orange cat on the beach wearing a harness

Last Updated on October 31, 2023 by Dr. Shannon Barrett

Are you looking for a way to be a digital nomad but unsure if your cat is as excited about the digital nomad life?

As a veterinarian, I can tell you that cats don’t tend to like change.

They are easily stressed and usually don’t long for the open road and adventure.

As a digital nomad who brought her cat on an 8-month tour around the US, I can tell you that he handled it better than I expected.

He hated the cat ride and let me know by yowling loudly as we started each drive.

He did eventually settle down in the car.

He also acclimated to each new house pretty quickly.

Cats love to explore, so providing him a new place each month helped enrich his life.

Cats need mental stimulation even though they may be too stubborn to admit it.

Here are some tips I learned traveling with my cat and professional guidance from a traveling veterinarian.

orange cat in a see through cat backpack

Key Takeaways

  1. Traveling with a cat calls for careful planning and training.
  2. When traveling, your cat’s health is essential; get all the needed shots.
  3. Pack critical items like a carrier, leash, harness, and food bowl.
  4. Keep familiar toys around to help your feline friend relax in new places.
  5. Stay calm during travels to keep stress low for you and your furry friend.

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Understanding the Digital Nomad Lifestyle with a Cat

grey cat in a suitcase

Living the nomad life with a cat can be challenging.

You want to keep as calm as possible even when they are yowling in the car as if they have been catnapped.

Cats are prey species, so they hide signs of illness or stress until they reach a breaking point.

It’s why many owners feel their cats become sick suddenly.

Unfortunately, they were likely ill but hid it until it became too much for them.

It’s one of the many things that separates them from dogs.

We currently travel with our German Shepherd, Griffin.

We traveled with our other German Shepherd and cat, Kudzu, many years ago for eight months.

Our dog did handle the car rides better than our cat, but both did well once we reached our destination.

The key is ensuring your cat has as many comforts of home as possible along your journey.

It’s also essential to understand the signs of stress in your cat, as these can be harder to spot.

Travel stresses out cats, whether they let you know it or not.

Unfamiliar noises, movements, and faces bring on fear quickly for them.

Vet visits before your trip become a regular thing as you ensure good health for your feline friend before starting your journey.

However, this stress does not mean you can’t be a digital nomad with your cat.

You just need to be prepared.

Preparing Your Cat for Travel

black cat staring out of a plane window

Preparation is vital if you’re a digital nomad and planning to travel with your cat.

First, make an appointment with your veterinarian to ensure their vaccines and tests are current.

You can also discuss your travel concerns with them during the appointment.

Once you get the all-clear from your vet, check the requirements for the type of carrier you will need for your trip.

Most airlines have specific types of carriers that must be used to transport your pet.

Then, you need to get your cat familiar with the carrier.

Most cats hate the “cat basket,” as I call it.

You’ll need to work on making it less scary for your kitty.

While getting them used to the idea of the cat carrier, also equip yourself with essential pet supplies like harnesses and leashes that can help accustom them to exploring new environments safely.

Whether car rides or plane journeys, ensure they have a safe space to feel comfortable; an airline-approved soft-sided carrier always works great for such situations!

Making Sure Your Cat is Healthy Enough to Travel

grey and white cat being examined by a vet

Before you book any flights, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

As a veterinarian, we will want to know your anticipated destinations (country or city) and how you plan to travel with your cat.

This is important because some countries require USDA-certified health certificates depending on where you travel, and not all vets are USDA-certified.

For instance, I did not keep up my USDA certification after vet school since only certain countries require this level of health certificate.

There were only a handful of veterinarians in the Charleston area where I could refer my patients so they could get a USDA-certified health certificate.

If you plan to take your cat to another country, you may need this official health certificate.

You will want to check the requirements of the country you are entering to determine the vaccine and testing requirements before your vet appointment so that everyone is prepared.

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For instance, some countries around the world require a 1-year rabies vaccine, and others need a 3-year rabies vaccine.

Some require vaccine titers, which are blood tests that must be submitted to an outside lab for processing.

All countries also have different time requirements.

Some require the health certificate and exam to be performed within five days of travel.

If you are planning an overseas move, trying to fit the veterinary visit in this close to your departure date can be hectic, but it has to be done to board the plane.

Therefore, you must find out the requirements of where you are traveling before your initial vet visit.

In addition to travel requirements, you will want to ensure your cat is overall healthy before embarking on your new lifestyle.

This means updating vaccines bloodwork and discussing any concerns you have either about their mental health, or traveling with them.

After your visit, ask your vet to email you copies of the invoice, vaccine records, and blood work results, so you have those on your travels.

Lastly, make sure they are microchipped.

If they are not, now is an excellent time to have this done.

You will want to ensure you have the microchip registered to your name.

Travel Items for Your Cat

Once you know that your cat is in tip-top travel shape, it’s time to ensure you have the correct items to make the nomadic lifestyle safe for them.

If you are traveling by plane or train, check with the company to see what type of carrier you will need.

For instance, United Airlines does not enforce a hard or soft-sided carrier, but it needs to fit under the seat in front of you.

Your cat needs to be able to turn around safely.

Leave it out once you purchase the carrier so your cat can become accustomed to it.

Put treats and toys inside to encourage them to go inside.

Use catnip to make it more enticing.

We want them to see their carrier as a positive place.

I like to use Feliway spray on the carrier.

I also recommend bringing the Feliway spray and diffusers on your trip.

They can help cats feel more calm during times of stress.

Feliway is a pheromone that mimics the smell of their mother when they were nursing.

It is non-toxic and can help them feel calmer in times of stress.

Since your cat will be on the road with you, it’s time to get them a leash and harness.

Also consider a breakaway collar.

It’s a good idea to get them accustomed to wearing a collar and practice having them walk on a leash and harness.

