Do our cats really want to travel with us — or is taking them along on vacation pure selfishness, based on a desire not  to be parted from them?  Earlier this week, I posed that question to five cat-savvy pet bloggers in the BlogPaws Community forum. Here’s what they said:

From Tammy Durham, editor and blogger at Vet Wisdom Cafe, where she and two other bloggers cover a variety of pet-related topics and news  including loss and grief and the human-animal bond.

I’m no expert, but I am a cat owner (servant?!)…. My cats stay home when I’m on vacation. While they traveled extremely well for our big move from Colorado to Oregon, I wouldn’t put them through the stress of travels just for a vacation.

They didn’t eat much, use their box regularly, or enjoy the traveling. While the move was a necessity, I learned that traveling for cats is not a lot of fun (even when they handle it pretty well.) They wouldn’t be interested in doing activities with you on a vacation either, like a dog might. (I’d love to convince my cat to walk with me on the beach, but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen!)

Finding either a good friend to watch the cats for you, a trusted pet sitter, or a good kennel for your kitties would be my recommendation for vacations. I think it’s difficult for cat owners to leave their kitties at home. I know I worry about my guys when we’re gone! But leaving them home is probably the best choice for all parties involved!

From Cate Hubbard, who blogs at BlanketID where she “tries to feature all things cool and quirky in the pet world, but also the serious side of getting lost pets returned home quickly.” [Ed: the BlanketID tag and lost pet network are great!]

I’m the owner of two rescue cats and as they were very, very timid when I got them I could never think about taking them on a trip. Cats are such creatures of habit too so anything different can sometimes be quite disturbing although they do adjust quickly. When we moved house the cats were freaked for a while and any trip in the car is a journey to the vet! If a cat gets spooked it tends to run and think later. My two are probably a bit unusual as I know of cat owners that take their cats for walks and even out shopping…I wish 🙂

From Paris Permenter, co-publisher of, a site featuring daily cat tips, cat news, product reviews, Cat of the Day, and more:

As much as our cats hate it when we travel (we literally pack in in a closed storage room so they won’t see the luggage), we know that they would hate it more if we took them with us. Our cats don’t like car travel, and they don’t like new places. Two of our four cats don’t like new people, either.

We know they’d be miserable in the car and in hotel rooms. Also, they’re not leash trained because we have many coyotes out here and don’t risk taking the cats outdoors. I would be really concerned about the cats’ safety on the road.

I think one good thing about having multiple cats is that they keep each other company so we don’t feel quite so guilty leaving them at home when we’re traveling. When we return home, the cats are definitely glad to see us (even though my father comes over and stays with them while we’re gone.) One of our cats, Felix (a former feral), always exhibits his displeasure with our travels by hiding somewhere in the house; he hides approximately one hour for every night we’ve been gone!

From Yvonne de Vita, co-founder of BlogPaws (site, conferences, community…) and blogger at Scratchings & Sniffings, which is about both cats and dogs. (“The Grumpy Old Lady runs things around here but those dogs give her a run for her meow!”)

Truth… I don’t usually include the Grumpy Old Lady on plans for vacation. She does not like to travel and staying home with a pet sitter is just fine for her. She DOES notice we’re gone and seem pleased when we return.

However, I think I would include a younger cat on travel plans, if the cat had proven to be a good traveler and inquisitive. It would be fun to bring a cat on vacation. Some cats are just as friendly as dogs and don’t like it when you’re away.

Depends on the cat’s temperament, I guess. For dogs, they just wanna be wherever you are…

From Lorie Huston, DVM, blogger at The Pet Health Care Gazette, where she discusses a variety of topics from a veterinary perspective, and co-conspirator (I mean blogger and podcaster) with me, Mary Haight, and Eric Goebelbecker at Animal Cafe:

I am owned by six cats. I’ve never taken any of them on vacation. Some cats do okay traveling. But I think the vast majority of them would probably be happier if they could remain in their own home. If you have a pet sitter (either a professional or a neighbor or family member you can trust) to either stay in your home while you’re away or at least check in regularly, that would probably be the ideal situation.

