As the holidays quickly approach, let’s not forget about your four-legged friend. If you plan any air travel with your cat this year, pre-flight preparation will be necessary as it is predicated to be a heavier holiday travel season than in past years. First, you will need a valid health certificate from your veterinarian. All airlines require a health certificate that is written no more than 10 days before the flight. Second, more airlines are using regional jets, so I advise that you call the airline ahead of time to determine if your cat carrier will fit on board. If you are traveling by car, you might be required to have a health certificate depending on your final destination.
All cats need to be up to date on their vaccines, especially Rabies, before holiday travel. The distemper vaccine protects your cat against respiratory virus. So, it is an important vaccine when visiting a multiple cathouse hold or boarding your cat. Because other cats may not be vaccinated, it is important to give your cat the most protection. I also recommend an extra dose of Revolution for your cat to ensure that he/she is parasite free (for example, fleas, heartworm, roundworm, hookworm, and ear mites) and will remain so for 30 days. Again, you can’t be sure that other cats have been protected or that the place you are staying is free from intestinal parasites. Did you know that 15% of indoor potting soil has roundworm eggs in it?
In addition to vaccines, we need to prepare cats for traveling. If your cat is not accustomed to travel, you will want to introduce him/her to his/her cat carrier a couple days before travel. This will save your cat undue stress. One way to do this is to place your cat’s meals in the carrier prior to the trip so he/she has a positive association with the carrier. To prevent car sickness, you shouldn’t feed your cat the morning of your car trip. It is not possible to bring your cat, using a cat sitter is always an option. It is important that a cat sitter comes over at least once a day to make sure that your cat still has food and water and is acting normally. Still another option is boarding your cat. If you plan to board him/her you should make reservations early, as boarding facilities fill quickly during the holidays. For your cat’s comfort and well-being, you should try to board your cat in a window unit and purchase the additional play times. These extras will help reduce his/her stress and make the boarding experience more pleasurable. Again, if you choose to board your cat, consult with your veterinarian about the best time to vaccinate your cat. Typically, shots should be given at least 7 days in advance of boarding to give the maximum protection.
If instead of traveling, you are having guests for the holidays, be cognizant that your cat may become scared and stressed by the arrival of your guests. Starting your cat on natural calming medicine such has Composure treats or Feliway a couple weeks before your guests arrive will be advantageous. Stress effects cats in multiple ways. The most common effect of stress that I see is urinary and litter box issues. I will review these issue in great depth in our next issue so stay tuned.
The holidays are very stressful for both you and your cat, so take some time out of your schedule to pet and play with your wonderful cat. The time spent together will benefit your cat and you, research has shown that spending time with pets can lower your blood pressure and stress.Happy Holidays from Dr. Yardley and the staff at Feeder Creek Veterinary Services