How To Travel With Cats On A Car, Plane, Cruise

You love your cat and you want to travel with your cat

Good thing is that you can travel and you don’t need to leave your cat behind. You can explore the world with your cat. 

Before booking a flight, a cruise or planning your road trip in your car, RV or internationally you should consider a few things and decide if traveling with your cat is something you want to go ahead with. 

It’s not just you but you need to make sure that your cat will like the trip. After all you don’t want to upset your pet who you love. 

Travel with a cat

Road trip:

The key thing to travel with your cat especially when it’s your cat’s first time traveling is to prepare your cat for the new experience.

One of the things you can do is to put your cat on a 10-day can eat and drink formula powder diet to avoid hunger. You should also avoid fiber foods, which can upset his digestive system and dry them out. 

You will need to select a good carrier for your car. Make sure the carrier is spacious enough to lay down and sleep in. But even with a comfy carrier and food regimen, cats can be finicky and not always happy to travel, especially when that travel involves an airplane, ferry or boat.

Nature of the cat is that they need to be free to roam, which means you can’t just stuff them into the front seat of your car next to you or cram them into your carry-on suitcase. 

To ensure everyone can get some shut-eye during the ride, consider a comfortable bed or bedding. One of the most popular are ones made with down feathers. You can find them at online retailers such as Mountain Meadow Pets, Mountain Pine Pets and Coleman.

Note: Cats require up to a full hour of acclimating to their cage on the plane, with special enrichment such as toys, special food, and non-toxic litter, so make sure to get your pet’s carrier in advance. Some airlines allow pets, but many do not. 

What to pack

Food is the first thing you should think about your cat. If you are planning to go for a long trip then you should consider at least three days of food for the animal, plus extra food and water. Bottles or cans of wet food is a good option as well.

Clean water is essential so make sure to pack two, three or four water bowls just in case you don’t get to clean the bowls for food or water. 

When the cat eats, they will need to release the food. You should pack a collapsible, non-slip plastic litter box with litter

Depending on your cat, if they are comfortable with a harness or leash you should pack those in case you need it. 

A carrier to place your cat in that is big enough so it’s comfortable for the car but just measure your car before you buy it so it’s not too big to fit in the vehicle with you and your luggage. Consider purchasing a special carrier for your feline friend, so he can go places safely, too.

Everyone needs entertainment and so does your cat. You don’t want a bored cat with you on a long trip. You should buy pet’s toys and treats, and your own cat-friendly items such as food and toys. 

Air Travel:

Before you travel, be sure to familiarize yourself with your destination’s airport or animal care areas. Start by reviewing your state’s animal regulations. Click here to find out what you need to know about your state’s rabies laws, or find out more about your state’s cat laws

If you intend to travel out of the country, then you’ll need to contact your local international animal consulate and make certain that all your requirements for traveling with a cat (if any) will be met. 

Did you know, cats need a passport, and it’s important to be aware that animals from some countries may not require a passport. If you’re only traveling within the U.S., then your state may require no special preparations at all. Check with your local veterinary office or city’s Animal Care or SPCA.

The airline has its rules and regulations regarding how much pets weigh and how much cargo space each one requires. Your carrier can fit two animals (that’s 12 pounds per cat), but if the cat has a longer body than this (a Bengal Cat or Burmese/Mongolian cross have the most adjustable bodies), the carrier won’t fit. Other than that, there are no issues. 

Cats will often travel well in the cabin since it’s air-conditioned and there’s nothing to scare them. One cat I knew had a run-in with a six-foot-long snake on a transatlantic flight. Others have managed to get under the seats of small planes. I don’t recommend carrying your cat in a handbag, since cats don’t have good balance.

Note: More recently, some airlines, such as Southwest, have started allowing you to pre-board your pet, but pre-boarding may not be possible if you’re traveling with more than one cat. 

Some airlines have a height requirement of at least 20-inches, or a 35-pound weight limit, so if your cat is a heavy cat and can’t fit on your lap in the carrier, it’s best to get it in a kennel or to travel with an animal friend. 

After you arrive at the destination and if you have been on a flight, there’s a slight possibility your cat will bite you on landing if he gets startled. So approach them gently and ensure they are calm before you get too close to them or start hugging them. 


