Guide to Reduce the Stress of Relocating Abroad with Your Cat
One of the most difficult decisions for cat owners is if it is fair to relocate abroad and the implications this has on their beloved kitty. Whilst some may choose to rehome their feline friend, for others this is unthinkable. Here’s our guide for planning a long distance move with your pet cat.
Generally speaking, travelling with a cat can be quite challenging. The majority of felines do not particularly favour any kind of transportation and often get extremely stressed from a just a short trip to the vets. If you think about it, if going to the vets is the only place your cat has been when they’re put in the ‘dreaded cat carrier’, no wonder they’re anxious about what’s coming next. Moreover, cats are sensitive to changes in their environment and the feeling of vibrations experienced during transit are bound to be unsettling for them.
Thankfully there are ways to reduce the stress for your cat during a move, and this is a short-term situation which your cat will recover from. So, rest assured relocating your cat is perfectly acceptable and anything you can do to reduce their stress levels is a bonus.
Choice of Destination
Depending on your reasons for relocation, you may or may not have a say in which destination you will be moving to. If you do, its worth considering the distance and the impact of this on your cat. For example, some destinations do not offer direct flights, a nonstop flight would reduce the potential for stress.
Moving to a country which is a short direct flight away is definitely preferred, and if you can choose a country that has a pet passport scheme, then you’ll avoid another potential stressor – quarantine.
Furthermore, different countries treat cats in different ways, so when selecting your new country of residence take into consideration how ‘cat friendly’ it is – i.e. will it be safe for your cat to be outside.
Changing Carrier Association
If your cat scarpers at the sight of the cat carrier, you will need to spend some time addressing this negative association. For this to become a place your cat associates with positive experiences, you need to create positive situations involving the carrier.
- One way you can do this, is by giving your cat its favourite treats inside the carrier. However, be sure to keep the door to cage open throughout so they don’t feel trapped.
- Placing the carrier in your kitty’s usual sleeping spot with their bedding inside and the door open, can also encourage your kitty to use this ‘safe space’ as a cosy sleeping area. Allow the carrier to become part of the furniture rather than a feared object.
- Spray the carrier with Feliway which is a product that mimics a cat’s natural pheromone for inducing a calm state.
- Taking your cat on short trips around the block and giving plenty of treats when they get home, can help them to reduce travel anxiety.
Obviously, any negative trip involves the cat crate can potentially undo all of your work and your cat will need to visit the vet before you travel, so it is advisable to choose the option of a home visit. Although this isn’t available from all veterinary practices some do offer this service at a slight additional cost, which will of course be worth it in the long run!
One of the very best ways you can reduce the stress of the whole event is to be as organised as possible and plan everything in advance. Cats do pick up on our emotions, so if you’re calm and in control, this will aid your kitty.
Plan every aspect in the finest detail from what needs to happen prior to and post move. Better still, plan and prepare for worst case scenarios such as flight delays. This way you’ll be prepared in the event of an unforeseen circumstance.
Tips for the Day of Travel
To keep your cat’s stress levels to a minimum, use Feliway plug-ins around the house and spray the crate.
Whilst its going to be impossible to keep disruption to a minimum, consider placing you cat in a quieter room or letting them be outside during the period where the removal company is in full force.
Put an item of your clothing in your cat carrier, this will help your kitty settle and feel close to you throughout the journey. In some cases, you can choose to be on the same flight as your cat, doing so, will mean you can be there – albeit not in direct contact. This will help provide reassurance of your kitty’s safe transit and do wonders for your own stress levels.