On the Road, Again
Even experienced cat-owning travelers can use some help preparing for a trip with the family feline.
Traveling with a cat can be stressful for both the pet and its owner. Cats, after all, are not known for being cheerful travelers, regardless of the length or mode of the trip. When pet sitters are not an option, being prepared to travel with the family feline can make for a more enjoyable trip for everyone involved. All it takes is some advance planning, a little homework and some help from a well-trained and well-versed staff at the local pet store.
Retailers are in a great position to help cat customers prepare for summer travel. Existing cat owners and new cat owners can benefit from useful travel tips. It may seem the only item cat owners really need is a good carrier to confine their pet, but there are numerous items on the market to make travel easier and safer for these pets and their owners.
Many necessary travel products can be grouped together into a travel kit for cats. Travel carriers or crates are extremely important and a good place to start. They confine and contain the cat, providing protection and helping to keep the cat relaxed and comfortable. They should be well ventilated and equipped with the required labels for air travel, if necessary.
Some people feel a larger carrier is better because it can accommodate a small disposable litter box. Others will disagree, stating cats don’t generally sleep by their litter box. Cats don’t generally travel in a carrier either, so pet owners should be left to decide. Either way, people traveling with cats do need small or disposable litter boxes, especially for extended trips. Cleanup products, such as paper towels or disinfectant wipes, litter liners, spray cleaners and odor-removing items, should also be included in the supplies.
Cat travel kits should include collars, leads and ID tags for identifying pets that become separated from their owners. Depending on the length of the trip, cat owners may also require a travel waterer and feeder for their cat. A small bag of their daily diet, treats and favorite toys can be especially helpful on extended trips. Retailers can easily merchandise all these items as part of a travel kit.
Customers may also need a gentle reminder that air travel is a bit more involved than car travel. Store staff should have some basic knowledge of air travel regulations as it relates to cats. A knowledgeable staff can steer customers in the right direction for planning a smooth trip with minimal complications.
Madelyn Tyson, owner and travel specialist from Cruise Planners in Houston, Texas, says, “Most airlines allow small pets, such as cats, to travel in the cabin with their owners, provided your cat is small enough to fit comfortably in a kennel under the seat directly in front of you. The charge for your cat’s airfare can vary substantially depending on the airline. Be aware, many airlines only allow one pet per traveler. It is extremely important to check with the specific airline for their current policies and regulations, along with approved carrier dimensions and requirements.”
Employees should inform customers that federal regulations do require cats to be at least eight weeks old. To be allowed to fly, all cats must also have a current health and rabies certificate.
John Tyson is a freelance writer and photographer who resides in Houston, Texas. He has 20 years combined experience in the pet industry as a multi-store owner, general manager and industry journalist.