by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Travel plans with your cat can vary from a short trip to your veterinarian's office to a flight to another country. Length and route of travel can greatly affect the amount of planning that is needed before leaving. Permanent identification of your cat in the form of a microchip is the best way to help ensure being reunited with your cat if they get lost during your travels.
For a short trip to your veterinarian in the car, planning involves having a safe, proper carrier available, knowing your cat's location, and being able to smoothly get your cat in the carrier. The American Association of Feline Practitioners has an excellent handout about this process. Bridget Monrad of Happy Tails Travel, Inc in Tucson, AZ recommends that cats "associate the crates with positive things, like praise, food, treats, comfort and sleep".
Longer car trips within the United States also call for your cat in a carrier as well as preparation for potential motion sickness, vocalizing, and anxiety. Your veterinarian can help you decide if preventative anti-motion sickness medication or sedation is appropriate. If your trip requires an overnight stay in a hotel, make sure to check ahead of time for pet friendly hotels.
If your car travel involves crossing the Mexican or Canadian border, you will need certain documents. At the time of posting this blog, for Canada, you will need a current Rabies vaccine certificate from your veterinarian that includes the date of vaccination, type of vaccine administered, and specific cat identification features. The Rabies vaccine has to be given with the 3 years prior to entering Canada. For Mexico, you will need a special health certificate issued and signed by your veterinarian and your cat needs a current Rabies vaccination. If your pet normally lives in California, Arizona, New Mexico, or Texas, the health certificate is valid for 6 months, but only for 10 days if from another state.
Ms Monrad also advises that "Planning ahead of time is the most important thing you can do, so you have peace of mind that you have done all of the proper preparation for your cats safe and comfortable travel."