Pets form an intimate part of our lives, and for cat lovers who love to travel, it’s often just unthinkable that you would leave them at home.
Travelling with pets is never easy though, and especially when it comes to cats, they can be quite temperamental on the road. You have to prepare for your trip as you would prepare for a traveling with a child, maybe even more.
There’s no reason these days to have to choose between your wanderlust and your cat, but you do need to make sure you’re prepared. Use the following tips for a safer and smoother experience.
Traveling With Your Cat: Essential Things to Know
Talk With Your Vet
The first thing you should do before making any bookings is to talk to your veterinarian. Due to health issues, temperament, injuries or age, some cats are simply not capable of traveling, so you’ll need to get the tick of approval that yours is fit to travel.
This is also important if your cat has a condition and might need to take medicines during the trip. Depending on your cat’s temperament, vets can also suggest medication in case they have a tendency to be hyperactive or might be anxious during the transits.
It’s always a good idea to contact your vet to reassure this with the insights of a professional. If you’re unable to travel with your pet, we have this post on how to manage the anxiety of leaving your pet at home.
After you have the all clear that your cat is fit to travel, organize all of their papers, including an ID tag, any specific visas that may be required, and proof showing that your cat has undergone required vaccinations.
Can You Register Your Cat as an ESA?
Most people think that Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are just dogs, but cats can also qualify. ESA pets are allowed in most aircraft cabins for emotional support however you will need them to be certified as such.
Not anyone can just register their cats as an ESA. You’ll need proof of mental health issues that can be alleviated with the help of your cat. Disorders that qualify include a fear of flying, panic attacks, dyslexia, social phobias, autism, bipolar disorder, and anxiety.
You can check here if you are interested in making your cat an ESA. An ESA letter has certain requirements to be considered legitimate and to allow your pet to board an aircraft. It must contain the following:
Every ESA letter should contain:
➡ Your name
➡ That you have a disability as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders
➡ You are unable to perform at least one of the most important activities of your everyday life because of this disability
➡ The ESA is prescribed to you by a licensed mental health professional
➡ The Federal Regulations that protect you
Do note that many airlines have been cracking down on ESA’s, and while you may have an ESA certification, you should also make sure you notify the airline in advance that you’ll be traveling with your cat.
It’s a good idea to print out your chosen airlines ESA policy, and have it on hand so that if any issues arise, you know exactly where you stand. It may also be worthwhile having a copy of the law covering your right to travel with your pet (the Aircraft Carrier Access Act).
Bring Something to Comfort Them
For the most part, cats in general just aren’t great travelers. To help avoid stress and anxiety (for both of you!), make sure to bring something they are familiar with.
This comfort item can be something as simple as the blanket they always sleep with, or perhaps a toy that they like to play with. The goal is to make them feel comfortable so that they will be calm throughout the trip.
If you’re traveling by car, crating them might be a good idea. Just make sure there is a partition so that they will not distract the driver when they want to move around.
Most cats who are crate trained do well with traveling in a travel bag; if they’re not crate trained, extended travel has the potential to become an extremely stressful situation for everyone involved.
Choose a Destination That is Cat Friendly
Of course, you need to check that your intended destination will actually allow you to bring your cat. This won’t be a problem if you’re visiting family (but you still need to check if anyone is allergic), but could be if you’re heading on a cruise, or staying in hotels.
Many hotels are dog-friendly but that doesn’t mean that they will be cat-friendly as well. Better call them first so that you won’t have any problem when you arrive at your destination.