Traveling with your cat? Try this expert’s tips to help keep them happy

Cat peeping outside a cat carrier
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Most of the time, our cats are quite happy snoozing at home, playing with the best cat toys or venturing into the neighbor’s garden.

But now and again, you’ll probably find yourself traveling with cats in the car, or you might even need to know how to transport a cat without a carrier. Perhaps there’s a trip to the vet coming up, or you’re taking your feline friend on vacation with you. But either way, traveling with your cat can be daunting.

Fortunately, Amanda Tong, founder and behaviorist at The Animal Behaviour Academy, had some cat travel advice to share in a recent Instagram post.   

She begins by saying that it’s best to start traveling with your cat while they’re young. The kitten socialization period lasts for the first 16 weeks of their life, so the sooner you get them used to traveling, the better.

“Don’t let the first few experiences be to a scary or negative place, as it will have the most lasting impact,” Tong continues. She brings up the vet – while the vet isn’t a bad place in itself, she explains that ill-informed vets who use rough handling can create the fear of the vet. “Some vets will treat the cat like they already hate vets even though it’s their first experience and this creates cats that hate the vet.”

She also recommends using a carrier backpack, as it “provides a safe place that reminds them of home” – it’s worth bringing one even if you’re walking your cat on a leash. 

Are cat backpacks cruel? It’s something that’s certainly often debated, but many cats actually enjoy traveling in them – particularly, as Tong explains, if they’ve been used to them from an early age. 

Inquisitive cats in particular may enjoy riding in a backpack that has a viewing window, while it also keeps your cat safely high up and away from curious dogs. They can help your cats feel cozy, most cats can cope with a few hours in one at a time, if need be. 

Your cat might get restless while they’re traveling, whether they’re in a backpack or a more conventional cat carrier. So what you may decide to do, if possible, is have someone your cat knows to walk or sit behind you – this way, they’ll be able to see a friendly and familiar face.

If you need to travel with your cat soon, or you want to get your cat used to travel, why not take a look at the best cat backpacks or the best cat carriers

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering pets, lifestyle, health and culture, and he has six years' experience in journalism. He was senior editor at, and has written for The Independent, GoodToKnow and Healthline

He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' golden retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.