Are We There Yet? [Travelling With Kitty]

Posted by Melissa for PetTest on Apr 23rd 2020

Are We There Yet? [Travelling With Kitty]

With so many of us at home, it might seem to be an odd time to talk about travel. However, now is a good time to consider arrangements if you are planning travel… well… eventually. Different things will affect your decision whether or not to bring Kitty along including length of travel, reason for travel, pet friendliness of destination, mode of transport, and above all, Kitty’s tolerance for travel. It seems like a lot to think about, but a little thought and planning will help Kitty and you (servant) to have at least a less stressful ride. I am mainly focusing on car travel, as the rules for flying with pets seem to change a lot, and, we have a lot more control over things in our own automobile.

Car Trip Tips: There are a lot of options for less-stress travel in a car.

  1. A soft carrier seems to be preferred as kitties generally feel more secure when they are closed in with something that will adjust with them. Some cats don’t seem to care one way or the other. I have crate trained dogs and for YEARS, my biggest cat would be lying in the tiny one meant for the Chihuahua almost every night at bedtime. However, actually using one of those crates to travel with said cat has been challenging and rather messy. (Always keep rags or bleachable blankets in plenty during car travel.) Soft carriers are also a bit easier for testing purposes because they generally can be unzipped just enough to gain access without Kitty escaping.
  2. To see or not to see: Generally, my cats have been less upset if they can see their people. I have buckled them in the front seat with the carriers facing me so I can reach over to give them a quick scratch or talk to them. I have had others that will howl relentlessly regardless.
  3. Entertainment: My biggest success here was a 14-hour drive when moving from Ohio to Georgia with two cats who cried all the way to the vet and back like it was the end of the world every… single… time! I finally realized that when lighter music such as light rock and loves songs plus the soothing voice of Delilah played, they were content and quiet. Even kitties have their preferred genres apparently!
  4. If possible, especially during a long trip, if you can get Kitty on a leash and let them venture out with you, that is great provided you don’t have to wrestle them back into their safe carrier. My track record on leash training cats is a sad 30%. We attempted it with our youngest kitty, and as soon as the harness was one, she dragged herself around with her front legs with her back legs completely limp like she was half paralyzed. We tried a lot, but it just is not going to happen for my little Gwen.
  5. If Kitty is not used to travel or is super stressed during routine trips, and you have a long trip coming up, such as a long ride for a move, your veterinarian may be able to prescribe a sedative to help kitty get through it. This is highly dependent on your vet, Kitty’s blood glucose control, possible side effects of the drug, and Kitty’s overall medical history. I try to avoid this, but if Kitty is mega stressed, that doesn’t help their diabetic status either. You and your veterinarian should discuss and be clear on the risks and benefits before making that decision.
  6. Take breaks! Kitty needs to be out to eat and get tested. If the trip is a long one, spring for a pet-friendly hotel room. None of my kitties would ever eat while they were in a carrier, and they need to stretch their legs just like we humans. It helps to have a travel bag for kitty with the medical essentials but also a favorite blanket from home, toys, a small litter box for the hotel room with a supply of kitty’s home litter, and catnip if Kitty likes it. Having their own “stuff” with them seems to help.
  7. Know where the American Animal Hospital accredited vets are on your way and near your destination in case of emergency. Even for myself, I find the local hospitals and urgent care clinics before I leave the house. I over prepare on the medical front, but it makes for less panic and scrambling if something does come up.

No matter how you are travelling with Kitty, there is going to be stress. Kitty likes routine and their usual environment. Change for them is scary and unsettling. You may have near perfect control over their insulin and blood sugar levels at home and feel like it is spinning out of control for a bit during a long trip. It is normal to see changes and higher blood sugar levels during stress. Use your journal and adjust insulin and diet as necessary if there is a big swing. If the levels are slightly higher than usual but stabilize when Kitty has calmed down a bit, then no changes may be needed. Expect a couple days of less stable blood sugar levels. 

Every Kitty is different, and some are going to take longer to relax in a different environment. For some, it is a matter of hours, and for others it takes days for them to leave the relative safety of the bathroom and its cabinet hidey hole. Visit them, do what you can to entice them and make them comfortable. (When moving, once their furniture arrives and the movers are gone, scoop them up and carry them around to show them their stuff. It smells like them and home, and that usually goes a long way to make them more curious than scared and more willing to check out the new digs.)

Travelling with Kitty can be stressful. Leaving Kitty at home with a caregiver is also stressful. A well-considered plan will make things a lot easier. Getting with your veterinarian ahead of time for a consultation on what to do based on Kitty’s behavior and blood glucose control will go a long way toward your peace of mind, and, hopefully, an easier travel experience.

The Feline Diabetic Support Group on FB is available with a lot more real-world tips for travel and all things sugar babies!

Stay healthy out there!