Traveling with Cats: Essential Tips for Stress-Free Trips


Ru Chen

- Updated March 21, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Let your cat get used to a secure and suitable carrier before traveling
  • Pack essentials such as their favorite toy, medications, and litter box
  • Keep an eye on your cat during your journey
  • Book cat-friendly accommodations ahead of time
  • Use pet insurance to afford expensive vet bills
Traveling with Cats: Essential Tips for Stress-Free Trips

More pet owners have chosen to travel with their beloved cats in recent years. Embarking on a journey together can be a magical time that is filled with fun and joy. However, it’s important to take into account your cat’s needs while planning and going on your trip. Cats can get stressed or sick when traveling, but good preparation can minimize stress for both you and your cat.

Let’s dive right into everything you should know about when traveling with your cat, including essentials to bring, preparations to make, and safety measures to remember.


Preparing Your Cat for Travel

Impromptu travel can be distressing to a cat. If you have the time, it’s best to prepare your cat for the upcoming journey.

1. Acclimate your cat to travel gradually

If you’re going on a road trip, start by taking your cat on short car rides. These rides can help your cat get accustomed to the feeling of riding in a car. If your cat gets easily motion sick, this is the perfect time to find out and devise a solution.

2. Visit the vet for a check-up and vaccinations

Cats should receive a check-up from the veterinarian prior to the trip. A health exam lets the vet determine whether your cat is fit for travel. Your vet can give you individualized recommendations to ensure your cat receives the necessary preventive care and medications.

3. Obtain specific travel recommendations for your cat

Your veterinarian can give you professional advice on what preparations to make when traveling with your cat to your planned destinations. If your cat has any specific health conditions or concerns, this is the best time to ask your vet about a strategy for safely traveling with your vet. Vets can help you deal with common traveling concerns such as vaccines, motion sickness, and anxiety. Your veterinarian may recommend prescription medications for your cat.

If your cat isn’t already microchipped, it’s a good idea to microchip them in case they get lost during travel.

Choosing the Right Carrier

Cat carriers come in diverse options, some better suited for travel than others. Choosing the right carrier for your cat can make a huge difference in their comfort level and safety. Let’s go over the key considerations for choosing the right carrier.


The carrier should have sufficient ventilation so that your cat can breathe without issue as you travel. Good ventilation ensures proper airflow, which also prevents overheating, especially during summer.


The cat carrier should be durable and secure. This helps ensure that your cat remains inside the carrier even when in motion. Sudden stops or accidents can be jarring and dangerous for a cat, but a secure cat carrier reduces the chances of your cat getting seriously injured.


If the inside of the carrier is too cramped, your cat will feel uncomfortable. Pick a cat carrier that has enough space for your cat to comfortably move around, stretch their body, and adjust their position.

Type of travel

Different cat carriers suit different modes of transportation. For example, if you’re traveling by plane, make sure that your carrier is accepted by TSA security and meets any airline requirements. In general, the carrier should be smaller than a carry-on bag.

Your cat’s preferences

Every cat has their own individual preferences when it comes to what makes a suitable carrier. When choosing a carrier, consider your furry friend’s preferences and tolerance for different types of carriers.


Packing Essentials for Travel

1. Food and water

Pack your cat’s usual food in sealed, airtight containers and bags. If you have to buy new food at your travel destination, try to stick to the same brands so your cat isn’t caught off guard by the taste and texture of new food. Bringing their favorite treats can help them feel more at ease.

As for water, be sure to provide your cat with easy access to fresh water. Staying hydrated is important for any safe adventure.

2. Litter box and litter

Cats are highly sensitive to changes in scents, which means giving them a new litter box could end in unfortunate accidents. Either a portable litter box or disposable litter trays can be good for travel. Remember to also bring enough litter for the duration of your journey.

3. Medications and vaccines

If your cat has any prescribed medications, be sure to bring them along. In addition, it is vital to pack any necessary flea and tick treatment for where you are traveling, especially if you’re headed to places known for high levels of feline diseases. For cats, it’s recommended to have at least the following vaccines before traveling:

  • Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) Vaccine
  • FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia)

In some cases, pet boarding locations will not allow your cat in unless they have met the vaccination requirements. If you’re traveling internationally, it’s even more important that your cat has met the country-specific vaccination requirements.

4. Favorite toys and bedding

A sense of familiarity helps ground and comfort cats who are traveling. Pack your cat’s favorite toys and bedding to help them feel more at home. Also consider bringing their regular grooming supplies, leash and harness, and collar.

5. Cat first aid kit

Finally, make sure you pack a feline first aid kit in case your cat gets injured or sick. Here are the typical components of a first aid kit for cats:

  • Gauze pads and bandaids
  • Adhesive tape
  • Exam gloves
  • Tweezers and clippers
  • Emergency contact information (e.g. pet poison hotline, regular vet, and emergency vet)
  • Scissors

Safety Measures During Travel

It’s important to practice safety measures when traveling with a cat. Here are some practical steps to keep in mind.

