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What to Pack When Traveling with Your Cat: 11 Essentials for Your List

Written by: Kathryn Copeland

Last Updated on June 18, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat sitting on top of the suitcase

What to Pack When Traveling with Your Cat: 11 Essentials for Your List


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Not as many people travel with their cats as those traveling with dogs. This is partly because many cats aren’t into switching up their routine and doing unpredictable things.

But if you’re the lucky owner of an adventurous cat, you’ll want to be prepared before taking your kitty on a trip.

We have a list of essential and not-so-essential items that should help you and your cat have as stress-free a trip as possible.

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The 11 Essential Items for Traveling With Your Cat

The following items are must-haves if you plan on taking your cat on the road.

1. Carrier

woman buying cat carrier
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

You can’t take your cat anywhere without a carrier, particularly if they are new to traveling. Aim for a hard carrier that gives your cat room and is more likely to protect your pet from an accident. Some carriers have even been crash tested, and are safety approved for travel.

The carrier will come in handy anytime you need to get out of the car or if you are carrying your cat to a hotel or motel. Some cats might try to bolt, so the carrier is for their own safety. It will also prevent your cat from getting under your feet while driving, so buckle in the carrier and keep it facing out so your kitty can see what’s going on.

You can also bring along a cat backpack, but these are too small to leave your cat in while in the car. Backpacks are meant for hiking and walking outside.

2. Comfort Blanket or Clothing

tabby cat in the blanket on bed
Image Credit: Prystai, Shutterstock

If your cat snuggles up on a specific blanket or a piece of your clothing, bring it along. The smells of home have mingled with their own, and that scent will be of comfort.

Another reason bringing a hard cat carrier is a good idea is that you can take off the top and convert it into a cat bed. Just stuff it with the blanket and/or clothing, and your cat should be cozy, whether in a hotel or tent.

3. Food and Water Supplies

keeping dry cat food
Image Credit: Tikhonova Yana, Shutterstock

Of course, you can’t go anywhere with your cat without their food, water, and bowls. Be sure to bring along lid covers too. Some cats might lose their appetite if they are stressed during travel, so ensure that the food that you bring will entice your cat to eat. Just don’t switch their diet at the last minute, as a change in food can upset their stomach.

You should look for food and water bowls designed to attach to the carrier so your cat has constant access. Additionally, bring along collapsible bowls, as they don’t take up much space.

Bring bottled water so you can give water to your cat when you don’t have access to a tap or hose. If your cat is a messy eater, you might want to bring along a mat for placing underneath the food and water bowls.

4. Treats

woman feeding her cat with a treat
Image Credit: Bangkok Click Studio, Shutterstock

Treats are perfect for helping your cat settle down or distract them when they get stressed. Aim for high-value treats—most cats love lickable treats!

Try giving a favorite treat to your cat as soon as they are placed in the carrier, so they will associate the carrier with good things.

5. Litter Box and Litter

Image Credit: Mr.Piya Meena, Shutterstock

A cat can’t go anywhere without a litter box and litter. You can invest in a collapsible litter box or a couple of disposable litter boxes, or bring your own if space isn’t an issue.

Litter is quite heavy, and if this isn’t a problem for you, take along the usual. Otherwise, look for lightweight litter in easy-to-carry and -pour containers.

Finally, you should bring a litter scoop and a dustpan and brush with you.

6. Cleaning Supplies

woman using cat wipes
Image Credit: Nichcha, Shutterstock

When traveling with a cat, a mess is bound to happen. It might be in your car or a hotel room or tent, so cleaning supplies can be essential.

You can use wipes or whatever you prefer, and you might want to bring a few disposable bags to get rid of the mess. Consider puppy training pads, in case you need an emergency clean liner for their carrier, as well.

7. Toys

light colored cat looking at toys on table catnip wand
Image Credit: winni-design, Shutterstock

Your cat must still be exercised and entertained, particularly when cooped up in a carrier and car for long periods.

You know your cat best and what gets them excited, so bring a few of their favorites. Fishing line toys and feather wands are great options, and so is catnip!

8. Scratcher

white cat playing on a scratching post
Image Credit: Daga_Roszkowska, Pixabay

Cats gotta scratch! If they don’t have an outlet, they can unintentionally damage other items.

You obviously can’t lug around your cat’s usual scratcher, since these tend to be large and heavy. So, try a travel scratcher that folds up and can double as a bed.

9. Pictures, ID, Microchip

Microchip implant for cat by Veterinarian
Image Credit: Ivonne Wierink, Shutterstock

You should ensure that you have your cat properly ID’d. If the unthinkable happens and your cat runs off, you should have them microchipped and be wearing a breakaway collar with an ID tag.

The ID tag should have your telephone number because you’re traveling, and it would be the best method of contacting you if someone finds your cat. You can also try a tracker, which will make it easier to find your cat.

It will help to have clear pictures of your cat that you can show around and post on social media.

10. Medication/Special Diet Food

tabby cat eating canned cat food from white ceramic plate placed on the floor
Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock

If your cat is on medication or needs to eat a special diet, you should bring it all with you.

11.  Medical Records

veterinarian giving cat's medical record to it's owner
Image Credit: thodonal88, Shutterstock

This might not be necessary if you aren’t going that far, but if you’re traveling to another country or state, you might need your cat’s vaccination records. Even if you’re not traveling outside of your state, you might want to bring the records, anyway.

If your cat bites someone (stress can affect your cat in unforeseen ways), it would help if you had records that show that they have had their rabies shot.

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Optional Supplies

12.  Harness and Leash

cat in a harness with leash sitting on grass at the park
Image Credit: Goldeneden, Shutterstock

Using a harness and leash will serve you well if you plan on taking your cat on hikes. You’ll need to invest in a good harness and leash set and train your cat to walk on the leash before making the trip.

13.  Grooming Supplies

combing cat with brush
Image Credit: Yimmyphotography, Shutterstock

This could fall under the necessary section if you have a longhaired cat or one that mats easily. How necessary it is to bring grooming supplies depends on how long you’ll be traveling. You could also bring along cat wipes or waterless bath spray.

14. Calming Aids

person spraying on a cat
Image Credit: Vaillery, Shutterstock

This can also fall under the essential category if traveling with a nervous cat. You can try a pheromone spray like Feliway, which can help calm stressed and anxious cats. There’s also music for cats that is known to provide stress relief.

Of course, if your cat is really nervous, you might want to reconsider traveling, unless this is for a move and not just a vacation.

15. First-Aid Kit

Cat First Aid Kit
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

This possibly essential item depends on where you’re going with your cat. But having a first-aid kit might give you a bit of peace of mind.

16.  Anything Related to Weather and Activities

cat wearing yellow hoodie goes camping
Image Credit: Surapong, Shutterstock

The weather is a factor, along with what you’ll be doing. Remember to have a life jacket if your cat enjoys a nice boat ride. If it is hot where you’re going, consider a cooling vest, and of course, ensure that you always have water for your cat.

Think about your cat’s needs in addition to how long you’ll be on the road, and make a checklist. This way, you will remember to pack everything you need.

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We hope that these tips will make your upcoming trip easier. Be sure to also consult with your vet, who might have more advice, and it might also be a good time to update your cat’s vaccines.

Bringing your cat with you on a road trip might be stressful for you both, but if you take the right steps, it can be quite fun!

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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