We are doing our best to follow the guidelines for pet passporting and attempting to work out what needs to be done, and when, in order for Nell to travel to France with us. Suzie will not be coming. We expect that she will no longer be with us at this time next year and if by any chance she is, we will defer our trip until she is gone. It is both a matter of kindness to her in not taking an ancient dog, deaf, blind an lame into situations she is unfamiliar with but also one of space and comfort. A month in the van with two dirty smelly dogs is too awful to contemplate!
We are down to the one cat now and are left only with Teddy, our 15 year-old Bengal. We had reached the conclusion that boarding him out is never going to work and so we thought he could come travelling too. We even have a detailed plan for preparing and training him for the trip. Alas, we now find that the regulations were tightened up last year and a pet cat is now defined as Felis silvestris catus – domestic cat only. Bengals are a hybrid crossing from an original Asian Leopard Cat and must be certified as an F5 or beyond - written proof is required. Unlike most pet Bengals of early generations, Ted has no domestic cat parent. Teddy has two Foundation level parents, one F3 and one F4. Normally a cat might have an F4 parent crossed to a full Bengal, being an F5 crossing itself, thereby deemed to be a full Bengal and therefore a domestic pet. Teddy's F3/F4 makes him an F4 only, I think.
I have written to Defra for advice.
It would be good to think that logic will prevail. At 16 years old when we travel, and neutered, nobody could possibly think that we were moving a wild cat for breeding purpose and as this is the raison d'être for the regs, surely some leeway could prevail. A note from our vet, maybe?
It is hard enough, digesting what is needed for the dog, without having to deal with exotic cats.
Whatever happens, Ted is going to come out and about with us in the UK. Since Treacle died, it seems unfair to leave a sociable cat alone at home. The other option would be to add a cat to the household but we feel Ted to be too old and too truculent to adapt to a new friend. Much of the same reasoning lies behind our acknowledgement that a boarding cattery is not the solution. House sitters might work but they would need to be very cat-friendly and highly understanding and accommodating of Teddy's less pleasant habits. (No details required here and now.) Additionally, I should have to tackle the house cleaning etc. to make the place fit for a stranger to stay in.
It is not going to happen. Ted comes with.
So - we shall begin by reacquainting Ted with a harness and lead. We have one somewhere, which we bought when Ted first came to live with us but we may need to buy a new one if it cannot be found.
Step two will involve spending time with Ted inside Brunhilde at home.
Once we feel that he has fully settled to these new surroundings we will go mobile and move up the island by a few miles. This is a two-fold process of getting him used to driving about and also to going out on the lead in strange environments.
The final training steps will be to take him on short weekend trips.
A couple or three months of this should be sufficient to fathom whether or not he can go away for longer trips, DEFRA permitting.