1. Secure the carrier

Make sure that your cat carrier can’t get knocked around during travel. For example, if you’re going on a car ride, make sure the cat carrier is securely fastened into the back seat of the car so it won’t shift around.

2. Never leave your cat alone

Extreme temperatures and lack of clean air can kill a cat. Never leave your cat alone in a car. Even if you have the A/C on or have the windows cracked open, it is dangerous to leave a pet unattended in a locked vehicle.

Should you need to make a pit stop but pets are not allowed, make sure someone stays behind with the cat. If this isn’t possible, consider emergency pet boarding services or a pet-friendly rest area.

3. Make rest stops

When possible, take rest stops so your cat can stretch, exercise, and relax. Just be careful to never leave your cat alone, and don’t let your cat out of the car unless they have a leash and ID tag. When on the road, it can be dangerous for your cat to move around without a leash and harness.

Managing Stress and Anxiety

Cats can get anxious when traveling away from home. Try these techniques to help your cat stay calm during travel.

Pheromone sprays

Pheromones are naturally released by a cat’s glands. They evoke a sense of security and comfort, reducing a cat’s level of anxiety. Synthetic pheromone sprays can be an effective way of helping a cat feel calmer. Other pheromone products for cats include pheromone collars and diffusers. A pheromone collar is a more portable option, potentially better for travel. On the other hand, a pheromone diffuser could be beneficial if you want to help your cat get accustomed to a new living area.

Calming supplements for cats

Your vet may recommend supplements to soothe your cat throughout the trip. Supplements for anxiety in cats can be helpful as traveling away from home is a common stressor for pets. Calming supplements may include:

  • Amino acids for cats
  • Proteins
  • Vitamin B
  • Herbal ingredients

Comforting items and scents

Cats tense up when faced with unfamiliar situations and people. To relax your cat when traveling, it’s a good idea to bring with you some of their favorite toys and items. Familiar scents and objects can be a great source of comfort.

Finding Accommodations

Before you embark on a journey with your feline companion, make sure to research pet-friendly accommodations. Not all hotels and vacation rentals are cat-friendly. You might also want to book the place in advance so they will be ready to house your cat once you arrive. Many hotels and rentals have limited availability of cat-friendly rooms during peak travel seasons.

Pet policies

Inquire about cat policies the accommodation might have. You might need to pay an additional fee or deposit, refundable or non-refundable. You can expect to pay around $15 to $45 per night for cat boarding, depending on where you bring your cat.

Pet amenities

If you’re going for a vacation, why not consider accommodations that feature pet amenities? Many hotels and rentals offer pet beds, food and water stations, as well as designated pet areas for your cat to safely play around. Having pet amenities can help enhance your feline friend’s comfort during the stay.


Seeking Pet Insurance for Travel

Pet insurance is a great financial tool to safeguard your finances when traveling with a cat. It also helps you pay for vet expenses so you can afford the veterinary services that your cat might need during the trip. Unexpected pet-related expenses can be costly and difficult to manage when traveling, especially if an emergency arises.

Covered expenses

Cat insurance can reimburse a portion of your domestic veterinary expenses and offer various benefits. Comprehensive pet insurance for travel typically covers:

  • Vet expenses
  • Diagnostic exams
  • Treatment costs and emergency vet bills
  • Accidents (e.g. broken bones and cuts)
  • Unknown illnesses and health conditions
  • Other travel-related benefits (e.g. emergency pet boarding costs)

If you’re looking for international travel insurance for pets, make sure to choose a suitable insurance provider with sufficient coverage.

How to find pet insurance for travel

To find the best cat insurance for travel purposes, it’s advisable to compare different insurance plans to find the one that best aligns with your cat’s needs and your budget. Check out our list of best pet insurance companies that features the pros and cons of each insurance provider.

The best cat insurance companies include:

Arriving at Your Destination

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, it’s time to set up the new environment according to your cat’s needs. Create a comfortable and cozy space to help your cat adjust to the unfamiliar living space.

To help your cat acclimate to the new place, give them their favorite toys, snacks, and plenty of attention. Offer plenty of reassurance to your cat so they know that the situation is safe and you are there to support them. Your cat may take some time to adapt to the new living space and location, but they should feel more comfortable over time.


When traveling with a cat, preparation is key. Let your cat adapt to carriers and car rides long before you hit the road together. Visit the vet to ask for a health check-up, cat travel vaccinations, and a personalized strategy for traveling with your cat. Bring along essentials such as your cat’s favorite toys, regular food, a litter box, medications, and a first aid kit. Don’t forget to book pet-friendly accommodations ahead of time.

As you travel, remember to be attentive to your cat’s shifting needs and reactions. Prioritize your cat’s well-being and comfort first so you can delight in the adventure with your cat knowing that they will be safe and happy.

About The Author

Ru Chen

Ru Chen

Content Writer

Ru Chen is a content writer with several years of experience in creating engaging and well-researched articles. She mostly writes about insurance, business, digital marketing, and law. In her free time, she can be found watching horror movies and playing board games with her partner in Brooklyn.

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