How to travel with a cat, according to a veterinarian

Traveling can be a nightmare. The packing, the traffic, the security lines, the cost – it’s pretty amazing what we put ourselves through just to get away. But traveling with cats is an entirely different matter, which I have dealt with personally.

In 2016, I moved from California to upstate New York with my two cats, Daisy and Fredo. There was a long layover between flights, so we had a good eight hours of travel during the day. None of the cats enjoyed the trip; Daisy screamed and thrashed around her carrier the entire time, while Fredo froze in one spot, refusing to make eye contact with me.

How to travel with a cat

Dr. M. Kathleen Shaw of Latham Animal Hospital in Latham, New York, says these types of reactions are common in anxiety-prone cats. The trick is to do everything you can ahead of time to keep your furry baby calm.

Using Feliway, which is available as a spray or wipes, is one way to do this. “It’s a calming pheromone,” she says. “We can’t smell it, but cats can. It’s been proven to reduce stress and really seems to help a lot of cats when they travel.” Another option is to place something that smells like you, like a t-shirt, in the carrier.

FELIWAY Classic Cat Pheromone Calming Spray (60ml)

Feliway Adaptil Cat Comfort Wipes 12 ct

Gildan white t-shirt

Before embarking on road or air travel, make sure you have the necessary items to keep your cat safe. “Always have a copy of your cat’s medical records with you,” says Dr. Shaw. “And put an ID tag on your cat that has your cell phone number.” So if your cat runs away while you’re on the way, you can be reached.

ROAD iD Cat identification tag

I found a few additional things useful:

A disposable pad to absorb urine and make the baby carrier a little more comfortable.

DryFur Pet Carrier Insert Pads Size Small 19.5

Wet wipes, small trash bags and disposable gloves to clean cat feces from the transport cage.

Grooming wipes for dogs and cats

Glad Small Trash Bags

SAFESKIN disposable nitrile gloves in POP-N-GO pack*

A harness and a leash, in case we had to open the baby carrier during a layover to clean it.

Catit Adjustable Nylon Cat Harness and Leash Combo, Large, Black

A small container with dry treats.

Collapsible dog bowls for travel, pack of 2

A bowl of water and a bottle of water to offer during our stopover.

Prima Pet Expandable/Collapsible Silicone Food and Water Travel Bowl

Should You Give Your Cat Anti-Anxiety Medication When Traveling?