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possible cat trauma?!


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we are bringing two cats to France in June.  They are six years old, have had their Rabies injections and go to the vets on Wednesday for a blood test and booster flu, enteritis and leukaemia jabs.  Noting that other people have had poorly cats after Rabies jabs I'm glad to say they are both fine.  Does anyone have any feed back on the best sort of carriers to put them in.  We do have two large pet carriers but not big enough for food and litter trays.  We are thinking of taking the Portsmouth/Cherbourg fast ferry and then it is a 5.1/2 hour drive to our house.  Is it best to break the journey half way and stop overnight or to do it in one hit.  We want to traumatise them as little as possible as they are much loved pets.

Any advice will be gratefully read.


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I can only give you my own experience, whether or not what we did was the right thing, I don't know.      Our journey was around 12 hours from start to finish (drive to tunnel, take train, drive 8 hours other end).    We have one cat, which was in a basket which was larger than the one we use for vets, but not large enough for full litter tray, etc.    The only time the cat was actually silent was on the train.   ~For the other 11 hours he wailed like a banshee.      Towards the end of the trip I actually thought he might die; his gums were pure white and he wailed and panted.   We made numerous stops, more numerous as time progressed, due to his distress.    In the end, seeing the state of him, when we were about 35 minutes away, I told OH he was fine (although I knew he wasn't) and to just put his foot down and drive, figuring the sooner we got there the better.    OH was horrifield when he saw state of cat, although to be honest, I still think we made right decision, because he was so traumatised by then, that absolutely nothing except stopping on side of road for a week would have made him better.   During the entire trip he neither went to the toilet nor ate or drank, although we did try to give him water.

Anyway, when we arrived we had already prepared as place outsidem (old chicken house) and I put him in there, away from all of the unpacking etc, and stood and talked to him for half an hour.   After 30 minutes he had a drink of water and used his litter tray, so I left him to go help unpack.      When I went back after 10 minutes he was asleep.    Left him for an hour or so and went and got him into house when house was cat-escape proof.      After an hour or so, he was fine and came and sat on my lap.

It was the most horrible journey I have ever made, but to be honest I am not sure that stopping overnight would have made any difference.   On the plus side, he is now (apart from a few traumas with the 'local' cat population!) incredibly happy (or seems to be !!!!).  If we had to do it again, it would break my heart but I would do it.   I personally would not leave him in a ferry hold alone, but its an individual decision.    All I can say is that some cats don't seem to mind, and others just can't stand the process.      I have not written above to panic you, because at the end of the day, the cat was fine.      Just try not to panic too much if they do behave like mine, and remember that the chances are that an hour or so after you arrive, they will act like nothing has happened (remind yourself what drama queens cats are).

Good luck.

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Our journey took 18 hours (including overnight ferry). We didn't stop except to get petrol.

The cat was  treated the same way Londoneye describes, with water and a very few bits of dried cat food (which he didn't touch). He only wailed when I checked on him. The rest of the time he miauwed at odd intervals or slept.

When we arrived his tavelling box was clean and dry,we put him in a cool quiet room, and he was fine straight away.

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Thank you so much for your reply.  I must admit my husband is firmly of the belief that the cats will be totally traumatised but I cant move to France and leave them behind.  I think we will do it in one hit like you suggest.  I must admit at the moment a trip down the vets is bad enough as they both poo and wee before we even get there.  They are both rescue cats, one is very fat and is totally quiet and traumatised and one is small, very vocal and totally traumatised also.

I'm so pleased that your cat seems to have settled down and appears happy.

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I composed this for a similar discussion about a year ago so I've cut and pasted it here rather than adapt and re-type the whole thing so bits of it aren't relevant this time. Sorry! In spite of that, I hope it is helpful. I think key to our uneventful move was the dark sleeping area. If you have the carrier prior to your trip, you could put it out for the cats to play in. You might find they like to sleep in it which means they'll be used to it when you travel. One thing I forgot to say is we got a Feliway spray from the vet. Feliway mimics feel-good cat pheremones. We sprayed that around the sleeping part of the cage about half-an-hour before we put them in it.


We found moving the cats was considerably easier than moving the dogs.

We bought two 4-month old kittens over last November. We got them a big

carrier with doors that could be slid open from either end. There was

space for a good sized dirt tray and a cardboard box with polartec

bedding which they'd already been sleeping on. The box had high-ish (6 inches) sides to prevent litter being

thrown into the bed. We cut the box to exactly fit into the space not

occupied by the litter tray. This stopped anything moving about. Except

the cats.

No sedatives were used.

We didn't give them much breakfast before we left as we wanted to reduce any likelihood of car sickness.

They weren't car sick.

We used Eurotunnel.

Total journey time was 10 hours. But I think we could have happily done a lot more.

We covered most of the cage with dark fabric so the sleeping end was dark and cave-like.

We added a bit of previously used litter to the tray to ensure they got that particular message.

We had small amounts of food and water in those containers which hook securely onto wire.

