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Scratch This: Don’t tell Simba or Shadow, but we’re helping you plan a trip with them

It is possible to travel with cats. Here's what you need to know.

Scratch This: Don’t tell Simba or Shadow, but we’re helping you plan a trip with them
Jet-setting with Jezebel? Get an airline-approved carrier with ample breathing space and a place where they can look out and smell your hand. Photo courtesy of Deborah Felin-Magaldi

I just got back from a vacation and had enough downtime on the ship, when I wasn’t playing trivia, to put an article together. I got the idea of writing about traveling with cats because summer’s about to begin and people do vacation with them. But I rarely see them. On this trip, I saw dogs in carriers at the airport and dogs on leashes in the ports, but cats were probably crouching in the campers, out of sight.

Since I couldn’t get a cat photo, I took one of a nice woman on vacation with her family, including their dog, Buddy. A cock-eyed way to introduce the topic, but it probably confused you enough to read the article.

Pat Rogers and Buddy were delighted to have their photo taken and I was delighted to take it. But no globetrotting gatitos anywhere. Photo by Kate Karp

It's almost the same thing online: airplane tips for dogs, dog-friendly hotels and campgrounds, and what to bring along for the dogs, and cats as an afterthought. No surprise, really — dogs generally seem to enjoy traveling way more than cats do.

But people do take their cats along on journeys because they either want them along with them or do it out of necessity. When I moved to SoCal in the 1970s, I brought my sweet Siamese, Ezzi, in an old Maverick with a litter box, a water dish and no air conditioning. We stopped at a motel along the way and I simply didn’t tell the desk clerk about her. We both survived the trip.


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Nowadays, we all prep more carefully for our cats because at the very least, travel is usually uncomfortable for them. I have one friend who moved between the coasts with her two cats and made a successful road trip out of it, with harnesses, leashes and outdoor bathroom breaks. Deborah Felin-Magaldi frequently takes her cats along, sometimes by car and occasionally by airplane. Deb is a cofounder of Helen Sanders CatPAWS and has tons of experience with all things cat, so I chose her as my primary source for tips instead of search engines. She beats Google every time.

Traveling with a cat depends on the distance of the trip and how to accommodate the cat, Deborah said. If it’s a relatively short distance by car, a regular carrier secured in the back seat for safety works fine. Longer hauls call for more comfort for the cats.


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“When I’ve driven long distances, I used to use bigger canvas crates in the back seat large enough for a small litter box,” Deborah said. “I tried food and water in the crate, but it would just get knocked over and make a mess, and they really wouldn’t eat anyway.”

Deborah said to prearrange booking at pet-friendly hotels if you plan stops. Trip Advisor has the most comprehensive I’ve found — you can pinpoint the location of your stop and choose any accommodation from simple to sumptuous, where cat catering can include fish-shaped bowls, silken beds and cat treats freshly made at a nearby bakery. Humans are likely treated just swell, too, but that’s secondary.

Whether you’re at the Barebones Boarding House or Le Sourire de la Souris chez Panisse, Deborah said to hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door so housekeeping doesn’t enter and let the cats out. I usually stay in the room until housekeeping has finished and then hang the sign out for an extra layer of protection.

Air travel has become animal-friendly, too. Several airlines now allow pets to travel in the cabin, some depending on the size of the animal, but that shouldn’t be a problem unless the cat is as big as a Great Dane. The only restriction I’ve found for cats concerns brachycephalic pets, that is, animals with shortened muzzles and pushed-in faces, such as French bulldogs, boxers and Persian cats, to travel in cargo. But cargo is no place for any pet, in a lot of our opinion.

“I am nervous about cargo and have never done that,” Deborah said.

Fluctuating temperatures, ventilation issues and being tossed around can result in a pet becoming ill or dying. And there are enough stories of pets getting lost on airlines to give anyone paws. It’s better to contact the airline and pay a fee to allow your pet to ride in the plane with you so that you can keep an eye on them and they can keep a nose on you. Be sure to have an airline-approved carrier that fits under your seat, and cross your fingers that they don’t whine or yowl.

Forbes has an inclusive list of pet-friendly airlines that is up-to-date as of 2024, but double-check because things change.

Kitty-calming meds can help cats zone their way through the flight or road trip. Don’t borrow your friend’s pet’s meds; instead, visit your vet for a prescription or a recommendation for something over the counter.

“I’m not typically a fan of sedatives, and I haven’t needed them for the cats I’ve had over the years,” Deborah said. “I do spray the carrier with Feliway, though, and I might give them a few drops of Bach Rescue Remedy for Pets right in their mouth. I typically don’t feed them the day of travel, or only lightly.”

Last but very important, Deborah said to pack vaccination and medical records and a photo with microchip information.

Cats, dogs, hamsters, bunnies or solo, happy travels this summer!

Yours drooly

The aforementioned Helen Sanders CatPAWS rescues cats and kittens from city shelters, many of whom wouldn’t be alive today if not for the dedication of the medical team, bottle feeders, and loving fosters. Each of them and all the other cats in the rescue can be adopted through their online application. The adoption team gets back to you in the twitch of an ear.

Plankton is a charming white-and-gray tabby with a purr that you could hear over a heavy-metal band. This cuddly ball of fur adores being held close, melting into blissful naps on your lap whenever the opportunity arises. Plankton isn’t shy about expressing his affection, often meowing for attention and craving every bit of love and cuddles you can offer. With a playful spirit and a larger-than-life personality, he'll keep you entertained for hours, whether he's chasing his own tail in a delightful display of goofiness or simply basking in the warmth of your affection.

Zane.

This basking ball of cat is Zane! He takes some time to feel comfortable and safe, but when he does, he’s a snuggler who likes to hang out on the couch and watch movies. He would love a quiet household where he can be the only animal buddy or maybe with another non-aggressive cat. Zane was given away when his person moved, and the new owner abused and then abandoned him. He wound up in a public shelter, sick and sad and about to be euthanized. Is his new person out there? Could you be that person?

Mary Poppins.

In the spirit of all orange cats being special, meet sweet mama Mary Poppins, who is still — still — waiting for a home of her own. She was a doting mom to her own babies and also helped out with some other motherless rescued kittens, all of whom went on to be adopted. Yet she waits. Our Mary is dear and gentle and quiet. All she wants is to be loved and a home of her own. If you might be interested in this beautiful, young gal, please let us know. If not you, then please share. Please.

Mimosa.

“Does no one want me?” Speaking of special, Mimosa is a beautiful, funny and smart orange girl, so full of personality that none of us can figure why she’s been with CatPAWS for over a year! Is it the kitten thing? They do grow up to be cats, you know, and there’s no one like Mimosa. She is beautiful, funny, smart and full of personality. Here’s what she likes: treats, toys, tightrope walking on top of the shower door, birdwatching on the other side of the window, helping with office work, and eventually curling up with her human. She needs a forever home.

She has been with us, without a home of her own, for 387 days.

Tail-wagging and nose-booping things to do

LBACS and CAMP June low-cost vaccine clinics

Our city shelter, Long Beach Animal Care Services, has teamed up with CAMP (Community Animal Medicine Project) to bring low-cost vaccines to pet parents because every pet deserves to be happy and healthy. The clinic is open to the first 60 pets, no appointment necessary. All are welcome, whether you’re within or outside of the shelter’s contract cities. Remember to have your dog on a strong leash and your cat in a carrier, and please bring your pet’s vaccine records. Access this link for dates, locations and times.

The clinics will take place on specified dates and times through Monday, June 24, in the shelter parking lot, 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach at the entrance to El Dorado Park — no parking fee for shelter visitors; and Saturday, June 29, at the Signal Hill Public Library, 1800 E. Hill St., Signal Hill.

Learn to save neonatal kittens with the Bottle Baby Brigade

Come by for a session of Bottle Feeding and Kitten Care 101 — a special bottle-feeding and kitten-care class brought to you by The Bottle Baby Brigade, an emergency foster program developed by Long Beach Animal Care Services and The Little Lion Foundation. Learn how to turn orphaned newborn kittens into healthy, loving, playful, beautiful and sometimes annoying cats! Best Friends LA will give a special presentation on bottle feeding.

Bottle Feeding and Kitten Care 101 takes place Saturday, June 15, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., at Long Beach Animal Care Services, 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach, at the entrance to El Dorado Park. No parking fee for shelter visitors.

Father’s Day Pawty at Feline Good Social Club

Take your favorite cool cat daddio to a party at FGSC! One ticket will pay for two guests to chill at the hippest cat club anywhere! Sure, it’s not football, but watching two cats batting a toy back and forth is a keen substitute!

Feline Good Social Club is located at 301 Atlantic Ave. in Long Beach. Father’s Day Pawty tickets are $30, are available here, and are valid on Sunday, June 15 from 11 a.m.–2:50 p.m.

TNR Action, Education, and Awareness Group meeting

Do you do TNR (trap/spay-neuter-vaccinate-microchip-release of stray cats) with a passion but want to share resources with and get support from an equally engaged community? Are momcats having kittens in your neighborhood, and are dadcats yowling at them to make more? Are you on your last shred of yarn trying to figure out what you can do? Get some answers at this grassroots meeting, the first in Long Beach to focus on combining forces to humanely stop the birthing of unwanted kittens in the urban wild. Speakers will include rescues, experienced trappers, and Long Beach Animal Care Services staff members, in particular LBACS cat coordinator Lindsie Merrick.

The group meeting will take place Saturday, June 29, 2–4 pm at Long Beach Animal Care Services, 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach, at the entrance to El Dorado Park. No parking fee for shelter guests.

Need a low-cost veterinarian, information about trapping community cats, places to volunteer—anything pet related? Follow this link for resources. Please add your own ideas in the Comments section.

Editor’s note: Event details for Bottle Feeding and Kitten Care 101 were added after publication.

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