Showing cats involves travel….sometimes lots of travel! How much or little one decides to travel depends on what one’s goals and means (both time and financial) are. But regardless of those considerations, traveling with your cat requires some new knowledge and skills. Don’t let this discourage you! Yes, you may find that you have to drive 5+ hours to a show. You may also discover that you enjoy these “road trips.” It’s also possible that there may be other exhibitors near you or en route that you can meet up with and share the ride (and expenses). That is also a fun way to share an adventure, and learn a bit more about your fellow exhibitors. You will soon discover that cat fanciers’ second favorite topic of conversation is travel (the first being our cats, of course!). The best way to get to the show hall, good hotels in the area, and great restaurants too. This travel and community is part of what makes exhibiting pedigreed cats such a fulfilling hobby!
Most fanciers drive to shows. Indeed, after one has begun showing for a while, he’ll begin looking at new vehicles and think “how will that car hold a couple of carriers and gear?” or “perhaps we’d be better off getting a van…for the cat.”
The trek to the show hall usually begins on Friday and often after one gets off from work. It’s not uncommon to get home, finish packing the car, drive 1-5 (and sometimes more) hours to finally reach the show hotel. For some of the more distant shows, an exhibitor may take all or part of the day off for travel.
Thoughts of driving to a distant show make you uneasy? Then consider sharing the drive with another local exhibitor, or one you can meet en route. You’ll both save money on travel and the trip will be much more enjoyable. Don’t know of anyone to share a ride with? Some of the various lists will allow you to post travel requests to help you find someone. And that’s also a great way to meet new exhibitors as well!
No matter how you travel, one rule should remain firm – the cat travels in a cage or carrier. Traveling with your cat loose in the car (no matter how much he might beg) is dangerous for both of you. Your cat could inadvertently do something to distract you and cause an accident, or get under your feet and impede your driving. Also, if a cat is in a cage or carrier, he is much more likely to survive an accident than if loose. If the car is hit or rolled, there is also a good chance that he’ll remain in the carrier, rather than being released into the wild or onto a busy highway. If at all possible, strap a seat belt through the handle of the carrier.
Bathroom accidents and upset tummies are a fact of life when traveling with a cat. Always travel with plenty of paper towels to clean messes up with and plastic bags to dispose of the mess in or to place a soiled cosy into. Should you dispose of your soiled goods in a public trash bin, do tie up everything and be as neat as possible. A puppy pad or incontinent sheet in the bottom of the carrier is often a good idea. If the cat soils, then it’s easy enough to pull the pad out and replace it with a clean one. Some are even deodorized to help counteract “less than fresh” smells.
Some exhibitors have small cages that will accomodate a small litter pan, some food and water dishes, and a cosy or hammock when traveling long distances. Others may use a larger carrier and place a very small litter pan or plastic pan in with the cat.
Be mindful of the weather when traveling with your cat. Carrier covers that slip over the carrying handle are great when traveling in winter as they keep the cold wind from chilling your cat while being transported across a parking lot. Hot days are especially dangerous when traveling. Make sure that you cat stays cool, and never leave him locked in the car with no air conditioning. If you need to stop and eat, eat in the car with the air conditioning running. Otherwise at the end of the road you’ll have a kitty suffering from a heat stroke or worse!