Pet Talk – how to cushion the ride for your feline friend

Pet talk - cat transport

They’re our ‘babies’ and our besties –  welcome to the first in a new series of articles on pets, the buddies we wouldn’t be without!

Some cats love to travel – but they’re in the minority. Most felines prefer to be home-based, and although that’s the way it can be for them most of the time, there are unavoidable journeys that puss simply has to undertake. Whether it’s transporting your cat to the vet, a cattery or the bach, here are some tips to make their journey safer and much less daunting.

Cats are creatures of habit – we only need to see them arrive on the dot of feeding time to know that! Use habit to help your puss adjust to car travel by taking them on two or three short trips before making a longer, essential one. Be sure to make the test drives brief (just around the block, for starters), and in the morning, when it’s still cool. Plan them for a day when you have no other reasons to go out. That way, if puss is distressed, you’ll be at home all day to comfort them on their return.

Always use a cat carrier cage to transport puss (even if the cat is happy to sit on the car seat). A loose cat doesn’t make for safe travel, especially in an emergency situation – and there is always the danger it will escape from the vehicle when a window or door is opened).

Choose a carrier cage that you feel you can safely manage (many owners prefer one with a lid, rather than a front opening, as it gives easier access to the animal). Before the journey, check all clips and clasps are functioning.

Don’t introduce the carrier cage suddenly. Instead, purchase (or borrow) it 2-3 weeks before it is required, and leave it in a room your cat frequents. Treat the carrier as part of the furniture, and introduce puss to it slowly by placing a treat or toy just inside (if the cage is lid-opening, lay it on its side to do this).

In the car, always secure the cat carry cage with a safety belt. This will help minimise vibrations, as well as offering protection in the case of sudden stops.

Line the carrier cage with a towel, and in case of any accidents, carry a spare liner, and damp cloths for clean-ups.

Cover the carrier with a towel to muffle loud noises and bright lights, but remember to use your vehicle’s air conditioning to keep the interior of the car cool (even if this means you need to dress more warmly).

Help your cat avoid vomiting from motion sickness by withholding food (but not water) for 5-6 hours before travel. On longer journeys, pack a small dish and cool water in a chiller-bottle, and offer drinks along the way (always do this with car doors and windows firmly closed as you open the carrier).

Once you reach home again, take the carrier inside, and shut the door to the house. Remove the cover from the cage, and talk softly to your cat for several minutes before unlatching the opening. This enables puss to settle quietly back into their surroundings rather than feeling they can make a sudden bid for freedom (which is a habit you don’t want to encourage).

Always store your cat carry cage is a damp-proof environment to avoid any rusting to hinges or latches.

If your cat shows signs of stress during travel, talk to your vet about products that can help minimise this. Sprays and drops are available.

If you feel transporting your cat is too stressful for you, other options are available. Pet Travel specialises in air transporting pets while several other businesses such as Wise Move help with door to door pickups.

Be prepared, think ahead, and use these helpful tips to make travel easier for you and your cat.