Preparing for a Trip - Cat Info Detective

Preparing for a Trip

Skye Blake looking left through magnifying glass

Hey all you feline fans! Skye Blake here, moving you forward on your path to traveling with your cat.

Now that you’ve determined your buddy has a travelin’ purr-sonality, let’s discover what to prepare for the trip.

The main thing to keep in mind is safety, comfort, and a smooth trip with no rude surprises!

paw prints coming in from a distance

Here’s what you need to do…

Training – It’s a Lifesaver!

training camp; preparing for a trip

The best way to start preparing for any trip is to start immediately on name, carrier, and harness/leash training with your cat.

Even if you never go beyond the vet’s office, this is well worth the effort.

Some cats, especially kittens, catch on quickly while others take a few months of patience, treats and calm praise.

cat reaching for food bowl, treats

Go at your cat’s pace…

Vet Visit – Preparing Your Trip Documents!

veterinarian listening to a cat's heart; preparing for a trip

No matter where you’re going, have your cat checked by a vet and given a clean bill of health.

It’s important to have a Certificate of Health, along with a summary of the latest vet visit, extra prescriptions (if meds are needed), and vaccination records.

Your vet’s office can help you get the proper paperwork together.

medical record

Keep them with your other important documents (driver’s license, credit cards, etc.) so they’re easily available to show when required.

You’ll be required to show proof of rabies vaccination and a pet health certificate or pet passport at airport security, hotels, customs, etc.

Here is a good resource for detailed information about pet passports and other traveling needs… “Pet Passport Quarantine Dog Cat Import Rules | PetTravel.com“.

first aid on a teddy bear; prepare for a trip

Since this site covers all pets, be sure the information applies to cats, not just dogs.

Learn about first aid and get a kit together to take with you… just in case! Find out more at “First Aid for Cats“.

Help Your Cat Have a Calm Trip

sleeping cat - staying calm on a trip

What if your cat’s a Nervous Nelly no matter what you do?

Give her some extra help to be calm and happy while traveling.

Thoughtfully preparing for her needs will help you both have an enjoyable trip.

Tonkinese lounging on side; preparing for a trip

Each option below is a tool to help calm your cat, but not a fix for behavior problems.

Talk to your vet about the options you’d like to use since he’s familiar with your individual cat’s health.

I make a small commission on some of the links below… and I get to share profits with qualified cat rescues!

Check descriptions and reviews carefully for any products you wish to buy… quality, sizes, colors, etc., can’t be guaranteed by anyone but the manufacturer.

Pheromones

cat rubbing head - leaving pheromones

I’m sure you’re asking “What are pheromones”?

Pheromones are chemicals secreted by animals, in this case cats. They’re not essential oils, flower essences or medicine.

There are positive and negative pheromones given off by cats when they walk or rub on things. They have various purposes.

In this case, calming pheromones are created to help with various behavioral problems.

tuxedo cat with mustache scratching on tree-marking

Find out more about pheromones and how important they are to cats at…

“Feliway Messages”, “Pheromones – What They Are and What They Aren’t”

“Everything You Need to Know About Pheromones”

If your cat will tolerate a collar, there are pheromone collars that are good for traveling. They usually last 30 days.

Regular diffusers are for in a house or RV. Here some possibilities…

Calming pheromones are also available as a spray that you can use in the carrier, car, hotel room, or other area that your cat will be in while traveling.

Here are a couple options…

Flower Essences

flower bed-litter mulch; flower essences; preparing for a trip

Flower essences are another option claimed to be effective in relieving stress in cats.

They can be a good option for preparing your cat just before, as well as during, the trip.

Jackson Galaxy has a line of these that were created specifically for animals by a holistic veterinarian. The reviews so far are very good.

You can find it here… Easy Traveler – Anti Anxiety Cat Travel Spray by Jackson Galaxy

blue flowers beside a bottle

I make a small commission on some of the links below… and I get to share profits with qualified cat rescues!

Check descriptions and reviews carefully for any products you wish to buy… quality, sizes, colors, etc., can’t be guaranteed by anyone but the manufacturer.

