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Worried about leaving your best friend behind when you travel?

Don't!Whether it’s a short weekend away or an extended trip, enjoy the benefits of taking the family pet with you. Like us, cats enjoy a holiday and unlike many travel partners of the human kind, cats pose as the perfect travel companions. They are generally happy to join their owners in travel activities, or simple relaxation.

On departure day, consider your cat's normal routine, when it usually eats and sleeps. Take this into account when planning your departure times. Always give your pet the opportunity to relieve itself before travel. When taking your cat traveling, it is always safest to transport your cat in a cat carrier. A sturdy plastic carrier is the best choice.
Caring for your cat means much more than simply making sure he or she has plenty of food and water. Toys, scratching posts, catnip and cat beds are just a few things that can improve your cat's quality of life. Your cat's mental health is just as important as his or her physical health, and the better you understand your cat's verbal and nonverbal signals to you, the better your time with your cat will be. Keeping your cat mentally stimulated, well exercised, and in a loving low-stress environment can keep him or her happy and healthy for years to come!

Plane Travel with Your Cat

Passenger cabin.Usually your cat can travel with you in the passenger cabin if you follow certain rules. Cats in the passenger cabin must remain in a safe kennel (carrier) that's placed under the seat in front of you. If you want your cat to fly in the passenger cabin with you, make your reservations as early as possible because airlines restrict the number of pets allowed in the passenger cabin of each flight. In addition, if you're traveling with your cat, the clerk needs to assign you a seat with enough room for your cat. The space under the aisle seats can be narrower than the space under the center and window seats. Some airlines don't allow passengers with pets to sit in an exit row. Therefore, if you don't register early, the flight may be either closed to additional pets, or they may not have a seat left with enough room for your cat.

Check the airline for the maximum dimensions for a kennel in the passenger cabin. Usually these are about 21 inches long, 13 to 16 inches wide and 8 or 9 inches high. Zippered soft kennels, sometimes called bags, work well in the passenger cabin because they're flexible. Make sure soft kennels have lots of cushioning and a secure zipper.

Kennels must be ventilated on at least two side. Label your cat's kennel with your name, address, and telephone number. Make sure your cat is wearing a collar, leash, and ID tag. Most airlines insist that there be enough room in the carrier for the cat to stand up, turn around, and lie down.

Motion Sickness and Traveling

If you have to take your cat on a trip you may have to deal with motion sickness. Cats are generally pretty good about not getting motion sickness. The structure of their inner ear, which also allows them to have such grand balance, usually precludes them from getting travel sickness like dogs or even people. However some cats are prone to motion sickness more than others and if your cat has an ear infection or too much of a waxy buildup in the ear, he/she could suffer from motion sickness.
Before you travel you may want to take your cat to the vet for a check-up to make sure your friend can travel. Some airlines even require a recent clean bill of health for pets to travel. You can talk to your vet about prescribing anti-nausea pills if you know your cat tends to get motion sickness and/or something to calm kitty down if he/she has a tendency to get too excitable or anxious on trips. If you are traveling with your cat on an airline and your cat is going to be placed in cargo it is recommended that you do NOT medicate your pet in any way shape or form before the trip. And as always, do NOT give your cat over-the-counter medications or any medications without consulting your vet.

Make sure you purchase a comfortable cat carrier if you don't already have one. Your pet store will have specific "airline" approved carriers as well. Personally we prefer the Sherpa® bags which are cloth (made out of luggage material) bags that are very comfortable. When choosing the size of your carrier make sure that it is about one and a half times the size of the cat. Your cat should be able to lie down flat, and to stand up and turn around. After you first purchase a carrier you will probably want to leave it out for your cat/s to sniff around and get used to. You may also want to put some toys, blankets or other familiar smells in the carrier. Whatever you do, try to make sure your cat feels safe and "at-home" in his/her carrier. Lastly make sure your cat has all the proper identification tags on before going on any trip.

Although your cat will enjoy taking a few breaks to run around, he/she will be much more comfortable on the trip (especially car/train/boat trips) if he/she is confined to the smaller area of the carrier. This will limit the cat from moving around too much and helping keep his/her stress level low.

Try to limit food and water about 12 hours before the trip and don't give your cat food or water while traveling. This could exacerbate an already upset tummy. If you are traveling by car you may to take a few 'test runs' a few weeks before the big day (if every time your cat gets in the car he/she goes to the vet he/she may see a pattern!), this will acclimate your cat to the car, car smells, and car trips. Also keep your cat's carrier in a warm, slightly dark, safe and immobile position in the car/bus/train. And try to talk your cat through the trip. Your friend will feel much more comfortable traveling if he/she knows you are there with him/her. If you are traveling by plane the airline will have specific rules of travel for you. You can sometimes keep your pet in the compartment under the seat in front of you if the carrier is not too big. If not your kitty will have to go in the cargo compartment of the plane which is not very conducive to a happy cat. If your cat is going to be separated from you make sure to mark the carrier clearly with 'live animal' signs and an upward direction for which way the carrier should be layed.

Make sure that the cat has ID tags attached to the collar. It is important that any contact phone numbers on the tag will be for a manned phone.
Ensure the cat vaccinations are up to date before taking it to strange territory. If your cat is not accepting car travel and it is necessary to go on a long trip, this is a good time to ask your vet about the use of mild tranquillisers. It may also be a good time to enquire about microchipping as a permanent method of identification.

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