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Old 8th September 2020, 15:21   #1
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Default My experience: Travelling 1000 km with a cat

Ever since this covid crisis started, I hadn't visited home (Mumbai). Since I have a pet cat, it makes traveling more complex than usual.

Post covid, airlines had stopped allowing pets in cabins and I could only take her in the cargo. She had traveled once previously in flight cargo and it was a pretty traumatic experience so I didn't want to repeat that. Trains were a very comfortable journey once boarded but going to the station with all the luggage and also completing formalities needed to reserve a 1AC coupe wasn't something I could've managed solo (had done this before when me+dad+cat had traveled).

Considering the above scenario, as well as relaxation of e-pass and quarantine rules, I started exploring the option of doing a Blr-Mum roadtrip with her. I researched online, talked with the vet, talked to other cat folks on this forum as well, prepared quite a bit and then made the journey on 6th Sep. Sharing my experience here in the hopes that it would be helpful to someone who also wants to travel with their pet cat.

Preparation



The Cat

Cats love to explore and move around and are also very particular about their environments. Hence, a new environment where they're restricted from moving makes them very uneasy travelers. Temperament matters a lot as well. While Indian street cats who've had a difficult experience in childhood are very panicky, Persian cats raised in a house are very calm and relaxed. Know your cat and take decisions accordingly.

Below is all the prep I did with regards to my cat:
  • Got medical stuff sorted
    • I had updated her vaccinations a month ago already. Get them updated if you haven't (even if not traveling)
    • Visited vet and got a medical certificate saying vaccines are up to date and she is fit to travel (certificate is needed for air travel but kept it with me for the roadtrip just in case)
    • Vet also gave an oral solution to calm her if needed (conventional method is a spot-on applied on the head but they were out of stock). Solution could be dropped in her mouth when feeding her a treat. Thus, keep treats handy as well.
  • Bought accessories
    • Got a large pet carrier from Amazon which was much more roomy and comfortable than the usual cage/carrier. Kept it around the house for a week and gave her time to get used to it. By the day of the travel, it had already become her favourite spot to curl up in.
  • Others
    • I also kept a log of her food and water intake, litterbox use, active/calm periods, etc for a week. This helped me adjust her feeding times slightly so that she ate late in the evening and pooped it out by morning.
The Car

I had bought a second-hand Ford Freestyle about a month ago. This was my first car and while I had done roadtrips in my parents' car before, none were this long.

Below is all the prep I did with regards to my car:
  • Car check up
    • Inspection of fluids, electricals and tyres is a must. I had done all these checks from an ASS before buying so I just re-checked fluid levels myself.
    • The evening before the travel, I filled the tyres to the recommended highway pressure and topped up fuel.
  • Car documents
    • Since I had recently transferred ownership, there was some last-minute rush for me. The RC arrived 3 days before the travel date.
    • I then rushed to get FASTag installed from a PayTM vendor. Good decision since there were 20 tolls on the way and it worked smoothly at 18 places.
    • I also intimated the insurance company about the ownership transfer and got the process started. Ensured that everything from my side was done and I/car would not be required in Bangalore for anything. Ideally would've liked the policy to have arrived as well but that didn't happen (still waiting on it).
  • Bought accessories
    • Installed a "covid partition" just in case the cat got too restless cooped up in the carrier and I had to let her out in the back. Would've been my ultimate last resort but thankfully she was taking the journey really well, so I removed it when I took a break before Satara.
      Note: the velcro messes up the headliner. Can be fixed to 80% condition by just running a hand but don't think it will be perfect again :(
    • Another point regarding the partition is that it will block AC flow if your car doesn't have rear AC vents. I cut out holes in the partition to ensure airflow and cooling (since I wasn't doing this for covid reasons). I also taped a digital thermometer on the rear left window so I could monitor the rear temperature by just glancing over my shoulder. Even with the cutouts though, temperatures rose to 37ºC and that was also a factor in my decision to remove the partition mid-trip.
    • Another thing I bought was a waterproof seat cover for pets. I had dropped the seats and used this to cover them+luggage and then placed my cat's carrier and litterbox on top.
The Route
  • Have a detailed overview of your route before-hand (even in these days of Google maps and Android Auto). Make notes of milestones every 2-3 hrs / 100kms. Don't use that to push yourself though. It is just for awareness.
    • In regular circumstances, I would've also listed exactly what place/restaurant/cafe I will stop at but in covid-times, I was packing all my lunch and snacks and stopping only for pissing and fuel. Thus, I didn't plan my stops to the last detail.
  • Be very flexible with your plans when traveling with a pet.
    • I had a stopover option at a family-friend's place in Kolhapur. This was my default option and having that as default reduced stress levels massively. No longer was there any time pressure and I knew there was a peaceful single-room waiting for me and my cat to rest.
    • Also be prepared to turn back and call off the trip if it gets too stressful for the cat. Mentally, keep a point-of-no-return in mind. Say somewhere around 20% of the travel time. Before this, it is best to turn back but later it would be better to carry on to the mid-way stop that you have in mind (for me, Kolhapur) and just rest for the day.
  • I made two recon drives from Blr to Tumkur and back in the week leading up to the travel date. I wanted to have this stretch by-hearted for two reasons:
    • This would be the night-time leg of journey and I would be in a just-woken-up state so knowing the road would be a big help. Last thing you want to do is get lost on the streets of Bangalore at 4am because Google re-routed for some reason.
    • There were going to be a lot of speed-breakers and potholes in the city and I needed to make this initial part of the journey as smooth as possible so the cat would get comfortable quickly. Thus, I had almost memorized every ridge and bump and what speed to take them at. Maybe this is a bit excessive, but I was hella paranoid going into this.

