Most cats are territorial and don’t like to leave their home patch. However, there are a few house cats that have the potential to be good travelling companions. It depends very much on the character of the individual animal. As a pet owner, you should think very carefully about whether your own cat is suited to travel. Shy, nervous animals will almost certainly prefer to stay in their familiar surroundings. Cats that will be happy to travel will generally have a close bond with their human companion, will be comfortable with being touched and will be of a more relaxed disposition. But even with such animals there is no guarantee that a trip will be good for them. As a cat owner, you should be prepared for this, and if it turns out that your cat doesn’t want to travel after all, you will need to change your plans accordingly.
Start your travel preparations early, so that the trip is a pleasant experience for you and your cat. Ideally, your cat will get used to travel from a young age – but adult animals can also become accustomed to it.
Preparation: the carrier
For your own and your cat’s comfort and safety, you should never take your cat on a trip without a carrier. The travel box or bag must be large enough for your cat to stand up or lie down in. It must be sufficiently ventilated and made from materials that will protect your feline friend from injury.
First, get the carrier ready, preferably with a comfy cushion inside. Then you can put some treats inside. Many cats find the cave-like characteristics of the travel box quite appealing. Initially, you should just leave the box there, making sure your cat always associates it with something positive (e.g. treats). When your cat has accepted the box as its own and goes inside without any problems, you can try closing the door and opening it again shortly afterwards. Gradually increase the length of time the cat is shut in. Once your feline friend is used to being inside the closed box, you can carry them around the house a little (avoid sudden, jerky movements as much as possible).
Every time your cat performs one of these exercises successfully, you should praise them. Only when your cat is happy to be carried around in the closed carrier should you move on to the next step – travelling by car or train. Again, your approach should be gradual. When travelling by car, secure the box by strapping it in place or by placing it on the floor between the back seat and the front seat, with the front seat pushed back so the carrier can’t slide around. On a train, the box can be stowed under the seat.
Are you planning to go on a cruise with your cat? Then choose a cruise line that offers pet-friendly cabins. This guarantees that your cat will be allowed to stay with you throughout the voyage and won’t have to spend time alone in the car.
The holiday destination you choose for you and your cat should be carefully considered. It may be best to opt for places where your cat will be secure, can’t run away and won’t meet other animals. Holiday homes and certain hotels may be a good option. As not many travellers take their cat with them, you should check beforehand that cats are allowed at your holiday destination.
Especially for your cat’s first trips, the journey to the holiday destination shouldn’t be too long, as that could make your pet feel stressed. Avoid air travel, which cats find very stressful and frightening.
No matter where your travels take you, it is important to make sure your pet’s basic needs are met even on holiday. The more familiar objects your cat has around them, the more comfortable they will feel. So, don’t venture forth without your cat’s favourite basket or blanket. And remember to travel with water and your cat’s usual food. In addition, your pet will need:
- a litter tray and litter
- depending on the country of destination, a pet passport
- any necessary medication
- a first aid kit
Is your cat microchipped?
If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to get your cat microchipped and registered, just in case your feline friend runs away.
Cats prefer to stay at home
No matter how well you prepare for a trip, most cats prefer to stay in their familiar surroundings. So, make sure you take your cat’s needs into account when planning your holiday.