Los Angeles Times - - ROAD TRIPS THINGS TO KNOW - By Julie Pen­dray travel@la­

Last sum­mer my cat, Michelle, and I trav­eled in my fully packed Prius from South­ern Cal­i­for­nia to Bri­tish Columbia and back, a jour­ney of about 6,000 miles.

Dogs get most of the ink when it comes to car trips, but I can at­test that cats also can be great com­pany as you head down the high­way.

Michelle’s cu­rios­ity and in­de­pen­dence made me laugh; she also oc­ca­sion­ally kept me warm (or at least kept my feet warm), whether in a tent, a mo­tel or a lodge. She won hearts and ad­mi­ra­tion by be­ing so­cia­ble with peo­ple she trusted.

Here are tips to help Kitty be­come a first-class travel com­pan­ion.

A strong cat-owner bond is key. Af­ter she took up res­i­dence with me, Michelle would run to the door when I left for work, and I could hear her cry­ing as I drove away. Clearly, she wanted to be with me, in the house on the road.

Get your kit­ten used to the idea. Take your furry friend on short trips. This not only in­tro­duces the car idea but also may pre­dict (or help avoid) car sick­ness.

Don’t force the is­sue. If your pet doesn’t want to go, make other ar­range­ments. If you start as­sess­ing your pet’s will­ing­ness to travel early, any re­luc­tance to go won’t come as a sur­prise, said Dr. Liz Stelow of the UC Davis School of Vet­eri­nary Medicine.

Keep the num­ber of hu­man pas­sen­gers in check. Trav­el­ing in a car with a lot of peo­ple or young chil­dren in­creases the risk your cat will es­cape, Stelow said. Make sure your plans are locked in. Scope out pet-friendly lodg­ings and make reser­va­tions.

Check with bor­der agen­cies and air­lines well ahead of time to learn about in­ter­na­tional travel reg­u­la­tions. It may take months to pre­pare, said Dr. Brian Collins of Cor­nell Univer­sity’s Col­lege of Vet­eri­nary Medicine.

Visit the vet. Dis­cuss vac­ci­na­tions and travel re­quire­ments, es­pe­cially if you’re plan­ning for­eign travel. Mex­ico, for in­stance, re­quires treat­ment for ticks be­fore en­try and treat­ment for par­a­sites within six months of en­try, Stelow said.

Dis­cuss anti-nausea med­i­ca­tions as well as cal­ma­tives. Pre­scrip­tion prod­ucts may be more ef­fec­tive than some over-the­counter drugs, Stelow said.

Get doc­u­men­ta­tion. Ask the vet for a cur­rent health cer­tifi­cate, which usu­ally is re­quired to cross state lines and na­tional bor­ders. This should be done no sooner than a week be­fore de­par­ture. Carry copies of all health records.

Make sure you can get your cat back if it goes astray. Kitty should wear a col­lar and tag with your phone num­ber. Mi­crochip in­for­ma­tion should be up to date. Carry a cur­rent photo for posters.

If you’re camping, ask park rangers or camp man­agers about preda­tors and take pre­cau­tions.

Se­cure Kitty in a crate when you’re driv­ing. Buckle the con­tainer into the mid­dle of the back seat so your cat sees you (and some scenery) but is away from the loud­est en­gine noise. Or you can pack around the crate to hold it in place, but make sure the vents are clear.

A hard-shell case that of­fers room for your pet to sit up and turn around works best. Don’t for­get a cozy blan­ket and small toy.

Stop for breaks so your cat can stretch its legs and be re­as­sured, if nec­es­sary, with some af­fec­tion and at­ten­tion.

Feed at the cor­rect times. Some cats do suf­fer mo­tion sick­ness. I fed Michelle af­ter we ar­rived at the lodg­ing or an hour or two be­fore we left for the day. Use an en­closed lit­ter box. A file folder box with a lid is an in­ex­pen­sive op­tion. Take toys. Just be­cause you’re trav­el­ing doesn’t mean Kitty doesn’t need to be amused or en­ter­tained. Be­sides breaks while driv­ing, con­sider breaks in your jour­ney to give your­self and your cat days off. It’s good for both of you.

Arseniy45 Getty Images/iS­tock­photo

CATS can be great travel com­pan­ions, but first get them ac­cus­tomed to the car on short trips.

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