As a Pet Plan Vet of the year Finalist our resident vet Tony Barnes, from Manor Veterinary Clinic in Folkestone, is an expert in taking care of our pets. We asked Tony for some of his top tips to help make travel with your feline friend as stress free as possible.
Before you embark on your travels there are a few things to take into consideration:
Just in case
When choosing a carry case for your cat, make sure it is the right size and leaves plenty of room for it to stand up, turn around and be able to see out easily. Plastic or fibreglass cases are always a good option for long journeys; they are draught proof, easy to clean and will last for years.
To soak up any little accidents that may occur, line the bottom of the case with some absorbent material, such as newspaper, with a kennel liner or training pad on top. Cover this with a familiar blanket or an old piece of your clothing to help make your cat feel at home - adding a favourite toy also helps. Let your cat get used to the carry case by getting it ready and leaving it around the house for a few days before you travel. You can also try feeding your cat in the case once or twice and try short practise runs.
Cats in a car
Unless you have a car with air conditioning, a cat may overheat in the luggage compartment of a hatchback or an estate car, so place the carrying case on the floor of the car or strap it securely on the rear seat.
Never let your cat out of its container during the journey, even if it appears anxious- you don’t want kitty to escape! The noise and motion of the car will eventually soothe your pet and hopefully he or she will fall asleep. If your cat is a particularly nervous traveller, your vet may be able to provide you with a sedative to administer before departure to help to ease its stress. Make sure you place a small dish of fresh water in the carrying case and take a spare bottle with you for topping it up.
If your feline suffers from motion sickness, try not to feed it within 8 hours of departure. To help with this, make sure it gets plenty of fresh air and water. Taking a break during the journey will also help with motion sickness and will make sure there is no danger of your cat overheating. If you are only taking a quick break from the road and plan on keeping your cat in the car, park in the shade and leave a window ajar. Once you have parked, you can let your cat out in the car, but make sure that any windows are only slightly open and there is no chance of the cat escaping. It is advisable to use a harness and lead to reassure you that it can’t get away.
When you arrive
As soon as you get to your destination, check that all windows and doors are closed before letting your cat out of the carry case and only allow them access to one room at a time. This is so that it can have time to adjust to the new and unfamiliar surroundings. Set up a litter tray and, after giving your cat some attention, give it a good meal and a comfortable place to sleep. It will soon overcome any anxiety about being in a strange place.
If you are only visiting for a short time, it is best not to let your cat out at all. When you go out, confine your cat to a room with at least two doors between it and the outside world and make sure your cat is comfortable with water and a litter tray, so you’ll have a content cat when you return. When you come back, make sure that you close the outside door before you open the door to the room where your pet is. That way there is little chance of him or her escaping. Be careful not to leave any windows open.
If your cat is used to being on a collar and lead, you can take it out in the garden, but try to make sure that there are no dogs around! If you are staying for a month or more, you may decide to allow your cat out on its own. To do this, avoid feeding your cat for 24 hours before allowing it out and then take it for a walk on a lead, rattle the food bowl and take it indoors. Repeat this for several days before letting your pet off the lead.
With a little planning and preparation, sharing your holidays with your cat can be a fun and enjoyable experience.
Wishing you all a purrrfect holiday!