Kitty Travel Tips
by Denise Moore Flojo
Most people cringe at the idea of taking their cat on vacation with them. I wouldn't have considered it either until several years ago when we were gone for 2 nights and my sister was taking care of our cat Louie. Louie was a "dropped-off-at-our-farm-cat" when he was just a kitten of about 4-5 months old. On the farm he had always been an indoor/outdoor cat. However, since we moved to a townhouse development 6 years ago, Louie had to spend more time indoors since some neighbors were offended by his natural hunting instincts. (But that's another story, for another time.) When my sister came to feed him the first evening we were gone, Louie was sitting at the front bedroom window and started frantically crying when he saw her and her husband arrive. He was so upset, he barely touched his food and stayed on her lap, even falling asleep. He had never reacted to us leaving overnight like this before. However, at the farm, Louie had daytime freedom and went indoors at night so his schedule was very unchanged. Now that he was indoors more, he spent considerably more time with us and he actually missed our companionship! We decided that we would need to take him on our next vacation, and we did.
To get ready for the trip, we bought him a harness and rigged a strap to attach it in the car. Louie had never been a good car rider so this was a step to free him of what he really hated about the car, the cage. Strapped in with a litter box on the floor, he was much more content. Now, we started taking him for short trips such as to pet stores and the park. He realized that the car ride didn't have to mean going to the vet! Obstacle #1, the car, was conquered.
Everyone told me that cats won't walk on leashes, especially old cats who are set in their ways. (Louie is 15 years old.) Not true! Louie and I came to an agreement quickly. As long as I didn't humiliate him in our neighborhood by walking him on a leash, then when we went elsewhere, he would be happy to walk on the leash, even if people stared at him. And they certainly do stare!
We were now able to take Louie to pet friendly places and now just needed to find a motel/hotel. That was not quite as difficult as I thought it would be. Between the Internet sites available (petswelcome.com) and books (Traveling With Your Pets, a AAA guide to petfriendly accommodations), it really isn't difficult to find a place to stay if you plan in advance. On our first trip, we found a room with a lovely view in the Hudson River Valley in NY and had a great vacation. We took Louie where we could and he stayed in the room when he was not able to join us. It was so much fun, we are now planning our third vacation with Louie; this year's destination is Newport, RI.
Encourage people to try this with their cat(s). With a little effort and planning, this year they can have a family vacation with the ENTIRE family!