How to Prepare Your Feline Companion for Travel

cat in cat carrier in car

Traveling with your furry companion can be an incredible experience. Still, it's important to make sure you're well-prepared for the adventure ahead. Whether you're embarking on a road trip across the provinces or taking to the skies for a grand adventure, here are some paw-some tips to ensure a smooth and comfortable journey for both you and your whiskered travel buddy.

Keep calm and collected

Cats are sensitive to change, so keeping them calm during travel is key. Before the trip, introduce your cat to the carrier gradually. Leave it open in your home with treats and toys inside to encourage positive associations. This way, your cat will view the carrier as a familiar safe haven rather than a source of stress.

Create a cozy travel space

Travel can be overwhelming for cats, so creating a comfortable and secure space is important. Prepare a cozy carrier or travel crate that allows your feline friend to stretch out comfortably. Line the carrier with a soft blanket or bedding that smells like home – this will provide reassurance during the journey.

Tips and tricks for stress-free travel

  • Trial runs: If your cat isn't accustomed to car rides, take short trips around the block before embarking on a long journey. This will help acclimate them to the motion of the vehicle.

  • Familiar scents: Bring items with familiar scents, such as your cat's favourite blanket or a shirt that carries your scent. These familiar scents can provide comfort during the journey.

  • Rest stops: If you're traveling by car, plan regular rest stops where your cat can stretch, use the litter box, and have a little playtime. Keep your cat on a harness and leash for safety.

Recommended travel products

  • Travel-friendly carriers: Opt for a well-ventilated carrier with a secure locking mechanism. Look for carriers designed to fit comfortably under airplane seats for air travel and consider those that can open from the top for more flexibility in getting your cat in and out of the carrier.

  • Portable litter box: Invest in a portable litter box that's easy to set up in rest areas for longer trips.

  • Calming aids: Consider using natural calming aids, like pheromone sprays or calming treats, to help soothe your cat's nerves. Your vet may also be able to recommend anxiety medications and other solutions specific to your cat.

Planes, trains, and paw-tomobiles

Air travel

If you're taking to the skies, contact the airline well in advance to inquire about their pet travel policies. Not all airlines allow pets in the cabin, so make arrangements accordingly. Ensure your cat's carrier is compliant with airline regulations and that you have any necessary paperwork.

Public transit

If you're traveling with your cat on public transportation, check with the transit provider in advance to see if pets are allowed and what the requirements are. Many transit providers require pets to be in carriers, and some may have restrictions on the size of the carrier.

Road trips

Traveling by car offers more flexibility, allowing more control over the environment and time between rest stops. Secure their carrier with a seatbelt to prevent sliding during sudden stops. Never leave your cat unattended in the car, and always ensure proper ventilation.

Complying with Canadian travel regulations

Before you set off on your escapade, take a moment to familiarize yourself with regulations regarding pet travel at and on the way to your destination. When traveling within Canada, your cat must have up-to-date identification, including a microchip and a collar with your contact information. Many provinces, territories, and municipalities also require an up-to-date rabies vaccination certificate, so have those papers on hand.

Whiskers and wanderlust

As you prepare your feline friend for travel, remember that patience and preparation are key. By creating a comfortable and secure environment, you can embark on an unforgettable journey together. Bon voyage and happy travels!

Written by: Dylan M. Austin
Reviewed by: Dr. Jennifer Sperry, DVM