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How to plan the purr-fect holiday with your cat
Let the cat out of the bag with our guide to holidaying with felines.
Travelling is fun, but it's even better with your cat. That's what Hasara Lay, founder and chief adventurer behind Catexplorer; a podcast, travel blog and feline-loving community that is encouraging cool cats (and their owners) to get out and see the world says. From hiking and kayaking destinations to driving with your fluffy feline friends, here are Hasara's top tips for planning a purr-fect cat-venture.
Unleash your cat's inner explorer with a hiking holiday, or opt for a romantic beach-side break for two. Images: supplied by Catexplorer.
Five tips for feline-friendly travel
What kind of getaways do cats like? How are they different from dogs?
Many dogs like spending time with each other at dog parks and beaches, but this isn't always the case for cats. Those locations can actually be scary for cats as the dogs may not respond positively to them.
Many cat owners choose getaways where their cats can go to quieter places, like a quiet hiking trail or a quiet beach. Unfortunately, not all pet-friendly places are cat-friendly. It always helps to confirm that a place is cat-friendly too before booking, even if it says it is pet-friendly. (More: Victoria's best pet hotels)
What do you need to consider when road tripping with a cat in tow?
If you are planning on driving long distances with your cat, start training them a few weeks or months beforehand. But before you start training, choose how they are going to travel in the car.
We strongly recommend that your cat is restrained in the car while it is moving. If they will be travelling in a carrier, start introducing them to the carrier while at home. Make it a positive experience using treats, toys and playtime.
When they are comfortable with the carrier, place it in the car and introduce your cat to the carrier in the car. Once they are comfortable with this, start taking them on short drives, like around the block or up the street, and slowly increase the distance you drive as they become comfortable.
Some other ways to help your cat become comfortable in the car include using calming sprays like Feliway (only spray the carrier, not your cat), or even playing some Music for Cats on Spotify.
What are the benefits of getting out and about with your cat?
Many owners of indoor cats often complain about not being able to sleep through the night as their cat is really active. This is understandable as cats may struggle to use up all their energy while inside.
Cats who go cat-sploring with their humans use up this energy so they're more likely to get a little shut eye. Another concern with cats who are indoors all day is that they get bored and have a tendency to act out. Cats who go exploring with their humans are more likely to be happy and have enriched lives, as they are seeing more than the inside of four walls.
But while going an a cat-venture is good for our fur babies, many members of our community say the most interesting benefits have actually been for humans. It can be tempting to sit on the couch and watch Netflix, but when we know that our cats want to go outside, we are forced to go outside and it is a great way to get exercise and fresh air.
Catexploring is also a great way to meet other people. Every person who gets out and about with their cat has been stopped, asked about their cat and been told stories about other people's cats. It is an amazing way to put a smile on someone else's face.
The most special benefit, though, is that exploring with your cat helps the two of you develop a closer bond. You learn to read their body language, understand what their meows mean and see that side of their personality that you may not have noticed before.
Skating into the 2019 Cat Lovers Show.
Do all cats make great holiday companions?
The first thing to consider is if your cat is suitable to be a catexplorer. Some cats prefer to stay inside on the couch. These cats are probably not the right candidate. However, if a cat loves watching the world go by from their window, and they rush to the door and are curious, catexploring is a great way for them to go outside safely.
Once an owner decides that their cat is suitable to be a catexplorer, they should start harness training them. A great way to do this is at home, with consistent short bursts with lots of positive reinforcement. This can include treats, toys, games and even cuddles; it all depends on what your cat likes.
At the same time, owners should train their cats to use a safe space like a cat backpack, which they can retreat into if they get scared or anxious while exploring.
Once a cat is used to wearing their harness, they can start exploring a quiet place like a backyard, courtyard or a balcony. As they become more comfortable, owners can slowly expand the boundaries and introduce their cat to areas that may be slightly busier.
Each cat (and human) is different, so the activities they enjoy will vary, too. Some cats and humans love hiking, others prefer hanging at the beach, while others will just spend time in their backyard.
Does your cat need to be able to walk on a leash to go on a getaway?
It is recommended that your cat is harness trained and walks on a leash before you go away. This just helps you manage where they may go, especially if you have an emergency. We also recommend that cats are trained to use a safe space like a cat backpack, too.
To find out about the latest feline must-haves, chat to expert cat trainers, get up close with cute and cuddly kittens, or meet other cat-loving legends – including the Catexplorer herself – visit the Cat Lovers Show this weekend. It's on 30 November to 1 December at the Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton.