How to Travel With a Cat (Step By Step Ultimate Guide)

Traveling with a cat can be quite stressful, right?

I know. Cats are not very fond of traveling, leaving their territory behind. They like routines, familiar faces, and known places. But when it’s a one-way trip like moving into a new home or when it comes to taking your cat to the vet, there’s actually no other way than traveling with your little feline friend. But traveling inside a dark carrier, in the harsh sound of engines and crowds can be a sheer terror for it.

Then what can you do?

Well, you have to know that a perfect preparation beforehand is the primary key to any good trip. If you have the proper idea of how to prepare for a trip, know the right way and equipment, the trip can actually be a fun experience for both of you let alone a terror.

That’s why today I am going to guide you on how to travel with a cat in the right way to make the trip peaceful and comfortable for both of you.

Choosing the transport

First of all, you have to decide on which you are going to travel with your cat. If it’s a trip to the vet or somewhere nearby, you can always choose a car. But if you are going to travel a long distance, you have no other way than choosing the plane. Traveling in a car and on the plane has a lot of differences and each of them needs different preparation. That’s why when you have decided on the transportation then you can start taking the preparation.

How to travel with a cat in a car

Now if it’s a car trip, you have to know how to travel with a cat in a car in the right way because car journeys can be very frightening for it. Mostly because of the sound of the car engine and crowds, uneven driving, traffic jams and also motion sickness. So you have to find some time before a few days of the journey and take the right preparation.

Here’s a small guide on how to travel with a cat in a car.

Before the trip

You can have the best kind of preparation if you start just a few days before the actual trip. The preparation doesn’t require a lot of time. So, spare some of your daily works and prepare so that you and your cat have a comfortable time.

  • Prepare your car:

    The first thing you need to do is to prepare your car for your cat. Cats are allergic to some fragrances. So if you have to make sure you haven’t sprayed any kind of air freshener inside that your cat is allergic to. Besides, don’t keep any kind of showpiece inside that may scare your cat. Such as snakes or cucumber shaped stuff.
  • Get the right carrier:

    Now if you want to know how to travel with a cat in a car properly, you have to know which kind of carrier is suitable for a car journey. Choose a cat carrier that
  • is not too big to fit in the car seat.
  • is sturdy enough to carry the weight of your cat.
  • has additional belts to be tied to the car.
  • has a proper ventilation system and if possible netted windows so your cat can see the outside and know you are here with him

You can buy carriers from your home on Amazon.

  • Do some practice

    It’s said that practice makes a man perfect. It’s not wrong for cats either. So before a few days of the trip take your cat in his carrier for short drives like to a nearby park or a house that has cats. So your cat can adjust to the sound of engines and the drive.
  • Visit the vet

    During the practice drive if you see any adverse reactions on your cat like if he has panic attacks or feels motion sickness then must visit the vet and ask for medications or sedatives.
  • Feed your cat

    Always feed your cat 3-4 hours before the trip so your cat won’t have a full stomach and feel sick while driving.
  • Tie the carrier properly

    A few minutes before the trip, put your cat in the carrier and tie the carrier to the car seat for additional security. Double check to be ensured.

During the trip

  • Check your cat’s behavior

    While driving take a short pause or when you are stuck in the signal, check your cat if it is behaving weirdly and take the right step.
  • Take short intervals

    Always take short intervals and talk to your cat so it doesn’t feel nervous. Besides, give it treats and chance to do its business.

After the trip

When the trip is done, get your cat out and pet it to reduce its nervousness. Give medication if needed.

How to travel with a cat on a plane

Traveling with a cat on a plane is less scary than traveling in a car. It’s because plane trips are usually more peaceful and take a shorter time.

If the carrier is stable, the cat sometimes doesn’t even realize that he is traveling. But some cats, especially Persian ones have breathing issues so you must know beforehand if your cat has the same. Only if your cat is okay with heights then start your preparation.

Here’s my small guide on how to travel with a cat on a plane.

Before the trip

Just like any other trips, you have to start taking the preparation for your flights a few days before the departure date. From booking your flight ticket to arriving at the airport with your cat, be careful and follow these steps for a better journey.

  • Check the flight requirements:

    If you are going to fly with your cat you must check the flight requirements before booking the tickets. Some airlines don’t allow cats to travel in the cabin with you. Some airlines also have strict rules for cat traveling. There are some online websites that let you check flight requirements like So make sure to check them and then book the one that’s compatible for you.
  • Get an airline approved carrier:

    Some airlines have strict rules about allowing cat carriers. Most of them don’t approve plastic ones. All the bolts and nuts need to be metal. You can check the carrier requirements on too. So get a carrier that meets all the requirements. If needed, go and talk to the airline staff beforehand to avoid any unwanted situation.
  • Get a health certificate:

    Before a few days of the departure date, take your cat to the vet and get a full health certificate as most of the airlines ask for it.
  • Prepare your cat for the trip:

    When it comes to on-air journey, you can’t practice your cat like you can do on car trips. But there’s still something you can do. Like making him familiar with the carrier, letting him stay in the carrier every day for a while. In that way, when it comes to the departure time, he won’t get stressed.
  • Attach a ‘live animal’ tag:

    You should attach a ‘live animal’ tag on the carrier just to be safe.
  • Ensure safety:

    Just before leaving for the airport, attach a collar around your cat’s shoulder with your address, phone no. written on it and have a removal long strap. Get your cat inside the carrier and lock properly.