Cats slept most of the time, drank and ate very little, there were a couple of pees, no poops and very little of the "are we nearly there yet" type of vocalising.

They (and we!) were totally unstressed by the whole event.


had fresh litter, water, kitchen towel and fresh bedding (in case of

soiling) with us and apart from the water, needed none of it.


you are planning an overnight stop and need to get the cats into the

hotel (a lot of hotels take cats) then there's a bit more organisation

needed hauling the cats to your bedroom and back again, but I have to

say with a non-stop trip (apart from for our comfort stops) transporting the cats was amazingly easy.


I can understand that this is one more thing for you to be thinking

about at a time when there's lots to be thought about! But unless you

already know that your cats are bad travellers - and in which case,

you'll probably be worrying about them anyway - don't dismiss the

thought of them travelling with you. You could always kennel them

during the packing period and pick them up from kennels on the day you

travel. This has the benefit of preventing them disappearing just

before you want to leave.

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Hi Catalpa

Thank you for your reply.  I do feel a bit better now and we will try and put some of your recommendations into practise.  We did think of using Feliway but our Vet doesnt recommend it as she says it makes the cats dopey but I think a dark area and using bedding of their own is a really good idea.  When we have made the move I will give everyone feedback just in case there is anything helpful.



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I think Catalpa's advice is excellent.  We made the mistake of thinking our cat would be better off in a large area with room to move a little and bought one of those big dog crates which occupied most of the car with the three of us squeezed into the remaining space.  We only made it to the first service station on the motorway as the cat was totally traumatised by the movement, noise and lights outside - he was panting and trembling and obviously very distressed.  So we reconfigured the whole car in the services area and put him in the largish cat carrier which he was used to for trips to the vet - from this he could only see us and the inside of the car and he immediately calmed down.  I wouldn't say he was happy but he was not distressed and he slept a large part of the way.  As we were moving from Cheshire to SW France we stayed at one of the B&B chain hotels on the way down and he was perfectly happy to eat, drink and use his litter tray there - he had declined all opportunities en route - before settling down in his basket.  We arrived before our furniture and had two nights camping in an empty house which he was able to explore, but when the removal men arrived he was shut in the bathroom most of the day with his basket and a litter tray - again, no real problems.  We let him outside on day three but he was happy to stay close to us and close to the house for the first week while he got his bearings (he was microchipped but he wore a collar with an identity disc with our new address).  Nearly four years later he is very much king of his domaine and the move seems a long way in the distant past. 

I am sure you will find the move a lot more upsetting than the cats will; even if they do seem distressed I am sure they will recover quickly. We used the tunnel as whether or not the cat would have been worried by the ferry, we felt a lot better having him right there with us all the time.

Good luck - I'm sure it will work out fine,


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We travelled 3 cats and one dog together in the car (via the tunnel)  I had two standard sized cages in the hatch.  The two cats who travelled together slept the whole way and didn't make a sound!  The on own his own wailed occasionally and was quite stressed out.  He wasn't intersted in peeing, eating, or anything but crying!  In the end, we put him on a lead and let him walk around a service area which settled him down considerably.  For myself, I wouldn't stop overnight as I felt it just prolonged the agony.

I bought a packet of Tena incontinance pads and just put them in the bottom of the cages and changed them when necessary (which in fact was just the once.)  They had dry food and water but only the two in the same cage were interested.

In short, I think if your cats are happy to share a cage that they are very comforted by one another's presence.

Of the three cats, sadly only one is still with us but all three enjoyed their life here.  The remaining one is now 18 and seems to be as fit and well as ever she was.

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I would only add to this great advice that my cat who wails when driving for two minutes survived the journey here without too much issue, by accident recently when taking a trip to the vet I covered the cat basket and so she was in the dark (the dog bed had fallen on the cage whilst I was driving) I noticed she never wailed once whilst in the dark, so I would recommend the dark corner concpet discussed as I think with this she would have been much less stressed on the voyage over.

Good luck, she will be fine and like others my cat is loving it here, she is 17 this year and still full of life and mischief.


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just to add further reassurance, we regularly commute between Germany and France (7-8 hour trip) with our 7 (formerly 8) cats - don't ask.

We get a range of reactions.  Most are quiet unless we stop and then demand attention.  One absolutely has to have a litter tray which she uses for both ends (projectile vomiting and the runs) in the first hour but then settles down.  The adults travel in independent boxes - litter trays only for those who are going to need them because it is a little cramped.  The kittens have travelled togther in a rabbit run with litter tray.  Next trip this will need to be reworked because they are getting a bit big. 

All have access to water and biscuits.

On arrival they settle down within half an hour.  And the worst traveller (she who ejects from both ends) is always the first to greet us.  Guess she is just travel sick.

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Thank you everyone for your replies, nearly all extremely helpful, some scarey.  However, we are not daunted and will be moving to the Haute Vienne in the middle of June with cats come what may.[:)]

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No idea if you are anywhere near me, as Haute Vienne is a big place, but feel free to pm me where you are going to be, in case it's around the corner; you never know there might be something I can help you with when you get here ....
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