Pet Advice Travelling with your Cat

Published on December 17th, 2015 | by Debbie Martin


Travelling with Your Cat

Christmas is fast approaching, and preparations for the season should by now already be well underway. If you’re entertaining guests this year, then these preparations might consist of putting up the necessary decorations, stocking your fridge with appropriately indulgent foodstuffs and buying presents for all of your beloved friends and family. If you’re travelling, however, then only the latter of these three is necessary.Cat in box

Those looking to make a journey across the country this Christmas will instead have to contend with more mundane problems. Are the tyres properly inflated? Is the fuel tank adequately stocked?

If you’re taking a cat with you, then you’ll have another thing to consider. Travelling a long distance with your feline friend is something fraught with potential misery. You’ll need to consider where this displeasure might come from, and take steps to address it, if you want the journey to go smoothly and with a minimum of fuss.

Restrain Your Cat

There are no laws governing how exactly a cat should be driven around in a car, other than those governing animal cruelty. But there is a small section of the Highway Code which addresses the problem. Specifically, section 57 of the Highway Code stipulates that any animal being transported via car should be appropriately restrained so that they do not cause a distraction to the driver, or an injury in the case of sudden stoppage.

Letting your cat roam freely around the interior of your hatchback, then, is off the cards. Instead, you’ll have little alternative but to turn to the dreaded cat basket. These come in a number of different shapes and sizes, to suit a wide variety of different cats, but each of them can be easily stored in an available foot-well – or in the boot, provided that it is properly secured.

If your cat is of an especially shy persuasion, then there is one trick that will persuade it into the cat basket. If you leave the basket in an available space, and put some tasty treats in there, then the cat will make a habit of checking in. Let them do this a few times – make it comfortable, so that they might take to sleeping in there. Then, when the day arrives, quickly shut the door and lock them in!

Naturally, this is a trick which will only work once!

Drive Safely

Of course, even if your cat is as well-restrained as can be, you’ll still need to adjust your driving in order to make things as comfortable as possible. Gradual acceleration and braking, and gentle cornering, will help to minimise the forces acting on your cat inside the basket. This is all the more important if your cat should be a smaller sort – as they’re far more vulnerable to getting thrown around, even in an interior as cosy as a cat basket.

With the winter roads being covered with precipitation (whether it be snow or rain), safe driving is all the more paramount. If you want to get yourself and your passengers (both human and animal) to your destination in one piece, then be sure to drive like a sensible person.

Food and Drink

If you’ve ever been driving down a long motorway and had a sudden urge to go to the toilet, then you’ll be aware of just how precarious such a situation might be. Even if you’ve managed to avoid the problem, then the other occupants of your car might not have been so fortunate. Parents will be familiar with a series of pleas from the backseat, growing increasingly shriller with each passing mile.

If you think this is a problem with kids, then think about how much more of a problem it might be with an animal that can’t communicate that they need the toilet. They’ll be severely uncomfortable, and – perhaps worse still – they might decide that they can bear the tension no longer, and will relieve themselves right then and there in the middle of the car. The result, suffice to say, is an even more unpleasant journey from the moment of desecration onwards.

Whilst humans might decide to go to the toilet shortly before setting out, and thereby avoid this problem, cats are not able to do so – after all, they don’t know they’re going on a journey, and so can’t plan accordingly.

That said, there are a few things that can be done. Be sure that you cat doesn’t have anything to eat or drink in the few hours leading up to the journey. This way the likelihood of unplanned toilet-time will be much reduced.

Tire Your Cat Out

Cats are far more easily managed if they’ve been exhausted. Once that energy has been drained from them, they’ll be far more co-operative, and less willing to resist an attempt to bundle them into a basket.

It’s therefore worth tiring your cat out before you embark on your journey. This is a little bit trickier than it is in the case of dogs, who can simply be taken for long walks. You might want to play with your cat for a few hours beforehand.

In the run-up to your journey, find out what time of the day your cat is at its most energetic, and what time it’s at its most exhausted. If you can puzzle this out, you can then time your journey to coincide with your cat’s naptime.

What About Sedatives?

If your cat should be of an over-excitable or nervous disposition, then you might consider taking drastic measures in order to calm it down. Many consider giving their animal a sedative before setting off. But this can be a troublesome course of action, too, thanks to the multitude of unwanted side-effects that such medications can provide. For one thing, they’re addictive.

Sedatives are therefore only worth considering when all other options have been exhausted. Fortunately, as we’ve seen, there are a wide range of other options – and with their help, you can have a pleasant trip and a stress-free Christmas, even with your cat in tow.

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About the Author

Debbie Martin has worked at Beeston Animal Health for over five years, having previously worked as a nurse in equine and small animal practice. Although generally involved with aspects of marketing these days and putting her psychology degree to good use, she still has a great depth of up to date knowledge in all creatures great and small. Debbie lives at home with her partner and two children and spends much of her spare time looking after her horses, dogs and cats or at the home farm with the cows, sheep and turkeys.

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