Best Practices for Cat Transport
The first thing to do is contact an IPATA member in the Country you are shipping from (go to ipata.org then click on Find a Pet Shipper and enter the Airport code for your local Airport). IPATA members have a wealth of knowledge which can be priceless to you when you moving across the Country or across the World. It is important to contact them early, Pet Shippers are very busy people and have a lot of jobs to juggle and International Pet Movements, in particular, take a while to organise.
If your Cat is flying overseas there will be numerous documents to organise and often Vet treatments, tests or vaccinations to be done in advance. Each Country has different requirements which is why it is critical to organise your Cat’s Travel with somebody who knows what they are doing and can help you schedule all the steps that need to be done so when the day of big flight arrives everything is in place.
Quarantine Regulations: Some countries have mandatory quarantine periods for incoming pets to prevent the spread of diseases. We will advise you if this applies to where you are going.
Microchipping: All Cats being exported from Australia must be microchipped with an ISO compliant chip before departure.
Travel Crates: the minimum size Crate for Cat Travel in Australia is a PP30 – 60 x 40 x 45cm. Large Cats may need a PP40 – 70 x 45 x 50cm. It is always best to buy your crate from your Pet Transport Company because they have the best quality crates which are Airline Compliant. But if you do choose to buy one from a Pet Shop we suggest emailing a photo of the Crate to your Pet Transporter before you buy it. Many Travel Crates sold by Pet Shops are of inferior quality and some do not even meet Airline Standards. What to put on the floor of the crate. The PP30 crates come with a Plastic false floor that has holes for the Urine to drain through. It is fine to just put a towel on top of this. Or if you can ask your Pet Shipper to provide absorbent matting. This matting is a bit expensive but it does an excellent job of keeping everything dry. You cannot put Toys or food in the crate.
How to get your Cat into a Travel crate: Most Cats recognise travel crates and will not want to be put inside one. So it’s best not to let your Cat to see the crate at all, especially if it has a feisty personality and will resist going inside. If there a 2 people we suggest one of them pick up your Cat while the other brings in the crate from another room with the Door open and towels etc already in place. Then push your Cat in backwards, without letting them see the crate at any stage, then quickly shut the gate when their head is inside. If you are by yourself and your Cat is likely to fight when it sees the crate you can pick them up by the scruff of their neck and turn the crate on it’s end and then lower them into it and quickly shut the gate. While it’s not ideal to handle your Cat in this way it will get the job done quickly without anybody getting scratched or bitten.
Crate Training for Cats: You are the best person to decide if your Cat will benefit from Crate Training. If your Cat simply hates crates there is probably not much point, they are just going to get upset when you put them inside and be more difficult to get in when it comes time for the flight. But if they are neutral to Crates then we suggest leaving the crate in their living area with the Door open and put some comfort items in there and maybe some treats as well. This can give them positive vibes about the crate.
Choosing the Right Cat Transport Company
Professionalism: Check is if are they an IPATA Member. IPATA members invariably have the most experience, knowledge and level of Professionalism. They meet on a regular basis, are part of a global Network and are required to have staff trained and examined about the Live Animal Regulations. They also have to abide by Ethical Codes.
Experience: The next thing to consider is experience, this is the most valuable asset any Pet Shipper can have, especially with Cats who have unique needs. Ask them how long they have been in Business.
Transparency: A reputable shipping service will be transparent about costs, timelines, and the shipping process. They should provide a clear itinerary and be available for any queries you might have.
Emergency Protocols: Ensure the provider has protocols in place for emergencies, be it medical concerns or issues during transit.
Reviews: Check their reviews but be aware that Companies with innumerable good reviews are probably offering some incentive to get them. Statistically dissatisfied Customers are more likely to leave a review than satisfied Customers so if they sound to good to be true…
Hydration and Feeding: Ensure your cat is well-hydrated before the journey. But do not feed them for at least 12 hours before the flight – this is so important because the Airline will not load a Pet if their crate has been soiled. This results in lots of Pets missing flights and connecting flights. And if they soil their crate after departure this is no good either, they will have to sit in until they arrive.
Calming Aids: Consider using feline pheromone sprays or collars. These can help soothe your cat and reduce anxiety. Always consult with your Pet Shipper before using any calming supplements or medications. Sedatives are strictly forbidden because they can prevent your Cat from breathing normally when in a pressurised cabin.
Regular Updates: Choose a Pet Transporter who can provide regular updates during the process. Knowing your cat is safe and comfortable can provide peace of mind.
In conclusion transporting your Cat, especially Internationally, requires thoughtful planning and a deep understanding of both regulations and feline behavior. By following best practices, choosing a reputable Pet Travel Company, and taking steps to ensure your cat’s comfort, you increase the chances of a smooth and stress-free journey for your feline companion. Remember, our cats aren’t just pets; they’re cherished family members. Their safety, well-being, and comfort should always be the top priority. With the right approach, you can make the experience a positive one for both you and your cat.