What you should know

Cruise lines say it’s not possible to keep pets from accidentally going overboard, but passenger rights group PETA wants the industry to stop encouraging this kind of risky behaviour. 

According to PETA, 80 percent of water emergencies involve dogs, and about 17 percent involve cats. 

A 2015 Associated Press survey found that 14 percent of passengers who had a mishap on a cruise reported suffering financial damage. 

The medical bill for taking your pet (unless you’ve been to vet school), you may not know that health care for your pet on a cruise is not covered by your airline. Some cruise lines, like Norwegian Cruise Line, offer a comprehensive program and you pay for individual services. Others, like Carnival, do not.

How to prepare your cat for a cruise

Cats will require some pre-trip prep on the part of their owners to ensure that they’re prepared for the trip. You’ll want to have a list of all the animals that can travel and all the animals they should avoid, along with the proper paperwork needed to pick-up your pet at the airport. 

Make sure they know their name and remind them often that they’re going on a big trip. Make sure the cat is at least 8 months old and have a collar on them, even if they’re traveling as a carry-on, as carriers won’t allow carriers without one. 

Ask your vet about getting a microchip, just in case the flight is delayed and they get misplaced. 

What to pack for a cruise with a cat

Bring a leash and collar for your feline buddy. Packing for a cruise can be overwhelming and stressful, particularly when you’re bringing a fur friend with you. 

Before embarking on your sea adventure, it’s important to consider exactly what you need, since even simple things such as a bag with an easily accessible zipper compartment can make all the difference when your kitty wanders away from the ship at sea and gets lost. 

There are several key items that you’ll need to travel with your pet, whether you’re staying at sea for a week or just a few days. A leash and collar should be of high priority, and it’s important to bring a vest that your cat can easily slip into or out of.

What to do when you arrive on the ship

First, give yourself at least a 24-hour time period to unpack, settle in and get comfortable before you get out exploring. Not only do you need to acclimate your pets to their new environment, but also need to make sure your animals don’t pull too hard on the leash while exploring new environments. 

If your animals are just settling in for the night, put them in a safe and secure carrier. Most cruises have large pools, and you’ll be able to enjoy the water with your furry friends. 

Your pets will also get used to being in a cabin for the duration of the cruise so you don’t have to worry about taking them out to the potty every hour or so. If you’re worried your pets may be fearful of other species, talk to the cruise line staff about what you can expect at every destination.

One thing you need to do before packing for your Caribbean cruise is to make sure that your cats are not traveling in their carriers, as it may be a tight squeeze for two. 

When in doubt, wait until a couple of weeks before the cruise so they’ll be used to the carrier before you leave. Your cat will likely spend most of their time in the cabin with you unless you want to take them on any excursions. 

It’s always best to check with your travel agent or the cruise, but there are a number of options that can fit your lifestyle and travel with cats on a cruise.

Plan to spend one to two days at the port because it can be a bit tiring for your cat especially if they are a kitten, and there’s not a lot of opportunity for socializing with other cats.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is travel stressful for cats?

Cats are a domestic pet however they can survive well on their own in the wild. They are a natural explorer and they adapt to changes. They can get some stress however they can be a good travel companion for you. It is a good idea to consult your vet before you travel so if there is any special medication required or if your cat shouldn’t travel for medical reasons, you should know about it.

Should I cover the cat carrier when traveling?

It is a good idea to cover your car with a blanket that is breathable so your cat doesn’t get stressed and feel insecure when they reach a destination that has new scents, smell and that looks unfamiliar to your pet.

Should I sedate my cat for travel?

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) doesn’t recommend to sedate your cat. It is advised to discuss with your vet what is the best option for your cat as it may be different for you.


So you’ve decided that it’s time to travel with your pet. But you need to get prepared. Get educated on how to travel with your cat. 

Don’t forget to prepare your cat for traveling. And last but not least, do your best to go in with as few surprises as possible. To get the most out of traveling with your pet, you will need to do the following: Know your cat. Knowing your cat’s habits and likes and dislikes is a must. 

Take time to research the best carriers for your cat. Shop for the carrier of your choice and research the best brands for the best prices. The carrier that is right for you will be the carrier that your cat will accept. Have a family discussion. Find out how each family member feels about the idea of traveling with a cat.

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