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Travelling With a Cat

We adopted Ginjey Bear back in 2016. She’d been found up a tree in the town nearby our mooring and nobody claimed her once the firefighters rescued her, so after two weeks living in the vets she came home with us.

Ginjey sitting in the galley of our narrow boat

She hasn’t had a standard cat life; from living on a boat her first two years, and travelling around the UK in the van with us. When there are periods of time that we cannot take her with us due to flying abroad for short periods, she’s stayed with family members. Basically she is a cat well versed in change.

We are moving our lives over to Portugal, so naturally our fur baby is coming along with us. We’ve taken the necessary steps and acquired her a pet passport and rabies jab. She’s chipped and vaccinated. Treated against fleas, ticks, and worms. In fact she is wormed regularly (monthly) due to her large appetite of rodents. We’ve recently bought a tracker for her, especially as she is now coming abroad with us for the first time we really don’t want her to get lost!



Another day, another tree! I have an obsession 🌲 🐾

Naturally this adds some slight difficulties with travelling, we can’t just book a ferry and hop on in for an overnight crossing. We have to book her a cabin with us! For an extra £39.50 we booked a pet friendly cabin (only 17 available on the ferry), which meant she could travel with us from Portsmouth to Bilbao. 



I grew up in a narrowboat, so travelling to Europe on a 32 hour ferry crossing was a breeze 🐯🐾 . . . . . #adventurecat #catsofinstagram #cat #catstagram #catoftheday #instacat #catlover #adventure #catsoftheworld #catslife #cats_of_world #adventurecats #catloversclub #cats_of_instagram #catsdaily #bestmeow #adventureculture #travel #exploremore #bayofbiscay #vanlife #vanlifediaries

Having never travelled abroad with an animal before we weren’t too sure what the process would be like, but it was incredibly simple.

When travelling to Europe and back from the UK we do not need to take her to a vet for a worming tablet as is applicable for dogs, but that doesn’t mean she’s not regularly wormed though. We do need to make sure she as a passport, current rabies jab, current vaccinations, and a chip. That is it!

Cat travel packing list:

  • Carry case to transport her from the van to her cabin

  • Litter tray (sadly she hasn’t mastered the art of using a human toilet – we’ve tried!). Poo bags are super handy to quickly bag up any turds, as we all know cat poo is pungent!

  • Food. I limit feeding her a good hour or so prior to transportation, I’ve learned that if she eats close to moving she will vomit it straight back up

  • Harness & leash. It makes life easier for us all if she is harnessed during transit, allowing us to easily hold her if one of us needs to get out, or leash her up so we can have the van door open for a short period of time whilst we’re unpacking the van and she is safe. We don’t keep her in her carry case when we’re moving as she enjoys the comfort of being on one of our laps instead.

  • Passport. Obtained from the vets, you have to wait three weeks after their rabies jab to be able to travel.

Having never travelled abroad with an animal before we weren’t too sure what the process would be like, but it was incredibly simple. Once we approached the ferry check-in I passed over her pet passport, and the attendant passed me the chip scanner. A quick scan of her body and the scanner beeped to let us know it had found the chip and displayed the number on the handheld chip device. Once handed back to the attendant – who checked the chip number against her passport – we had a green dog sticker placed onto our windshield which meant we had a pet on board.

Having Ginjey in the cabin with us was really nice, as she got to cuddle up to us and explore the room, look out the window, and generally keep calm as she wasn’t alone

Once we parked on the ferry we were informed we could take our belongings up to our pet friendly cabin and would then be escorted back to the car a little while later to collect her. I was expecting it to be half an hour after we departed, however they announced over the tannoy that pets were now being collected and to go to the information desk on floor seven to be taken downstairs. They checked off our name on the pet travel list then took us down to the car deck, where we picked up Ginjey, her litter tray and her food and brought her up to our room. She was pretty excited to get out of her carrier and explore the room, which no doubt smelled of many other furry companions. 

Relaxing in our cabin on the ferry

Relaxing in our cabin on the ferry

A cute supplement we received in the room was a goody bag for our furry friend; collapsable water bowl (super handy for vanlife and hiking), along with a poo bag dispenser and some treats.

Having Ginjey in the cabin with us was really nice, as she got to cuddle up to us and explore the room, look out the window, and generally keep calm as she wasn’t alone. It’s mainly dogs who travel on this crossing which means they have kennels for them too as there are only a limited number of pet rooms. As far as I’m aware cats can only travel with you in the cabin and do not go in the kennels, which would be massively stressful for them anyway being surrounded by dogs.

We will be doing a blog post about her cat tracker soon…

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