Travel Tips for Small Animals

Dogs aren’t the only furry travelers. The Travel Industry Association reports cats, ferrets, rabbits and fish also go along for the ride.  Here’s how to make the trip easier for you and your small pet.

A trip with cats or small animals requires careful monitoring to make sure your pet doesn’t get sick or become stressed. With proper planning and caring, however, you can have a fun trip with your small animal companion.

Tips for Cats

Before heading on any trip, be sure to consult your vet about kitty’s health. The key to cat travel is preparation.


Cats travel best in crates and carriers, according to the 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey. The American Pet Products Manufacturing Association reports that 67 percent of traveling pet owners use a crate when traveling with cats, mostly of the plastic variety despite the growing popularity of stylish soft-sided pet carriers.

Many cat owners have experienced the travails of coaxing cats into carriers. Most cats do not acclimate immediately to being crated. So before your trip, try these tips

  • Introduce your cat to the carrier slowly and in stages. Tempt your cat with a favorite toy.
  • Leave the carrier on the floor so your cat can discover it without your prompting.
  • Use the carrier at a young age so the cat will grow accustomed to it.
  • Take your cat on short trips. Make the destination a happy place.

On the Road
Eileen Barish, award-winning author of Vacationing with Your Pet, offers these helpful suggestions when travelling with your cat:

  • Take your cat on your walks.
  • Find a well-made, light-weight harness and leash. Make sure the adjustment is not too tight, which will make cats avoid the leisurely stroll, or too loose, allowing an escape.
  • Allow cats to sniff and become familiar with any new equipment.
  • Let your cat wear the harness and leash without your holding on to it.
  • Practice walking around the house and reinforce the walk with favorite treats and praise. Once you venture out, look out for anything cats might find threatening.
  • Pick up your pet immediately if you sense a threat.

Your cat is likely to enjoy the new surroundings, and you are bound to meet people with similar interests, Barish said in her book.

Tips for Pocket Pets

Rabbit ownership has skyrocketed in the past five years followed by ferret and guinea pigs, not to mention the hundreds of thousands hamster and gerbils. A growing number of vets specialize in treating smaller animals; consult one before attempting long-distance travel with a pocket-sized pet.

Important Considerations
Travel can be extremely stressful for many small animals so consider taking the following precautions:

  • Find a good carrier your pet finds comfortable. Some small animal carriers are made specifically for rabbits. Carriers with front and top openings can make it easier to get the pet inside.
  • Use a seatbelt to secure the carrier inside your vehicle.
  • Do a number of practice runs before hitting the road for a long trip.
  • Find lodging that will accept your small pet.
  • Pack extra food and treats.
  • Bring cleaning supplies and paper towels.
  • Keep your pet out of the sun and avoid excessive heat. Never leave any pet in a carrier in a closed vehicle in warm weather.
  • Don’t let your pet escape by neglecting to secure the carrier.

Once you’ve done your homework and prepared your small pet for the trip, you’ll be ready to hit the road and enjoy a fun but safe vacation. Bon voyage!



Reprinted with permission from WebVet, LLC. This article and other great information for pet owners can be found at





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