Should I take my cat with me on vacation?

Domestic cats form strong attachments to both the people they live with and the place where they live. Dogs, on the other hand, become strongly attached to their human guardian, other dogs and the place where they live comes last. Dogs have characters better suited to travel than cats. Between cats and dogs it is easier to dogs on holiday. Most cats find being uprooted from familiar surroundings stressful. The owner’s stress will follow. The point is that it is not a good idea to take your cat on a conventional holiday unless the circumstances are so favourable as to change the decision making process.

Hiking and trekking cat
Hiking and trekking cat. Photo: Anneka and Ryanne.
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Many variables

It is perhaps unwise to specify conditions which make it acceptable to take a cat on holiday because all cats are different and the relationship between owner and cat varies a lot too. Some cats are flexible regards travel. They are used to it. They even like it. Against that, stories of cats getting lost at airports are not uncommon. Or killed in the hold of planes on long flights.

Cat on plane out of carrier
Cat on plane out of carrier. Mishka. Photo in public domain.


I have a friend who is away for a month at a time and he has neighbours look after his cat. I would not do that but it works for him and his cat. His cat is very independent and an indoor/outdoor cat with an emphasis on being outdoors whenever possible. Domestic cats who are almost community cats are well suited to staying at home while their human guardians travel.

Travelling Japanese rescue tabby cats: Daikichi and Fuku-Chan.
Travelling Japanese rescue tabby cats: Daikichi and Fuku-Chan. Photo: Instagram page.

Sensitive or timid cats

Other timid cats will find two weeks alone with a cat sitter or a visiting neighbours horrible and stressful. But then, too, these cats would also find being at a boarding cattery very tough and even worse going on vacation with their owner. All they want is for their owners to maintain the day-to-day routine indefinitely.

Cats who are sensitive like this are best being left at home with a cat sitter while their owner takes a short holiday of say a week maximum. That’s a personal opinion. It depends how concerned the owner is and how keen they are to go on holiday. They may prioritise their cat over a holiday.

Trekking with cat
Trekking with cat. It can work well. Picture in public domain.


To recap: should a person take their cat with them on holiday? In general definitely no for the reasons stated. However, there are a myriad of circumstances which make it a perfectly feasible plan. A classic situation where it would be just fine is if the cat’s owner also owns two homes in the same country and they spend the winter in one and the summer in the other. They take their cat with them, of course. The cat will probably feel quite relaxed about having two territories. Both homes, however, will need to be cat friendly. If a cat goes from a great home where he has free reign over a large, safe territory for six months but is then transported to a dingy flat in a seaside resort for the next six he is bound to be upset.

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There are a lot of Instagram accounts entirely dedicated to domestic cats travelling in camper vans making long journeys across continents such as Australia. The cats that I have seen love it but we don’t see the bad moments. This leads to the conclusion that cats can be acclimatised to travel and learn to like or be entirely relaxed about it. The happy faces on this page attest to the success of taking your cat on holiday but these cats are exceptional and they’ve probably been trained into it.

2 thoughts on “Should I take my cat with me on vacation?”

  1. I think if your pet is used to traveling, why not? I have been traveling with my cat for a long time. But my travels are usually by car, so it’s comfortable for her and for me. Recently we traveled to the UK together in Bristol, I rented a car and we traveled around the country with her

  2. Cats don’t like change; leave them home with someone trustworthy. As for Nathan, watch out for the sharks! Cute little bugger.


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