We’ve taken care of him and siblings since kittens 13 years ago when we TNR’d them. Nowadays he spends most of his time inside, he has been the only cat in our lives now for about 8 years. He trusts us, I brush and tickle him every morning. He’s never been in a cage since he was trapped as a kitten. We are moving to a new home later this spring and really want him to come with since we are his family. He hasn’t seen a vet since his neutering and shots 12 years ago.

Is this a good idea? I’m worried he would leave the new home, in the countryside of Tennessee, and try to come back to Illinois. We’ve been trying to get him to be friendly with a neighbor next door to us who loves him and feeds him when we travel. We think that will be the best for him.


Thank you.
Don Rotermund

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    Welcome to Pets! Please take the tour and have a look at the help center, especially What types of questions should I avoid asking?. "Is this a good isea" is completely subjective and therefore not allowed here. Ask 3 people and you get 5 answers. Please edit your post and ask an objective question like "What are the risks of moving an elderly cat 500 miles" or "How to minimize the stress of moving an elderly cat". If you need help, you can post a question on Meta, where the "subjective" rule doesn't apply.
    – Elmy
    Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 11:01
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    Please reshape! The topic is interesting and would help other users too :) Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 11:46
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    Thank you for your kind advice. Not sure what we’ll do. I’m leaning towards taking him, somehow. Not sure if drugging him can be done. It would have to be a road trip in a cage. We’ll see.
    – Florence
    Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 13:34
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    He is neither feral for stray. He is a housecat now. Everything that applies for housecats apply for this old soul as well.
    – ck1987pd
    Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 18:15
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    Agreed, this is NOT a feral cat. You can't handle feral cats at all; he's a housecat, and your responsibility. Move him like any housecat, give him a safe space to get established in the new house, and keep him inside.
    – Allison C
    Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 19:14

2 Answers 2


First off, you should definitely take the kitty with you. From what you tell, it seems both of you are fond of each other and it would be very emotional for both of you to leave each other.

Coming to your question, I will try and answer this from the point of risk vs the time it would take to reach your destination. Flying takes the shortest amount of time but there are some considerations. If the cat can be in the cabin with you, then with a mild sedative it should be relatively painless. I’ve heard real horror stories about when they are transported in the cargo hold. So you must confirm with the airline what their policies are.

From what I know many trains allow pets to be with you (cats and dogs mostly but that needs to be verified). Considering it is 500 miles, a train journey can be long and keeping a cat inside a cage for that long may be too much for it. But if you can reserve the entire cabin (again, unsure if all trains allow this) then you may be able to let it roam freely inside the cabin. In my personal opinion, that would be more comfortable.

I would avoid transporting the cat by road. It’s too long a distance. My four cats hate being in the car. Taking them to the vet is an event that needs to be planned in advance. I have a feeling they get motion sick.

Hope you figure out a way and do keep us posted. Good luck!

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    Maybe you should add how to get the cat in the carrier, or the link to an assotiated question Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 12:44

It depends a lot to the local regulations.

Transportation is a relatively easy part, but it solely depends on the regulations. If you are taking him with your car, the best way is to give him a mild sedative or something similar. Dosage is very important here. Weight and age are essential to find the correct dose. Consult a veterinarian about it.

Most airlines and trainlines accept the animals under certain conditions. You need to make sure that he is microchipped, and has all necessary vaccinations. Even though air transport seems faster, it is also more prone to delays. I had a few friends who had to take their cat on a connecting flight and it was quite hard for them. You can have the cat dig some soil by the road but you can't prepare a litterbox in the airport. Besides, if he is allowed in cabin, he might start bursting his lungs meowing, annoying all passengers.

Settling down to a new place requires some planning.

Cats have an internal compass that guides them to their home, but it doesn't work 500 miles. Most they can do is a few km. So, he won't try to get back to Illinois. Yet, since his internal compass would be reset, it would take him a long time to stroll freely in the neighbourhood. Make sure that the cat is microchipped and has a collar with a nametag. Easy-break collars should be around $5. If the collar is not easy break, he might strangle himself if he is caught by a fence or a branch. In this way, if he is lost, someone will see the nametag and contact you.

Cats are more attached to their surroundings than to their caretakers. If you have an old couch that your cat likes for some reason, take it with you. You can discard it after a few months. The same goes for carpets or mats as well, whatever your cat seems attached, take them with you.

The first few weeks is the hardest for settling in a new place. Try not to let him out until he stops being jittery inside. If both inside and outside freaks him equally, he will be more unpredictable.

I hope this helps. This kind of adoption is the best and most natural adoption. I am very happy that you take the extra step and decide to take him with you.

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