Here are more flower essence options…

CBD Oil

cat sitting on floor looking at dropper of CBD oil held by woman; preparing for a trip

Some people claim CBD oil works well to calm cats but there’s no scientific evidence yet to confirm this.

CBD use with cats is too new and reliable studies have not yet been completed.

There is, however, a lot of information you should know before trying it with your buddy.

Discover more about CBD at “CBD Oil for Cats – What Is It? Does It Work?

Calming Shirts/Jackets

cat-wearing-blue-jacket-harness

There are products such as “Thundershirt®” that claim to help a cat be calm with gentle pressure wrapped around him.

Reviews show the majority of users have had good results, while others couldn’t get it on their cat or had trouble with the loud sound of Velcro®.

I make a small commission on some of the links below… and I get to share profits with qualified cat rescues!

Check descriptions and reviews carefully for any products you wish to buy… quality, sizes, colors, etc., can’t be guaranteed by anyone but the manufacturer.

Here are some examples…

Sedatives

yellow stethoscope and medicines on pink background; preparing for a trip

If you feel your cat needs something stronger, talk to your vet about sedatives to use during travel time.

Use these drugs carefully and follow dosage instructions precisely. Only your vet will know the proper dosage for cats.

Never give your cat meds from your bathroom cabinet, the internet or the drug store… Cats easily overdose!

Calming Chews

woman feeding cat a treat; preparing for a trip

Chews are always a treat, but if you’re using them for anxiety or other behavioral problems, talk to your vet about it.

It’s important to know exactly what’s in them and that they’re made just for cats.

Dosages, even of “natural” remedies, are different for cats because their bodies process things slower than dogs.

Chews also add calories so if you’re kitty is watching her waistline, it’s best to avoid them.

I make a small commission on some of the links below… and I get to share profits with qualified cat rescues!

Check descriptions and reviews carefully for any products you wish to buy… quality, sizes, colors, etc., can’t be guaranteed by anyone but the manufacturer.

Here are a few options…

What If Your Cat Gets Lost on a Trip?

tabby kitten in tree - preparing for a trip - finding if lost

Bet you don’t like thinking about your buddy getting lost (or even stolen).

Nobody does… but preparing for the possibility on a trip is extremely important.

The training you’ve done with your cat will help in situations where she’s frightened or wanders further than she should.

But sometimes things happen that are beyond your control. This is where “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”!

cat sitting in doorway - preparing for a lost cat

Good news… You have some control over what happens next if you’re suddenly faced with a missing kitty.

Here are some proactive things you can do to maximize your chances of finding your lost cat. Planning ahead is key…

When preparing for a trip, making your cat easy to identify is one of the most important things you can do.

Microchip

green and black circuit board - microchip - preparing for a trip

Be sure your cat is microchipped! This is especially important when you and your buddy are traveling together and is one of the best ways to prepare for a trip.

A microchip is basically a tiny computer circuit about the size of a grain of rice implanted by your vet in between your cat’s shoulder blades (where he can’t get it out).

If there’s an accident, fire, tornado, or earthquake, anyone who finds her can go to a vet or shelter., where they’ll check for a microchip and keep her safe until you arrive.

Cat walking on dirt

It’s the fastest way to reunite you. How great is that?!

Each microchip has a unique number registered with a company, along with your name and phone number.

It can be read by a scanner used by vets, animal control officers, shelters, and others to identify your cat should she become lost or stolen.

iphone held in hand; preparing for a trip

You must update your contact information with the company whenever you change your address or phone number.

Be sure your information is correct before traveling. Your mobile phone number is of primary importance since you’ll be away from home.

Even indoor-only cats should have a microchip as a precaution, should he suddenly be frightened and dash out the door.

Cats can move extremely fast, especially when survival instincts kick in!

Collar ID

White with black cat wearing pink collar; ID tag to get ready for a trip

If you’re using a collar, be sure it has a breakaway feature in case she gets into trouble and needs to get out of it quickly.

