Tips for Taking Your Cat on Holiday

During holiday season it can prove difficult to decide what to do with your pet cats whilst away. Whilst numerous cat boarding facilities, pet sitters and other boarding options are available, many owners like to take their beloved feline friend away with them. Holidaying with a cat brings with it some special planning and packing of certain cat supplies in order to make the holiday stress free.

Where to Go?

The first consideration is where to go on your holiday. Cats can travel in cars and on airplanes so local or interstate travel is possible. International travel often doesn't bode well for travel with cats due to quarantine restrictions (see below). Once the location is decided upon, the actual accommodation type must be thoroughly researched. Whilst the number of cat friendly holiday accommodation options are gradually increasing, early booking is recommended. It is recommended to contact the accommodation proprietor directly to discuss the current requirements for cats holidaying at their property. Occasionally websites and word of mouth information can be out of date. Considerations would include:

  • The number of cats allowed in each unit/suite etc.
  • What cat supplies, if any, are provided with the accommodation booking.
  • The security of the accommodation to prevent the cat from escaping.
  • The proximity and accessibility of the local veterinarian should their services be required.
  • Requirements for the cats to be vaccinated, wormed and/or desexed.

What Method of Transportation is Required?

As mentioned above, cats can travel well in cars and planes but with each of these modes of transport, certain cat supplies are recommended.

Car travel: Some cats will suffer from travel sickness when transported in a car. It is best to take your cat for a short local drive to assess their ability to successfully handle car travel. If travel sickness does occur, speak to your local veterinarian for advice on the use of travel sickness medication for your cat.

Cats should be adequately restrained during car travel. Cats wandering around the cabin present a hazard to the driver as they are often a distraction and may climb under the driver's feet or the car pedals. They should be transported in a cat enclosure with appropriate ventilation provided. The cat cage itself should also be securely fastened to the car seat to prevent it from becoming a projectile in the unfortunate event of a car accident, causing injury to both the cat and car occupants.

For most trips it is suggested that the cat not be fed prior to travel to further reduce the likelihood of travel sickness. However fresh cool water should be offered on regular occasions during the trip to keep the cat well hydrated. A collapsible pet bowl should be carried for this purpose. Any cat supplies required during the trip should be readily accessible in the car. Cats should not be left in the car for extended periods when owners stop for breaks as they may rapidly overheat.

Airplane travel: All enquiries regarding the specific requirements for cat travel by airplanes should be made directly with the carrier. Cats will need to be in a cat cage and often need to be delivered to the airport before normal check-in times and sometimes in a different location within the airport. These requirements should be checked prior to travel.

Cats travelling on planes are transported in the cargo hold and as such are not generally monitored during the flight. Many airlines therefore do not recommended sedating cats for travel. Speak with your veterinarian if further advice is needed.

International travel with cats is often not an option due to the quarantine restrictions of transporting animals between countries. Whilst long-term holidays may warrant taking your cat, it may not be feasible on short trips. There are various medical checks, vaccinations and quarantine periods to be served both in the country you are visiting and again on your return to Australia. These requirements should be thoroughly researched and understood before embarking on overseas travel with your cat.

What Cat Supplies Should I Take?

When holidaying with your cat you will generally need to take your own cat supplies. Take the same amount of cat supplies with you that you would need at home to sustain your cat for the length of the holiday. This will include, but not be limited to:

  • Cat bed
  • Litter tray and litter
  • Cat food - it is recommended that the diet remain stable during your holiday. Any sudden changes in diet may cause dietary indiscretions to occur. Pet bowls for cat food and water should also be taken.
  • Cat toys - especially boredom busting toys. Outdoor cats which are to be restricted to indoors during a holiday (for safety and to prevent running away) should be encouraged to exercise through play with safe cat toys.
  • Scratching post - to avoid damage to furniture.
  • Feline pheromone spray. Products such as Feliway can help your cat settle into the new environment without feeling anxious and hopefully without marking inside if it is a male cat.
  • Any cat medications which will fall due during the period of the holiday. It can be difficult to get prescription pet medications from a vet whilst away as they do not have access to the cat's medical history. This includes cat supplies such as flea and tick control and heartworm control

Remember it can be difficult to purchase appropriate cat supplies in some locations.

What Further Information Should I be Aware of?

It is worthwhile being armed with some extra information when travelling to an unfamiliar area so that any unforeseen issues with your cat can be rapidly dealt with.

  • Ensure that your most up to date contact details, including mobile contacts are registered with the microchipping registry and that your cat is wearing a cat collar and pet tag with the same details on it. This will assist in having your cat returned to you as soon as possible if it wanders away.
  • Contact the closest veterinarian to your holiday destination prior to travel and have the address, phone number, opening hours and after hours emergency arrangements noted down. Also ask if there are any special vaccinations or medications your cat should take whilst holidaying in that area, for example tick preventatives.

Careful planning and an understanding of your cat's temperament and ability to travel will help you decide on which options best suit both you and your feline friend when holidaying.

Relax and enjoy the break!