Taking your cat on holiday with you

Cats are creatures of habit. This is why most cats will not particularly enjoy going on holiday with their owners. Think about what is best for your cat and make sure you are well prepared for whatever scenario you choose.

Should I take my cat with me on holiday? 

If you were to carry out a survey among cats, most of them would probably say “no thank you!” For many cats, going on holiday and being in a foreign environment is stressful. First of all, they have to travel in a (usually highly disliked) transport box and are exposed to unfamiliar noises. At the holiday destination, they will probably no longer be allowed to go outside and will have to come to terms with an unfamiliar environment. It’s different for dogs: they want to be at your side wherever you go and are willing to accept a lengthy journey if necessary. This is less often the case with cats. However there are, of course, exceptions. Some cats are very attached to their owners and may not feel at ease in a boarding cattery. If you cannot find someone your cat trusts to act as a cat sitter while you are away, and your cat has an appetite for adventure, then it is advisable to start with a short holiday over the weekend and see how your cat likes it. Maybe your cat is an exception and will enjoy going on holiday with you.

Going on holiday with your cat 

If you want to take your cat with you on holiday, the first question to consider is the holiday destination. The further away it is, the more likely you will have to travel by plane. Most airlines allow you to take a cat into the cabin in an approved transport container (which must remain closed throughout the flight). You must, however, arrange this with the airline and make a reservation in good time. The transport of cats in the cargo hold of an aircraft is not advisable! The distress your pet would suffer would obviously be unacceptable. Kept in a transport container under the seat in front of you, however, cats with a tranquil disposition can spend a number of hours on a plane without any problems. The situation is similar when travelling by train. Here, you are also able to interrupt the journey in an emergency.

The wisest option, however, is usually to travel by car or camper van / mobile home. Here you can decide for yourself how many stops you make.

What do I need for holiday with my cat?

  1. No matter how you plan to travel – your cat should always be kept in an appropriate transport container. Here, your pet cannot accidentally escape and it has its own private space that can be equipped with its favourite blanket and toys. 
  2. When travelling abroad, you will need a valid Pet Passport or Animal Health Certificate (AHC), which must be shown at the border. Normally, at least one anti-rabies vaccination is required. There may, however, be further requirements depending on where you are travelling. 
  3. Find out in advance whether your planned accommodation allows you to take one or more cats with you. 
  4. To help your cat settle into its new surroundings, you should take its usual litter tray, cat litter, bowls and food with you. 
  5. If your cat enjoys being around people and you would like to let it outside under your supervision while on holiday, a special cat harness with a lead can be recommended. You should already have practised using this at home.

A short holiday with your cat

During a weekend trip, you usually won’t have to worry about your cat at all. You should, however, prepare well for this short holiday: most importantly, your cat’s litter tray should be freshly cleaned. If your cat is very sensitive, you should provide it with an additional litter tray. It is also important to leave enough bowls filled with water and enough for your cat to eat. If possible, ask your neighbours, family members or good friends if they can look after your pet.

Making sure your cat is cared for during your holiday

Whether you need someone to look after your cat while you are away depends first and foremost on the length of your holiday. We recommend arranging for this from no later than the 2nd day. You could also use an automatic feeder if you are away for a longer period of time. However, cats ultimately need a lot more than this: fresh water every day, a litter tray that is always clean, and contact with someone they know. It is therefore best to arrange for someone your cat is familiar with to take care of it for you. With the right person to look after your pet, you will be able to relax and enjoy a carefree holiday.

The person you choose may, of course, not always be available during your holidays. In such cases you may wish to consider arranging for a cat sitter to come over regularly. Perhaps a friend or acquaintance can recommend a cat sitter in your area, or you can find one online. It is important to get to know the cat sitter personally in advance and to tell them everything they need to know about your cat and its habits.

Putting your cat in a boarding cattery

If you can neither take your cat with you on holiday, nor find an appropriate person to look after it in your home, then your only option may be a boarding cattery. Some cats will have no problem with this, and will see it as an adventure, while others will feel very ill at ease in a strange environment without their owners. Before you take this risk during a 14-day holiday, it is better to first test it out for one weekend. Ask your vet or other cat owners in your area for their personal recommendations. If this proves unsuccessful, you will most likely be able to find a suitable address online. Ring them and make a personal appointment (without your cat) to get a first impression. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How trustworthy do the owners of the boarding cattery seem, and how much experience do they have? Do they have the required certificate of competence? 
  2. Are the premises and the rooms clean? 
  3. Are worming treatment, health precautions and liability insurance required or does the boarding cattery operator not seem particularly bothered? 
  4. How many carers are responsible for what number of cats? There should be no more than 15 cats per person. 
  5. Is veterinary care ensured? 
  6. How many cats are kept together per room? Is an outdoor enclosure available? 
  7. And is it possible to house an individual cat separately if problems occur?

If your questions have been answered to your complete satisfaction, there is still the question of how much the boarding cattery will cost per day. This can vary considerably, but on average you can expect a daily cost of around ten to twenty euros. This is cheaper than a personal cat sitter, whom you will usually have to pay between twenty and forty euros per day. However, the costs should only play a secondary role. Most important is what is best for your cat(s) while you are away on holiday.

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