Tis the season of holiday travel, and this month you may be thinking about visiting far away relatives. You might be considering bringing your pets with you on your journey. My sister is ample proof that yes, you can happily take long road trips with cats. Her felines Leo and Hazel have logged literally thousands of miles in the back of the Honda. When they stayed here over Thanksgiving, I was impressed with the kitties’ equanimity.
Having your favorite fuzzy critter with you on vacation can be fun, but it’s wise to take a few things into account when you travel. First, you should make sure that your pets are up to date on all their vaccinations. Bring paperwork with you that shows proof of vaccination. Some states require health certificates, especially for rabies. If you plan to fly, you’ll definitely need a health certificate for the airline. Plus, you should find out about any airline rules and requirements such as the type of carrier you need for your pet. Some airlines also limit when pet travel is allowed. You also should find out about airport procedures, such as pick up and drop off locations.
If you’re going to be driving, you should make sure your pets are used to being in the car before you leave. Get your car set up with the carrier arrangement you plan to use and take your pets on short trips to get them used to the idea. Using some type of carrier is always a good idea, but it’s particularly important for cats. On a long journey, it’s also good if you can give the animal as much room as possible to help minimize stress. When we took our cats on a 1,200-mile journey, we put both of them in one medium size dog carrier with their litter box and food. My sister has a similar arrangement for her car. Her cats ride in a "cat condo" with all their gear, and the whole thing fits nicely in the back seat of her car. If your pets can’t handle air or car travel, you may want to talk to your veterinarian about medications that can help with anxiety or motion sickness.
No matter what your mode of travel, be sure you have collars and ID on all your pets. (Okay, you should always have ID on them anyway, but it’s even more important when the critter is on the road in a strange location.) If your pets are microchipped, so much the better. However, microchipping should never be used as a substitute for visible identification. If you’ll be staying somewhere for a while, plan ahead and spend a couple bucks for an extra ID tag with the local number or your cell phone number. Having the phone ring at your house when you’re not there isn’t going to do you or your pet any good.
Plan ahead. Not all motels take pets, so it’s wise to make reservations ahead of time. Certain hotel and motel chains, such as Motel 6 do take pets, but it’s good to check, since they may have restrictions when it comes to the size or number of pets they’ll allow in a room.
Also, it should go without saying, but consider who you plan to visit as well. Don’t impose your pets on people who either don’t like animals or have no decent way to house them. I mean, let’s face it, although my sister can bring her cats here to a secure guest room, I won’t be taking my four dogs with me to visit my sister in her city apartment. Nobody would have a good time. With a little common sense, you can travel with pets, but it’s also good to know when to leave them at home and find a pet sitter.