Crate Traveling for Cats


Avoiding the Dashing Kitty


Never open a crate with a cat inside unless you are prepared for the cat to spring out of the crate and make a dash for freedom! One of the most dangerous and embarrassing events you will encounter with your cat is trying to retrieve it from the rafters of the building you are in. And the odds are overwhelmingly stacked in favor of someone innocently opening the front door of the animal hospital just at the moment your kitty spies the tallest pine tree on the other side of the hospital parking lot.  


"What was that!" the innocent door opener says, as you and half the animal hospital staff rush out the door in hot pursuit of the escapee.


It can be dangerous, too, in the enclosed exam room when the veterinarian opens the crate or travel container. Some cats are wound as tight as a miser just waiting for their chance to escape. The natural tendency is to climb to safety … and injury will result if the kitty uses a person for a tree. 


You need to go slowly when removing the cat from the container; let the her reorient a bit before trying to get your hands on her. It may be best to open the crate or container and allow the cat to amble out on her own. Just be careful.


A healthy cat may not move an inch for six to eight hours at a time. Allow a little food and water but don’t expect the cat to even glance at the feast you’ve provided.  At your motel sometime during the night, when everyone is sound asleep, the kitty will use the litter box and have a private banquet on her own terms.  Your cat may use the litter box once, eat once and drink once every twenty-four hours when on a long trip. The odds are you will be worrying more about these behaviors than the cat.


Never, ever, let your cat loose when on a trip.  It makes no difference how "good" your cat is at walking with you at home.  On a trip you and your cat are in a different world and if your cat, for any number of reasons, "takes off" you may never see it again.  Some sort of an ID tag is always a good idea. 


If you are like most cat owners, you will not look forward to traveling with your little pal.  Nevertheless, if done often enough, maybe you will be one of those lucky 1 percent whose cat thinks a trip is a human invention designed specifically for cats to see the world much more efficiently.


Image: Tambako the Jaguar / via Flickr