If you are a cat owner about to embark on your first trip with your four-legged companion, it can be difficult to imagine how you might handle your pet’s toilet requirements during the flight.
Being in a cabin jam-packed with aircraft passengers is a frightening experience for most cats, and the consequence often includes a lot of mess which, ideally, you would prefer to avoid while on the plane.
Although you cannot totally prevent your furry friend from panicking, there are ways you can help him calm down, and also ways to clean him up in case he has an accident. So, do not fret; we have summarized everything you need to prepare to make your trip less chaotic.
Use a portable litter box
A portable litter box is probably the most convenient solution to deal with your cat’s mess while traveling, especially if he tends to urinate or defecate more when he is stressed or anxious. This box is usually designed to be small enough to fit in a typical cat carrier, so your companion can do his business and stay comfortable throughout the trip.
Cat litter boxes come in different designs, but we highly suggest choosing one with easy-to-clean, easy-storage, and space-saving features. Depending on the type of material, some portable litter boxes are machine washable, while others can only be hand-washed. So, do your research well before making a purchase.
Cleaning a portable litter box is really easy. Just follow these steps to ensure that your cat is happy and comfy without bothering the other passengers on the plane:
1. Scoop the poop with wipes or paper towels
Traveling, especially during peak seasons, can involve crowded and busy planes. To avoid bothering other passengers, you will want to get rid of your cat’s waste as soon as possible. Go immediately to the restroom at the back of the plane to handle the mess. Make sure that you know your airline’s pet policy because they are generally not allowed to be taken out of the carrier during the flight.
Once you are in the restroom, carefully scoop out the waste and wrap it in hygiene wipes or paper towels. To completely get rid of the odor, we suggest removing the litter as well, while preventing any mess from getting on the floor.
2. Store the waste in a tightly-sealed ziploc bag
Cat poop can release quite noxious odors, making it difficult to dispose of. Be considerate of other passengers and never flush your cat’s litter down the toilet. Instead, use a ziplock bag to temporarily store the waste until you are ready to dispose of it. Make sure it is tightly sealed to prevent any bad smells from escaping.
3. Clean your cat using hygiene wipes
Although cats are excellent at cleaning themselves, they might need your helping hand to remove any leftovers and traces of odor while you are on the plane. Get your cat cleaned up, especially around his bottom, using fragrant hygiene wipes specially formulated for cats. Do not use harsh soap or other chemicals for this job, as these products might cause skin irritation.
4. Beat the bad smell with an air freshener
Lastly, prevent the bad smell from traveling through the cabin by using a good air freshener. Remember that cat feces have a noxious odor and you do not want to end up in a conflict with fellow passengers because of that. Be considerate – your cat is your responsibility, so be sure to clean his mess properly without leaving any bad smell behind.
Other types of litter box for cats on the go
As mentioned before, there are many types of litter boxes to help make your life easier onboard the plane. Most of these travel litter box solutions offer portable and easy-to-clean designs so you can handle your cat’s waste with ease. Some of these options include:
- Disposable litter box: A single-use box made of biodegradable materials to help you simplify the cleanup. However, this litter box is only good for short trips and may leak if your nervous furball urinates frequently. We suggest using a plastic barrier to line the bottom of the box and prevent soiling the floor underneath.
- Traditional plastic litter box: This is the one you can usually purchase at pet suppliers. These are easier to wash and can be reused even after traveling. You can choose a style and size according to your cat’s preferences, so you will less likely have to deal with a finicky cat during your trip.
- Self-cleaning litter box: The most convenient product available to control cat waste odor while keeping your furry friend happy and comfortable. No need to scoop the waste or wash it off while onboard the plane. However, this type of litter box can be a lot bulkier than the previous solutions. If you do not mind carrying the extra load, then you might appreciate using this litter box instead.
Use pet diapers
So, your kitty is not yet potty-trained and tends to become clingy when stressed – and your airline will not allow you to take him out for bathroom breaks. In that case, cat diapers could be your best option. Not only do these diapers make your cat’s life easier; but they also save you a lot of time on long trips.
There are so many pet diapers available on the market, and not all are on par when it comes to quality. Never settle for anything cheap – your cat deserves comfort, especially during a stressful trip. Choose a cat diaper designed with a super-absorbent pad and an adjustable velcro system for maximum protection and comfort.
Now, here comes the messy part: What should you do if your cat’s diaper starts to smell bad? If your airline will not allow you to take your cat to the restroom, then the best thing you can do is to wait until you land. Here are some easy steps to clean your cat and change his diaper:
- Find a flat surface to clean your cat and make him feel comfortable.
- Gently remove the diaper and seal it tightly in a ziplock bag. Throw it in a trash bag when you get the chance.
- Using grooming wipes, clean your cat’s bottom until all the waste and odors are removed.
- Put a new diaper on your cat.
- Use a cat-friendly spray to eliminate waste and urine odor.
Use pee pads
Pee pads are your best friend, especially when dealing with anxious cats on the plane. It is quite normal for cats to experience travel sickness, and even the most meticulous cat can have bathroom accidents sometimes. Pee pads are made with highly-absorbent materials to make cleanup a lot easier any time your cat needs to go.
