Pets on Trains legislation gives cats a ticket to ride on Amtrak.
Maybe you’re not wild about our elected officials in Washington, but here’s a reason to send a little love their way. The Pets on Trains provision buried deep into the 1300-page five-year highway appropriations bill approved last year instructs Amtrak to allow cats and dogs on many of its trains.
Amtrak started giving animal companions a ticket to ride on some routes in the northeast and Midwest last October. The pilot program ended earlier this month, and Amtrak is now on the fast track to expand its Pets on Trains policy. Cats and dogs under 20 pounds are now allowed on the Springfield Shuttles, Northeast, Downeaster, Virginia, and Illinois regional routes and all cross country routes except the Auto Train. Animals can also travel on the Acela Express, but only on Saturdays and Sundays.
To travel with your cat, all you have to do is get on board with Amtrak’s rules. Among them: The cat must be in an approved carrier that will fit under your seat, and your trip must be no more than seven hours long. Oh, and just one cat is allowed per passenger.
It was Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), who asked Amtrak to get the Pets on Trains policy rolling after he discovered his French Bulldog couldn’t travel with him when he took the train. His Pets on Trains Act is part of the larger Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act. The act allows Amtrak to have at least one pet-friendly car on each train.
To travel with your cat, you need to make your reservations with at an Amtrak ticket agent or call 1-800-USA-RAIL. But your cat won’t be getting a free ride. Tickets for animals cost $25.
SAFETY TIP: Before you travel, get your cat microchipped. Ask him to wear a harness and leash with an ID tag while you’re on the road. And tape your name and cell phone number to his carrier.