It should be made of something soft and comfortable like cloth or leather, not metal.

Be sure the collar will fit your cat since many are made for dogs.

ragdoll cat wearing a collar; preparing for a trip
Don’t use a dog collar or harness on a cat!

You should be able to fit one or two fingers in between your cat’s neck and the collar.

Too big and she’ll slip out of it easily… too small and she could choke.

If you have a collar on a kitten, be sure to check the fit frequently since kittens grow very quickly.

Black cat wearing a flea collar

It’s important it fit snugly but not too tightly. A cat’s neck is different from a dog’s and can be damaged from ill-fitting collars.

If you have a collar on your cat, never attach a leash to it!

Pulling on it can crush your cat’s throat and make him unable to breathe!

calico cat wearing collar; preparing for a trip

When traveling, you’ll have a harness on your cat, so if she also has a collar, make sure both fit well together.

Your cat will make it clear if either are bothering her.

I make a small commission on some of the links below… and I get to share profits with qualified cat rescues!

Check descriptions and reviews carefully for any products you wish to buy… quality, sizes, colors, etc., can’t be guaranteed by anyone but the manufacturer.

Here are some ideas for collars…

Adding a GPS or other tracker is good for camping, hiking and other outdoor activities.

Read the features carefully, since there are different kinds of trackers, and some require subscriptions. Here are a few ideas…

ID Tags & Bells

Tuxedo cat on a sidewalk wearing a collar; preparing for a trip

Collars can have either a ring for clipping on identification tags or a flat engraved ID plate.

The latter can be built into the collar or slipped over it.

Regular tags dangle and make noise. Plate tags are flush to the collar and make no noise.

calico cat wearing collar

Attach an ID tag to your cat’s collar so someone without a microchip scanner can quickly identify you as the owner.

The collar should also have a rabies vaccine tag, otherwise your cat could end up in quarantine (especially when crossing borders) or even be put down.

Rabies is a horrible disease that kills both animals and people, so it’s taken very seriously by border agencies.

siamese wearing collar; preparing for a trip

Bells are not recommended by cat experts because they can attract predators (not a good scene when you’re hiking or camping!).

Bells are also not necessary for alerting birds to your cat’s presence. You can remove a bell if the collar you want comes with one.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not easy for a cat to catch a healthy bird, so they don’t need any special warning.

cat watching a sparrow

The information going around about cats killing billions of birds is wildly blown out of proportion.

It relates only to certain areas of the world, such as islands, where the feral cat population has gotten out of control.

Discover more at “Cats Killing Birds by the Billions… Really?

What Info to Put on ID Tags

writing a list

Here’s what you should include on an ID tag.

If you don’t want to put your address, your name and phone number are enough for someone to contact you.

Offering a reward can help motivate people to call you.

ID tags; preparing for a trip
  • your name
  • your cat’s name
  • address
  • phone number(s)
  • “Reward”

If you want to use your destination address and/or phone number as your contact information, get a tag made ahead of time or tape over the one you have.

Tape can come off the tag, so you’ll need to decide if the risk is worth it.

When a cat scratches, plays or does anything outdoors, the tape might quickly deteriorate or fall off the tag.

If you’re going to be camping, canoeing, and hiking, it’s better to have an imprinted tag.

I make a small commission on some of the links below… and I get to share profits with qualified cat rescues!

Check descriptions and reviews carefully for any products you wish to buy… quality, sizes, colors, etc., can’t be guaranteed by anyone but the manufacturer.

Here are a few options…

Get a Good Harness & Leash

bengal cat wearing harness, leash walking on wall; preparing for a trip

Not too long ago, it was unheard of to have a harness and leash on a cat.

Now people are finding ways to satisfy their cat’s desire to explore outside while keeping them safe.

A harness and leash help both owner and cat enjoy a good walk together.

tabby cat wearing vest harness; indoor/outdoor cat

They work well for letting your cat explore while keeping him from wandering off and getting into trouble.

A must-have for every ramblin’ feline!

Don’t wait to get your cat used to wearing a harness.

