Travelling with a cat can be stressful – but it doesn’t have to be! With a bit of preparation, the whole process can be straightforward and less stressful for both cat and owner. Here are some tips on travelling safely with your cat:

  • Choose a strong and sturdy carrier that can be easily cleaned, a plastic top-loading is ideal. Do not be tempted to use a flimsy cardboard carrier, as these are easily damaged, and your cat could escape. This is particularly hazardous if your cat escapes whilst you are driving
  • Place something absorbent in the bottom of the carrier, such as newspaper or a puppy training pad. This will make the carrier easier to clean should your cat soil itself during travel
  • Use soft and familiar smelling bedding – this will help your cat feel less vulnerable during the journey. If you leave the carrier out between visits, make sure it has been washed down, and the bed changed to remove any unfamiliar smells
  • Use pheromone therapy spray in the carrier 15 minutes prior to travel, this will help your cat feel more safe and secure if it’s feeling anxious
  • Place a light fleece or towel over the carrier during the journey. This can help reduce exposure to novel sights, sounds and smells and allow your cat to feel more hidden, reducing anxiety. If your cat is particularly confident you can cover just half the carrier during travel. Make sure that there are still gaps for air to flow into the carrier
  • If possible, do not feed your cat for a couple of hours before you travel, as this can help prevent vomiting during transportation. Cats can be affected by travel sickness, but they can also vomit if they feel distressed too
  • Hold the carrier underneath as well by the handle for extra security during transportation from one location to another e.g. to the car. This is will help prevent excessive movement, reducing feelings of anxiety and nausea
  • Place the carrier in the foot-well behind the passenger seat. This is safer than putting it on the passenger seat as there is less movement
  • If the carrier must go on the front seat, place the seat belt through the handle rather than around the front of the carrier. This will help prevent the seat belt crushing the carrier in the event of an accident. The airbag should also be turned off if a pet travels on the front seat of the car

Remember to:

  • Drive slowly and carefully, avoiding excessive breaking
  • Avoid using strong air fresheners or smoking in the car
  • Try and make your journey when the roads are less busy (so not in rush hour)
  • Have nice soft music playing in the car (such as classical or specific kitty music!)
  • Try not to be distracted by your cat whilst you are driving

*If you have a cat that becomes very distressed during travel speak to your vet for advice*

Alex Taylor, RVN & BVNA Council Officer