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Travelling with Cats

The right carry case

Choose a carry case that is the right size for your cat. They should have plenty of room to stand up, turn around and be able to see out easily. Plastic or fibreglass cases are ideal for long journeys; they are draught proof, easy to clean and will last for years.

Line the bottom of the case with some absorbent material, such as newspaper, to soak up any accidents. Cover this with a familiar blanket or an old piece of your clothing to 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 the cat in the case once or twice and shut it in for short periods.

Cats in cars

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 the cat out of the container during the journey, even if it appears anxious, in case it tries to escape or distracts the driver. The noise and motion of the car will eventually calm it down and it will usually 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.

Place a small dish of fresh water in the carrying case and carry a spare bottle with you for topping this up. If your cat suffers from motion sickness, do not feed it within an hour of departure.

If you take a break during the journey, make sure there is no danger of the cat overheating if it is left 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.

On arrival

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 access to one room at a time. 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. Settle it down with water and a litter tray and it will be happy until you return. When you come back, make sure that you close the outside door before you open the door to the room where your cat is. That way there is little chance of the cat 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 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 start with, starve the cat for twelve hours before allowing it out and then call it back inside after 10 – 15 minutes using food as an enticement. After that, it should only be let out once a day, using the sight and smell of a meal each time to encourage back inside.

From time to time regulations do change. Always consult DEFRA for the latest information about travelling abroad with your pet.