Ginger tabby scratching on a fallen tree

Some will learn quickly, others will take awhile, so you should start training at least a few months in advance of a trip.

That way you’ll both be well prepared and can enjoy walks together even when at home.

Find out more about how to harness train your cat at “Leash & Harness Training Your Cat“.

Best Harness for a Trip

tabby cat wearing harness; preparing for a trip

There are three different types of harnesses on the market…

  • H-Harness: A thin strap that goes around both the neck and shoulders
  • Vest: Goes around the chest and shoulders and usually made from nylon or leather
  • Jacket: A vest that’s longer and covers most of the body
cat in field wearing harness-side view

Be sure the harness fits properly so it’s comfortable and escape-proof and test it indoors before attempting any outside walks.

We cats can surprise you with our split-second escape abilities!

Discover more at “What’s the Best Cat Harness and Leash?

Leashes

retractable leash; preparing for a trip

Leashes used with cat harnesses are usually thin, lightweight nylon.

Some people use the small retractable dog leashes to give their cat more freedom to explore further away.

No matter what type of leash you use, you must be in control of it at all times.

hunting tabby cat

Harnesses that come with built-in LED lights and/or GPS attachments are particularly helpful in case your cat escapes.

Whenever you’re traveling, always have your cat either in a closed carrier or harnessed and leashed before you open doors.

Whether it’s a car, truck or RV, an open door is an invitation some cats can’t resist.

Choosing the Right Carrier for Any Trip

cat in carrier with door closed; preparing for a trip

A carrier is vital when preparing for any trip, even a trip to the vet!

Most people don’t consider choosing a carrier for their cat’s comfort and security.

The first thing they think of is finding something easy to carry that’s reasonably priced.

tabby cat in orange soft carrier

In reality, it makes sense to make the cat’s comfort the first priority because it affects her view of the carrier as a negative or positive thing.

After all, she’s the one using it!

There are plenty of options for something you both like.

Find out more about carriers at “What Are the Best Cat Carriers?

Get Your Cat’s Opinion on Litter Boxes & Litter

person cleaning a cat's litter box; preparing for a trip

Litter and litter boxes are two of the most important parts of preparing for a trip with your cat.

Even if you’re on a bike tour, there will be times when your cat is in a car or hotel.

There are disposable and collapsible litter boxes available for traveling with your cat.

Grey tabby cat hanging out in a litter box

Some people like using disposable aluminum roaster pans, but some cats don’t like the sound of their claws scraping on metal.

As with any new litter or box test it at home before your trip to be sure your cat will use it.

If your cat won’t go anywhere but in her own box, take it with you!

Black cat in litter box

You may be tempted to take something more convenient for you, but if your cat won’t use it, you’ll have big problems!

Never change the type of litter she uses while traveling. It’s a high risk that she won’t accept new litter and will find other places to go.

That’s the last thing you need to deal with on the road!

scoop with silica litter crystals

Take extra with you in case your destination doesn’t have it available.

Don’t forget a scoop and waste bags!

You can find more about litter starting at “What Are the Best Types of Cat Litter?” and litter boxes at “What’s the Best Type of Cat Litter Box?“.

Food, Water & Bowls for Your Trip

cat bowl - drawing

How will you provide food and water for your cat while traveling? This is more important to prepare for than you might think.

Just like you, your cat’s digestive system can be upset when his food and water is changed, especially in combination with the stress of traveling.

Think “Montezuma’s revenge” for cats!

Let’s find out how to prepare…

Food

cat eating from food bowl - decide what bowls to take on a trip

Prepare for a smooth trip by having plenty of the food she normally eats (and a bit extra just in case…)

The only exception would be if you know for sure the same food is available where you’re going (like Grandma’s house).

Feed on her regular schedule to reduce the chance for digestive upset.

cat eating

If possible, feed her a light meal about four hours before leaving. Traveling on a full stomach can cause or aggravate motion sickness in a cat.

Make sure she stays hydrated throughout the trip. This is easier if she’s eating wet food but offer her extra water as often as you can.

