The story of Tigger, the much travelled 15-year-old Australian cat, reminds me of the dangers of cat travel over long distances. Every so often we hear of cats who have become lost at airports. There are dangers as well for cats in the holds all aircraft and airline travel generally. It makes you wonder whether cats should regularly travel over long distances using airlines. Sometimes they have to because their owners are obliged to travel and their owners love their cat too much. In addition, I presume there are staying away from home for a long time leaving them little option than to take their cat with them.
In the case of Tigger, you may have heard that he was found wandering the streets of County Armagh in Northern Ireland. He was apparently in poor condition, starving and suffering from kidney failure. The kidney failure aspect of his illness is almost certainly due to his advanced age and not his travel woes.
He was picked up by Cats Protection and is being cared for by one of their great foster carers. They decided that his owners were seasoned travellers, travelling back and forth from Australia (see post below). Cats Projection said that Tigger was part of a loving family.
However, at the moment I’m not totally convinced. Tigger was apparently left with some friends in Northern Ireland and he escaped. Also, it is reported that in 2004 he turned up as a stray at a veterinary clinic in London but the owners could not be traced. I’m not sure how they figured that out but I presume that he had the same microchip which incidentally had been incorrectly programmed because it recorded his age as 25 years when in fact he is 15-years-of-age.
At the time he was picked up by Cats Protection in Northern Ireland he had been seen wandering around the garden of a resident for several days. That’s quite a long time for a 15-year-old cat to be wandering around in a strange place without proper care from his owner. It could have killed him bearing in mind his age.
There are inherent dangers in regularly travelling with your cat over long distances to strange places. There are complications. It would certainly put me off trying it.
It does, though, present a dilemma for somebody who loves their cat but who wishes to travel or has to travel. Somehow, I don’t think cat ownership fits in very well with the lifestyle of a person who is obliged to travel over long distances a lot of the time.
At present, it is reported that there are still looking for Tigger’s owners. There’s been a media blitz to try and uncover how he got to Northern Ireland and social media has been active in the same cause. You would hope that very soon his owners will come forward and collect him.
I have read of a number of occasions when domestic cats have escaped the home of a friend who is looking after their cat while the owners are holiday or travelling. I don’t believe it is a great idea to leave cats with friends. I don’t think it works that well on several levels unless the friend is extremely diligent and knows cats well.
A cat staying with a friend is obviously in a strange place which makes it more likely that he will try and escape. Cats are very good at escaping homes if they are determined to do so. It only takes a single slightly careless moment by the caretaker for disaster to strike and once the cat is outside in a strange place he may be very difficult to find. This puts a very high level of responsibility upon the temporary caretaker and it also puts pressure on the cat. There may be no alternative but personally I wouldn’t leave my cat with a friend. It would play on my mind whether he was safe and undermine my holiday.