Here's how to make sure your cat is well cared for when you're on the road, whether she goes along or stays behind.
Most cats are creatures of habit, and don't appreciate being uprooted. That applies as much to a short car ride as to a cross-country plane trip. However, some cats are more comfortable travelers than others.
Before you pack up your pet, consider the following questions:
Cats who are well-accustomed to hitting the road generally make the most congenial traveling companions. If you have a kitten and plan to take her along on frequent car trips, get her acclimated by taking her for short rides (to places other than the vet's office!). For her safety and yours, keep her in a pet carrier during the ride. (See page 3 for tips on choosing a carrier.)
If you're traveling by plane, the safest way to transport your cat is to keep her with you in the passenger cabin. During the flight, she must stay in an approved carrier that fits under the seat in front of yours. To make sure your pet can fly with you, plan well ahead:
Cats traveling by car or by plane need to be kept in an approved carrier. (Animals other than guide dogs are generally prohibited from traveling on buses and trains.)
Carriers are available in hard-sided, plastic models as well as soft, fabric bags. Either can work well, as long as it's sturdily constructed and meets the guidelines described below.
Label your pet's carrier with your name, address, and telephone number. Make sure your cat is wearing a collar with an ID tag.
Here are the characteristics to look for in a pet carrier, whether you'll use it for a long trip or just for getting to and from the vet's office:
Check with your airline for its regulations on pet carriers to be used in the passenger cabin. The usual maximum dimensions are approximately the following:
Length: 21 inches
Width: 13 to 16 inches
Height: 8 to 9 inches
Should you decide your cat would be better off staying home, you have several options for arranging for her care.