Travelling with Pets

Manor Vets: Top Tips when Travelling with your Feline Friend

Every year we see customers taking their lovable moggie on holiday with them, so here are our top cat travel tips.

We’ve asked our friends at Manor Veterinary Clinic in Folkestone for their top tips for travelling long distances with your cat. If you are taking your feline friend abroad on a road trip, there are a few things you will want to do to make it an easier and safer experience for both you and your moggie.

In case of emergencies

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.

A cat in a carry case being put into the back of a car before a journey
Always make sure your cat is secure in their carry case before travelling

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.

Kitten in a carry case in the back seat of a car
Even nervous or young cats should settle down on a long car journey

If your cat starts feeling queasy

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.

Sleepy cat with its head on a wooden surface
Once your cat has got used to its new surroundings it will relax and feel at home

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.

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With a little planning and preparation, sharing your holidays with your cat can be a fun and enjoyable experience. Make sure all your moggie documentation is up to date before you travel – and remember that you are responsible for ensuring your cat meets all the rules for entering the EU and returning to the UK. 

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