Pee pads are also helpful to prevent leaks and protect the bottom of your cat carrier from getting soiled. The only downside of using pee pads is that the material is not breathable. Depending on how many hours you will be traveling, they can become hot for your cat to sit on and might cause discomfort.
However, pee pads still offer one of the best solutions when dealing with cat mess on the go. Just be sure to constantly monitor your cat, especially during long trips. Also, make sure to keep the pad upright throughout the trip to prevent moisture from leaking from the bottom of the carrier.
Travel essentials you need to prepare
Traveling with your furbaby requires preparation. Depending on your cat’s temperament, your first flight together can be a pleasant experience or a miserable nightmare. Along the way, you may face certain hitches, and planning ahead will help you cope with them more easily. And this includes how to deal with your cat’s mess while onboard!
Although it sounds a little daunting, having a list of all your travel essentials will make your flight with the kitty a piece of cake – less stressful, and always ready if something unexpected comes up. Here are some of the pre-travel necessities you need to list to ensure that both of you have a pleasant trip:
- Airline-approved cat carrier
- Portable cat litter box
- Cat grooming wipes
- Leash and harness
- Food and water bowl or dispenser
- Cat-friendly air freshener
- Pheromone spray
- Calming collar
- Ziplock bags
- Extra cat diapers
- Clean litter
- All relevant documents, such as health certifications and updated ID tags
Train your cat to use the litter box
We have already mentioned the different kinds of litter boxes available. Once you have made your choice, do not forget to train your cat to use it. Most cats are finicky when it comes to their litter box; forcing them to use a brand new litter box for the first time might cause them to withhold or do their business elsewhere. You do not want to deal with that during your trip.
First and foremost, pick up a good location where you can set up his travel litter box. Show it to your cat and let him explore or sniff around until he gets used to it. You can start training your cat by placing him in the litter box after a meal or at a particular time when he usually visits the litter box (you are probably already aware of your cat’s routine).
Lastly, be patient! Reward your cat with tasty treats or cuddles after he uses his litter box. If he still refuses to use it, you can try taking some of his poop to the new litter box and let it sit there for a while. Soon, he will understand that the box is a safe place to do his business.
Eventually, you can take your cat with you for a short ride and help him get accustomed to his litter box while traveling. Training your furry companion this way will make future trips smoother for both of you.
Other tips before and while traveling
- If at all possible, let your cat do his business before heading to the airport.
- Avoid placing your cat in cargo areas; it is easier to monitor him and attend to his needs when he is with you in the cabin.
- It is ideal to feed your cat an hour or two before your trip. Give him just enough to satisfy him without making him too full or leaving him hungry.
- Never over-feed your cat during the trip, or you might end up dealing with vomit later on.
- Give your cat some quick-digesting, light snacks while onboard.
- Unexpected turbulence might cause your cat to freak out. Be sure that you are prepared for the consequences.
- If your cat is traveling for the first time, the trip will likely cause him to feel frightened and urinate or defecate frequently. Make sure you have extra disposable bags and a portable litter box at hand.
Frequently asked questions when traveling with cats
So, you are finally ready to pack! While you wait for the big day, we have prepared some commonly asked questions from cat owners that you might find helpful:
1. How do I stop my cat from pooping on the plane?
It is almost always impossible to prevent your cat from pooping, especially if he is very anxious during his first flight. The best thing you can do is prepare ahead of time. Make a list of your kitty’s travel essentials so that cleaning him up will not be a hassle.
2. Will cats poop during travel?
Most cats do not like traveling. New environments, crowds, and even unfamiliar scents can make them sick. So pooping, urinating, and vomiting should be expected, especially for first-timers. Make sure you have enough grooming wipes, ziplock bags, and litter to keep your cat comfortable throughout the trip.
3. How long can a cat travel without going to the bathroom?
According to animal experts, cats can hold their urine and waste for up to 48 hours, even after drinking enough water and eating meals. But you do not want your furry friend to suffer like this. Again, preparation is key – make sure to bring a dedicated travel kit for your cat so you can clean him up whenever he needs to go.
4. How do pets use the bathroom on flights?
Before traveling, it is important to know your airline’s pet policy. Most airlines will not allow you to take your cat out of his carrier, in which case your best option is to prepare pee pads and cat diapers to avoid any mess and unpleasant odors on board.
Wrapping it up
Traveling with your four-legged friend can either be a pleasant experience or a nightmare for both of you. While some cats enjoy seeing new sights from the window, others can be really miserable travel buddies. When you have an anxious cat on board, expect to deal with puke, poop, and urine mid-flight – and the last thing you want is a conflict with other passengers due to the smell coming from your cat’s carrier.
In this post, we have summarized everything you need to prevent accidental mess during a flight, from choosing the right litter box to training your cat before the big day. With the right preparation, traveling with your furbaby should be a smooth, pleasant, and enjoyable experience.
Image: istockphoto.com / GummyBone