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By Carole C. Wilbourn
Available at the Humane Society of N.Y

           Even the most domestic of cats can become a world traveler. It's possible, and painless, once you know how.

           Does your cat panic on car trips, howling all the way? Once you arrive at your destination, he probably goes into hiding for the duration of your stay. It isn't unusual- cats generally don't react very favorably to traveling. But, with a little know-how vacationing with your pet can be relatively painless. Ready to go?

Get set
           If you're planning a long trip (four or more hours) your cat may need oral sedation. Should you decide on oral sedation, give your cat a trial dosage before you go to be sure it's effective. For cats with queasy stomachs, Dramamine is often advisable. Check with your veterinarian.

           A rabies vaccination will also be necessary. A vaccination against respiratory viruses and a current distemper booster is a good idea. Do not feed your pet for at least four hours before departure on a empty stomach is better than an upset one. Water is ok.

What to take

• A disposable cardboard litter box or plastic pan and plastic litter box liners, plus scoop and litter.

• Food, bowls and catnip.

• A carrier, with your identification on the outside. A wired carrier is best because it allows air to circulate. Line it with strips of newspaper in case your cat has an accident.

When you go by car

• Set up the litter box in a convenient area.

• Keep the car as cool as possible

• Should you decide to let your cat out of the carrier, leave the car windows open a crack. Some cats feel safer inside the carrier and won't come out.

• Never leave your cat in a hot car.

Once you arrive

• Before you bring the cat inside, set up the litter box and water bowl in the bathroom.

• Open the carrier inside the bathroom then close the door and let your cat venture out at its leisure.

• Once at home in the bathroom, your cat is ready to explore the rest of the place. Tour only one room at a time or the newness and vastness will be overwhelming.

• You can give your pet some catnip and a light meal 3 to 4 hours after arrival.

• Don't be startled if your cat goes into hiding. It can take a few days for a cat to adapt to a new environment.

For outdoor excursions
• Make certain your cat is familiar with the inside of the house or room before you allow him to go outdoors.

• Even if he's tattooed, provide him with a collar and identification. He may also need a flea collar or medallion.

• At first, accompany your cat on short strolls, using a kitty harness and leash. It's important for a cat to familiarize itself with the immediate area under your supervision. Then when he's on his own and perhaps panics, he'll know where to hide or how to return home quickly.

• Don't permit your cat to stay out after dark. Feed him at sundown, he's sure to come home for meals.

Far-away places

• Before entry is permitted into some states and most foreign countries, cats must receive certain shots. Check the United States Department of Agriculture booklet entitled "State and Federal Health Requirements," which lists domestic and Canadian requirements. When traveling to foreign countries, your travel agent or airline can provide you with the information you need.


• Many hotels permit cats in the rooms. But the management may ask you to sign an agreement holding you responsible for any damage caused by your cat.

• Be sure your maid knows about your cat. Maids often leave a door ajar while cleaning and your cat may exit.

If you fly

• Some airlines insist you buy their regulation carriers.

• Always attach a label to your carrier with your identification and destination.

• Some airlines will allow one pet per cabin if the carrier can fit under the seat in front of you.

• Make reservations well in advance or your cat may have to travel as "excess baggage" in the cargo or luggage hold.

• A direct flight is best-there's less chance your cat will be transferred to the wrong plane.

• Carry your cat's carrier to the boarding area and ask an airline employee to see that your cat boards the plane.

           It has come to our attention, that many airlines are prohibiting pet travel if temperatures are too high or too low. Also, they are limiting the number of pets in baggage or charging extra fees. Double check with your carrier about these possible restrictions and problems. Don’t be surprised.


The Cat Practice is located at 145 W 24th Street on the 3rd floor. Phone: 212-677-1401 Fax: 212-677-2088