This way, you can keep them safe when transporting them from place to place.

They will be in a carrier while in the car.

However, there will be times when you may have to take them out of the carrier, and you want to have a way to keep them safe.

Cat Harness and Leash
Buy on Amazon
02/01/2024 08:41 pm GMT

For instance, if you are taking them on a plane, you must take them out of the carrier and walk them through security.

Please make sure they are on a leash and harness during this process.

Having your cat run wild through the airport is not how you want to start your new traveling life!

Purchase travel bowls for their water and food.

Get them used to using them at home before you start your new adventure.

Collapsible Pet Bowls
Buy on Amazon
02/01/2024 11:12 pm GMT

If you plan to switch them to a smaller or travel litter box, purchase it before your move so you can get them accustomed to that litter box.

For instance, if you plan to live on a sailboat, you may switch to a smaller litter box.

Portable Litter Box
Buy on Amazon
02/01/2024 10:45 pm GMT

We want to get your kitty used to all the new things in their life while they still have the familiar surroundings of home.

It will make the transition easier.

It also allows you time to adjust anything while you still have time.

For instance, if they do not like the new litter box, you can pivot and get them a new one.

Some cats do start to enjoy the adventurous lifestyle.

For those felines, consider backpacks with windows where they can see the world.

Just purchase ones with fans to keep them cool as they can get very hot, very quickly.

Cat Backpack
$19.99 ($6.66 / Fl Oz)
Buy on Amazon
02/17/2024 05:32 pm GMT

Introducing Your Cat to Travel

Most cats do not take a lot of car rides.

Even fewer have frequent flyer accounts.

Therefore, we need to get them used to frequent traveling.

  1. Start small. Take your cat on short car rides before tackling long distances.
  2. By now, they are hopefully more comfortable in their carrier but use the carrier they will be traveling in to take these rides. Spray it with Feliway for about 20 minutes before putting them in the carrier.
  3. Start using the leash and harness inside, then graduate to your yard. You don’t want the first time you use it to be in a busy airport or while trying to check into a hotel.
  4. Stay calm during travel to avoid creating stress for your cat.
  5. Keep familiar items like toys and food close by to make your pet feel at home, no matter where you are.

Finding Pet-Friendly Accommodations

orange cat laying across computer keyboard

It can be harder to find cat-friendly rentals, but not impossible. Here are some tips:

  1. Look in local Facebook groups for pet-friendly rentals.
  2. Try VRBO and Airbnb. They have an option to search for places that allow pets.
  3. Check on sites made for people with pets, like
  4. If a place says no pets, asking if they will make an exception for your quiet, well-behaved cat may not hurt.

Making your Nomadic Life Enjoyable for Your Cat

man in a van with a cat

Taking your cat with you can make the nomad life much more fun.

We do want to ensure that kitty enjoys it as well.

Keep your cat inside.

Allowing them to be outside unsupervised in new places is not a good idea.

They are more prone to catfights or getting lost.

Keep them entertained by providing mental stimulation. This includes:

Cat trees which allow them to climb even if they are in smaller spaces.

There are smaller, collapsable ones available for travel.

Foldable Cat Tree
Buy on Amazon
02/01/2024 10:37 pm GMT

Interactive Toys to help them explore their prey drive safely.

There are lots of options.

Here is one that some of my clients have recommended but small enough for travel.

Flapping Bird Cat Toy
Buy on Amazon
02/01/2024 11:25 pm GMT

Cat TV is an option to keep them occupied while you work.

Youtube has some channels and several of my clients put it on for their cats.

Windowsill perches so they can enjoy a view of the outside while remaining safely inside. My patients love these.

Cat Window Perch
Buy on Amazon
02/01/2024 09:43 pm GMT


blond woman playing with a cat with a toy mouse

Living as a digital nomad with your cat is fantastic.

Your best friend always stays by your side.

You make memories together in new places.

Never feel alone on the road again!

How to be a Digital Nomad with a Dog

Are you considering bring both a dog and a cat with you on your adventures?

We did just that a few years ago.

As long as they get along at home, they should get along as nomads.

You will likely need a little more space to be a digital nomad with a cat and a dog but it is still possible.

If you are planning on being a digital nomad with a dog, there are a few things to consider.

Don’t worry, we have a blog for that too.

It will be twice the fur but twice the fun!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does it mean to be a digital nomad with a cat?

Being a digital nomad with a cat means traveling and working remotely while taking your furry friend along.

You plan pet-friendly trips and stay at locations that welcome pets.

How can I start my first remote job as a digital nomad with my cat?

First, ensure you have all the supplies your pet needs for travel, such as food, a water bowl, and a leash.

Also, remember to plan in advance for stays in pet-friendly hotels or places during the journey.

Are there specific rules when traveling internationally with cats?

Yes, each country has special visas and their own set of international regulations about pets entering its borders.

Your cat may need health certificates confirming vaccines are up-to-date before they fly in the plane’s passenger cabin.

What steps should I take before embarking on long-distance travels like overseas trips or road trips?

Make sure you research destination countries’ international regulations regarding the importation requirements of animals beforehand.

You must also mentally prepare yourself and your cat since these journeys might result in stress for both parties involved.

Some countries are more pet-friendly, while others require your cat to be in quarantine when you arrive in your destination country.

Dr. Shannon Barrett

Dr. Shannon Barrett

Veterinarian/Travel Writer/Digital Nomad

Dr. Shannon Barrett is a veterinarian and digital nomad. She owned a housecall practice, Island Veterinary Care, for over a decade and now travels full time. She lives in different beach towns and then writes travel guides based on her time there. If you’re looking for resources on travel destinations or how to become a digital nomad, then you’ve come to the right place! Love to bring your pets with you? Even better!

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