cat tenatively entering an open car doorMartin LaBar, Flickr

As snuggly and affectionate as they are at home, let's face it: cats rarely make great travel companions. They don't like road trips, they don't like camping, and they never pitch in any gas money. And while driving across the country with a constantly meowing kitty in the backseat doesn't fit most people's idea of a good time, sometimes it must be done.

The good news is that pet travel doesn't have to be torturous. In fact, the experts say that traveling with your cat can be relatively painless -- even pleasant -- as long as you and your cat are well prepared for the adventure.

It's All About the Cat Carrier
Before we get started, we must warn you that nearly everything involved in traveling with a feline ties back into this all-important Cat Carrier Mantra: Get your cat comfortable with its carrier before you leave the house. This is absolutely crucial. According to former American Veterinary Medical Association President Dr. Greg Hammer, his clients frequently have to cancel their checkups because they can't get their cat into their cat carrier. If you can't get your cat across town to the vet's office, how can you possibly expect to get it on a plane?

Like dogs, cats are creatures of habit. The main difference is that cats are usually not at all acclimated to car rides and/or crates. "Cats don't go anywhere," Hammer tells Paw Nation, "They stay in their house, and when they go anywhere its usually someplace they hate, like the vet or the kennel." Aside from a cat's natural aversion to leaving its comfort zone, many are haphazardly trained to fear their crates. That's why you must un-train them.

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