Hardly any cats enjoy leaving their usual environment. However, moving home or long journeys can make it necessary for your cat to travel every now and then... If the owner doesn't have a car, public transport is required to make the journey to the vet's. Is this possible? Of course! With a few tips, you and your cat can have a completely stress-free journey.
Train Travel with Cats
How to prepare for a journey with your cat
One thing is particularly important: the safety of you, your cat and all fellow passengers comes first. When travelling by public transport, only transport baskets exclusively for cats or a textile cat case are permitted.
The more familiar your cat is with its case, the more relaxed it will be on the day of travel, so get it used to its travel case in good time. Instead of only getting the case out for unpleasant car journeys or trips to the vet, you can bring it into the living area several days or even weeks beforehand.
Make the case appealing for your cat: valerian and catnip help nervous cats to relax and tempt them to explore the box. You can also make use of pheromone sprays like Feliway, which recreate the “wellbeing hormone” that cats give off when marking surfaces in their territory. Make the box part of daily play sessions.
As soon as your cat has overcome its fear of this big, unpleasant smelling box, you can even try to tempt it inside aided by toys such as a cat dangler or treats. Perhaps you could even offer your cat a meal inside the transport case? It's important to not close the door initially and to ensure that your cat feels in no way constricted! It must be able to leave the box at any time. Reward it with a little snack.
The big journey
The time is finally here! Ideally, you will have already familiarised your cat with the transport case, so it should be relatively straightforward and relaxed getting it go inside. Now when you get on the bus or train, you will probably be the only animal lover taking a cat with you. Depending on the length of the journey, you and your cat will be exposed to many different smells and noises, and it may be very hot or extremely cold... Your cat has every right to be nervous! But what's the best way to reassure it?
Bear in mind that not all people like cats and that some may even be allergic to them. Consequently, your cat should remain safely inside its transport case during the journey. Depending on your cat's character, it will evidently get bored during the journey or complain vocally. Nevertheless, resist the urge to open the door of the transport case or to let your cat sit on your lap in order to give it reassurance. Cats are agile animals and can disappear all too quickly, making them a danger to themselves and your fellow passengers. For the next few minutes or hours, you should limit yourself to tickling your cat through the grate of the transport case and speaking to it gently.
Depending on the length of your journey, you may wish to provide your cat with some water and a treat from time to time. Travelling is stressful for cats and not all of them want to drink something on the bus or train. Despite their thirst, many refuse to drink fluids. On very long journeys with trusting animals, you can squirt some fluid into their mouth with a disposable syringe that doesn't have a needle. Here you need to slightly open the zip of the transport case and reach in with your hand. Don't feel offended though if your cat recoils or even hisses at you. As ever, safety comes first – please don't let your cat escape!
It can also become cool in public spaces depending on weather conditions. Placing a towel over the transport case protects your cat from draughts. However, not all cats like travelling in the dark... Many transport cases have several windows that can be closed and reopened with velcro fasteners as required.
After the journey
Finally, you've arrived! You and your cat will probably feel a bit wobbly at first after the journey. Treat yourself and your cat to a little rest. Reassure your four-legged family member and leave the transport case inside your home for a few days is possible. This gives your cat the opportunity to forge more positive experiences with the box before the next time it has to travel.