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How to Manage Long Journeys with Your Cat?

  • 9 min read

Today let’s move away slightly from the litter of our favorite cat to focus on managing a long journey with his cat. It is not easy to know the right methods and discover the right tips without spending hours inquiring on the internet. This is why we have decided to present you with a concentrated summary of good practices, wise advice and small reflexes to have as the situation is often complex to take your cat on a trip .

Organization before departure on a trip with a cat.

Prepare the animal quietly for the trip, especially if your cat has difficulty meeting its needs. To manage vomiting and stress very effectively, you can do as in the old days and organize a fasting operation for your cat.

For example, the day before in the afternoon, take the food away from him and leave him with the drink until the evening. In some cases, it will still be necessary to go through a treatment based on zylkene (mild tranquilizer without addiction) to relax and soothe the animal at least two days before departure. Travel tranquilizers should only be used for the most stressed and anxious pets! Ask your veterinarian for advice.

The night before, put your cat inside and more particularly in a room where it will be easy to recover (and don’t forget its  litter box in the room especially!).
Why do this? In fact, if the cat sees the luggage or the transport box too soon , it may decide to go hide and you may spend time finding it. And generally, the morning of departure on a trip is not the best time to hide and seek with your cat.

Regarding accessories, check that your crate or basket is in good condition and above all that it closes correctly and in one piece! It is worth remembering that people who lose their pets often do so because of inappropriate or too old luggage and not just to intentionally abandon their companion.

Thoroughly clean the transport crate with water or a mild detergent to possibly eliminate odors of stress, urine or other previous occupants and ventilate the cage well so as not to further stress the cat during the trip.

For added security , put a collar on the animal with your phone number before each trip.

In a pouch, put the first aid items such as betadine dressings, a tick remover, a flea repellent, any recurring medications. Attach your pet’s health record and its European passport with its identification document which links it to the cat’s file and gives its chip number. (Remember to scan the document or photograph it in case of loss.)

Don’t forget to prepare the croquettes and the travel litter ( there are folding ones ). Take a small amount of bedding with you even if you plan to buy some locally while on vacation. Unless, of course, you go to a place where there is.

Remember to take plastic bags in case there are accidents, small needs or buy some disposable mattress pads to put in the crate under the fabric or on the cushion for example (these are the same ones used for dogs that are not not yet clean), to better absorb in case of concern!

Cat travelling by car

Traveling by car: transporting your cat for a long journey

When you plan to go on the road with a cat and the journey will be long , you must organize yourself so that the trip remains pleasant for your cat and for you.

For the trip with the cat to go well, in the trunk or the passenger compartment, favor the use of a solid cage , without integrated bowls, since they are generally ineffective. Put an expendable and cleanable blanket, sweater or t-shirt inside to reassure the cat with your scent. This is especially true when you’ve planned a long-distance car trip with your cat .

Place the transport box in a place protected from the sun (possibly put sunscreen, as for children), and ventilated, but not directly in front of the air conditioning.
The cage must be perfectly secure in the event of sudden braking or an accident with another vehicle. If you put a cage on a seat, it is important to secure it with the seat belt .

You can take the cage out during breaks and possibly your cat, but only with a harness (you must have accustomed the cat before) and a leash, but only if the animal is confident. 

Offer to drink from a travel bowl , you can also bring a glove that you will wet at each break and that you will pass widely on the cat, because some cats refuse to drink and this allows them to be hydrated gently. During breaks, take the opportunity to clean up excrement if there is any.

Never let your pet out of the basket without a leash or harness , remember that the collars are designed to open easily in case of strangulation and will come off if the cat pulls on the leash. And even if your cat is used to walking , a motorway service area or the side of the road has nothing to do with his neighborhood and he will most certainly be impressed and scared , in these moments cats let their instincts take over. and they can quickly put themselves in danger.

 cat in train

Train travel for a cat: what do you need to know?

Long journeys with a cat are more often done by car, in any case, it is with this mode of transport that we have the most concerns. But, it is also possible to take a long trip with your cat on a train. Here’s what you need to know if you’re traveling by train with your cat.

Bring a small light bag if you have to walk, shoulder straps or wheeled bags are very practical. Usually there is enough space underfoot to place a cat’s crate or carrier bag , but it may be useful to take a ticket in a square rather than a duo if you are traveling alone with your cat.

Concerning the SNCF: For an animal whose weight does not exceed 6 kg, there is a reduced rate. The animal must be transported in a bag or basket not exceeding the following dimensions 45 x 30 x 25 cm. For a larger cat, the price of the reservation corresponds to half the price of a full 2nd class ticket . Each person can bring a maximum of two baskets containing an animal.

If you must travel internationally, always find out about transporting animals BEFORE you buy your ticket .

cat in plane

Air travel with your cat? Is it possible to travel with your cat by plane?

Up to a maximum of five kilos , your cat will in principle be accepted in the cabin if it is in a box , which must not exceed a certain volume, the total of the three dimensions not exceeding 115 cm.

Pets weighing more than 5 kilos must, in exceptional cases, travel in the hold (ventilated, heated and pressurized).

If you do not have a cage that meets regulatory standards, special crates of different sizes, depending on the weight and size of the animal, are sold in most international airports (for information: dimensions ranging from 69 x 51 x 49 cm to 122 x 82 x 89 cm and prices varying from 40 to 145 € excluding taxes).

If your cat is traveling in the hold, provide a light diet and zylken as a mandatory requirement , so that it does not suffer from your absence! Leave her a rag with your scent on it.
Even if you are certain that your cat will travel with you, it may be refused, according to specific conditions of certain civil aviation companies. Be sure to check them carefully so you don’t get caught off guard when you leave.

The main modes of travel when you plan to take your cat.

To be able to travel within the EU, the animal must meet the following conditions:

  • Be identified by an electronic chip (transponder).
    Identification by microchip has been mandatory since July 3, 2011 for animals identified from that date. Animals identified by tattoo prior to July 3, 2011 may also travel, provided their tattoos are easy to read .
  • Be vaccinated against rabies (vaccination must be valid).
  • Possess a European pet passport issued by a veterinarian holding a health mandate.

Don’t forget to listen to your cat and adapt since each situation is different depending on the animal. We have made an overview of the standard cases, but your hairball is anything but standard! 

For example, some cats are annoyed not to see anything during trips (this is the case with confident cats), a very open cage will particularly please them, they can travel on their master’s lap with a harness, even if always be wary of strong reactions.

Other cats, usually the big meowers, will be more comfortable in semi-darkness where they can relax. To reassure them even more, we can wrap the crate with a blanket or equip ourselves with a very closed bag which guarantees good darkness. Be sure to always maintain good ventilation even if your cat is always hidden under the covers in the living room, the atmosphere in a car is very different from his living room.

And unlike the dog, it is preferable not to solicit the cat during the journey and leave it alone even if it is agitated.

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Hamna Nasir is a dedicated cat lover, avid traveler, and accomplished author. Born and raised in the bustling city of San Francisco, Hamna's education journey led her to Boston where her interests expanded and intersected in unexpected ways. Hamna's ontent explores a multitude of topics, from preparing your cat for its first trip and choosing pet-friendly accommodations to understanding feline behavior in different environments. Her first-hand experiences, love for storytelling, and unwavering commitment to enhancing the bond between cats and their owners have earned her a devoted following. Her insights have been celebrated by pet lovers, adventure enthusiasts, and travel bloggers alike.