Travelling with your Cat
Travel with your Cat
If you are planning on travelling with your cat it's best to have your cat micro-chipped.
A cat carrier is essential if you are planning to travel anywhere with your cat or kitten. The carrier should be large enough for an adult cat to stand up, turn around and be able to see out easily. It should also have a secure fastening, good ventilation and be easy to clean if it becomes soiled. Plastic carriers are ideal for long journeys as they are draught proof, easy to wash or wipe down and long lasting. If you don't plan to travel far or often light weight, plastic-coated or cardboard carriers are good for temporary confinement but they are not very strong. There are also fabric and collapsible carriers for easy storage.
Our help page is full of practical advice so whether you are transporting your cat to a new home, to the vet, to the cattery, moving home or even travelling abroad, you will find answers to your questions here.
How to get your cat to accept the carrier
More often than not getting your cat to accept the carrier is a difficult task, especially if she only associates going to the vets in it. To help accustom her to travelling in the carrier leave it around your home in plain sight and make it appealing by placing a soft lining and some cat treats or catnip inside. You might find your cat's curiosity gets the better of her and that she enters into the carrier on her own initiative. Once your cat is familiar with the carrier, you can get her used to travelling in it by taking her out for a short car ride around the block each day. Each trip should end on a positive note, by giving a treat and a cuddle.
What to do if your cat won't go inside the carrier
If your cat will not enter the carrier and struggles it's best to pick her up facing away from the carrier and back her into it.
If this doesn't work place the carrier on its end so that the opening is facing the ceiling. Pick your cat up with one hand placed under her front legs and the other hand supporting her bottom. Lower your cat into the carrier, close the door and secure the fastening. Slowly and carefully lower the carrier down into the correct position.
Some cats may easily accept the carrier, but may dread the car ride because they suffer from travel sickness. In this case, your vet can prescribe medications that will ease her car-sickness symptoms and calm her down.
Travelling by car
How to travel safely with your cat
- You should never have your cat loose in the car as this is very dangerous – not only could it cause an accident by becoming entangled with the driver, but if a window or door was opened or an accident occurred, your cat could escape and become lost. If you are planning on travelling with your cat it's best to have your cat micro-chipped.
- Place the carrier where it will be secure if you have to brake suddenly. Don't place luggage around the carrier as this will restrict the air flow and your cat could over heat or struggle for air. You can secure the carrier behind one of the front seats or use a seat belt to hold it firmly on the back seat. Never place the carrier in the boot of the car. Don't be tempted to let your cat out of the carrier during the journey, even if she appears anxious, in case she tries to escape.
Travel tips for your cat's comfort
- Line the carrier with a soft blanket or carrier mattress to make her journey comfortable, especially if she is an older arthritic cat. There are also absorbent pads and liners you can buy that soak up any little accidents.
- Your cat may meow throughout the journey but she should settle down and fall asleep after a while. If your cat suffers from travel sickness there are remedies available that will ease her symptoms.
- Just like her fellow human travelling companions your cat will want to have a drink if it is a long journey! Petstop has a wide range of non-spill bowls and water bottles with dispensers available.
Cats can die in hot cars so never leave her in a parked car in hot weather. Not even for a few minutes. Temperatures will be much higher inside your car than outside, even if all the windows are left open
Travelling by bus and rail
Travelling with your cat by rail
You can take your cat on a train journey as many rail companies accept cats but do check before paying for tickets. Most rail companies will allow two cats to travel free but you must keep your cat in a rigid and secure carrier. If your carrier takes up a seat you will be charged for it. You can place your carrier on the floor between your feet or have it on your lap depending on the space available.
Travelling with your cat by bus
It depends on the bus or coach company as to whether they will allow your cat on-board so check first before you set out. Normally bus companies will let you travel with your cat if she is contained in a secure carrier.
Travelling by air
Check your cat is healthy to fly
Please check with your vet to make sure your cat is fit enough to fly. Some cats are in a high risk category which includes short-nosed breeds like Persians, Himalayans and Burmese, cats with heart or lung conditions, young kittens, elderly cats and nervous cats.
The PET Travel Scheme
Since the introduction of the PETS passport scheme flying with your cat has become a little easier. The PET Travel Scheme rules are that you must get your cat micro-chipped, immunised against rabies, have blood samples taken and have treatment for ticks and tapeworm. Once this is done it means that you then come home to the UK after your trip without having to put her in quarantine.
There are specialist Pet Travel Agencies available who will arrange everything for you but there are risks involved as while some airlines allow cats in carriers in the cabin, others insist they fly cargo in the pressurised hold. The temperature in cargo holds can be extremely hot or cold depending on the weather and the height the aircraft is flying and you should also bear in mind your cat could be at the mercy of delayed flights sitting on the tarmac, rough baggage handling and poor ventilation.
You will need to have a container for your cat that complies with the International Air Transportation Association specifications. Let your cat try out' the container before the trip so she is used to being in it and put a familiar-smelling cushion or rug in the container to help her settle. Attach spill proof water and food bowls and ID tags to the container and only give your cat a light meal a few hours before travelling.
As soon as you arrive at your destination check that all windows and doors are closed before letting your cat out of the carrier. It's a good idea to only give your cat allow access to one room. Settle your cat down with water, cat food, bedding and a litter tray and she will soon overcome her anxiety about being in a strange place. Do not let your cat go outside for about a week and make sure she is micro chipped in case she gets lost once allowed out. You can withhold food for 12 hours before letting her out so that she is hungry and returns to you for food.