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Traveling with Pets

travelling with pets

What to do with your pets when traveling

“My wife and I are planning a trip and we’re in a quandary about what to do with our cat. We’re thinking of taking her along with us, assuming we’ll probably need to give her some kind of drug to calm her.

The other alternative, of course, is to board her, which isn’t very appealing, since we rescued her from the Humane Society, and we don’t wish to lock her up in a cage again. Which leads me to my question: Which is more stressful for a pet, the air travel, drugs, strange hotel room, etc, or being caged for a week?

We want her with us during the trip; however we want to do what’s best for her.”

This is my opinion on the matter concerning all pets:

Probably the least stressful option for pets is to have someone come into your house and take care of them there. Cats don’t really care if it’s their owner cleaning their box and filling their bowl, or some stranger, as long as it gets done. Try Googling “pet sitters Carmel Indiana” and check out your options. UPDATE 5/14/12: Call us, we’ve got at least THREE great pet sitters we can refer you to now!
The second-least stressful option is to take your pets with you, drug-free. Despite the common public perception that pets require sedation to travel, that’s not my common practice anymore. In fact, many airlines prohibit pets that have been sedated because of liability issues.

Consider this for your pets:

As soon as your plane touches down or your car arrives and you get settled into your hotel, set up a litter box and some food and water, and let kitty out to explore, the stress is mostly gone. A cat free to explore her environment is a (relatively) happy cat, especially if she can locate her people, her familiarly scented litterbox and her usual bowl of food.

Avoidance is best…

The MOST stressful option is to board your cat. Think about it: not only is she away from home, she’s away from YOU, AND she’s surrounded by strange cats (which cats hate more than anything), AND she probably has to use the boarding kennel’s litterbox and food bowls and bedding that have all sorts of weird smells all over them.

It has been my personal experience, after moving to and from Washington State via tiny un-air-conditioned car in July with three cats and a dog (what can I say, I was 23) that they’ll all stop crying and settle down… eventually. Do NOT stop to let all your cats out to pee until you’ve gotten to your hotel room, just keep on drivin’. Our cats “held it” easily 10 hours every day and were quite content once they got to the hotel.

We did NOT bring disposable litter pans, by the way, instead electing to carry along previously-used pans and new litter, so our kitties knew it was THEIR litter box in the hotel room. Purely UN-scientific, but it made sense to me.

Also, consider lining your carrier with towels and bringing along some baby wipes and a fresh bottle of pet shampoo in case your cat needs an impromptu bath during the trip. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian to write up a Health Certificate for your pets before you travel! Bon voyage!

Posted Traveling with pets

  • EstherFox

    I am not an expert, but I do have experience with all of the above: traveling with pets, boarding them, and having a pet sitter. Hopefully this will help!
    A few years ago, my family and I were moving to another part of town, so we opted to board our two cats at the time while the movers were in and out of the house, because we didn’t want them to run out while the doors were open. That was probably the worst mistake I’ve made in pet ownership thus far. They were boarded for a week, and while they were there (we went to the PetsHotel at PetSmart), they hardly ate, and they became angry because they were in an unfamiliar environment with other unfamiliar cats. When they came home, they came home to a whole new house, so it took a while for them to get acclimated again. 
    When my husband and I travel, we always find someone to come to our house every other day or so to check on our cats. It’s always someone that’s familiar, who has had interaction with them before, so they’re not nervous when someone strange comes in and checks on them and gives them pet pets. So perhaps an extended family member or a friend who knows your cat might be willing to stop by every couple days? I honestly think that this would be easier than uprooting your cat and his/her routine for a small amount of time. 

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