Moving house does not normally trouble the family cat. It retains its well-loved human companions and usually many items of furniture that it knows well. After arriving at the new dwelling, the cat quickly sets about establishing its territory and leaves its calling cards with the feline patriarchs of the area. Occasionally, loving for some old flame left behind, or preferring the surroundings in which it grew up, a cat may decide to trek back to its old haunts. The longest recorded journey is nine hundred and fifty miles from Boston to Chicago! Cats cannot find people if they up and move leaving the animal behind, but they do have the ability to locate places. It seems that, during the months or years that a cat lives in its old home, its brains automatically register the position of the house in terms of angels of the sun at certain times of day. Cats, like man and many other animals, are fitted with internal biological “clocks”. If the cat is uprooted to a new home where the sun’s angle at a particular hour is slightly different, and it wants to put it “right”, it works by trial and error, moving in one direction and then the other in order to “improve” the angle. All if this computation is done subconsciously. Even when the sun is obscured by cloud, the cat can probably locate it by means of rays of polarized light. There may also be, as in birds, a biological compass built into the feline skull, which helps it to navigate. All of which means that cats have an uncanny sense of direction.
When the cat reaches the vicinity of its old house, it completes its journey by noting familiar sites, sounds and smells.
Two designs of cat carriers for routine journeys. Although cosier, the wicker basket is not as easy to clean and disinfect as the plastic-covered wire model
Every cat owner should have a cat carrier. For short journeys, to visit the vet for example, one of the disposable cardboard carriers that you can buy from veterinarians, humane societies or pet shops, is suitable. For longer journeys as more substantial container is necessary. This must be escape-proof, well ventilated and easy to clean. Although the wicker basket form is very popular, it is not always secure enough and is difficult to clean and disinfect thoroughly. A vinyl, polyethylene or fibreglass carrier is preferable. In cold weather the carrier should be lined with a blanket or a special fur fabric insulator. A thin blanket is sufficient for warm weather. In hot conditions a damp towel should be placed over the carrier (without obstructing the ventilation holes) to keep the temperature inside from rising.
When first introducing your cat to its carrier, do so in a closed room. Cats don’t generally like carriers and the journeys associated with them, and some protest vigorously at being boxed up. Make sure that the cat uses its litter tray before being placed in the carrier.
Unless your cat is one of the very few that are accustomed to car travel and will lie peacefully on the back seat, take no chances and confine it to a carrier when going anywhere. If the journey lasts more than half-an-hour, stop regularly to allow your cat to use its litter tray and have food and drink. Do al this inside the car with doors and windows closed to avoid an escape.
In hot weather you should not leave a cat (or any other animals) for long periods in a closed car. Hyperthermia (over-heating), which may end fatally, can occur remarkably rapidly, particularly in an excited and apprehensive animal, which most are when enclosed.
You should always make sure a window is partially open if a cat is left in a cat on a summer’s day for even the shortest period of time.
Tranquillizers or sedatives can be given to cats that are upset by traveling, as can other drugs for those affected by motion sickness, though try to avoid using them. Seek the advice of your veterinarian if you have a cat that absolutely hates transportation.
The indoor accommodation is snug and dry and its provided with an individual run. The general design with plenty of fresh air is better than totally enclosed layouts, but the spread of diseases could still occur easily. I prefer a double gate with secure locking devices to prevent accidental escapes when people enter and leave the cats’ quarters. Two cats from the same home can usually share accommodation. Always visit and inspect any cattery before booking your pet in for a stay.
Taking a cat to another country needs careful planning. The most important factors are the regulations governing importation of animals that are in force in the country of destination. Check with your travel agent, shipping agent (if involved), airline freight company and, most important of all, the consulate of the country you are going to, regarding any quarantine, health certificate rules and transportation conditions.
Air travel is the most common form of animal transport on international journeys, and its speed makes it ideal for long distances. You must use a cat container that is approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). There are rules to ensure that cat carriers are strong enough, and properly ventilated and marked, etc. Most airlines won’t accept animals unless the IATA regulations are met and some have their own rules in addition, so check the full details with the airline well before the flight.
Before taking your cat to the airport you should:
* Give the animal light meal and a drink two hours before dispatch.
* If your vet has recommended a tranquillizer, give it as directed or just before you hand the cat over.
Two excellent design of cat carrier approved for air, sea and land transport. These are airy, strong and secure models which can be firmly locked and are constructed of materials which are easy to clean and disinfect
Rail and sea travel
In general the recommendations for containers for air travel should apply here also. Some rail companies will allow you to keep your pet with you provided it is in a carrier; others insist that the cat, in its carrier, travels in the luggage wagon.
Sea travel for cats takes longer than flying and there is no veterinary care. Unless the owner is also on board, daily attendance must be provided by one of the crew. Sea-sickness is, however, rare in cats.