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

What Mode of Transportation Are You Using?

Skye Blake-updated, white background

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

The information here is for general knowledge… always see your vet with questions about your cat’s individual needs. 

Who Is Skye Blake?

Skye Blake-updated, white background

Skye Blake, Cat Info Detective, is a curious cat researcher (not a veterinarian) who sniffs out expert, reliable sources about cats, studies their information, then passes it on to you! 

Sometimes there’s not enough evidence for easy answers, so Skye gives you all sides and explains the situation as thoroughly and clearly as possible, linking you to experts on each page. 

All sources are given at the bottom of each page so you can do more snooping. 

Things to Know to Avoid Trouble

3 brown cats sitting together

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.

Tonkinese cat sniffing treat held by woman

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

Find the right type of cat carrier for your trip “What Are the Best Cat Carriers?” and “Cat Carriers… Take Your Cat In Style“.

automobile on a winding highway

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.
Ginger tabby cat in cardboard box
  • 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…

bicycle with basket, carriers
pink bicycle parked beside a cherry blossom tree

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

These attach to the handlebars and sit on the front wheel guard.

Find out what your cat wants you to know at “Biking With Your Cat“.

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 us felines!

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!

cat sitting on a motorcycle seat

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.

Discover more at “Biking With Your Cat“.

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; mode of transportation

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.

semi trucks - commercial freight haulers

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.

driving on highway by car and tractor trailer; mode of transportation

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.

Plan ahead and know what restrictions or allowances there are at spots along the way.

white cat looking out car window

The more you check ahead of time, the smoother the trip will go for you.

“Trucking Truth” 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“.

The RV Life – a Casual Mode of Transportation

parked white motorhome; RV - mode of transportation

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.

kitten looking out window - ready to go motorcycle riding

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

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 – 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…

How to Travel with Cats, RV Travel Trailer Tour, Cruisin’ with the Colemans, April 27, 2021
Cat Litter Box and RV Travel, I Love RV Life, March 24, 2017
TRAVELING FULL TIME WITH A CAT, Bound for Nowhere, April 16, 2019
How to Build a Catio for your RV | RV Cat Enclosure, RV Adventures with Pets, June 24, 2019

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.

elevated train in city; mode of transportation

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.

Amtrak blue, silver engine train

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.

Videos – Train Travel

Here’s a video of one cat’s experience train traveling…

PET TRAVEL VLOG – Travelling 6 h by train with my cat, Mauri and Cucumbers, August 8, 2021
Tips For Travelling With Your Cat – How We Handle 10 HOURS of Travel, Mauri and Cucumbers, July 30, 2021

AIR TRANSPORTATION

airplane climbing into clouds-travel; mode of transportation

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“.

WATER 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.

yachts, sailboats in port - mode of transportation

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

Just as with other modes of transportation, 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.

yacht at sea

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 - mode of transportation

Cruise lines generally don’t allow any animals on board except service dogs.

However, there are now a few who allow pet dogs and provide services like kennels and doggy care.

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.

commercial cruise ship

It’s best to call the cruise line and talk with a knowledgeable representative.

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.

cruise ship cabin

Be sure that your cat will be comfortable with the movement of the ship and alone in your cabin.

A pet sitter or boarding might be a more comfortable alternative for him.

Canoes, Kayaks, Sailboats, Yachts & Other Boats

kayak, canoe - woman paddling; mode of transportation

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.

sail boats

Safety is important, so be sure you know how to properly use any watercraft 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.

Articles – Boating with Cats

boat - at full sail - mode of transportation

These articles have helpful tidbits you can use about various nautical modes of transportation.

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

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

wood rowboat

“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)

Videos – Boating with Cats

Cat Living on a Sailboat, 2 Women Sailing, July 5, 2021
Tips for Boating with Your Cat, Boat Buyer’s Secret Weapon, September 21, 2022
Our kitty cat Randy goes kayaking for the first time, Our American Roadtrip, April 29, 2021
Sailing with cats & dogs | What you must know! Sailing Q&A 9, followtheboat sailing and travel, March 26, 2017

Your mode of transportation is only one aspect to consider about traveling with your cat.

Discover more about traveling at “Traveling With 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

“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”, wondertime.com

M-S

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

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

Updated April 14, 2024

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