When I was offered my dream job in Italy, there was never a question of whether or not I would bring my cat, Lola – the question was how? I’d never traveled with a cat before, and she had always been an indoor cat. I wondered how my darling drama queen would deal with a totally new environment, not to mention the marathon hours in a cat carrier or traveling by plane.
Like any flustered pet owner, I called my vet. If you’re planning to travel with your indoor cat, Dr. Peter Soboroff, of the New York Cat Hospital (newyorkcathospital.com) explains that, “In general, [indoor] cats are creatures of habit and most often prefer not to travel [or] encounter new places…” So how can we make traveling into the great wide open less stressful for our feline family members?
Dr. Soboroff suggests, “Let your cat get used to its carrier before traveling,” once the carrier is familiar, it will feel like your cat’s second home during your trip. Lola prefers the affordable, soft-sided, airline-approved Sherpa bag –it’s so comfortable, she still sleeps in it today. In addition, if you’re planning to medicate your cat during travel with prescription sedatives Dr. Soboroff warns that they may have strange effects on your particular cat, and should be tested a few days before travel, while you can call your vet if any issues arise.
If you’re not interested in medicating your cat, there are many other stress reducing alternatives for use during travel, or in a new environment. One option is catnip, and another is artificial pheromones. Catnip can be placed in the carrier, or in any new territory, to relax a confused kitty. Pheromones can be sprayed in the carrier or dispersed in a room through a diffuser. Dr. Soboroff explains, “The artificial pheromones are chemically similar to cats’ natural pheromones and have a calming effect.”
Many owners opt out of bringing their cats because of worries about finding accommodations that allow feline family members. Luckily, the hospitality industry is catching on to the idea of traveling pets. Here are just three of the many cat-friendly, quality hotels available today. I recommend the Loews Hotel in New York City (loewshotels.com), the Galleria Park Hotel in San Francisco (jdvhotels.com/galleria_park) and, if you’re feeling tropical, the Villa Montana in Puerto Rico (villamontana.com). Besides being cat friendly, each of these hotels offer some special amenities, like treats, beds, mats and bowls for your furry friend.
It turns out, these days, traveling with pets is the cat’s meow! Now that we know how it’s done, Lola and I can’t wait to embark on our next adventure.
By Max Goodman, email@example.com