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Travelling with your cat

Travelling with your cat

Travelling with your kitten or cat may be not be something you intend to do often, but it’s something you’ll need to do when they go to the vet, to a cattery or if you plan on taking them on holiday with you. Spending the time to ensure they are comfortable while they travel will make the experience as stress-free as possible.

Picking a carrier

Cats and kittens must always travel in a carrier for safetyCats and kittens must always travel in a carrier. Not only do the carriers keep your pet safe by keeping them secure, they can also help to keep them safe if you’re involved in an accident. Picking the right carrier for your cat or kitten’s travel requirements is important. Some carriers are suitable for visits to the clinic or a cattery, where others are also approved for airline travel. While cardboard carriers may be suitable for short term use, we don’t recommend using them for long term use or for adult cats as they not durable and don’t provide enough room for your pet to feel comfortable.

Wire-top carrier
The wire top carrier has a plastic base, while the rest of the cage is a thick wire, with a top-opening. These carriers are sturdy, hard-wearing and allow great ventilation for your kitten or cat, while allowing easy access through the top-opening. They’re easy to clean and are the perfect carrier for visits to the vet or to cattery.

Standard carrier
A standard carrier is fully enclosed with a front opening. They are made of durable plastic, while being easy to clean. Placing a mattress, or blanket, on the inside provides for a soft and comfortable area for them to rest. These carriers are good for short visits, and may be more suitable for anxious cats as they have minimised openings helping to darken the carrier.

Airline approved carriers
Airline carriers are fully enclosed carriers, with a front metal opening. They are made from hard plastic, and have extra bolts in the side to ensure stability while travelling. They have ventilation throughout and often come with a drinking bowl, which can be filled during travel. These carriers are similar to the standard carriers, but are more reinforced and are approved for airline travel, but are still suitable for shorter trips in the car.

Think about your needs for a carrier, and invest in what the will meet these. If you’re unsure, speak to your local Animates team for advice.

Things to consider:

  • You will need a carrier for your kitten as it grows and invest in the one that will last you from the time they’re young through to an adult 
  • Think about your carrier needs, will you just be looking at using it just for short trips to the vet clinic or is there a possibility of airline travel down the track?

Getting them used to their carrier

Once you’ve picked the right carrier, you need to get them used to it.

For best results, use the following steps:

  1. Leave your carrier in the room your kitten or cat most frequently uses. If that’s the laundry, the living room or a bedroom, leave the carrier in a corner. This exposure will desensitise them to the presence of the carrier, which can be seen as a strange object to begin with
  2. If your carrier is a standard (or airline) carrier, take the top section and door off and put a blanket or mattress inside. By taking the top off the carrier, they have a new bed which they may begin to use. This helps them to recognise the carrier as a comfortable and safe place to be
  3. If they’re still avoiding the carrier, you can use their favourite toys, treats, catnip or even their dinner inside the carrier to encourage them
  4. Once they begin to feel comfortable, try putting the lid on (but leave the door off)
  5. As they begin to go in and out of the enclosed space, praise them. Give them more treats, feed them in the carrier, do what you can to make them comfortable
  6. Eventually you will be able to put the door back on and begin to leave your kitten or cat momentarily shut in the carrier. Don’t do this for long periods of time unless you’re travelling, this could scare them. It’s also recommended to take them on short trips in the car so they don’t associate every trip with just going to the vet clinic.

If you’ve got a wire-top carrier, follow the same steps, except try having the carrier on its side if your kitten is too small to jump inside.

Things to consider:

  • Put a comfy blanket or bed into their carrier
  • Use toys, catnip, treats or their food to get them used to their area
  • Take your time getting them used to their carrier, don’t rush them and be patient

Travelling with your feline friend

The first thing to do when you know you’re travelling with your kitten or cat is to make sure they’re inside for a period beforehand. Cats have an uncanny talent of knowing when you’re about to go travelling and tend to hide.

Avoid feeding your cat prior to travelling to avoid sicknessOnce they’re inside limit their access to food and water. If they have food or water before travelling, they’re more likely to get sick on the car ride. Once you’re ready to go, lure your kitten or cat into their carrier (try not to force them in unless you need to and remember that patience is key), so they’re calm and feel safe, then shut the door behind them. Bring a towel and cleaning equipment in case they have an accident.

Put the carrier in your car and put the seat belt around the carrier. This is an important step because if you need to stop suddenly or take a sharp corner, the carrier is secure. If they become distressed, place the spare blanket over the carrier to reduce the visual stimulation but make sure there’s still enough airflow.

If your kitten or cat gets carsick, then look into travel aids such as Sedapet, Travel Well or talk to your local Animates Vetcare for alternative treatments to help avoid motion sickness for future trips.

Following the steps outlined will help you have a calm, relaxed feline friend by the time you reach your destination. Some kittens or cats may take a little longer to get used to travelling than others, but patience and perseverance are key.

Things to consider:

  • Keep your feline friend inside while you are preparing to travel
  • Lure your kitten or cat calmly into their carrier
  • Bring cleaning supplies in case they have an accident
  • Look into motion sickness remedies if they get unwell while travelling

Final thoughts

Investing the time into getting your feline friend used to their carrier will help them travel calmly and safely. Remember to avoid giving your kitten or cat food or water before you travel, and patiently lure them into their carrier when it’s go-time. Some get motion sick, so you may need to look at treatments for this, but remember to be patient while they learn about their carrier and travelling.