So I decided to move from a city that’s so relaxed you can’t buy even bread after 6pm (unless you’re willing to go to an “evening shop” and pay 3x the price) (Amsterdam) to one that moves so fast they bring you the Monday paper on Sunday (London). Nevermind the 50 boxes of totally-necessary-stuff or all that furniture that had to be moved. Nevermind the paperwork that such a move brings along. Nevermind finding a new job. The MOST stressful thing about this move was – of course – bringing Alfie along.
As I didn’t want to take Alfie by plane (I was having nightmares imagining Alfie running away when I opened the cat carrier at security), it had to be done by car. As neither me nor A. are used to driving long-distance, my dad flew all the way from Romania for this – Thanks Dad!
So after months and months of planning and preparation (read here how you should prepare your cat before moving to the UK), the Big Day arrived. With the car full of Alfie’s stuff and his cat carrier strapped to the back seat, we started the 8 hour journey.
I have to admit I was
quite very stressed about this journey. Thinking back on it, I really shouldn’t have. He was absolutely amazing. He was calm (way calmer than me, despite the face that he was the one stuck in a box for 8h), and didn’t meow at all, except for a short, reassuring meow every time I turned around and asked him if he was ok (how sweet?!).
A few words about the route – I would definitely definitely recommend taking the Eurotunnel, as they let you stay in the car. The alternative option – the ferry – is pretty horrible for the pet, as they would need to be left in the car alone for the whole time, as you can’t take them on the deck with you (nor can you stay in the car with them for the duration of the trip).
You might recall my worries that he would run away when I opened the box for them to read his chip. If there’s anyone else out there stressing about this as well – DO NOT WORRY! The check takes place inside the Pet Control Building and it’s very likely they will be able to read his chip through the carrier. The building is easy to find, just follow the “Pet Control Building” signs with the brown paw logo.
I was quite impressed with the whole process – it was quick, pretty cheap (£15 / pet), the people were really nice and I was surprised to see they even have an exercise areas for dogs:
Before I go, I wanted to share some tips on travelling by car with cats:
* Never have the cat loose in the car (safer for both the cat and the driver)
* Get a good cat carrier: sturdy, waterproof, easy to clean, allows good air flow (VERY important!) and good sized (i.e. your cat should have plenty of room to stand up, turn around and be able to see out easily)
* Line the carrier with newspaper/absorbent cloth, covered by your cat’s blanket (or something that smells familiar). You can throw in a few of their toys as well. As with any other time you use the cat carrier, bring it out a few days before you actually need to use it so they get used to it
* Don’t bother arranging a litter tray – it is unlikely the cat will use it during the journey
* Secure the carrier with the seat belt so that it won’t move around when you break
* (obviously) Don’t put luggage on top of it (or around it if that would block the air flow)
* If it’s hot, don’t put the cat in the boot (as it may overheat) and take the cat with you (always in the carrier) when you leave the car
* If your cat gets stressed, speak calmly and reassuringly to it but do not let it out of its carrier
* Do not feed your cat within a couple of hours before departure
* Water – you can place a dish of fresh water in the case. Personally I didn’t do it and he was fine, but you know your cat better
* Sedatives – my vet told me they’re not a good idea as they could make your pet more agitated as he can’t understand what’s happening to them or they freak out when the effect runs out. Me, on the other hand – I could have definitely used some!
What are your tips for travelling with cats? Leave them in the comments below.
P.S. If you ever wondered what the Eurotunnel looks like, here it is. Very and cozy and inviting, right?