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Advice needed on relocating cats

Posted by GillyG14 - Created: 5 years ago
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10 replies (Showing replies: 1 to 10)

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Posted by Cathouse-290059 - 5 years ago

Hi Gilly,

I'm sure you've had enough responses by now and I hope are reassured that normally either bringing or sending one's animals down to Sth France goes well.  It's good to get organised though. 

We had one v. bad experience back in 1998, prior to 9/11 and all the dire security checks at airports.   We wanted our two cats with us, on our laps, not in the hold, when flying back to Sth France from London. We flew Air France, only airline who'd allow pets in the cabin at that time although it meant changing planes in Paris, no direct flights to Nice.  Security at Charles de Gaule demanded that our cats go through the X-ray machine in their boxes. (Their boxes were very politely hand checked on departure from Heathrow...cats didn't mind at all.)

I hit the roof, no way would they put our cats through a luggage X-ray machine!  We were then made to carry each cat through the walk-through metal check while each travel box was X-rayed, minus the cats.  Our tabby handled it well but our white boy went beserk with terror as the loud speaker burst forth, in pure fear he bit me badly, he jumped from my hold and fortunately my husband caught him and whisked him into his box waiting the other side of the X-ray.  I was spurting blood everywhere, onto the conveyor belt, floor, he caught a vein.  He bit my husband badly too, he was not a vicious cat, just terrified.  Security would not help us at all, they were vile.  We were patched up by a nearby Bar owner and later by Air France staff, but we had to clear up all my blood off the conveyor belt and floor, (and I don't carry any infectious diseases!).  Ghastly situation. Gendarmes told me it was my own fault for having a 'vicious cat'. 

Most worrying was the white boy then developed breathing problems, they'd both been very stressed on take off  from the UK and landing into Paris, then take off from Paris saw the white boy go into complete panic. I asked if there was a vet on board!  No such luck of course. He was meanwhile going blue with lack of oxygen.  We did all make Nice alive however, husband and I both had our hands and arms bandaged rather dramatically, but I do advise putting an animal on a direct flight, no change of planes where security happily X-rays animals in their boxes at their convenience.  We made formal complaints and never got an explanation, apology, nothing. 

So beware if flying with your animal from the UK and there's a change of aircraft involved, particularly at Paris.  Animals do find flying very traumatic, we thought they'd be reassured to be with us but this wasn't the case.  Better to drive with them I'd now suggest.

I'd like to hear if anyone else has had airport security  demand to X-ray their animal in a luggage X-ray machine? Heathrow security staff were later appalled to hear of this going on at Paris. 

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Posted by fvo-205381 - 5 years ago

Hi Gilly, We drove down with our dog and put the cat with a specialist transporter based near Gatwick. She was delivered into Fret (freight) at Nive Airport a week later - we wanted time to adjust ourselves before introducing her into our French home.

Her fur was on end and didn't start to settle until she was home and well inside, I think she was severely stressed despite the £250 it cost for the service. But cats are indeed resilient and a few hours later she was even getting along with the dog who she'd been terrified of for the whole year previously.

Why not contact a breeder to see how they send their kittens abroad? It's something they do regularly, after all. 

I travelled to Paris by TGV to collect a new 4 year old cat, it cost 6 euros extra for the return journey  - must book beforehand - and the cat, then unknown to me, purred all the way back to Frejus. Just make sure some of their bedding smells of you, an old unwashed sweatshirt or something.

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Posted by job-212223 - 5 years ago

I think Davesjacs response was totally correct in that we over worry about out pets. I was so stressed about flying my two cats over but infact they were so settled in their cage that when we got them to their new home they didn't want to come out. Also my two only have to be in the car for five minutes and already they've been sick or gone to the toilet, however when they flew there was no mess in their cage. My driving must be bad!!!!!

good luck!

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Posted by GillyG14 - 5 years ago

Thank you so much !

Very grateful to all replies


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Posted by Davesjac - 5 years ago

Hi Gilly

It's been three days or so since you first sought opinions but thought I'd write anyway.

I arrived from Cornwall just two weeks ago and now live in Valbonne. I transported my three little 'furries'(one Jack Russell and two cats) with me and suffered the same angst over their journey plans as you.

I investigated every variation on the theme and once decided hoped that I had covered every eventuality to ensure their safety and comfort.

We sailed from Plymouth to Roscoff which was a ten hour overnight crossing, and then drove our big van down the toll roads to Valbonne (hours and hours!).

I bought as big as pos cat boxes. (My Jack rode up front next to me) Put in homely smelling covers. I provided water in fixed stainless steel dishes but not sure that was really needed. The cat boxes were in the back of the van securely placed by the doors for ease of access. We did not disturb them once on the ferry, however got them out on their harnesses as soon as we got to terra firma, and stopped twice more during the journey for them.

We had put their harnesses on from time to time leading up to our journey to get them used to wearing them.

Stopping was good to enable them to stretch their legs, get some fresh air and be reassured of our presence, but they didn't show any interest in the tasty food I had bought especially nor water, they didn't relieve themselves either and really preferred to be back in their boxes.

Now, looking back, I know I worried too much. They coped amazingly well and only peed a little in their boxes. I took spare homey covers and whipped out the soiled ones, used copious amounts of kitchen roll and we were good to go again (as it were!).

When we love our pets it is only natural to take such care, but try not to worry, as the other replies have found, the cats will be fine. And it's you that will be traumatised! Bon Voyage! Jacqueline.

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Posted by teen-14236 - 5 years ago

I din't use any special airline, just one with a pressurised holds, all was organised by "special requirements" at Heathrow, and it cost us around150 pounds, all in. We drove down from the north east......the worst bit!!

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Posted by job-212223 - 5 years ago

Hi Gilly,

I used Airpets at heathrow airport, absolutely stress free and the cats travelled on the same flt as me but in the hold. Airpets arranged their dual cage and vets checks and delivered them to the terminal to meet me before the flt, I took them to heathrow the day before as was all too stressful trying to get them into their cat boxes on the same day!!!!!

if you need anymore info just email me.

good luck


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Posted by GillyG14 - 5 years ago

Many thanks - really appreciate this reflection of your experiences ...and so it's probably I who will be traumatised !!

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Posted by IJ - 5 years ago

Don't worry they are remarkably adaptable and resilient. I have travelled by car with one cat  from the Riviera to UK. We stopped overnight about half way and used the Eurotunnel as it is quicker and you stay with the car (and cat), he seemed to really enjoy the experience. We also have a cat now that travels with us in the car on a 15 hour journey that we do not stop over (six countries no less), he has done this three times there and back without trauma. Both these cats preferred to travel allowed some freedom in the car, we make sure we stop often and have a litter tray available, water and some food treats. Make sure they can't interfere with the driver though. I think an overnight stop is sensible, you will find most hotels are happy to accept pets.

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Posted by GillyG14 - 5 years ago

Thanks, that's reassuring. My main concern is actually about getting them to the Riviera from the UK, as none is used to long journeys and I'm really worried about the stress of being in the car. Someone suggested the auto-rail, as it will shorten total time in transit; others have suggested booking a few overnight stops at animal-friendly B&Bs....what's your experience of this?