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Old 08-27-2010, 10:36 AM   #1
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Training Cats to Travel

Two months ago Philip, one of our Burmese cats died pretty suddenly. Granted, he was getting old but none the less it was still hard to lose him. Well, earlier this week Gus our other Burm died too. Needless to say we're pretty devastated. This summer totally sucked!

We thought that one day we might eventually be without cats so we could travel on longer trips in the Airstream. Well, even though it's only been a few days, we can't stand it in a house without critters. So, we're planning on changing that.

It looks like we'll be getting 2 kittens around the first of December. We're working with breeder who breeds both Burmese and Tonkinese. She has a litter of Tonks due in a couple of weeks. We may get two of them.

We would like to train them to travel with us in the trailer. Starting them out and getting them used to being in the truck in a carrier shouldn't be too difficult. How do we handle the trailer??? We're looking at training them to be comfortable in a soft-sided kennel for times when we're in and out of the trailer and the trailer door will be opening a lot. When we've settled into the trailer for the night they can have the run of the place.

Does anyone else do this with cats (particularly Tonkinese)??? Any comments or suggestions??
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:45 AM   #2
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Starting young is good.

While moving: Taking them with you whenever you're running errands, getting them used to the motion, and to feeling secure in your tow vehicle and trailer.

When at site: Train them to have a caution of outdoors. They'll want to explore, but they'll take their cues from you as their parents, so if you don't behave curious about the outside, they won't be either. One tip: when you leave the AS, leave the area so they can't sense you nearby.

My cat prefers to travel loose in the trailer - she behaves well, and has never worried or been sick. Usually she sleeps through it. If I ever go full time, she'll be right at home.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:53 AM   #3
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We travel with 2 or 3 cats, depending on the length of the trip. On short trips, we leave the older cat home and have a neighborhood girl check on her.

Two cats ride in carriers in the back seat. They are the older cat and the youngest cat. Both are timid and would be hard to catch if they got out.

The middle cat (5 years) has traveled since she was a kitten. She rides (sleeps mostly) on a cushion on the console between us. She is not timid and could probably even be allowed out in RV parks, though we do not do that. She walks on a leash and can identify our trailer in a park full of Airstreams. She will tow us to the door when she is ready to come in. She attends all happy hours with us and loves the attention. She has won first-place cat at the International and Region rallies.

I can't say that we really trained them except for the walking on a leash. There was a lot of meowing the first few trips, but they soon realized that it did no good and all three settle down and mostly sleep while on the road.

They like the trailer and there is less bickering among them in the trailer than at home. They like to sit at the screen door and watch the action outside.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:58 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimandrod View Post
We would like to train them to travel with us in the trailer. Starting them out and getting them used to being in the truck in a carrier shouldn't be too difficult. How do we handle the trailer??? We're looking at training them to be comfortable in a soft-sided kennel for times when we're in and out of the trailer and the trailer door will be opening a lot. When we've settled into the trailer for the night they can have the run of the place.

Does anyone else do this with cats (particularly Tonkinese)??? Any comments or suggestions??
I travel with two cats. The third one does not travel well with the others. She stays home with my roomate.
Both started when they were young. They travel in the Truck cab loose. Litter box, water and food. When we are parked at a campsite I keepthe food inside and leave them water outside. Sometimes I will not let them out if there are critters around that like to eat them.
They come home always.
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Old 08-27-2010, 11:20 AM   #5
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our birds travel everywhere with us; they are more well adjusted when we started them young.
we adopted jake at 8 years old; he still travels well, as long as he has his tent to sleep in at night he will go anywhere.

sorry to hear about your loss;

have you considered possibly adopting from a shelter? There are many kittens looking for love who could use a loving parent like you.

if your set on a particular breed, look for rescues the area -
it looks like theres at least one rescue in phoenix with younger tonkinese cats available...

