How to travel with a cat: the last part

IMPORTANT (non medical) ITEMS

  • A cat carrier or pet travel backpack. If you take your cat for walks, you’ll need a backpack. We use one that has a rain cover and Kilian made s sunscreen for it as well.
  • Comb
  • A collar with LED lights, so you can see your cat when it is dark outside. They don’t last very long, so bring several.
  • We tie a long rope between the camper and a tree and then using a carabiner clip, we attach the leash to the rope (see pictures top and bottom)
  • A (spare) harness
  • Your cats favourite toy(s), blanket etc.
  • Something for your cat to scratch
  • Nail clipper
  • A litter box and scoop

FOOD
Most countries don’t have that much choice in cat food, especially not in the high quality range. For example in Albania only the big(gest) cities have a pet store and those are small and not as well stocked as in North-west Europe. Most cats don’t respond well to a sudden change of food, it can cause diarrhoea. So think about what you’ll feed your cat, when and where to buy it. There is information available about how to make your own cat food. But make sure it contains all the nutrition a cat needs. Keep in mind that “fresh” meat may have already gone bad (in the store) due to lack of proper cooling and handling.

THE DANGERS
in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place: dogs! Even if your cat is used to dogs. Unfortunately quite a few people don’t take enough responsibility for their dog. Dogs are often not on a leash and the owners don’t have enough control over them either. We made sure Binkie got used to dogs when he was young. So when we met a dog while walking, he wouldn’t panic. Although we always picked him up, not knowing what the dog would do. He’s met several (nose to nose) and was fine with them. Now, thanks to some careless dog owners, Binkie is afraid of dogs. Twice we could only just prevent him from actually being bitten. And of course there are also the stray or even feral dogs. So we keep a watchful eye out for dogs.

Then there are poisonous or venomous animals and plants. When you travel to a new area, find out what they are, what they look like and keep your cat (and yourself) away from them.

Rubbish, especially sharp objects like broken glass, lie around in areas where the collection of garbage isn’t well organized. Check the campsite before you let your cat wander about and clear away if necessary.

Getting lost. All cat harnesses, for safety reasons, have an “escape route”. If the cat would truly get stuck, then he can wriggle himself out. Which means your cat can take of in any direction. There are gps-systems for animals, but they are quite large. A medium or big sized dog will not have a problem with them, but for a cat it can be hindrance. The only thing you can do is watch the cat when out on a leash. Assuming your cat likes being with you, he will not take off as soon as he’s free. Once when we were walking, there was suddenly a lot of noise, causing Binkie to panic. We used a different harness then and Binkie escaped out of it. He took off, back along the trail we came from, straight to the van, even we though we just arrived there!

Binkie out at night wearing his led collar

Heat. Cats can die from heat exhaustion. They can’t sweat. Don’t shave a cat so it will be cooler, they actually need their fur against heat. If your camper has air-conditioning this may not be a problem. We don’t have air-conditioning. We have metal rosters which we place in the window when opened. So wind can come in, but Binkie can’t get out. This usually means it stays cool enough in the car while driving. We also have a cooling mat that doesn’t need water or a refrigerator and a gel cooling vest that needs to be kept in water for two minutes to be activated. If necessary we use all these three methods. If your cat starts breathing heavily, with its mouth open, its hot and needs to cool down. You can wet its feet and also the tummy. With a wet towel or something. Don’t use very cold water. Provide shade, if you can’t find a parking place with shade, it’s probably best to keep driving. If you find a place that has been in the sun, you might think that your camper provides enough shade for the cat to lie in. But then the ground will be warm as well, so it is not going to be cool enough. If you’ve been parked there since the night before, the ground will probably have cooled enough during the night, so your cat will have a cool enough place. Give lots of fluids. Obviously don’t undertake any activity with your cat, unless very early in the day or later in the evening.

If you’ll be travelling to really cold areas you might need heat packs for your cat, but generally the cold is far less of a problem for cats then heat. We don’t plan on travelling trough very cold areas much, but just to be on the safe site, we’ve bought Binkie a jacket. He looks really cool in it 🥶

The last danger might be an unexpected one; cats. Most of the cats you’ll see are stray cats. That means they’re not vaccinated, can carry all kind of parasites and contagious diseases and might try to fight with your cat, when you’ve accidentally decided to camp in the stray cats territory (obviously there’s no way to know that in advance). Stray cats often have to fight or work very hard for their food, so they chase the other cats away. If you feel sorry for the skinny cat, feed it very far away from your campsite. Chase it away with water if it comes near your campsite. If you pet a cat (or other animal) wash your hands before touching your own cat.

The line attached to the van and the handle with flexline which is attached to Binkies harness

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