What Mode of Transportation Are You Using? - Cat Info Detective

What Mode of Transportation Are You Using?

Skye Blake looking left through magnifying glass

Hey all you travelin’ cats! Skye Blake here, with a question about your traveling plans.

You know where you’re going, but how are you getting there? Are you trekking by land, air, or sea? Perhaps you’re flying and then renting a car.

Well, no matter what the mode of transportation, preparation must be done if you expect your cat to join you willingly.

paw prints coming in from a distance

Things to Know to Avoid Trouble

Each mode of transportation has specific feline safety and comfort considerations.

For example, motorcycle riding with a cat requires a carrier made to fit your model of bike.

Airlines require specific sizes and styles of carriers. When boating you should have a kitty life vest and net in case she falls overboard.

tabby cat focused and doing a blep;

Don’t forget to have your cat checked by the vet to be sure there are no health problems, all medications are up-to-date, and you have her health certificate (Certificate of Veterinary Inspection), including proof of rabies and other vaccinations.

A health certificate should be done within 10 days of your departure date so the information is current.

Keep these papers easily available (wallet, glove compartment). Many states and countries require these for any traveling pet.

LAND TRANSPORTATION

Automobile – Local & Long Distance

automobile - mode of transportation

Car trips are the most popular travel method in the U.S.

Whether it’s a vet visit, cross country move, or sightseeing vacation, the key to taking your cat is winning the carrier wars!

Training your cat to love the carrier is one of the most important things you can do.

Find out more at “Cat Carrier Wars – How to Get Yours to Love It!

Here’s some info to help you find the right cat carrier for your trip “What Are the Best Cat Carriers?

Here are a few tips for automobile travel with your cat…

  • Keep your cat in his well-ventilated carrier in the car

  • Don’t leave him in the car by himself, especially in warm or hot weather. Even in the shade it can get too hot quickly for your cat to handle.
  • Use a seatbelt or other method to make the carrier secure. If it slides or shifts around your cat can become frightened.
  • Feeding him about four hours before leaving will give him enough time to digest and use the litter box before leaving. This will make him more comfortable in the car.
  • Your cat can get sick either from stress or the motion of the car. Being in his carrier will make it easier to clean up.

Bicycle

bicycle as a mode of transportation

You might not think of a bicycle as a formal mode of transportation. But to a cat it certainly is!

There are a few things to keep in mind when you want to take your buddy for a bike ride. As with all other travel, start with basic training…

Use a Bicycle Cat Carrier

Be sure you have a sturdy carrier or basket made specifically for bikes that fits well on your particular model.

These attach to the handle bars and sit on the front wheel guard. Find out more at “What Are the Best Cat Carriers?

calico cat resting
Be Comfortable Riding a Bike

Be sure you’re very comfortable riding a bike.

If you’re nervous, wobbly, or have a hard time balancing, you’re not ready to bring your cat.

Cats can easily feel your unsteadiness, so you may need to complete your own training before attempting to take your kitty.

If you’re just not good at balancing on a bike, you’ll both be better off finding another mode of transportation.

Once you’re able to balance and ride well with confidence, your cat will feel secure and comfortable riding with you.

Test how he handles the movement of the bike.

Start with walking the bike a short way and work up to getting him comfortable with you riding it.

photo of woman riding bike

Short trips are the best way to start so you can watch his reaction and stop when he’s done.

Keep in mind that some cats just don’t like riding on a bike, even if they’re fine with being in a car.

If he just doesn’t take to it, leave him home where he’s happy.

Train her to get used to the helmet the same way you did the carrier (treats and praise). If your cat doesn’t recognize you and gets scared, it’ll ruin the experience for you both.

Check the Laws

Check the laws in your local and destination areas about cats on bicycles.

Some areas are very strict and don’t allow them at all, while others have no restrictions. You don’t want a surprise fine!


Motorcycle

motorcycle - mode of transportation

Cats and motorcycles… What??!! Isn’t it too noisy and scary for a cat? Certainly an unusual mode of transportation for cats!

Well, maybe for many cats, but there are some who love cruisin’ down the road draped around a person’s shoulders, whiskers waving in the wind!

You may have seen those surprising, adorable videos of cats riding on motorcycles in interesting ways… none of which are in carriers.

The free spirit of the road is appealing and those cats are obviously loving the ride.

However, there are some important things to keep in mind when traveling by motorcycle with your cat.

Dark tabby in hay ready to pounce
Safety is Key!

Obviously, when you assume the risks of riding for yourself, you’re also assuming them for your cat.

Even a small accident on a motorcycle can be devastating, so it’s wise to keep your cat as safe as you can, while allowing him to enjoy the wind in his fur.

Yes, it’s fun to have a cat draped around your neck while cruising down the road, but if your cat starts to lose his balance or is suddenly startled or frightened, those claws will instinctively grab onto your skin, causing you to lose control of your bike.

Not a good scene!

tabby cat looking unamused
Preparing Your Cat For Motorcycle Riding
Training

Train your cat to come when called, be comfortable in the carrier, accepting the sight, smell and loud sounds of the engine, etc. Wearing a harness and leash is also a vital part of preparing your cat for riding.

