Whether it's short car rides or long road trips, you need to make sure your cat is comfortable and secure. The same goes for those of you who travel by plane with your cat. And you guys have got extra things to consider like a health certificate and maybe even a rabies vaccination.
This probably all sounds a bit stressful! But stop worrying, we'll tell you exactly what you need to do when travelling with your cat.
Travelling with cats in the car
If you’re taking kitty on a road trip, the first thing you’ll need to buy is a cat travel carrier. You can purchase these from any decent pet supplier, and they're priced between £10.00 - £30.00. A good carrier needs to be comfortable, but secure.
Cats should never travel loose in the car. They could easily distract the driver, causing accidents that may lead to serious injuries. And there's always the chance they could escape. Cats are extremely quick and agile - open the window or leave the door open and your cat could run off. Just in case this does happen, fit your cat with an ID tag before setting off on any journey.
Taking your cat abroad
Plane journeys with your cat require lots of planning and a fair bit of research. The first thing you need to do is find out which airlines allow cats on planes. Each company has its own set of policies that you'll need to familiarise yourself with. For example, some will let you take your cat into the cabin, while others will only allow cats to travel in the luggage hold.
It's always best to contact the airline directly. Don't rely on websites or confusing terms and conditions documents. Speaking to someone from the airline a few months before travelling will prevent a lot of potential trouble and stress.
Rules and regulations (and how they might change)
As it stands, cats can travel inside the EU as long as they have a PET passport. If your cat hasn't already got one, speak to your local vet. However, with a final Brexit deal yet to be finalised, this might not be the case after the 29th March 2019. If the UK leaves the EU on a no deal basis, the UK will automatically become an unlisted country. This will make taking your cat abroad much more complicated.
If you've got a trip planned for after the 29th March 2019, then you'll need to start preparing for the worst case scenario. This includes:
- Getting your cat microchipped and vaccinated against rabies.
- Official documentation showing that the vaccination was successful
- A health certificate from your vet dated within 10 days before the departure date.
- Travelling without the right documents could mean a spell in pet prison. Your cat could spend up to four months in quarantine. Alternatively, your cat may be refused entry into the country. You're also liable for any costs or charges involved in processing undocumented pets.
Given the uncertainty around the final Brexit deal, it might be worth postponing any trips until the details have been finalised. But if you do need to travel before then, contact your vet ASAP. Getting all the right documents in order can take up to three months.
Countries outside the EU have stricter requirements which vary from country to country. So do plenty of research on your final destination. Visiting the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is a good place to start.
Getting your cat ready for the trip
Wherever you're going, there's a good chance your cat is going to spend a lot of time in their carrier. This means they need to feel comfortable and it's your job to help them get used to being inside the carrier. Start this process as soon as possible. Encourage your cat to spend some time in their carrier. Treats and food always work well!
If you know your cat is a nervous traveller, speak to your vet. They can prescribe some medication to help keep your cat calm during the journey.
And don't overfeed your cat before setting off. In fact, their last meal should be about two hours before you leave. This reduces the risk of nausea and vomiting associated with travel sickness.
When shouldn't I travel with my cat?
There some times when it’s best to leave your cat at home. Generally speaking, kittens under three months old shouldn't really travel. The same goes for pregnant cats, sick cats, or cats recovering from a serious illness.
Travelling can be pretty stressful. The best journeys are those that have been well planned out. This is especially the case when travelling with pets. So remember, do plenty of research on your final destination, invest in a high-quality pet carrier, and start preparing your cat for the trip as soon as possible.