On the other hand, if leaving your cat with a pet sitter is not an option and your cat needs to go to a boarding facility, taking him with you might be a better option. Boarding would probably be more traumatic than traveling with you.

There are exceptions to every rule and every cat is different. But many of them are creatures of habit and don’t like a lot of change in their life. For some, change is more stressful than others. For those that become really stressed, traveling could actually be detrimental to their health. Stress has been proven to contribute to medical issues such as interstitial cystitis.

Knowing your cat well and being able to anticipate how he might react to the stress of traveling is a good start in deciding whether you should take him with you or not. For instance, I have two cats (Rhette and Dillon) that I think would do well traveling. They don’t frighten easily and love being around people, even strangers. They also do well in a carrier when necessary. On the other hand, I have two other cats (Lilly and Rusty) that I would never consider traveling with. They are both very skittish and easily startled. They’re timid around people they don’t know. And Lilly in particular doesn’t handle stress well. The other two cats (Midge and Merlin) are somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. They would probably do okay traveling but would likely be happier staying here in their house.

I have actually considered bringing either Dillon or Rhette to BlogPaws with me. But I’m afraid the other cats would react badly to them not being here. (The cats will be staying in the house with a neighbor checking in on them.) A few years ago when we lost another kitty that Lilly grew up with, she reacted very badly. She stopped eating for several days and started peeing on the bed. At that time, she was grieving over his death but I’m afraid she might have the same reaction if I took Dillon or Rhette on vacation with me. I’m not sure she would understand why they were gone or that they would be coming back soon. I’m worried that she would only know that they were suddenly gone. So, I think they’ll all be staying here while I’m in Virginia.

There seems to a consensus that it depends on the cat, but I sense a profound ambivalence about feline travel here — to the point that so far none of the respondents has tried vaCATions (which is too bad because I just discovered a cool typographical way to convey the concept, and if it were actually popular I would try to capitalize on it).

Has anyone out there successfully vacationed with a cat –and if so, do you have any tips?

8 thoughts on “Cat Travel: A Paw Too Far?”

  1. I’ve never been owned by a cat, so I can’t speak from experience. But, it makes sense to me that cats have their own schedules and agendas that don’t include escorting us on our travels. I think they have better things to do.

  2. I wonder … if starting out with a young cat, you could possibly train them to be OK with travel. I’ve never done it, but I almost think I’d like to try on my next go ’round with a cat! Take them to the store with you, out in the car for things other than the vet! Maybe it would work 🙂 I often wish for a dog that I could take along places with me… but I’m not likely to have a dog anytime soon.

  3. We’re contemplating living aboard a sailboat in the future and are doing lots of research about pets and the seagoing life. A significant number of boaters have cats on board. Many of them stress the importance of starting out with a kitten.

    I suspect how you characterize travel would make a big difference. Many dogs probably find traveling in and out of airports stressful. But pack them into a car or RV (or boat) and they start seeing the vehicle as home. I suspect some cats may be the same way.

  4. I think that you have to start a cat travelling very early. I had a friend that used to take her cat *everywhere*. Kitty didn’t seem to mind one bit.

    A few years back, I met a couple that went camping with their cat all the time. They were staying at the site right next to me and kitty seemed to be okay with the whole situation. They had it leash trained and it even went with the couple on walks!

  5. Thanks for writing about this, Edie. I think it’s something a lot of cat owners think about. I’d love to be able to take my cats with me everywhere I go but I know most of them probably wouldn’t care for it much.

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  8. My first cat, O’Reilly, traveled everywhere with me from the time he was a young kitten. He was my constant companion, and went camping, stayed in hotels, and visited my parents. He also loved to ride in the car – he sat on my lap or stood on the passenger seat and looked out the car window. However, my current tribe (8 fur children!) are not good travelers because I didn’t start with them as youngsters.

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