What can I do to make my kitty feel safe in the car/plane?
The course of action may be similar even if the transport means are quite different from each other. At the end of the day, it's the pet's safety that counts.
One of the biggest issues for cats is the lack of familiarity. They tend to feel "at home" when they know every corner of let's say your apartment or garden. They know the space and the paths they already walked along (or climbed :) ). That's why our role is to make them feel "at home" in the car, plane or any other space you are about to find yourselves in while traveling. How do you do that? Can I take my pet on the airplane?
Teaching your cat about different smells, sounds, objects and environments from the very beginning of its life, in the first 6-7 weeks is the best what you can do. If you don't miss this sensitive learning period, you may expect that your cat will be much more ready for any challenges in the future. Although, if you did miss it, no worries, you can try to get your cat accustomed to traveling. It will just require more effort from both sides.
By teaching I mean, giving your kitty the chance to explore, sense, observe and understand what surrounds it. It might be a new toy, material, clothes, domestic plants, flowers, a walk in the nearest park, meeting your neighbors. Remember to introduce your feline friends to all these new things slowly, not everything at once. Observe its reactions and adjust to it. Your first trip can't be the first time when you cat leaves home.
If you plan a road trip you should buy a crate or a travel bag (see details later in the article) for your kitty. It's always better for your own and for your cat safety when it doesn't just wander in the car without any control. Put your kitty's favorite toys, blanket or your t-shirt.Your cat needs some objects that will resemble the usual place it likes to rest on.
If you travel by plane, your cat will be safely placed in the travel cage in the luggage cabin which is located underneath the passengers deck. Most cats don't find staying there stressful. In fact, the way to the airport, check-in, x-ray put much much more pressure on an animal the flying itself. While they know, that nothing is going to enter their cage and they are not able to escape as well, there is no point on paying attention anymore :) It's just a perfect time for a nap accompanied by engines noise. Though remember to check airlines requirements - they tend to have different rules when it comes to passengers with animals on a plane.
If you are aware of any health problems, that may prevent your kitty from feeling comfortable while traveling consult your vet before getting on board or buying a travel bag before the road trip. It might be that your cat will need some special training before. Animals, that experienced any traumatic situations connected to traveling or have some behavioral disorders need therapist and vet supervision.
There are many tips that will apply both to cat and dog travels. Even for us checking the information about boarding or airlines terms and condition helps us feel calm and confident when traveling. After all, the familiarity factor is important not only for pets but for people as well. Though, the funny thing is that when trained accordingly, pets tend to take long plane or car travel better than their owners :)
Again, try to get your dog accustomed to the new things as soon as possible, though adjust the pace and do not through too many challenges and tasks on your dog at once. It might be walking around in the new park and playing with a new toy. The earlier your dog learns that exploring and getting to know new places is exciting not frightening the keener it will be to become your travel buddy in the future :)
Dogs love being active. Walking, running, playing is very important at every stage of their development. Try to walk and play with your dog every day to give your canine friend a daily dose of movement and some fun! Otherwise, it may get frustrated and bored easily. Well, no one would be up to traveling in such condition.
Apart from that, remember to take your dog for a quick walk just before getting into the car or plane. Your pooch needs plenty of exercises, especially on the "BIG DAY" when you get in the car/on the plane. There won't be many opportunities for running, jumping or tail-chasing ;)
Remember to buy a good travel crate for your dog. That one you have at home might not be suitable. One of the most important things to determine is the size of a crate. It can't be too big so your dog does not treat it as both bedroom and bathroom. It can't be too small as well! Your dog should be able to move, turn around and stand comfortably in a crate.
There are different types of crates, travel cages and bags. You will find out more about it later.
Do's and don'ts before the trip
Teach your pet that exploring is fun! Get to know new places, smells, tastes, toys, people.
Try to show your pet your are enjoying the preparation as well.
Check the rules that apply to pet transport in your country and the destination country.
Make a few smaller trips before the big one. You don't want to spoil your pet travel experience with a first stressful trip.
Buy a crate, travel cage or a bag depending on the means of transport you choose and the time spent on the road or on the plane. If you don't feel comfortable arranging this yourself you can hire transport provider to transport your pet.
You can find qualified transport providers on Clicktrans.com. Describe where and when you'd like your pet to be transported, post a listing for free and that's it. Now, you will get quotes from transport companies, already experienced in pet transport.You can ask them anything in messages section on the page.
Consult your vet prior to the trip. If you already know your pet has health issues e.g. nausea, phobias there might be some additional steps to take.
Try to take your pet for a walk or play at home to provide a daily dose of exercise.
Determine how much time you will spend in the car or on a plan and decide how much food and water your pet will need. If this is a short journey you might want to feed your pet before you enter the car.
If this is a road trip, remember to make pauses and give yourself and your pet some time to stretch and rest a bit.
If you want to ship your car or a dog across countries here (Germany, Spain, UK) you can find foreign transport providers to help you
After the trip and during the training reward your pet with treats and play some fav pet games.
Do not leave travel preparations until the last minute.
Do not overwhelm your pet too many tasks.
Do not show that you are angry or stressed when your pet does not listen to you.
Do not get board with the training, even if your pet refuses to enter the cage or a travel bag. You may try again or postpone the training. Maybe there is another reason why it's not a good moment for your pet.
Never put your dog in the passenger seat.
How to choose a travel crate?
There are many types of crates e.g. plastic, soft-sided, wire crates. Some of them are good for both creating a safe space for your dog at home and in the car. Some are designed specifically for traveling.
It depends on your needs mostly which one you will choose. The wire crates tend to be loud and heavy though they are really good for strong and destructive dogs. For a smaller dog, the plastic or soft-sided crate should suffice. Especially the travel will not take us more than a couple of hours.
The most important is size. Remember that you should measure your pet first. The dimensions you should know is the height and the length of your pet. You can measure the height from the floor to the top of its head. Measure the length from the tip of its nose to the place where the tail begins.
As long as your pet can move freely, make a turn and stand up in the crate, you can be sure you picked the right one.
For short car travels, we would recommend travel bags or soft-sided cages. These are much more comfortable for carrying and placing in the car. You may as well strap the cage with a seatbelt to prevent unnecessary moves and shakes.
To sum everything up in one sentence: your pet will be excited to become your travel friend as long as you figure out what it needs to feel comfortable while traveling with you. Good luck!
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