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THE BIG QUESTION: TO TAKE YOUR CAT ON HOLIDAY OR NOT?

Expert Vet-Advice to Travel With Your Cat

Pet-friendly holidays are more popular than ever. And this comes as no surprise. After all, we’ve spent months in lockdown, and we grew closer than ever to our furry friends. And they’ve grown closer to us while we were more at home than away!

However, taking Rover on a family holiday is a lot easier than taking Whiskers. Dogs love to explore, but in the life of a cat, familiarity is the number one priority for a happy, stress-free, and healthy life.

Cats are very territorial creatures and spend lots of time setting up their territory. They do this through marking behaviors (those scratches on your couch or moldings aren’t just a critique of your style) and by other ritualistic behaviors—studies show cats generally have places where they can predictably be found at various times of day, like a schedule. As such, taking them out of this well-honed territory can be very stressful.

Dr. Matthew McCarthy of Juniper Valley Animal Hospital in Queens, New York. Tweet

Cats are very territorial creatures and spend lots of time setting up their territory. They do this through marking behaviors (those scratches on your couch or moldings aren’t just a critique of your style) and by other ritualistic behaviors—studies show cats generally have places where they can predictably be found at various times of day, like a schedule. As such, taking them out of this well-honed territory can be very stressful.

Dr. Matthew McCarthy of Juniper Valley Animal Hospital in Queens, New York. Tweet

They love routine, and it’s seldom easy to stick to his/her routine while you have many places to see and things to do while on holiday.  

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However, if you’re still set to take your fluffball on a road trip, the following few pointers will go a long way to reduce the holiday anxiety for your cat.

Besides a reliable carrier, portable litter, and plenty of food your cat will need comfort items.

And no, I’m not referring to “mice-cream”!

Let’s have a look at the do’s and don’ts of traveling with your cat on a long-distance trip.

Do

Bring your pet's bed, favorite blanket, and some engagement toys to help make the trip a more enjoyable activity for all.

Dr. Katie Lytle, Veterinary Channel Manager at Wisdom Health. Tweet
  • Take a few test drives. If you’re planning a long-distance road trip, it will be good to familiarize Whiskers with the upcoming holiday trip.
    • It’s a terrific way to establish ahead of time whether your cat is prone to motion sickness. 
    • The smell of the car‘s interior will be unfamiliar and on top of that, riding in a car is completely out of the usual daily routine. 
  • Having a travel-friendly blanket in regular use at home will help to soothe a travel experience later down the road. Cats tend to perch on blankets or towels like a tiny corner of blanket due to their territorial nature and being able to define a space as their own. You can call it their security blankets with their familiar marks.
  • Similarly, if you intend to travel with your furball, keep both a traditional bed and lightweight wool-felt cave (one that you can lay flat inside luggage) at home.
  • Kitty’s comfort cues include the very important toy. However, in this case, stay clear from bells, balls, and batteries. Instead, opt for something soft and flexible that you can infuse with some catnip.
  • Lastly, keep calm. Keeping calm yourself can make, or break, the trip. A study by Nottingham Trent University gave undeniable proof that cats are indeed able to sense whether we are stressed or anxious.

Don't

Stress is not only bad for the human race, but it is just as bad for Whiskers. And unfortunately, traveling is a common trigger for stress. Mind you, in some humans too!

We even squeeze in some shopping before we go. Don’t we just love to shop for our upcoming holiday?  But in this case, it’s not a matter of how one size fits all. Shop for yourself, but not for Whiskers.

Whiskers will be far more comfortable with his/her everyday belongings from home than fabulous new mouse toys or any other newbie. S/he will feel less disrupted on the road. Familiar smells can help to keep Whiskers calm.

 

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The Bottom Line: It's Possible!

Many people have asked us how we've gotten our cats so comfortable with road travel and being in a vehicle in general. Watch this video for our top 6 tips for preparing your cat for a road trip. These steps are not only helpful before a move or vacation, but also before a trip to the vet.

Geographically Free

A stressed cat is more prone to health issues during your travels and even once you are safely back at home.

Dr. Jess Kirk of Vet Explains Pets. Tweet

Happy Holidays!

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