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

I can’t emphasize enough how important it 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.

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“.

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

first aid on a teddy bear

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.

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.

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.

tuxedo cat with mustache scratching on tree-marking

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

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”

Some places you can get them…

(For your information only. I make no money from them.)

Feliway®

Comfort Zone®

Flower Essences

flower bed-litter mulch; flower essences

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

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

blue flowers beside a bottle

Check these out…

(For your information only. I make no money from them.)

Stress Stopper – Cat Stress Relief Solution

Easy Traveler – Anti Anxiety Cat Travel Solution

Sedatives

yellow stethoscope and medicines on pink background

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 dosages for cats.

Never give your cat meds from your bathroom cabinet or the drug store!

Prepare In Case Your Cat Gets Lost

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).

The training you’ve done with your cat will minimize any situation where she could get lost.

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 to travel

Be sure your cat is microchipped! This is especially important when you and your buddy are traveling together.

If there’s an accident, fire, tornado, or earthquake, anyone who finds her can go to a vet or shelter.

They’ll check for a microchip and keep her safe until you can get there.

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

Cat walking on dirt

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.

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

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’s the breakaway kind to prevent choking.

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
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.

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.

White with black cat wearing pink collar

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!

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.

ID Tags & Bells

Tuxedo cat on a sidewalk wearing a collar

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.

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

Ginger cat wearing a collar with bell

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

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

Find out more about that at “Are My Fellow Cats Really Killing Billions of Birds?

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.

  • your name
  • your cat’s name
  • address
  • phone number(s)
  • “Reward”
ID tags

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.

tuxedo cat wearing collar - preparing for a trip - ID tags

You can find ID tags at pet stores or online sites such as chewy.com, roadid.com, and loveyourpets.com.

Here are some examples…

(For your information only. I make no money from them.)

Cat Collar cat collar breakaway leather cat collar | Etsy, VacForPets

PERSONALIZED Cat Collar | Etsy, Dog Cat Collars

Pet Supplies : GoTags Personalized Reflective Cat Collars

Get a Good Harness & Leash

Giz the Explorer - ready to travel
Giz the Explorer has his own Facebook page

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.

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!

Ginger tabby scratching on a fallen tree

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

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

There are three different types of harnesses on the market…

  • A thin strap that goes around both the neck and shoulders
  • A vest that goes around the chest and shoulders. They’re usually made from nylon or leather
  • A jacket, which is a vest that’s longer and covers most of the body

Thin strap harnesses are less bulk for the cat to get used to but can be wiggled out of unless properly fitted.

If your cat is an escape artist, it’s best to avoid these and use a vest or jacket harness.

cat in field wearing harness-side view

The vest type of harness comes in thinner and wider styles, made from mesh or soft fabric.

Be sure the harness fits properly so it’s comfortable and escape-proof.

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

Many harnesses are advertised as escape proof.

They’re better than the thin strap ones, but it’s vital you test one indoors with your cat before attempting any walks outside.

Leashes

retractable leash

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.

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

hunting tabby cat

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.

Here are a few examples of harnesses and leashes:

(For your information only. I make no money from them.)

Travel Cat – Harnesses

SCIROKKO Cat Harness and Leash Set

Kitty Holster Cat Harness – Jackson Galaxy

LupinePet Padded Handle Cat Leash – Jackson Galaxy

Cat Harness and Leash, Chewy.com

Choosing the Right Carrier For Your Trip

cat in carrier with door closed; ready 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.

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!

tabby cat in orange soft carrier

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 preparations you should make when planning 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.

While these can be useful alternatives to a regular box, be sure your cat will use it.

Test any new litter or box at home to be sure your cat will use it.

Some cats don’t like the sound of their claws scraping on metal so that will rule out a few boxes.

Black cat in litter box

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

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!

litter scoop

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 at “Litter Box List”… go to “Travel Litter Boxes”

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!

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

Feed her 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. When you take breaks, give her water too.

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

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.

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!

Don’t forget lots of treats, especially if you use them to get her attention!

Water

cat eating from bowl attached to wall

If you’re preparing for a short trip, bring a jug 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.

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

Water bottle-glass

For longer trips, the availability of drinkable water at your destination is something you’ll have to check.

Ask when you make hotel or other reservations.

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 might be 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.

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!

Cat reaching for food bowl - disposable for a trip

Feed your buddy lightly before leaving and during the trip. Put a couple ice cubes in a bowl to give him water without it spilling everywhere.

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

Here are a few examples of travel bowls…

(For your information only. I make no money from them.)

Travel Cat – Food/Water Travel Bowls

GoPet Bento™ Portable Dog & Pet Travel Bowls with Lid

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 so it’ll have 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.

Toys, Beds, Pillows

cat toys - preparing for a trip

Bring familiar things that have her scent and make her feel secure.

Her bed and favorite toys are great for keeping a consistent play, eat, and sleep routine, which would help her feel at home and comfortable.

Cat-Friendly Mosquito Repellent

mosquito - drawing

Prepare for an outdoor adventure trip with bug repellent for both you and your cat.

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

Don’t squirt your repellent on your cat!

Talk to your vet about this, especially if your cat has allergies.

drawing of a flea

Have your cat’s flea and tick treatment up-to-date as well. Only use products recommended by your vet for your kitty’s specific needs.


Related Pages of Interest

You & Your Traveling CatCamping With a Cat
Moving With a Cat…An Adventure!What Mode of Transportation Are You Using?
Air Travel With a CatWhat Is Your Travel Destination?
Teach a Cat to Come When CalledLeash & Harness Training Your Cat
Cat Carrier Wars – How to Get Yours to Love It!What Are the Best Cat Carriers?
Biking With Your CatFirst Aid for Cats
Are My Fellow Cats Really Killing Billions of Birds?

Sources

Sources used on this website are either primary or secondary. Primary are always preferable and have the most reliable information because primary sources are 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. Thus, when I use secondary sources most are those with some authority, such as veterinarian or cat behaviorist books and articles.

List of Sources

(Links given here are for your information only… I make no money from them.)

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