Whether your are planning a holiday visit to the in-laws or contemplating a long family vacation, traveling with your cat may be in the cards. Families with pets are faced with difficult decisions during the holidays: Should the pets be boarded at a kennel or veterinary hospital, should a housesitter be hired, or should the cat join you? Here are some questions — and answers — that can guide your decision about whether to take your cat along or leave him behind.
- Would your cat ultimately be better off in a familiar (but relatively empty) home, or with his or her family in unfamiliar, and perhaps stressful, surroundings? As a general rule, cats are probably better off in their own homes with familiar litter boxes, food bowls and resting spots. A housesitter should be enlisted to clean the litter boxes and refill food and water bowls daily. Alternatively, assuming cats need no medication or special care, a neighbor can do the job while keeping lights and radios tuned to the cat’s familiar schedule.
- Have you familiarized yourself with airline regulations? If you’re flying with a cat, ask your airline for permission to carry your pet in the cabin with you (carriers must be small enough to fit under the seat). Prior consent is important, because most airlines allow only one pet per cabin. They also charge a fee for that priviledge. Be sure to question the airline carefully about regulations and check-in requirements. Cats should ideally be taken only on direct flights.
- Is your cat accustomed to the crate or pet carrier? It is generally unwise to wait until the last minute to introduce an animal to a crate