Pet Search Results: Adoptable Tonkinese Cat Pets in Phoenix, AZ: Petfinder
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Old 08-27-2010, 11:47 AM   #6
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I'm glad it works out for you folks, but I think I would spend too much time freaking out worrying about them getting out in some strange place. Does seem like good advice to start early and get them used to riding in the car. It also seems to be good advice to not act curious about the outdoors. Ours do love it at home when we have the windows up and the doors open. Watching the squirrels, rabbits and birds at the feeder seems to be their favorite pastime. It would be interesting to see how they would react to "sitting at the door" in a different place from time to time!

BTW Jim and Rod, sorry about your loss. My sister is an Tonkinese fan, I am sure you would be happy with one.
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Old 08-27-2010, 12:41 PM   #7
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"training cats"
wow
why do i always feel like it's the other way around?
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Old 08-27-2010, 12:43 PM   #8
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My five, are used to moving, they know now when we are departing that something is up. I reward them with small snacks or treats while they are in their carrier, so they can expect something good for being obedient.
However we did lose one (Stewart) that took off shortly after arrival, he did this before and he somehow made it all the way back to where we left from (blew my mind).
Lastly, cats see with binocular vision, so everything looks HUGE to them. They go on being familiar with shapes that they are used to. So be careful introducing them into new places with new noises and such because they WILL run!
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Old 08-27-2010, 12:47 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Soyboy View Post
I'm glad it works out for you folks, but I think I would spend too much time freaking out worrying about them getting out in some strange place.... snip......BTW Jim and Rod, sorry about your loss. My sister is an Tonkinese fan, I am sure you would be happy with one.
Thanks - it was pretty hard losing them both this summer. Yes - we will be really happy with a Tonkinese. We had one for 16 years and he was quite a character.

We would also be freaked if they got out in a strange place. So - whatever we do we want to make sure they're safe at all times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NJtoNC View Post
sorry to hear about your loss;

have you considered possibly adopting from a shelter? There are many kittens looking for love who could use a loving parent like you.

if your set on a particular breed, look for rescues the area -
it looks like theres at least one rescue in phoenix with younger tonkinese cats available...

Pet Search Results: Adoptable Tonkinese Cat Pets in Phoenix, AZ: Petfinder
Thanks - it hasn't been easy losing them.

As for a rescue - not this time. We're set on getting two Tonkinese. Pure bred cats have very distinctive personalities and Tonks are amazing little cats. If you've ever had the pleasure of knowing them you would see what I mean. I know rescuing is a good way to go but not this time.

Unfortunately (or fortunately - however you want to look at it) Tonkinese rescues are extremely rare. Most of the cats on the rescue sites that are listed as Tonks really aren't. We've been looking.

However - we plan to eventually get a third cat. That one WILL be a plain ol' tabby from the shelter. We really have a soft spot for yellow (orange) tabbies and we'll be happy to give a good home to one eventually.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pahaska View Post
We travel with 2 or 3 cats, depending on the length of the trip. On short trips, we leave the older cat home and have a neighborhood girl check on her.

Two cats ride in carriers in the back seat. They are the older cat and the youngest cat. Both are timid and would be hard to catch if they got out.

The middle cat (5 years) has traveled since she was a kitten. She rides (sleeps mostly) on a cushion on the console between us. She is not timid and could probably even be allowed out in RV parks, though we do not do that. She walks on a leash and can identify our trailer in a park full of Airstreams. She will tow us to the door when she is ready to come in. She attends all happy hours with us and loves the attention. She has won first-place cat at the International and Region rallies.

I can't say that we really trained them except for the walking on a leash. There was a lot of meowing the first few trips, but they soon realized that it did no good and all three settle down and mostly sleep while on the road.

They like the trailer and there is less bickering among them in the trailer than at home. They like to sit at the screen door and watch the action outside.
It sounds like your cats travel pretty well. We would love to leash train ours and have them outside with us at rallies but we won't be doing that. Our biggest consideration is that we can't have them get interested in the outdoors at all. We live in the desert and they absolutely can NOT go out under any circumstances. They would be a fast snack to the coyotes & owls in the neighborhood - or the bobcat that walks past our house every morning.

