11 Tips for Traveling With a Cat

a girl looking at a map with her cat

Whether taking your kitty on an epic road trip or soaring through the sky to get to your vacation spot, knowing what to do ahead of time while enjoying some new scenery is essential. From doing hotel research to making a calm environment when you’re traveling, here are 11 tips for traveling with a cat.

Make a Trip to The Vet a Priority

cat in pet carrier on a park bench
Image Credit: Elena Efimova/Shutterstock.

If you know ahead of time you’re planning on going on a road trip with a cat (or flying, too), make an appointment with its veterinarian to ensure all shots are up to date. Also, if your kitty has a nervous disposition, let your vet know. 

Don’t Swap Out Food During The Trip

Cat eating from a bowl on white wooden planks
Image Credit: Vladeep/Shutterstock.

In my home, my cats get tired of the same hard food daily, so I occasionally swap out a different brand to give them something new to look forward to in their food bowls. Having written that, a diet change can upset sensitive bellies, so keep your kitty on the same diet regimen before, during, and after traveling. 

Of course, bringing treats along for the ride is always a good idea, so make up a goodie bag as a reward. 

Use a Pheromone Spray

Cat sleep calm and relax on cloth sofa gray color, American shorthair classic silver, Backdrop of White wallpaper in living room with copy space, Pets with Furniture and Home decoration minimal style.
Image Credit: Apisit Hrpp/Shutterstock.

Fun fact about cats: they have calming scent glands in their cheeks that remind them that it’s a safe area when rubbed on a person or object. Enter pheromone calming cat spray. When sprayed on bedding and blankets, it emulates the calm scent that cats naturally release. 

Both drug and fragrance-free, the spray can be used inside a pet carrier 15 minutes before your kitty goes inside and will help with their anxiety and restlessness. 

Purchase a Portable Litter Box

Domestic ginger cat looking at litter box. Hygiene for pets.
Image Credit: Duet PandG/Shutterstock.

Traditional litter boxes are not only bulky, they’re a pain to cart around. So, invest in a portable litter box with a zip-style lid that makes it easy to use both inside a vehicle and in the hotel. 

If you don’t want to spend the cash on one, take a cardboard box and cut it down to roughly two inches in height. Make sure it’s small enough to sit comfortably on the floor of your car, then line it with small trash bags, one on top of the other, and tie it securely. Fill it with kitty litter and once it’s ready to change, fold the bag inside out with the dirty kitty litter and throw it away. All you have to do next is add fresh litter. 

Make Frequent Stops if You’re Road Tripping

Pet carrier with cute cat in car
Image Credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock.

My cats do not like eating, drinking, or using the litter box while the car is in motion, so it’s ideal to make frequent stops for both their well-being and yours. During this time, make sure you give your cat plenty of praise and comfort and even give it a quick brushing if it enjoys so. 

Also, by stopping the vehicle for a few minutes, if the movement stresses out your cat, it will have some time to relax. We spoil them at home, so do the same when you’re traveling. 

Make Sure To Take Familiar Blankets and Toys

an adorable orange cat who lying alone on passenger seat without carrier inside the car when travel with owner on summer
Image Credit: RJ22/Shutterstock.

Cats are creatures of habit, so pack both familiar blankets, their cat bed, and their favorite toys. Not only will the familiar scent be calming for your furry baby, but it will be a few pieces of home to help with a stressful situation. 

Make a Road Trip Test Run

Happy Couple with Their Cat Enjoying Road Trip, Young Woman and Man Traveling by Car with Pet
Image Credit: Romvy/Shutterstock.

If it’s the first time you and your cat are hitting the road, do yourself a big favor and take a test drive to see how it goes. Drive around for a few minutes with the kitty in the car so it gets familiar with the sights, sounds, vibrations, and smells. Also, doing a test drive may let you know if your cat will get car sick so the veterinarian can remedy the issue ahead of time. 

Purchase a Raised Car Seat

Cute white British Shorthair cat inside pet carrier in car
Image Credit: New Africa/Shutterstock.

It’s never a good idea to let a cat roam freely about a vehicle, but if you do intend on not keeping it in a pet carrier, purchasing a raised car seat for your kitty is always smart. Not only will it be able to see out the window, but restraining them with a harness buckled into the seat, it’s a wise safety choice. 

Invest in a Sturdy Cat Carrier That’s Airline Approved

Cats sitting in a bag, a bag for taking the cat to the place.
Image Credit: weera sreesam/Shutterstock.

I have several cat carriers at home for travel and vet appointments. And while I don’t have to be as critical of them, if you’re flying with your cat, ensure you have a TSA and airline-approved pet carrier. And while investing in a carrier, consider a pet tag with a QR code with all pertinent information, including address, allergies, and habits. 

Make a Cabin Reservation if You’re Flying

Cat looking out airplane window. Traveling with pets. Traveling with cats.
Image Credit: Photo Spirit/Shutterstock.

While it would be fantastic if you could purchase an airline seat ticket for your cat, it’s impossible. But you must make a reservation to fly with them in the cabin. You’ll also need to keep your kitty in its pet carrier at all times during the flight at your feet, and booking a middle seat will give you the most room for the carrier. 

Also, remember that depending on the airline, you may be charged upwards of $100 or more to fly with your cat, so be sure to budget for your trip before you book. 

Research Pet-Friendly Hotels Before You Go

Pretty cat looking out the window and sitting near suitcase in hotel room. Traveling with pets. Room interior in beige tones.
Image Credit: Victor Katikov/Shutterstock.

There’s something to be said about hitting the open road and going where the wind takes you, but do your research before your epic journey to check which hotels accept cats. All will accommodate service animals, but many have a no-pet policy. 

Research top cat-friendly hotels online and then call them to ask about their policy, availability, and cleaning protocols. 

klocke@sandandorsnow.com | Website | + posts

Travel journalist, Published author, Editor, Copywriter

  • Expertise: Travel content, Travel segment expert
  • Education: Kent State University
  • Published Work: Secret Pittsburgh (2020)
  • Over 700 articles published both online and in print.

Experience: Karyn Locke got her start writing Walt Disney World reviews over ten years ago for trekaroo. Bitten by the travel bug compliments of her military brat upbringing, she’s put her passion for road trips into popular content featuring theme parks, large cities and small towns, where the locals go, and of course, Disney theme parks. 

Present day, Karyn is the lead writer and editor for her travel website, Sand and Snow. She also highlights the best places to visit as the travel expert on a monthly live television segment on KDKA Pittsburgh's Talk Pittsburgh show. Additionally, she’s proud to call herself both a travel expert and travel editor at Wealth of Geeks and uses her experience at both jobs to provide tips and tricks to all who love to hit the road. 

You can find Karyn on her travel website, Sand and Snow, and on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, and X @karynlocke. Email Karyn at klocke@sandandorsnow.com.