Travelling with cats

Tips for travelling with cats in a carrier

1. Prepare in advance for your cat’s travel.

Pets, in general, don’t like to be confined, especially cats. At times, putting your cat into a travel carrier can mean that dreaded ‘trip to the vet’ which won’t go down well! Trying to get your cat use to a Travel Carrier and without the association of it being a trip to the vet can do wonders for when the big travel day comes. Your first step to making travelling with cats easier would be to ensure the Travel Carrier is of the right size for your cat, that it meets IATA regulation and that it is the correct type for your method of travel. Secondly, keep the Travel Carrier around a positive area in the home. A favourite spot where your cat likes to be or a room where the family regularly gathers such as the living room or kitchen. Use a few treats to entice the cat into the Travel Carrier, however, don’t use it as a reward every time. Otherwise, the cat will associate the Travel Carrier as a way to get treats.

2. Let the cat make the Travel Carrier his or her own

Put the cat’s bed inside the carrier along with access to food and water attached to the door. This also works well as it helps the cat understand where the water will be when the travel time comes. At times, when the cat is inside, calmly and gently close the door and leave the cat inside for a small duration of time, roughly 15 to 20 minutes, and then let the cat out once this time has passed. Do not do this too quickly into the learning process as the cat will never learn to trust you and this can ruin all progress made with your preparations for travel.

3. Travel motions

Putting your cat in his or her carrier is only a start, getting him or her used to the motions of travel can go far for getting the cat used to travel. Going back to the 1st step, it also is a way to show the cat the not every car ride ends with a vet visit. Small drives around the neighbourhood, as well as affection and love when completed, can show the cat it’s learning well and that there is nothing to fear.

4. Ensuring the cat is comfortable and has the necessities

On the travel day, offer your cat a comfortable piece of cloth or a towel. For security reasons, anything too thick can be considered a security threat to airport staff. This could mean either the thick material must be removed, which means opening the carrier and causing a potential risk of escape or the chance for a security X-ray check that can have medical implications. To avoid and minimise the risks of these things happening, remove any bedding over an inch thick in the cat carrier and ensure the cat has access to water, which is securely fastened to the door with a cable tie.

5. Preparing the travel for your cat

All animals can sense stress. Taking care of your own and your cats travel in advance can not only save you the stress but will save your cat from having a bad travel experience. Some pets may only go through a relocation experience once whereas some pets can go through multiple experiences. Having a bad first experience can already make a possible 2nd relocation harder than the first. Last minute running around, poor preparation and poor time management can stress out your cat, even before the travel day has arrived so ensure all is well planned and all goes smoothly. If at any point something does not work out as it should, stay calm, for your sake and the cat. Consider moving your cat to a boarding facility before travel to avoid him/her experiencing the moving out of furniture and the busy atmosphere.

6. After travel

When you and your cat have safely arrived at your destination, get to know your new neighbourhood. Familiarising your pet with his or her new home will make the transition easier. Understandably, your pet may be confused after such a long travel so the irony may be, he or she won’t want to leave her carrier. Allow this Travel Carrier to be kept in the new surroundings, as this could be one of the only things known to the cat. Ensure the cat is well hydrated and offer food upon arrival of the new home. Keep your cat indoors for a minimum of 3 weeks before allowing it to venture off.