Journey



Overall, the journey went very very smoothly. The cat was obviously a bit uncomfortable/disturbed but managed to rest for a good portion and didn't wail or scream ever. Just a few meows whenever I took a break.

Some notes from the journey:
  • Blr-Tumkur should be done rather carefully I felt. Lots of trucker traffic and it was night + foggy.
  • Tumkur to Chitradurg road is amazing. 3 lanes each side, mostly straight, very-well paved, tall dividers. The day was also starting to break. Here, I picked up speed and cruised at 120-130.
  • Ranebennur-Hubli the road is a mix of aforementioned amazing and bumpy diversions where it is still under construction.
  • There is a dual carriageway portion little before Belgaum but does not last long. This is the only stretch of the journey without a divider between oncoming traffic.
  • Maharashtra roads are not great for high-speed cruising. 80-100 is best. Don't go over that. There were loads of undulations, sudden bad patches, sharp corners etc. KA roads were better in that regard I felt.
  • No e-passes were asked. Didn't even speak to a single person or even opened my window for anything (except one place where fastag didn't work and i had to pay cash)
  • I started at 04:18 from Koramangala and reached Vashi at 18:10. Managed it under 14 hours as I only took 2 breaks of 15-20mins each. But don't pressurize yourself. I didn't feel need for any additional breaks so didn't stop.
Some pet-specific notes:
  • Be prepared to give your cat a chance to roam about in the car every 4 hours. But judge this depending on the situation. If your cat is peacefully napping, no need to rock the boat and bring her out. Keep driving. Also if you feel it will be impossible to get her back in / you can't safely bring her out, then don't.
  • Lastly, you need to be just as comfortable as your cat and most advice varies for each animal depending on their temperament, so use your judgement too. eg. my vet had advised to keep windows open as cats don't like AC. I was not very comfortable driving with windows down though as it creates a lot of noise and drag even at 70-80 kmph forget the 100+ that I was planning to cruise at. Thus, decided on going with AC on and only opening windows if cat was very uncomfortable. Thankfully, the need never arose. Thus, don't follow advice blindly.

Last edited by batladanny : 8th September 2020 at 20:03. Reason: removed a misplaced word
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Old 8th September 2020, 16:37   #2
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Default Re: Travelling 1000km with a cat

Since I was traveling (and prepping) solo, I was too engrossed to click many pics. Here are a few that I did manage to capture…

The pet carrier that I ordered from Amazon
Name:  A1wdw3t8qVL._SX679_.jpg
Views: 7210
Size:  83.8 KB

Here is a pic of my cat chilling in the carrier a few days before the trip. Getting her used to and comfortable to it was key.
My experience: Travelling 1000 km with a cat-img_20200825_184740.jpg

Her she is resting at home after the 14hr drive
My experience: Travelling 1000 km with a cat-whatsapp-image-20200907-08.42.37.jpeg

Pic of the "covid partition" I got installed. This is before I had made cutouts for AC circulation
My experience: Travelling 1000 km with a cat-img_20200830_135413.jpg

Screenshot of FASTag report sent by PayTM. Had to pay cash at 1 place. You can use this to estimate my pace, see how much balance you would need (1,500) or anything else
My experience: Travelling 1000 km with a cat-screenshot-20200908-4.45.58-pm.png

Feel free to quote/ping me in case you have any doubts about traveling with pets or traveling during covid. Will be happy to share my experience.

Also a shout out to NinjaTalli for his thread on traveling with pets (Transporting Pets within India or internationally) and also for answering my queries.

Last edited by batladanny : 8th September 2020 at 16:54.
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Old 9th September 2020, 08:33   #3
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Default Re: My experience: Travelling 1000 km with a cat

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing! Will go to our homepage this week .

Here is a related thread - Travelling with Pets in India
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Old 10th September 2020, 09:57   #4
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Default Re: My experience: Travelling 1000 km with a cat

Interesting thread. While I've never had a pet (goldfish don't count here), I've always wondered what are the steps one needs to follow in preparation for any journey that is more than a few hours long.

Thanks for sharing

In case you want to plan the return trip, follow this wonderful thread: https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route...eries-183.html (Bangalore - Pune - Mumbai : Route updates & Eateries)
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Old 10th September 2020, 12:11   #5
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Default Re: My experience: Travelling 1000 km with a cat

Mod note: Please avoid quoting entire large posts for short replies. Thanks.


Quote:
Originally Posted by batladanny View Post
Ever since this covid crisis started, I hadn't visited home (Mumbai). Since I have a pet cat, it makes traveling more complex than usual.
======[*]Lastly, you need to be just as comfortable as your cat and most advice varies for each animal depending on their temperament, so use your judgement too. eg. my vet had advised to keep windows open as cats don't like AC. I was not very comfortable driving with windows down though as it creates a lot of noise and drag even at 70-80 kmph forget the 100+ that I was planning to cruise at. Thus, decided on going with AC on and only opening windows if cat was very uncomfortable. Thankfully, the need never arose. Thus, don't follow advice blindly.[/list]
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing! Will go to our homepage this week .

Here is a related thread - Travelling with Pets in India
Interesting thread and some very useful information here. We are planning to drive down to Bhubaneswar with our pooch, mainly because of the reasons listed above. She is 13 years old, and I don't feel like dropping her at a pet boarding or using the cargo option. We plan to drive easy, with 2 stops at 500 kms distance, one at Vijaywada, and the other one at Vizag. The entire journey would be around 1500 kms. I was thinking this would be easy for the dog too. Any suggestions on how to execute this plan? Is it feasible? Due to her age, the dog sleeps a lot. I am worried that she won't be able to take the stress of a long road trip. My vet says she can do the trip, but I am unsure. We are also a family of three too, and thus, the dog would perhaps have limited space to move around, with luggage included.

Last edited by Jaggu : 10th September 2020 at 12:16.
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Old 10th September 2020, 12:21   #6
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Default Re: My experience: Travelling 1000 km with a cat

Hmm, so you were able to get her to schedule her poops outside of the 14 hour window ? That's what would keep us from taking the dog on a road trip. For me a drive up to Shimla would be some 10 hours door-to-door (with a rest/food stop in Chandigarh) but I don't think my dog ever has a contiguous dozen hours where he doesn't poop. I guess it's an issue for the larger animals. But may be it can be arranged on the side of the road in some rural area...


Also could you detail the experience of taking your cat on a flight? We have taken our dog various times on 1AC and apart from the whole issue of even arranging this (it's even more difficult getting 4 tickets for the same compartment from NDLS because some times there may be a politician on board who pulls strings to get his squad into 1AC), warding off the battle hardened dogs at the stations and having mine poop within the 5 minute margin at which the train is at an intermediate station is quite the chore, so a flight sounds quite reasonable in theory, although maybe not for a big-ish dog.
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Old 10th September 2020, 12:26   #7
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Default Re: My experience: Travelling 1000 km with a cat

Indeed an extremely useful thread. I hope other members also post their experiences with different pets. I'm assuming the weather was pleasant during your journey, which plays an important role in such long journeys.

What is the name of your cat though? It looks great
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Old 10th September 2020, 12:52   #8
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Default Re: My experience: Travelling 1000 km with a cat

Your cat is a beauty. May i ask what her name is?

Our cat, mia hates even short car trips to the vet. She just gets really agitated and wails in a very sad voice that it breaks my heart. In that light, what you pulled off is amazing for me.

Cheers.
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Old 10th September 2020, 13:10   #9
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Default Re: My experience: Travelling 1000 km with a cat

Wow, congratulations on having done the trip in ease with that lovely cat.
I remember when we took our cat with us driving to the home town, but the experience was bitter. He made a hell out of the cabin that we had to let him go midway into the journey - I was a child then.


Congrats for getting the Ford Freestyle, a sport touring 4 wheeler of India i guess!
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Old 10th September 2020, 13:21   #10
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Default Re: My experience: Travelling 1000 km with a cat

Quote:
Originally Posted by batladanny View Post
[*]Vet also gave an oral solution to calm her if needed (conventional method is a spot-on applied on the head but they were out of stock). Solution could be dropped in her mouth when feeding her a treat. Thus, keep treats handy as well.[/list][/list]
What was the name of this oral solution? Can it be used on dogs as well? I have to travel with my six month old puppy from Uttarakhand to Delhi.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chieftain View Post
Also could you detail the experience of taking your cat on a flight? We have taken our dog various times on 1AC and apart from the whole issue of even arranging this (it's even more difficult getting 4 tickets for the same compartment from NDLS because some times there may be a politician on board who pulls strings to get his squad into 1AC), warding off the battle hardened dogs at the stations and having mine poop within the 5 minute margin at which the train is at an intermediate station is quite the chore, so a flight sounds quite reasonable in theory, although maybe not for a big-ish dog.
I thought animals were not allowed on the train, even 1AC. I am surprised to hear this. How have you managed this in the past? This will be really helpful.
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Old 10th September 2020, 13:26   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chinmay View Post
We plan to drive easy, with 2 stops at 500 kms distance, one at Vijaywada, and the other one at Vizag. The entire journey would be around 1500 kms. I was thinking this would be easy for the dog too. Any suggestions on how to execute this plan? Is it feasible? Due to her age, the dog sleeps a lot. I am worried that she won't be able to take the stress of a long road trip. My vet says she can do the trip, but I am unsure. We are also a family of three too, and thus, the dog would perhaps have limited space to move around, with luggage included.
While I don't know a lot about dogs, it sounds feasible to me. Take breaks in between at places where you walk the dog and allow her to piss/poop. This is an advantage you have with dogs that you can train them and instruct them a bit. Space may indeed be a concern though. Maybe try taking a 15-30min drive in the city and see if it is manageable.
Also, check out that I found of a couple who did Bangalore to Rae-Bareilly with the Lab in an XUV500. The dog looked really chilled out.

Your pet's temperament matters a lot so if she is a relaxed dog, it will be easier.
Summarizing: I feel it will be doable, just check if space-wise it works.
And finally, take a call based on your comfort level and vet's advice. Above is just an internet stranger's anecdote.


Quote:
Originally Posted by chieftain View Post
Hmm, so you were able to get her to schedule her poops outside of the 14 hour window ? That's what would keep us from taking the dog on a road trip. …… But may be it can be arranged on the side of the road in some rural area...
Yeah that was pretty good luck. I didn't expect it and had let her out at 4hr intervals to see if she wanted to use the litterbox but she didn't. Also, I carried a lot of spare towels, rags and bedsheets to clean up any mess.
But for dogs, as you said, it can be easily done on the roadside in a forest/woody/grassy area. Especially if your dog responds to basic instructions. Check out of a couple who traveled with their dog from Blr to UP during lockdown. They let their dog out during breaks for walks, feeding and toilet.


Quote:
Originally Posted by chieftain View Post
Also could you detail the experience of taking your cat on a flight? We have taken our dog various times on 1AC and apart from the whole issue of even arranging this (it's even more difficult getting 4 tickets for the same compartment from NDLS because some times there may be a politician on board who pulls strings to get his squad into 1AC), warding off the battle hardened dogs at the stations and having mine poop within the 5 minute margin at which the train is at an intermediate station is quite the chore, so a flight sounds quite reasonable in theory, although maybe not for a big-ish dog.
Totally get the problem with train formalities. I found trains great once boarded but the bureaucratic procedure put me off trying it this time.
However, I wouldn't recommend flight based on my experience. My cat was extremely stressed during that journey. But she is very skittish and I've seen dogs travel as well so your dog may adjust to it. In case you do want to try out, here's the procedure…
  • Don't have to intimate beforehand but arrive nice and early at the airport. (do call up airline now before booking tickets to see if they're allowing pets though. post-covid there is little clarity)
  • Go to check-in counter and tell them you have a pet. They will give you further instructions.
  • I had to next get my cat weighed (same check-in counter where luggage is weighed). Any animal above 5kg (including cage) can't be taken in cabin. Based on weight, you have to then pay a charge which may become expensive for a large dog (was 500/kg when I traveled 2 years back).
  • Next I had to wait for a while. The special luggage (pets, large luggage like music boxes, etc.) is taken by a particular person through a different route.
  • Once the concerned person arrived, he took me to an X-ray machine where I had to take my cat out and scan the cage. This was a little tough holding a terrified kitten in my arms with cacophony around. I don't think I can do this now that she is fully grown and way stronger.
  • After the cage was scanned, I put her back in and then the person took it by some side door to the plane.
  • Some time during above process, the pilot is informed that a passenger has an animal they want to take in cargo. The pilot has to approve. And there can be max 2? (not sure of the number) animals that may be in cargo. So this is a little unnecessary uncertainty and anxiety. However, few of my friends have taken their animals by plane and never has the pilot not approved. Still that tension is there.
  • At the destination airport, there was a room near the luggage belts where this special luggage arrived. Two attendants brought her out and she was visibly stressed. Took her to parent's waiting car as quickly as possible and let her out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuldagap View Post
Indeed an extremely useful thread. I hope other members also post their experiences with different pets. I'm assuming the weather was pleasant during your journey, which plays an important role in such long journeys.

What is the name of your cat though? It looks great
Yeah thankfully weather was bright and sunny throughout except for a 15min stretch on Pune-Mum expressway.
Her name is Poko
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Old 10th September 2020, 14:35   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaced Out View Post
What was the name of this oral solution? Can it be used on dogs as well? I have to travel with my six month old puppy from Uttarakhand to Delhi.
Sorry I don't remember the name. Do check with your vet. And anyway, this isn't something that should be self-administered. Vet's approval and guidance is essential.
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Old 10th September 2020, 15:15   #13
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Default Re: My experience: Travelling 1000 km with a cat

Perfect timing as just last week, I drove from Pune - Bangalore with our 3 month old Kitten. We were prepared for the worst but it went off surprisingly smooth as he slept for most of the journey.

At every break we took, he was too scared to step out of the car with the noise of vehicles passing by scaring him, so we put the litter box on the back seat and he did his job.

He initially slept on my wife's lap as he was quite stressed with the new experience but later on moved to the back seat to properly stretch out and also play with his toys.

It was a 14 hour journey and he took it very well *touchwood*. Hope the return journey is as smooth !
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Old 10th September 2020, 17:25   #14
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Default Re: My experience: Travelling 1000 km with a cat

Thats one beautiful kitty Poko. I am surprised she took it with grace and ease. Specially freestyle feels kind of not so airy with black interiors. Did you use any nail caps for the journey?
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Old 10th September 2020, 17:44   #15
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Default Re: My experience: Travelling 1000 km with a cat

Nice thread and lovely cat, thanks for sharing. Give our love and pets to Poko.

I'd strongly recommend not taking pets in an aeroplane cargo hold for domestic travelling (it's OK if they are small enough to be allowed in the cabin). Trains are the best bet for domestic travellers. You can take the crate with you in a 1AC coupe. For international travel of course there's no other way but air.

Read several horror stories of pets freezing in the cargo hold on reddit. The captain / crew have to remember to set the cargo hold temperature to liveable warm if there's an animal being transported. And apparently this check has been missed or failed on occasion.
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