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How to Travel With a Cat (Without a Scratch)

Everything you need to bring your kitty home for the holidays, from an in-cabin carrier to calming products to a portable litter box.

by Avery Felman
December 8, 2021
Cat standing up in the back of a car
GabrielPevide / iStock

Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)

Let’s say you’re flying, driving, or publicly transporting a cat this holiday season. Forgetting their pee pads, travel bowl, or favorite toy? Not an option — you may think a carrier is all you need, but products that keep your kitty calm are no less essential. No matter what where you’re headed for the holidays, you can use this basic, but key roundup as a checklist of sorts to ensure you and your pet have everything you need before embarking on your journey. 

First, you’re going to need an airline-approved travel carrier, then you’ll need to get your cat acquainted and comfortable with said carrier. This can be made easy by offering them calming treats or putting their favorite toy in there. “Be sure to pack an object that your pet responds to and finds comforting,” says Dr. Gary Richter, MS, DVM. That way they’ll create positive associations with the carry on. Which brings us to additional carry ons: Plan to only bring one other bag on flights. (Aside from the fact that airlines only allow two, your cat won’t appreciate you juggling them along with your laptop bag and a rolling suitcase — it’s just a recipe for more stress!) Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, remember to bring your cat’s ID and vaccination records, including their rabies certificate, your vet’s contact info, and any medications they may take regularly.

Whether you’re going home for the holidays or just taking a break upstate for a long weekend, you don’t want your cat (or other travel companions) giving you the You really forgot the magical calming elixir? look midway through your trip. Ahead, all the essentials you should carry on along with your cat.

Btw, our editors (and their pets) picked out these products. They’re always in stock at the time we publish, but there’s a chance they’ll sell out. If you do buy through our links, we may earn a commission. (We’ve got a lot of toys to buy over here, you know?)

portable bowl in blue

For long days of travel, experts recommend not giving your pet too much water to prevent them needlessly suffering from a full bladder. (Animal rescues that transport animals long distances put ice cubes in water trays so they don’t dehydrate.) But if your cat will have opportunities throughout your journey to relieve themself, offer them some water (or food) in this portable bowl.

$5 at Walmart
the cat id tag

As the saying goes, Safe travels! But it’s never a bad idea to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances. If you cat happens to slip out of their carrier during your journey — either escaping your clutches in the airport or making a dash for the door upon arrival at your destination — having the name they (occasionally) answer to and your phone number dangling from their neck can be a literal life saver.

$18 at Etsy
portable bowl in blue

For long days of travel, experts recommend not giving your pet too much water to prevent them needlessly suffering from a full bladder. (Animal rescues that transport animals long distances put ice cubes in water trays so they don’t dehydrate.) But if your cat will have opportunities throughout your journey to relieve themself, offer them some water (or food) in this portable bowl.

$5 at Walmart

Avery, editor at The Wildest, and her cat, Chicken

Avery Felman

Avery is an editor at The Wildest. She has written for numerous publications, including Refinery29, BuzzFeed, and V Magazine. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her boyfriend and cat, Chicken, and has high hopes that one of them will let her adopt a dog.