brand.)
Microchip your cat. Even if your cat wears a breakaway collar with a tag, it pays to have your vet place a permanent microchip in your cat in case she should be lost on a trip. It’s also a good idea to create an ID tag with your cell phone number or the address and phone number at your destination.
Carry the scent of home. Your cat’s favorite blanket, added to the cat carrier, is a comforting scent of home in a new place, whether that’s the carrier, hotel room, or a new home.
Prepare for the unplanned. It only takes a few minutes to prepare a list of emergency veterinarians at your destination and along your route. A compact cat first aid kit also helps with minor issues along the way.
A little pre-trip preparation can make your next getaway with your cat a successful—and most importantly—a safe one for both you and your cat.
About the Authors: Paris Permenter and John Bigley are professional travel writers and the authors of over 30 travel guidebooks. The husband-wife team recently authored DogTipper's Texas with Dogs, a full-color guidebook on the most dog-friendly destinations in the Lone Star State. Paris and John publish CatTipper.com; Paris also hosts the weekly Dog Travel Experts radio show on Radio Pet Lady Network.