During the trip

  • Put the carrier:

    Put the carrier on your seat and tie it with the seat or handle properly to keep it stable.
  • Provide treats:

    Provide your cat treats to prevent him from getting nervous.

How to travel with a cat long distance

Now if you are going to have a long trip you must know how to travel with a cat a long distance. Because cats are not very used to being inside a dark carrier for a long time so they tend to get panic attacks. So there are some tips for you to help you comfort your cat the long distance.

  • Take professional advice

    If your cat isn’t used to long trips then must consult with a vet and ask for advice, medication and if needed, sedation.
  • Prepare a travel bag

    As it’s a long trip, you must have enough things to last the trip. So prepare a travel bag beforehand with
  • Dry foods your cat is familiar with
  • Enough water
  • Disposable litter box
  • Motion sickness medicine
  • Toys your cats like
  • Paper wipes

Things that have a smell of home

  • Take your cat with you

    Must avoid leaving your cat on your furniture car or in the plane cargo.
  • Maintain routine

    You can make your cat feel like a home by maintaining its feeding time, sleeping time and it’s routine. Also, interact with your cat and give it treats.
  • Take short intervals

    If you are the one driving, then take short intervals, let your cat have some air and use a litter box.
  • Get info about the vets in the destination

    Do it beforehand, so if your cat gets motion sickness or too much stress you can take him to the vet quickly after arriving at your destination.

How to calm cats during travel

If you have been on a trip with your cat before, you definitely know how much common it is for cats to get stressed in the journey. But this stress can be very harmful to your cats as it can sometimes lead to a panic attack and extreme situation. That’s why you must try your best to keep your cat calm during your travel. Here are some tips for you to keep your cat calm-

  • Let your cat travel in the same vehicle as you. So it’ll get your smell and know that you are here with it.
  • Put his favorite toys or stuff that smells like home inside its carrier.
  • You can play a mild music in your home on a regular basis and play the same one during the travel.
  • Talk to your cat, call for its name and let it know you are here.
  • If possible, buy a carrier with netted windows that will allow your cat to see outside and place it where your cat can see only you.
  • When you are taking small intervals get your cat out and pet it. But make sure to keep the car door and windows closed. It’s better to avoid it if you are on a plane.
  • Take disposable litter box with you and let your cat use them.
  • Use products that give off pheromones like Feliway, Bach’s Rescue Remedy. That will help your cat to remain calm.
  • You can give your cat sedation medicine, but only if you have a professional suggestion.

How to sedate a cat for travel

Sedation generally means making your cat calm by reducing its stress and anxiety. It really helps cats that don’t have many trip experience and tend to get hyper easily. Though sedation can be helpful in a way, it has quite a lot of side effects. So only sedate your cat if your vet suggests for it. Here’s a step by step guide on how you can sedate your cat.

  • Choose the medication

Well, there are generally two kinds of sedatives. Medical and non-medical. Non-medical ones have fewer side effects when medical ones work a lot better and immediately. So you have to choose the right one for your cat.

  • Consult with a vet

If you choose a medical medication, you must take your cat to the vet to know the right dosage for your cat. If the sedative needs to be pushed via injection, always let your vet do it.

  • Check for adverse effect

Before a few days of sedating your cat, apply a very little amount of sedative and check if your cat has any adverse effect. If your cat gets allergy, vomits or show any other negative signs, avoid that sedative.

  • Prepare your cat

When the day of sedating comes, prepare your cat a few hours beforehand. Play with it, pat it, give it its favorite treats and try to keep it jolly. Then wrap it in a towel with only keeping its head out and then give it the sedative.

  • Give the sedative

Hold your cat very firmly and put a treat in front of its mouth. When it opens its mouth, give the sedative immediately and then give it the treat. Make sure your cat swallows it. But if it doesn’t want to have it at any cost, mix the sedative with its food and then feed it.

  • Wait for the result

There are a few medical sedatives that work immediately, but most of the sedatives and non-medicals sedatives take time to kick in. So wait patiently for that and don’t overdose it for a quicker result.

That’s what you need to know about how to travel with a cat. If you follow them properly I assure you a safe and comfortable journey for both you and your cat. If you have any inquiries, you can comment below and I’ll be glad to answer.

Frequently Asked Questions by Cat Owners

Can cats ride in cars?

Yes, they can. Well, car rides can be a little bit frightening for cats because of the sound of engines and uneven roads. But with proper preparation, cats can have comfortable car rides too.

How much Benadryl can I give my cat to sedate?

The right dosage is one mg per pound. So check your cat’s weight and then determine the dosage.

Can cats go on airplanes?

Yes, they can. But you must choose an airline that allows cats to travel in the cabin with you. Avoid cargo holds at any cost.

Why does my cat pant in the car?

Cats mostly pant in the car when

  • They are stressed
  • If they are having irregular heartbeat
  • They are feeling hot

So check what the case is with your cat.

What is a cat tranquilizer?

Cat tranquilizers are generally medical products that are used on cats to reduce their stress and anxiety.

What can be used to sedate a cat?

There are generally two kinds of things that can be used to sedate a cat. Medical sedatives like Acepromazine, Diazepam, Xylazine, Ketamine etc. and non-medical sedatives like Kava Kava/ Piper methysticum, Valerian root, Catnip/Nepeta cataria etc. You can read more about sedations and sedatives in hereHow To Sedate A Cat

Additional Information:

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *