The travelling cat chronicles

Earlier this year I took my two desi shorthair cats Laddoo & Katli on their first-ever train journey. It was such a fun filled experience for all of us, and we’re hoping to continue with our traveling tales in the future as well.

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Nidhi SrivastavaIn India, pets are allowed to be carried in railways. All you need to do is some paperwork and pay a nominal fee. The human side of things is straightforward enough. However, as a pet parent you have to honestly evaluate whether your pet is ready for the challenge of a train journey. Cats are highly territorial animals and most cats feel threatened in new places and situations. But if you have properly socialized them in their kittenhood, you can absolutely take them travelling
with you.

Fruitful Five –
Skills that your feline friend needs to have to be your perfect travel companion

Crate training – building a foundation of trust and security 

For cats, the Indian Railways requires that they travel in a well-ventilated crate. It takes 3-6 months to fully crate-train a cat, and it is quite simple. The goal for you and your pet should be that your pet considers her crate or carrier a safe and comfortable space and does not try to escape it. In fact, your pet should retreat willingly into her crate if she feels scared of anything.

Rooting for recall 

In trainer language, a recall command is when you say your cat’s name (or any other word), and they willingly and quickly come towards you. Your pet should think you are a wonderful person and going towards you is highly rewarding and not at all “bad” or scary. Never make the mistake of calling your pet to scold her or to punish her. Make recall a habit – practice it multiple times a day. All you have to do is speak your cat’s name (once) and when she comes to you, give her treat, a cuddle, or whatever else she considers a generous reward.

Walking on a harness and leash is a good thing 

If your pet knows leash walking, you can easily give her breaks from confinement in the crate. You can take her out to pet-friendly cafes and spaces. Even if your pet is crate-trained, having a harness and leash as an option gives you and her more freedom to move. Start slowly and at every stage of leash training, use rewards and positive reinforcement.

Creatures of routine 

It makes a great difference to a pet’s life to have some sort of predictability in their day in terms of meal timings, play timings etc. Especially when the whole world is in motion (literally), the predictability of their favorite activities can be an excellent emotional anchor and a source of comfort. Happy cats are fearless, confident cats that have a certain daily routine which they like to follow.

The power of patience

This is for both you and your pet. Take all the time and effort you can to help your pet with these skills. It is true that training cats can seem impossible on some days. But give them time and they will learn and make you proud. The payoff is unbelievable – you and your pet can experience the beauty of the world together and make memories for a lifetime that would become your most priced possessions.

 

Bon voyage!
(Nidhi Srivastava has been training dogs in Delhi NCR since 2017. She also does canine and feline behavior consultations.)
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