Travelling with a Cat

Dr Leoti Morkel - Veterinarian profile picture

Dr Leoti Morkel - Veterinarian

BVSc from University of Pretoria

Dr Leoti Morkel has spent most of her career in clinical practice, operating her own veterinary hospital and boarding kennels. Leoti has wide-ranging clinical experience including small and large animals, as well as wildlife.

Travelling with a Cat

We humans love to get away. Cats, however, don’t want to go on holiday. Cats find it highly stressful to travel. They are very territorial; they like the routine and safety of their home environment. Unless you are moving, we recommend you leave your cat at home and get a family member, friend, or neighbour to take care of your cat. If you don’t know anyone, you can use a professional pet sitter to watch your cat.

If, however, you must travel with your cat, we recommend that you make sure of the following well in advance:

  • Check that your cat’s microchip is active, and the information is current.
  • Make sure your cat’s vaccinations are up to date.
Check that your cat is well identified with an easy-to-read tag on their collar.

How to Keep your Cat Calm while Travelling

  • If your cat becomes very anxious while travelling, it may be wise to have a chat with your vet before the trip. There are medications for motion sickness and anxiety that may help your cat to feel more comfortable.
  • To keep you and your cat safe, it is best to put him in a large, sturdy carrier. He must be able to stand up in, stretch, and turn around easily. Secure the carrier with a seat belt, and line it with newspaper or a towel.
  • If your trip takes longer than 6 hours, your cat will need a break to get a drink of water or use the litterbox. Disposable litter boxes are the easiest way to go. Find a quiet and safe spot to park and let your cat out of the carrier. He can roam around the car, or if he is used to a harness, he can have a walk outside.
  • Remember that cats are skilled escape artists, especially when they are scared. Never open your car doors unless your cat is safely in the carrier or in a harness.
  • Never leave your cat unattended in your car! Temperatures can become dangerously high in a very short time. This can lead to a serious condition called heatstroke.
  • Have some paper towels and cleaning supplies handy if there is a mess to clean up.
Bring your cat’s favourite blanket or toys along, something that smells and feels familiar will make them feel more secure.

Tips for taking your Cat on a Plane

  • Get your vet to give your cat an “all clear” for air travel.
  • Check all the airline’s regulations for flying with a cat, especially make sure you have an approved carrier. The carrier should be labelled clearly with your name, phone number, and destination.
Don't feed your cat the morning of your trip; it will minimize the risk of your cat vomiting in his carrier during the trip.
  • The less your cat can see, the less he will stress; therefore, cover the carrier with a cloth.
  • Keep all your cat’s documentation nearby.
  • Put an absorbent layer in the carrier in case your cat urinates while in transit.
  • Make sure your cat is secured with a harness and lead before ever taking him out of the carrier.
Safe travels!

Related Articles

Kitten Toilet Training

Simple step-by-step guide for toilet training your kitten. Covering the important of routine and choosing the right litter.

Why Cats Bite and How to Stop Them

Does your cat ever bite you unprovoked? Here's some reasons why they do and how you can stop them.

How to Litter Train a Kitten

You won't have to spend too much time litter training your kitten, but here's some tips to make it easy for them.

How can we help?

I own a
and would like
help with