To board or carry along: What to do with kitty?


Here’s a recent question from our Leo’s Pet Care Facebook page:

My wife and I are planning a trip and we’re in a quandary about what to do with our cat.  We’re thinking of taking her along with us, assuming we’ll probably need to give her some kind of drug to calm her.

The other alternative, of course, is to board her, which isn’t very appealing, since we rescued her from the Humane Society, and we don’t wish to lock her up in a cage again. Which leads me to my question: Which is more stressful for a pet, the air travel, drugs, strange hotel room, etc, or being caged for a week? We want her with us during the trip; however we want to do what’s best for her.”

Probably the least stressful option for any cat is to have someone come into your house and take care of her there. Cats don’t really care if it’s their owner cleaning their box and filling their bowl, or some stranger, as long as it gets done.

The second option is to take her on the airplane, drug-free. Despite the common public perception that pets require sedation to board planes, that’s not my common practice anymore. In fact, many airlines prohibit pets that have been sedated because of liability issues.

Consider this: as soon as your plane touches down and you get settled into your hotel, set up a litter box and some food and water, and let kitty out to explore, the stress is mostly gone. A cat free to explore her environment is a relatively happy cat, especially if she can locate her people, her familiarly scented litter box and her usual bowl of food.

The most stressful option is to board your cat. Think about it: not only is she away from home, she’s away from you and she’s surrounded by strange cats, which cats hate more than anything. She also probably has to use the boarding kennel’s litter box and food bowls and bedding that have all sorts of weird smells all over them.”

Consider lining your carrier with towels and bringing along some baby wipes in case your cat needs an impromptu bath during the trip. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian to write up a Health Certificate for your pet before you fly! Happy travels!


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