Make sure she’s familiar with how you look in a helmet so it doesn’t startle her. If your cat doesn’t recognize you, she can get scared, which can ruin the experience for you both. Get her used to the helmet the same way you trained her for the carrier (Cat Carrier Wars – How to Get Yours to Love It!)

motorcyclist in desert at sunset wearing helmet - mode of transportation
Have a Motorcycle Carrier

Be sure you have a special cat carrier made just for motorcycle use. If you’ll be traveling by motorcycle and air, be sure your carrier is airline approved.

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

Carry Cat Supplies

Be sure you can carry all the necessary supplies for your cat as well as yourself. Limited space requires efficient packing.

Some carriers have attachable water and food bowls and extra pouches for food, treats, toys, etc.

Commercial Bus & Truck

Bus Travel

bus-commercial coach

Commercial busses are a less expensive mode of transportation than most others. Many people ride busses daily, both for cross country and metropolitan travel.

The primary cross country bus line in the United States, Greyhound, doesn’t allow pets, only service animals.

Local bus lines have their own rules, so check before going. Don’t assume it’s ok to bring your cat.

Truck Travel

tractor trailers traveling on a highway

If you drive for a trucking company, you may want to bring your companion cat along. Check with the company about their pet policy.

Some don’t allow pets, others only dogs, while others also allow cats. Many charge fees and require deposits for cleaning the truck afterwards or making repairs if damaged.

Of course, if you own your truck, you have the freedom to bring your cat with you.

Trucking is more than a mode of transportation… it’s a way of life many people want to share with their pets.

To be successful, have your cat properly trained and your truck cat-proofed.

Have a wellness check done by a vet, who can give you all necessary travel papers (such as a Certificate of Health and rabies vaccine record).

Be sure you have enough supplies for your cat to last the entire trip.

semi trucks - commercial freight haulers

Be sure you plan ahead and know what restrictions or allowances there are at spots along the way. The more you check ahead of time, the smoother the trip will go for you.

Trucking Truth.com has very good information about pet policies and trucking with pets…

check “Tips For Trucking With Your Pets” and “List Of Trucking Companies That Allow Pets

Another helpful site about trucking with cats is “Trucking With A Cat – What You Should Know” (ezfreightfactoring.com)

The RV Life – a Casual Mode of Transportation

parked white motorhome

Vans, campers, and recreational vehicles (RV) are a small (or not so small) home on wheels. Some people live in them year-round, while others use them only for vacations.

Campers that fold down and are hauled behind a truck should be considered similar to tents as far as cats are concerned.

Your cat will be traveling in the truck, not the camper, so prepare the way you would for car travel and camping. See “Preparing For a Trip

kitten looking out window - ready to go motorcycle riding

Like any other moving vehicle, your cat should be comfortable with the sounds, sights, movement, and smells of traveling in one.

She should also be name, harness/leash and carrier trained.

Videos About RV’ing With Cats

Here are some helpful videos about living the RV life with cats. They’re useful for van and camper travel as well as RV’s…

Cameras for videos

Camping with Cats – How To Bring Your Cat RVing with You, Matt’s RV Reviews, March 24, 2019

Camping Cat Litter Box Solutions for the RV, Taras T, September 1, 2019

Cat Litter Box and RV Travel, I Love RV Life, March 24, 2017

Cat Litter Box and RV Travel, RV Adventures with Pets, July 1, 2019

tourist lying in camping tent near shore

How to Build a Catio for your RV | RV Cat Enclosure, RV Adventures with Pets, June 24, 2019

RV’ing with Cats: Where we Hide the Litter Box in our RV, Mountain Modern Life, October 25, 2019

RVing WITH CATS – HOW TO RV WITH CATS – ROAD TRIP WITH YOUR CATS – CAMPING WITH CATS, Always On Liberty, October 2, 2019

How to Keep your Cat Safe on a Trip | Camping & RV Life, Radar Road Warriors, November 21, 2020

How to Train Cats to Live in a RV | Full-Time RVing with Cats, Radar Road Warriors, August 24, 2020

TRAVELING FULL TIME WITH A CAT, Bound for Nowhere, April 16, 2019

Lessons from One Year of Traveling with a Cat, Bound for Nowhere, July 19, 2020

Train/Subway Travel

subway train

Trains and subways are a great mode of transportation used daily by commuters into and out of cities.

Train adventures across the country are also a great way to travel.

Amtrak® is the national passenger railway in the United States and it allows small cats and dogs for a fee.

Check with your local, regional, or metro train and subway service for their rules about pets on board. They may differ from Amtrak® and may not allow any animals.

As of March 2021, Amtrak® allows cats and small dogs up to 20 lbs. on their Acela trains weekdays as well as on weekends.

See “AMTRAK EXPANDS CARRY-ON PET PROGRAM TO WEEKDAY ACELA TRAINS” (March 3 2021) for more information.

Amtrak® has a full list of requirements and information about acceptable carriers, behavior, health, etc., at “Pets on Amtrak®”.

