How Go On Vacation With Your Cat
August represents the last real month of summer vacation for many of you, and thus represents the last real opportunity to go traveling with your family.
Having said that, how many of you are ready to hit the road with your baby?
No, not that baby. The other one. The one with fur, fangs and claws.
Yeah, that’s him.
Cats, despite their independent nature, are creatures of habit, and depend more on daily rituals and schedules than you’d realize. Because of that, cats are notoriously skittish when taking them along with you on holiday.
But it can be done. It can be done, I say!
1) Calmness Begins At Home
Let’s be honest. You probably never take your cat for a car ride unless it’s to the (ahem) V-E-T. So chances are, your cat doesn’t have a very positive association with cars OR car rides. Be sweet and gentle all you want, but you’d probably run for your life, too!
The best place to start is in making travel proceedings a normal thing, so it’s helpful to know weeks in advance when you’ll be headed out. Start by regularly introducing kitty to the pet carrier on a daily basis with no strings attached, preferably around nap time (cats are nocturnal, remember?) when he’s the most relaxed. It’s also helpful to be introduced in a small room with less stimulation and commotion (and also prevents a last minute bolt during the big day).
2) The Big Day
Remember what we said about the small room? You’ll be thankful for it today. With all the packing and bustling about, your house will be filled with commotion, but keep kitty in a small room (like a bathroom or large closet) with the carrier and some of his favorite toys and items, and everything will seem normal.
And normal is the key, here.
Anything with a familiar scent and air is crucial when actually traveling. If kitty is usually independent, don’t make a fuss about trying to calm him down. That will be a BIG tip-off that something’s rotten in Denmark. Also, if you’re a musical family and music is a part of kitty’s routine, bring some recordings with you to play in the car. However, don’t bank on the claims of “Music to Calm Cats By” unless you play it on a regular basis. If the only time kitty hears it is when it’s time for a car ride, then this will be a tip-off as well. These little guys are smarter than you think they are.
Also, though it’s tempting to feed kitty right before the trip, doing so will probably churn his stomach up worse for the stress, and a kitty with a stressed-out stomach will create… umm… trouble. Instead, feed kitty well beforehand and give his food time to digest before bringing him aboard. Your furry baby AND your upholstry will thank you.
3) Getting There
After being cooped up in a car AND a pet carrier, you would think that the best thing for kitty is to let him roam free wherever he wants!
The sudden change in scenery and overload of stimulation will probably cause the opposite effect and make him panic. Instead, put the carrier in a small room, like the bathroom (similar to the way he left) and let him get used to his surroundings little by little while, again, keeping up a feeling of normalcy and routine.
If kitty MUST go out beyond the hotel room, bedroom, or wherever it is you’re staying, be sure to use a leash. Contrary to popular belief, not only are cats able to walk on a lead, but can actually enjoy it, as well. Just like children need limits to feel safe and secure, so do animals. Especially cats. Again, just make sure kitty is leash-trained well before the trip, so that way it will seem perfectly normal.
Notice that we use the world “normal” here, a lot. Though vacation is a new, fresh and exciting time for you, it must become perfectly normal for your pet. Certainly, it seems contradictory, nothing short of a conflict of interest, but trust me. Stay normal and you’ll have a much more exciting time…
…for all the right reasons.
First Baldwin Insurance
Lots of Personal Experience