Hit the Road, Cat

Before taking your cat on an extended vacation, try to accustom it to riding in a cat carrier. Keep these other tips in mind, too.

Many cats loathe auto travel because they associate riding in a car or being put in a carrier with unpleasant activities. Before taking your cat on an extended car or plane trip, accustom it to riding in the car for short, pleasant trips. Give it treats for good behavior, and bring along familiar-smelling toys and blankets to make it feel at home.

“Leave the carrier around the house, let the cat smell it, hide in it, make it a home inside the home,” says Gayle Martz, a former airline stewardess from Westport, Conn., and designer of the Sherpa travel carrier. “Don’t just throw the cat in there and close it up. Familiarization and training are the key.” Never let a cat run loose in the car; doing so could be dangerous for both cat and driver.

The Humane Society of the United States recommends a cat never be left unattended in a parked car, even with the windows cracked. On a hot day, a car’s temperature could easily exceed the outdoor temperature by 20 degrees or more, and fatal overheating can take place in minutes. Likewise, a car can become freezing cold in winter.

Other than service animals, Amtrak trains and Greyhound and Trailways buses refuse to allow pets on board, either in the passenger or in the cargo areas. Some local train, ferry and bus services, as well as cruise ships, may allow animals on board; check with the individual carrier on policies before travel.

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