Can cats travel on trains?

Yes, cats can travel on trains although I am referring to domestic cats. Size matters.

Cat in carrier on train in USA
Cat in carrier on train in USA. The conventional method. Photo in public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

USA

In the US you can take a cat under 20 pounds in weight onto Amtrak trains for $26 (as at the date of this post). They must travel in a carrier and the trip should be for up to 7 hours. The second stipulation is interesting. It may prevent some people taking their cat on an Amtrak train. Or they’ll have to enquire. Amtrak is the National Railroad Passenger Corporation and government owned. It provides intercity rail travel in the US.

To return to size constraints, Amtrak’s upper limit of 20 pounds might preclude large Maine Coons and some first filial wildcat hybrids. It is worth noting. Although I wonder how carefully this restriction is controlled and monitored by Amtrak staff.

Cat on leash on train
Cat on leash on train. I am not sure which country. Photo: public domain.

UK

In the UK cat travel in carriers is free (except for the Caledonian Sleeper to or from Scotland). You can take a maximum of two per passenger and you must not inconvenience other passengers.

The rest is common sense. You’ll need a decent cat carrier. Ideally it should be larger than normal for long journeys but not too large. Large enough to perhaps place some litter in a small container inside the carrier and some water and dry cat food if the journey is a long one.

It seems wise to cover the carrier with a breathable fabric to remove worrying distractions from your cat and sights that might upset her.

First hand accounts of cat train travel in the UK seem to be favourable with no issues reported except you might get some attention from children who want to see your cat or kitten.

The important thing is that your cat will be next to you throughout the journey so you can thoroughly supervise matters. But the carrier must not be on the seat as it may incur a charge.

Once again common sense says that the cat should not be removed from the carrier no matter how keen you are to do it. It might be a recipe for a disaster. And make sure the fastenings for the carrier door are in good workable condition. An escaped cat on a train might, as mentioned, be potentially catastrophic.

Cat out of carrier on train. I think this is continental Europe. Photo: public domain.

However, all the pictures of cats on trains I have seen are cats not in carriers! Perhaps taking a cat out of the carrier but on a leash is acceptable depending on the circumstances.

To read more please visit the National Rail website – click on this link.

To European mainland from UK

As trains go direct from the UK to mainland Europe, you’ll need to sort out pet passports if travelling abroad. Brexit has put an entirely different complexion on this aspect of pet travel. Defra provide the rules – click this to read them. I think they are quite complicated.

Other countries

I have chosen two typical developed countries and presume that others will have similar rules. It is likely that developing countries will have free pet travel and easy to comply with rules.

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