Road Rules

Want to take your cat with you on vacation? Keep your trip fun and safe with proper planning.

Cats in CarrierIt’s finally vacation time. You get out the suitcase, start to pack and your cat gives you that look, the one that says, “You’re not going away and leaving me alone again, are you?” The cat takes up residence in your suitcase, refusing to budge. You stroke its ears and sigh. Could you take your cat along with you, if you really wanted to?

Yes, if you plan ahead. Travel with your cat is easier than ever as both airlines and hotels have become more accommodating. Jacque Schultz, director of special projects for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, says when making travel plans, owners should ask themselves how the cat would benefit by coming along for the trip, instead of only considering their own needs.

“What’s going to happen at the other end of this trip?” she asks rhetorically. “Cats like routine and familiarity. If they travel frequently, it’s not as much of a shock for them and if you’re going to be gone for an extended period, you’ll want to take them along. But if you’re going away for a week and you’re going to spend most of the time shopping, what’s the pleasure for the animal? Do you want your cat there to curl up with you at night so you feel at home, or is there something in it for the cat?”

If you do decide to bring Kitty along, you’ll need to take certain steps to ensure your journey is pleasant for everyone involved including fellow travelers.

Friendly Skies
“On a plane, we don’t recommend the cat be put into the cargo area,” says Dug Hanbicki, issues specialist in companion animals for The Humane Society of the United States. The Society estimates 5,000 animals a year are killed or injured the cargo area of commercial airlines flights as the result of heat stroke, suffocation or being crushed by falling baggage.

While on one flight, Gayle Martz, a former flight attendant, saw a miserable looking Maine Coon cat squashed into a hard-sided plastic carrier. Seeing this poor cat, she vowed she would do all she could to make pets comfortable and safe while traveling with their owners. Martz designed a soft-sided carrier so she could take Sherpa, her Lhasa Apso, on-board with her when she traveled.

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