If you cook your cat’s food or feed raw food, take a cooler that will keep it from spoiling. This will only work well for a day trip.

cat eating from white bowl/orange paw prints - preparing bowls for a trip

Carefully seal any raw or open food cans in plastic bags or lidded containers so no aroma comes from them.

Bears and other carnivores can smell meat for miles, and you don’t want them crashing your party!

Cats like to investigate and nibble on plants outside but are sensitive to various toxic plants.

Ginger, orange tabby cat crouched in grass looking at camera

When you’re out walking with your cat, no matter where you are, be sure she’s not eating anything unfamiliar.

You don’t need that emergency while traveling! If your buddy loves to chew grass, consider taking a pot of wheat grass.

Don’t forget treats for training or emergencies to get her attention!

Water – The Elixer of Life

cat eating from bowl attached to wall

If you’re preparing for a short trip, bring a jug or bottles of tap, distilled or spring water.

Whatever you use for your cat at home is what you should take, since water can have different tastes. Make things as normal as possible for her.

Put a couple ice cubes in a bowl to give him water without it spilling everywhere.

Water bottle-glass

There will be other potentially upsetting changes when you travel, so don’t add unnecessary food or water problems.

Preparing for a longer trip requires checking ahead at your destination about the availability of drinkable water.

Ask when you make hotel or other reservations and keep in mind that cats can be picky about the taste of water.

If you’re camping or otherwise doing outdoor adventures, be sure you have plenty of bottled water for both of you.

Bowls

adorable-animal-art-bowl

If your cat will eat out of anything, you may not want to bother bringing special food bowls, although a small one for water is a good idea.

Sturdy paper plates or bowls are a good option since they’re disposable.

You can also use collapsible metal or plastic bowls made for traveling.

graphic of water bowl with paw prints

If your kitty is finicky and will eat only from his special bowl, take it with you.

Make the trip as stress free as possible for your cat and you’ll be happy too!

If your carrier has attached bowls, be sure your cat’s comfortable using them before the trip.

cat bowl - drawing

I make a small commission on some of the links below… and I get to share profits with qualified cat rescues!

Check descriptions and reviews carefully for any products you wish to buy… quality, sizes, colors, etc., can’t be guaranteed by anyone but the manufacturer.

Here are some examples of bowls…

Miscellaneous Items for Your Trip

When preparing for a trip, there are some other things you might consider taking to help your cat be comfortable.

It all depends on your cat, your planned activities and you.

Scratching Post

scratching post graphic

It’s a good idea to have a scratching post along to help satisfy her scratching needs without damaging anything inappropriate (like hotel furniture).

It should be one she’s used at home that has her familiar scent.

Go with what she prefers, either horizontal or vertical. If you’re camping or otherwise outdoors with her a lot, you might not need them.

I make a small commission on some of the links below… and I get to share profits with qualified cat rescues!

Check descriptions and reviews carefully for any products you wish to buy… quality, sizes, colors, etc., can’t be guaranteed by anyone but the manufacturer.

Here are a few…

Toys & Beds & Blankets, Oh My!

cat toys - preparing for a trip

Favorite beds, pillows, blankets, towels, and toys are great for keeping a consistent play, eat, and sleep routine, which would help her feel at home and comfortable.

Familiar things that have her scent are very important and make her feel secure.

If you want to buy her new things for the road, let her have them before going to get her scent on them.

Dark tabby, white kitten in blanket very interested in something

If you’re camping or otherwise would like to know more about preparing for camping trips, go to “Camping With a Cat“.

I make a small commission on some of the links below… and I get to share profits with qualified cat rescues!

Check descriptions and reviews carefully for any products you wish to buy… quality, sizes, colors, etc., can’t be guaranteed by anyone but the manufacturer.

Here are a few cat beds for traveling…

Cat-Friendly Mosquito Repellent

mosquito - drawing

Preparing for a trip, especially in summer, includes bug repellent for both you and your cat.

The main pests that bother cats are mosquitos, fleas and ticks, so have your cat’s treatments up to date.

