Millions of four legged travellers will be on the move between now and Christmas – with the 20th and 23rd December being the busiest
This year will see the UK’s biggest ever Christmas pet migration, according to study.
Research of 2,000 dog and cat owners reveals it won’t just be the road that see more pattering paws – as planes (13 per cent), trains (27 per cent) and automobiles (85 per cent) will all play their part.
Travelling by train is proving most popular with millennials (50 cent) and almost one in five (18 per cent) of 18-24-year-olds will take to the skies with their furred family members.
Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of pet owners would rather stay at home with their pet this Christmas than leave their four-legged friends behind.
Just under half of the pet parents polled (45 per cent) have turned down Christmas events or stays where their furry family members were not invited.
But 30 per cent of pet parents have never done a long journey with their furry family members, and for over 4.6 million cats and dogs it will be their first Christmas away from home.
Keeping pets comfortable on the move is the biggest concern for pet parents (45 per cent), followed by animals suffering with anxiety (41 per cent), boredom (20 per cent) and needing comfort breaks (20 per cent).
Peace for furry friends
The study was commissioned by B Corp pet food brand Lily’s Kitchen, and revealed pet owners are preparing their furry friends for an average of 105 miles in travel.
An intrepid 700,00 pets are set to travel as many as 600 miles – with residents of Wolverhampton and London travelling the furthest, with a respective average of 160 and 130 miles.
While Cambridge and Walsall inhabitants keep it far from local, only straying 34 miles.
With 51 per cent of pet parents admitting they are gearing up for the most social Christmas they’ve had in years, Lily’s Kitchen has joined forces with Great Western Railway (GWR) to launch the Santa Paws Express.
This is a specially designed Lily’s Kitchen train that will run across the GWR network throughout the festive season.
The eye-catching train design marks the launch of a number of pet-friendly services to make it even easier for pet parents to travel with their four-legged friends over the holidays.
It includes travel tips and advice from CBBC’s veterinary surgeon Rory the Vet, a map pinpointing stations with handy areas nearby for pre-departure comfort breaks and free treats for pet travellers at customer service desks across the country.
Marketing director at Lily’s Kitchen, Samantha Crossley, said: “We’re seeing more and more people involve their pets in all aspects of their lives, from trips to the office to dinners out or weekend brunches and of course, Christmas.
“But we understand that longer journeys can feel really daunting for pets and pet parents alike.
“For many people this will be the first Christmas where they celebrate and socialise to the same level as they did pre-pandemic.
“We want to ensure they can enjoy these festivities with all the family – pets included – which is why we’ve partnered with GWR and Rory the Vet to make the Christmas migration a stress-free experience.”
Alleviating stress for pet parents
Highlighting the challenges of pet travel, owners typically carry two additional pieces of luggage to ensure they have the right food and home comforts for their pets.
And more than one in three (35 per cent) said they often pack more stuff for their cat or dog than they do themselves.
Rory the Vet added: “Christmas is such a special time to spend with the whole family – four legs and two!
“But the thought of long, busy journeys can be quite stressful.
“This year Nala and I have several trips planned, not least our own Christmas migration to the Cotswolds so I’ll be starting to make my plans and getting her more used to public transport throughout November and December.”
To alleviate fears pet parents have when they travel and make them feel more confident about taking their pets on bigger trips using public transport, Lily’s Kitchen is encouraging owner to remember their P.E.T.S.:
- P – Planning and provisions
- Before you set off, or even on the day before you travel, try to get a long walk in to burn off your dog's energy and help them settle down. An extended play session can help tire cats out.
- Fit in a comfort break before you leave, but to avoid any awkward toilet stops en route, don't feed your cat or dog directly before travel. That being said, don't forget some treats to help them settle and to reward good behaviour, and a little water for those extra-long trips. If you're travelling with a cat, why not book onto the quiet carriage to help reduce exposure to loud sounds or noisy pups.
- E – Entertainment
- Don’t forget your pet may get bored on a long journey. Pack a couple of their favourite toys, a chew and a familiar blanket for them to relax on. Think about easy games to play and ways you can keep them entertained (but calm!) and distracted.
- T – Training and trial runs
- It’s worth doing a bit of training before you embark on long journeys together to help you keep enthusiasm and nerves in check. Do some shorter journey practice runs together to get used to the sights and sounds.
- If your pet is travelling in a carrier, get them used to being in there for longer periods of time. Cat owners remember, most moggies will like to be covered with a blanket on 3 sides of their carrier. That way they feel safe and secure as if they’re hiding!
- S – Socialise
- It’s important to ensure that your pet is comfortable with other four-legged travelers to avoid any confrontational situations. This can also be the case for your pet’s interaction with humans – so feel free to decline people who want to pet or play with your pet if you think it would make them uncomfortable or hype them up. Most importantly, know how to read your pet’s body language, so you can swiftly move them out of situations that they are not comfortable with.