Does anyone keep their cats in a soft-sided kennel in their trailers?? That's what we're really interested in doing.

I really appreciate everyone's input. I look forward to hearing from some more folks.
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Old 08-27-2010, 12:50 PM   #10
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On getting cats okay with vehicles?

From kittenhood to young adult there is a magic month or two in their maturation process where they know they need more new things, what I did was keep presenting the vehicle until it "took", whether or not I caught the 'magic month' who knows, its just the behavior thang I'm trying to explain...

Start at twilight or dark - light invokes wariness to anything new, its hard wired into them like cockroaches scurrying to hide from light. First runs, don't even consider starting the motor.

Toss them in away from the drivers area (back or side door) without much attention focused on the cat - then get in "your" spot and peripherally watch them explore, after a while some calm words and wait till they venture to you & give 'em lots of rewarding attention (and treats) ... then exit car and put them back to a safe & known happy spot ie: feeding area...

Second run, next night - repeat same but when they are near the drivers seat go on and turn ignition on but not start car - let them hear the clicks, buzzes, beeping, vibrations and see the busywork with a keyring and seat belts, parking brake noises WHILE you are chatting them up with praise and trash talk blah blah .. provide treats and affection and return them to safe zone.

3rd run, next night - repeat but start engine and let it run 5 or 7 seconds and shut it off. After a while release parking brake and mash brakes, let vehicle move if it will roll... then full shut down, and honestly HAVE A PICNIC right there, spread some food around - eat and relax, feed the cat(s) - Pocket temperature McDonalds coffee creamers worked well for me, then take a 20 minute nap and let them be lookout!.... then grab cat(s) and return them to happy spot...

By the fourth night you should have a companion not a captive - remember a prideful glance and eye contact has more pull than all the syrup and sugar in the world. Starting engine should not be a deal breaker. Idling and air conditioning and soft music on and off a few times. Moving vehicle 50 feet when they are looking out should be a treat to you both. Remember treats or whatever they are into most.

The above worked for a 8-month-old male wild cat who'd never been around people in its life, and a four-year-old female feral cat who lived all winter in one of our out-buildings before she'd let me touch her.

Here is a 25-second video of them both watching it snow in NM desert, content even after 2000+ miles.... (Last Octobers two-foot of wet snow that shut down Albuquerque to Denver, Vid taken after we had turned around to run back to Texas) --- The female just is complimenting the wipers on how good a job they are doing with her body english

Attachment is my tomcat after 3000 miles continuous driving (drive eight hours, sleep four) from MN to OR and back picking up a purchase, photo was taken second time through Montana : )
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Old 08-27-2010, 12:56 PM   #11
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"training cats"
wow
why do i always feel like it's the other way around?
That's because it really IS the other way around. LOL

Actually if you start them young and have a LOT of patience you can train them to do a lot of things. Except you can't get them to bring in the paper, bring your slippers or roll over on command.

You can train them to stay off of the counters (except for when you're not looking) You can train them not to claw the furniture (except for when you're not looking) You can train them to come when you call them (it helps to be opening a can of tuna at the same time)

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..... (Stewart) that took off shortly after arrival, he did this before and he somehow made it all the way back to where we left from (blew my mind).
Cats have been known to do that. It's amazing.
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Old 08-27-2010, 01:01 PM   #12
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On getting cats okay with vehicles?

From kittenhood to young adult there is a magic month or two in their maturation process.......
Great advice! Sounds like it worked well. The first cat I ever had took to the car like a duck to water!
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:12 PM   #13
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It's always more fun to have two of them...
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:51 PM   #14
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Train your cat ASAP with a harness. My cat goes on walks with me and his little cage is his house! Pictures are worth a thousand words.
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