Only use products recommended by your vet for your kitty’s specific needs.

If your vet doesn’t apply it, be sure you have the correct dosage for your cat’s weight and follow the instructions carefully.

A tick questing from a blade of grass

Don’t forget… cats lick their fur, so you don’t want to apply anything that’s toxic if swallowed.

(This is why vets apply it between the shoulder blades where cats can’t reach.)

Any bug repellent you use must be made specifically for cats… human, dog only or general pet products can be dangerous on your cat.

drawing of a flea

Don’t squirt mosquito repellent on your cat. You could easily get it in his eyes and mouth.

Spray it on your hands and apply it carefully according to instructions after discussing it with your vet.

This is especially important if your cat has allergies. Cats require different dosage amounts than dogs for everything, including “natural” products.

two-yellow-sunflowers-with-clear-glass-bottle - oils, fleas

If you have questions about oils and if they’re dangerous for cats, go to “What Are Essential Oils? Do They Kill Fleas on Cats?“.

In most cases the dosage and concentration of an oil are what determines if it’s toxic for cats.

Here are some options. Be sure you read the directions carefully and check with your vet to be sure it’s safe for your cat.

I make a small commission on some of the links below… and I get to share profits with qualified cat rescues!

Check descriptions and reviews carefully for any products you wish to buy… quality, sizes, colors, etc., can’t be guaranteed by anyone but the manufacturer.


Related Pages of Interest

You & Your Traveling CatCamping With a Cat
What Is Your Travel Destination?What Mode of Transportation Are You Using?
Air Travel With a CatBiking With Your Cat
Teach a Cat to Come When CalledLeash & Harness Training Your Cat
What’s the Best Cat Harness & Leash?What Are the Best Cat Carriers?
Cat Carrier Wars – How to Get Yours to Love It!Cat Carriers – Take Your Cat in Style!
Moving With a Cat…An Adventure!First Aid for Cats
Are My Fellow Cats Really Killing Billions of Birds?What Are the Best Types of Cat Litter?
What’s the Best Cat Litter Box?How to Train a Cat

Sources

Sources used on this website are either primary or secondary.

Primary sources are always preferable and have the most reliable information because they’re original and directly referenced.

Scientific abstracts and data are good examples of primary sources.

Secondary sources are weaker because they usually consist of opinions or articles that give no sources of their own.

However, sometimes they refer to primary sources.

When I use secondary sources, most are those with some authority, such as veterinarian or cat behaviorist books and articles.

List of Sources

10 ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR CAMPING WITH A CAT, by Becca Monahan, Tent Report, June 4, 2019

“77 Things to Know Before Getting a Cat”, by Susan M. Ewing, Companion House Books, Fox Chapel Publishers International, Ltd., 2018, pp. 178-181

“Cat Speak”, by Bash Dibra with Elizabeth Randolph, New American Library, Penguin Group (USA) Inc., New York, NY, 2001, pp. 208-211, 80-81

“CatWise”, by Pam Johnson-Bennett, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, Penguin Books, Penguin Random House, LLC, New York, NY, 2016, pp. 283-293

“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting & Owning a Cat”, by Sheila Webster Boneham, Ph.D., Alpha Books, Penguin Group (USA), Inc., New York, NY, 2005, pp. 201-214

“Everything You Need to Know About Pheromones”, Nom Nom Now, Inc.®

“Feliway Messages”, “Pheromones – What They Are and What They Aren’t”, by Jessica, Feline Engineering, October 7, 2018

Pet Passport Quarantine Dog Cat Import Rules”, PetTravel.com

Traveling with a Cat in a Car Long Distances“, by Shane, Cat Expedition

“Think Like a Cat, How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat – Not a Sour Puss”, by Pam Johnson-Bennett, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, Penguin Books, Penguin Group (USA) Inc, New York, NY, 2000, 2011, pp. 257-274

“What Your Cat Wants”, by Francesca Riccomini, Thunder Bay Press, Octopus Publishing Group, San Diego, CA, 2012, pp. 66-67, 88-89

Updated July 10, 2022

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