Traveling With Cats
Originally posted: 2/5/14
There are countless articles online that discuss traveling with your pets. Most are informative, easy to read, and try to assuage any concerns you may have about traveling with Fido and Fluffy. A quick Google search and you will find all you need and want to know about what to do before, during, and after your big ventures.
We have two cats: the older, quirky, grumpy, and affection-obsessed Henry, and our sweet, jittery, cute-as-anything Emily.
Before we started our RV ventures, we did some research into traveling with cats. We had the feeling that traveling with Henry and Emily would prove to be a challenge for both them and us, and we were right.
But before we get into our experiences, here is a sampling of the sage wisdom we found from various online resources:
Visit your vet before leaving on trips for the proper vaccinations, anti-anxiety meds (if necessary), microchipping, etc.
Invest in a good carrier, sized well for your cat – not too big, not too small. They need to feel secure in it. Place it in your home a few weeks before hand and keep the door open so they can become accustomed to it in the comfort of your home.
Slowly acclimate your kitties to travel by starting with short trips in your car around town, cats in carrier, working your way up to the long hauls.
Remember to bring their food, spill proof water bowls, toys, treats, leash (if your cat is game for a stroll), litter box, etc.
Take their food away several hours before heading out on your trip to avoid your cat from getting sick during the drive. Water, however, up to and during the journey, is good to provide.
Plan to stop every few hours to give your cats access to their litter box.
Play with your cat before your trip in an effort to wear him out so he’ll sleep better during the ride.
TRAVEL TO CANADA – Domestic cats older than three months require a rabies vaccination certificate which must:
be written in English or French;
be issued and signed by a licensed veterinarian;
identify the animal (as in breed, color, and weight);
state that the animal is vaccinated against rabies;
indicate the date of vaccination;
indicate the trade name and the serial number of the licensed vaccine; and
specify the duration of immunity (otherwise the assumption is one year from the immunization date).
For more information on traveling with your cats, or any other pets, into Canada, visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.
This all sounds, well, nice, but our reality is a bit different. Alas.
We tried acclimating our two cats to a car carrier when they were just kittens. But they both would cry in unholy terror, non-stop, until we’d let them loose. Not fun for them or us. So the carrier went out the window. (Not literally, of course.) Now they are free to roam at will; though, until recently, Emily preferred to hide under something during the entire drive, while Henry takes our drives as an opportunity to hop from one lap to the other so that we both arrive at our destination with a layer of cat hair over us. (Nice, huh?)
As for leashes, we bought them in the hope that our two indoor kitties would be game for outdoor strolls. However, Henry and Emily are strong-minded, and they let us know that they were not at all in favor of said strolls. (Don’t tell them, but we’re not quite ready to give up on this one yet.)
As for “wearing them out” before leaving for a trip… Well, this is when our challenges have been the most ridiculous. In our case, they wear us out. We have run ourselves ragged trying to catch them, but our cats are smart cookies. Actually, truth be told, they’re not all that smart. BUT, they do know something is up before a trip, and so they become their worst, most paranoid, most stubborn selves. Emily has even been known to nervous-pee while being carried from her warm, safe home into the RV. (Nothing like cat pee all over you right before a road trip!) And as for Henry, he’s no better than his little sister. After near hour-long chases, we have been strongly tempted to just leave him. (We wouldn’t really do that…or would we?)
Neither cat will eat or drink during the drive. At first, this worried us. We have since let that go. And with one or two exceptions, they won’t use the litter box while in motion either. They would however happily go to sleep in the litter box. (Yuck.)
I could go on and on about how bothered our cats seem to be with us when we set out to travel, but the bottom line is: They don’t like leaving home. They don’t like being put in the coach, and they don’t like being taken out of it. All wits, ours and theirs, have met their ends at times. However, we have high hopes that this is changing as they seem to be becoming more and more accustomed to travel. (If we’re fooling ourselves, please don’t tell us.) Both seem to be suddenly making very positive strides in their comfort levels, especially once we settle into a park, i.e., no wheels a-rolling and no slides a-sliding.
Even Emily can now, albeit rare, be seen stretching out on the couch on-the-roll.
In fact, Henry has become somewhat comical with his apparent adaptation to life on the roll.
One of the bright spots in our travel research that actually worked in our travel reality is: kitty claw covers. Henry and Emily had left their nail marks on several pieces of furniture in our travel trailer. So with the brand new, faux leather-filled motorhome, we didn’t want any punctures and tears. We purchased Soft Paws, which are nail caps for cats and dogs. (FYI: Soft Paws & Soft Claws are the same product made by the same company.)
If you’re comfortable trimming your cat’s nails (watch out for the nail-veins), application of Soft Paws is fairly easy, taking just a few minutes per cat. If you’re not comfortable with that, your veterinarian office can trim the nails and apply the caps for you. We apply them to just the front claws, but you can use them on the front and back if you like. First, you trim your cat’s nails. We try to do this a few hours early, if not a day ahead of time, before applying the Soft Paws, just to give the cats a break in the process.
Then, when they’re good and sleepy, we put a little glue in each vinyl cover, and start placing them over each claw, holding the cats for a few minutes afterward to let the glue set. Ta-da! All set! In our experience, the Soft Paws have lasted anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. (They’re web site says they should stay on for 4 to 6 weeks.) And there are very colorful options to choose from…something for everyone! (Getting a nice bright color also makes it easier to see when one has fallen off.) You can buy them in pet stores or online.
Henry does this paw-crossing on his own. One of our best friends renamed him Henrietta. We understand.
What’s been your experience?
Have your cats adjusted well to travel and how long did it take them?
Do they love or hate it?