Cat-trak on the fast track: Amtrak looking to allow pets

Sure, cats and trains sometimes play like cats and dogs, but they might just have a friendlier future if Amtrak's latest plan pans out.

Shortly after the rail service invited writers to apply for traveling residencies, Amtrak announced an initiative to welcome pets (and their owners) aboard trains between Chicago and Quincy, IL for an additional $25 fee. The pet-passenger trains will run in a six-month trial period this May through November before potentially expanding nationwide. 

In a press release, Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman said the company “is supportive of accommodating pets on trains", and is "optimistic" about working out a plan to expand the permission of pets while working alongside lawmakers.

Fido or Fifi can't just stroll about the cabin unleashed, however. Passengers are permitted only one pet per person, limited to cats and dogs under 20lbs and more than eight weeks old. With just one car per train allocated to pets, a maximum of four animals are allowed at a time on one train.

Meanwhile, humans must pick up pet tickets from one of three stations -- in Chicago, Galesburg, or Naperville -- and arrive at least 30 minutes prior to departure to fill out a Release and Indemnification Agreement, and to establish the pet is ready to ride. Now would be a good time to de-flea and paper-train the dog.

In addition, the cat's not exactly out of the bag: Princess Fluffy will have to sit inside her carrier under the seat for the 4.5-hour journey. But she'll also be one step closer to being a true Aristocat.

Reserve your pet's spot on an Amtrak train from May 5 through Nov 2 now.

Chloe Pantazi is an editorial assistant on Thrillist's travel team. Follow her to the cat car on Twitter at @ChloePantazi.