To make traveling easier for you both, your cat should also be name, harness/leash and carrier trained.

AIR TRANSPORTATION

airplane climbing into clouds-travel

Airplanes are a popular way of traveling that many people take for granted.

If you want to take your cat, you must plan well in advance and follow airline regulations carefully.

Find out more at “Air Travel With a Cat

SEA TRANSPORTATION

boat in harbor; cat walking on wall

Cats have been sailing the seven seas for as long as there have been ships, going back even before the Egyptians.

Boats are the oldest mode of transportation known to man (and cat)!

Today feline sailors provide rat control services and companionship on commercial freighters and naval battleships, where sailors consider them good luck.

Cats can also be found on yachts, rowboats, sailboats, canoes, kayaks, junks, and any other boat imaginable.

Just as with other forms of travel and outdoor adventure, your cat needs to be name, harness/leash and carrier trained.

You’ll need to determine well before traveling if your cat is comfortable being around and in water.

Patience and treats can make a bath or other exposure to water a positive experience for most cats.

Just as humans do, cats can get seasick, so you’ll need to watch for that. They have to get their “sea legs” just like people.

Check with your vet on how to deal with that if it’s a problem for your buddy.

Commercial Cruise Lines

cruise ship

Cruise lines generally don’t allow any pets on board, only service dogs. Check with specific lines for their policies since there may be specific themed cruises that allow pets. Even if a website shows your cat can be on board, many lines are owned internationally, so there can be varying definitions of “pet”, “service animal”, etc.

It’s best to call the cruise line and talk with a knowledgeable representative. Make sure you ask specific questions and get clear answers. Don’t assume things will be the way you want or that you can claim “emotional support” to get your cat on board.

Find out more at “Pet Friendly Cruises In 2020”, U.S. Service Animals

Canoes, Kayaks, Sailboats, Yachts & Other Boats

kayak-woman

Some of us crazy cats actually love water… playing and swimming in it is great fun!

You can have a great water trip together, whether boating or swimming in a lake.

Obviously, in taking the risks involved with boating, you’re accepting them for both you and your cat.

Safety is important, so be sure you know how to properly use any water craft you’ll be taking.

Don’t just jump in a canoe with no experience and expect your cat to enjoy the ride!

Be sure both you and your cat are well trained and have a well-fitting life vest. A long-handled net is a must in case you have to fish him out of the water.

boat - at full sail

Here are some resources you can check that give more details on how to sail away with your cat.

Each has helpful tidbits you can use about various nautical modes of transportation.

Kayaks

“How to Go Kayaking with Your Cat”, Cat Explorer

Sailboats, Yachts & Other Boats

“A Guide to Boating with Cats”, by Kristen Bobst, Adventure Cats™, January 30, 2016

“How We Live and Cruise With Our Cats”

“Pets on board – how to go long-distance cruising with your dog or cat”, by Elaine Bunting, Yachting World, November 2, 2015

“Cats, ahoy! How to take your cat boating with you”, Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN, March 26, 2021 

“How to Cruise Happily with Cats”, by Sandy Floe, Trawlers & Trawlering™, February 23, 1999 (an informative and hysterical recount of boating with cats)


You & Your Traveling CatPreparing For a Trip
Moving With a Cat…An Adventure!Camping With a Cat
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

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.)

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

A-D

“AMTRAK EXPANDS CARRY-ON PET PROGRAM TO WEEKDAY ACELA TRAINS”, March 3 2021

“A Brief History of Traveling With Cats”, by Jackie Mansky, SmithsonianMag.com, August 14, 2017

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

“Cats, Ahoy! How to take your cat boating with you”, Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN, March 26, 2021 

Cats in the Sea Services“, by Scot Christenson, U.S. Naval Institute, April 13, 2018

“CatWise”, by Pam Johnson-Bennett, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, Penguin Books, Penguin Random House, LLC, New York, NY, 2016, pp. 289-290

“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

E-L

“A Guide to Boating with Cats”, by Kristen Bobst, Adventure Cats™, January 30, 2016

“How to Cruise Happily with Cats”, by Sandy Floe, Trawlers & Trawlering™, February 23, 1999

“How to Go Kayaking with Your Cat”, Cat Explorer

“How to Take Your Cat on a Bike Ride”, Cat Explorer.com

“How We Live and Cruise With Our Cats”

M-S

Motorcycle Pet Traveling Guide“, by Vivien Bullen, How Stuff Works

“Pet Friendly Cruises In 2020”, U.S. Service Animals

Pets on Amtrak®”

“Pets on board – how to go long-distance cruising with your dog or cat”, by Elaine Bunting, Yachting World, November 2, 2015

T-Z

“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

“Tips For Trucking With Your Pets”, Trucking Truth, June 7, 2017

“Top 5 Motorcycle Pet Carrier for The Budget”, by Editor Team, Cat Ownership, January 23, 2021

“Trucking with a Cat – What You Should Know”, EZ Freight Factoring

“What Your Cat Wants”, by Francesca Riccomini, Thunder Bay Press, Octopus Publishing Group, San Diego, CA, 2012