Writer, entrepreneur and ‘cat slave’ Stevie Benanty, has recently relocated from her native New York to London with her husband and two orange cats, Hicks and Joralemon. Stevie shares her top tips for travelling with cats, which are sure to make your journey a smooth one.
Getting ready to move across the country or even the world? Relocating can be stressful enough but when you add cats into the mix, it can complicate matters further. Luckily, we’ve put together a handy guide for relocating or traveling with cats so the move can be just purrfect!
1. GET CLUED UP ON THE PET POLICIES AND LAWS IN THE COUNTRY YOU ARE MOVING TO
Some countries only allow certain kinds of pets and if they do, a lot require quarantine periods. It’s up to you if you think you and your cat can handle that.
2. SPEAK TO YOUR VET
Make sure to research as well as discuss with your vet what vaccines (if any) your cat will need before getting on a plane. Start this process with your vet as soon as you can so you can properly schedule in appointments as some vaccinations need to be done within certain timeframes to be valid. You are also likely to have to visit your visit within a week or so of your travel so they can sign that your pet is healthy, ready to travel, and free of disease.
3. FIND OUT WHAT METHODS OF TRANSPORTATION ARE ACCEPTABLE FOR CAT TRAVEL
Various airlines have different policies in place regarding the type of pet (for example, flat-nosed breeds like Persian cats are not allowed to fly on most airlines as they can overheat), the size of your pet (can they fit under the seat?), and how long the flight is (some airlines have a policy where a pet cannot be on a flight longer than 8 or 10 hours, meaning you might have to make transfers).
It’s important to discuss options with your vet as well, who may even recommend anxiety medication for the trip. A lot of trains (like Amtrak in the States or Eurostar between London and Paris) do not allow pets at all. Ports of entry are a big deal and you don’t want to find out only when you’ve arrived at the airport that your pet can’t enter. For example, when going to the UK, animals can only come via the car chunnel or as cargo on an airplane, meaning they cannot fly with you in the cabin even if they would normally meet the requirements.
4. LOAD UP ON TRAVEL SUPPLIES
Whether you are traveling by car, train, or plane, each type of travel will require supplies. Never leave home without a cat collar with your information written down—even if they don’t wear one normally—and attached to a leash; a small bag of food just in case; a pop up rubber water bowl; a disposable litter box and a small bag of litter (you never know!). The aim is to make sure you are prepared in case of any travel disruptions.
5. HAVE THE PROPER PET DOCUMENTS FOR TRAVEL
If you are traveling within the EU, your pet will need its very own Pet Passport, how cute! Your pets will feel very international with their own passports and might even feel like they can travel without you.
6. CHECK THE AIRLINE’S CARRIER POLICIES
Each airline has different size requirements for carriers. In fact, most airplanes—even within the same airline—have different size requirements due to size constrictions. Don’t assume the carrier that your cat takes to the vet will be allowed on the plane. Typically, the sizes are VERY small so keep this in mind when booking travel and don’t fly far unless absolutely necessary. There is no reason to make your kitty uncomfortable for too long.
7. NOT ALL PET HOTELS ARE CREATED EQUAL
Most often when hotels say they are “pet friendly,” they mean dog friendly and I personally know a few cats who get offended by this! It is always a good rule of thumb to call the hotel before you book and ask specifically about cats. A lot of the time, they will say no (boo!), but it’s better to know than to show up and not be allowed to stay.
If they do accept cats, come prepared with everything you need: again, simple disposable litter box kits are your friend here. You do not want to be that person carrying in a litter box full of litter into a nice hotel – better to have a discreet one, let them use it, and toss it before you check out. Another good item to have with you is a foldable “play pen” of sorts that you can put your cat(s) in if you leave the room, as most hotels have policies that you can’t leave pets alone in the room—but with cats, you are likely not going to take them on an evening stroll on the beach (or are you?). The best compromise is to keep them safely in a playpen with food, water, and litter so housekeepers can’t accidentally harm or let the cats out of the room.
8. GET YOUR CATS USED TO TRAVELING AHEAD OF YOUR TRIP IF AT ALL POSSIBLE
If you have a new airplane carrier, keep it out in the open, put their favourite toy or snack in there, and let them warm up to it. They should not be introduced to a new carrier on the day of a long journey as they can get quite scared. It’s better to teach them it is a safe place. Carry them outside in the carrier, go on a drive with it in the backseat—whatever will get them used to their new space and method of travel will be helpful.
As we all know, cats are better at everything in life than us humans (as my cats are currently dictating) so chances are, they will be totally okay during travel or a big move. But it’s better to be prepared and give them the first class journey they deserve!
Have you travelled or relocated with your cats? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!