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Littley the (Happy) Travelling Cat

My initial travelling experience with Littley was less than encouraging. I needed to take him to the vet for his jabs and to have him micro chipped – 
 Liz kindly bought me a rigid plastic cage with a metal grill at one end, it seemed ideal as he was still a tiny little thing. (his growth spurt hadn’t started yet)

I had never *owned* a cat before and so I did a lot of reading in preparation for his (hopefully) future car trips. I was a bit worried  that nearly every article I came upon, seemed to carry the warning that, unlike dogs who often enjoy car travel, most cats find it a frightening and upsetting experience…

With regard to Littley the opposite eventually proved to be true, as he now really enjoys his car journeys – although I would not have believed it at the time.

Littley never took to the cage, he seemed to dislike the bars and the air vents of his mobile prison. I also noticed that he was out-growing it rapidly.

With the date of the vet appointment looming, I tried a few dummy-runs in the car…using Dreamies (his favourite treat) to lure him into the cage – but each time, the whole procedure became more and more traumatic for him (and for myself) 's Even the offered Dreamies seemed to be losing their persuasive power. 
The eventual journey to the vet's was sadly traumatic, with rapid meows, wailing and whining down his nose - which continued during the first injection and micro-chipping. After the ordeal was over, there was no problem getting him back into the cage, as by then I was the owner of a terrified cat. As soon as I got him back in the house and released him from his dungeon, he climbed at high speed onto the top of the wardrobe and there he stayed, glaring down at me for the rest of the day. 
He was somewhat calmer the next morning, but sort of distant and civil. There was no “Good Morning” head-butting and purring to greet me when I woke up…and sitting on my knee that evening was definitely off the agenda.
Thankfully, as the days passed, I was gradually forgiven and his normal loving ways returned, but it took nearly a week before the morning cuddles, games, hunting and fun throughout the day returned…but when they did, I'd smile at the the sound of the cat-flap opening, followed by the pitter-patter of paws up the stairs…and finally a warm little lump, jumping up and snuggling down beside my feet at the bottom of the bed.

I did try to get him to like the cage during that time, by leaving it with the front grill open and placing his meals inside - no chance! The only way to end the immediate hunger-strike that ensued was to relent and quickly put his dishes out in the open as usual. I also tried top-loading him, with the cage on it’s end. This resulted in hissing, wriggling and threatened biting - Littley was shouting “NO” in the only way he could and woe betide me and my friendship with the little soldier, if I ignored it.

It was time to think like a cat…

Now, other cats might be different and prefer a small dark space to feel safe in, but I reckoned that Littley, with his tough street-cat background and his lean springy body, needed space to stand on his hind legs and move around…and with his outgoing personality…lots of visibility to see exactly what was going on around him.

I searched the internet and eventually found a extra-large cat show-cage, made by ‘Sturdi Products’ a US firm. At almost £100, it was more than I had anticipated, but when it arrived, I knew at once that I had made the right decision.

I did a test-run through Coventry, with an excited cat, standing on his hind-legs, watching everything happening around him. People on the street did double-takes when they saw him. I stopped to get some diesel, with Littley jumping around his cage in an attempt to look out of all the windows at the same time - it was his first visit to a filling station forecourt and he just had to see everything at once . A driver watching Littley’s antics with a mixture of amazement and amusement,  remarked that I was so lucky to have a cat like that and how his own cat was always terrified and wailed all the time, when he travelled in the car.

I felt very smug…

The second visit to the Vet’s was a breeze (apart from the injections)…A couple of nervous meows when the car started moving, followed by total interest in the traffic around him and the people on the street. He also seemed to really like going fast!

The next step was to prepare things for his first really big journey – 120 miles each way, to see Liz for a week’s holiday.

 I made a check-list

1. Best time to travel – Littley loaded into car by mid-day. He gets sleepy around that time, which I thought would be good for sustained travel and would also mean that the whole jouney would avoid the rush-hour periods.
2. Lots of kitchen towel – In case

of poo’s or similar ‘accidents’

3. Old towel in carrier with a spare one in case of more ‘accidents’

4. Plastic bags to dispose of old towels etc if ‘accidents’ did happen! (It has only happened once so far, after six months of travel.)

5. Bottle of water and plastic bowl in case of traffic jams or breakdowns 

6. A packet of ‘Dreamies’

7. Small quantity of hard food

8. Small hamper with enough wet and dry food for the whole week’s stay.

I also made a mental note to...

9.  Try to choose a day with mild weather – no hot sun, or predicted storms. Try to avoid rush-hour times – mixing scorching weather with a traffic jam could be life threatening.

 10 Check that my Travel insurance and relay cover with one of the motoring organizations (AA, RAC, GreenFlag  etc) was up to date.

11. Most Important ~ Use the same forethought and planning as if transporting a baby.
The journey went really well and Littley, after watching the motorway traffic (especially the lorries!) for around half an hour, settled down and slept until we arrived.
 He never cries (meows down his nose) or wails, except when he leaves Liz’s house after a holiday visit  –  he’s very fond of her!

Littley really loves to travel – He’s a Happy  Travelling Cat!


If you’re interested in travelling with your cat  – go visit my cat product page, you’ll find the button on the top menu bar above this post. However, it's worth bearing in mind that your cat may be quite the opposite to Littley and prefer a small-dark space to hide in whilst on the move. 
                          Cats are like people - Each one is unique. 
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