Travelling cats: a rich history of adventure and companionship

Travelling with a cat companion is a tale as old as history itself. For millennia, pet lovers have travelled the world with their beloved cats by their side.

 As many travel loving cat mums and dads can testify, leaving behind your fur baby is often the most difficult part of going on holiday. It’s easy to understand how cats have been part of great travels and adventures throughout the ages.

 The oldest know pet cat is said to have travelled with its owner to Cyprus some 9,500 years ago, as evidenced by an archaeological dig in Neolithic village of Shillourokambos.

 "In the absence of a collar around its neck, the deliberate interment of this animal with a human makes a strong case that cats had a special place in the daily lives, and in the afterlives, of residents of Shillourokambos," Smithsonian curator Melinder Zeder told National Geographic Magazine in 2004.

The Mediterranean island of Cyprus has no natural wildcats so this first known pet cat must have originally arrived in a boat.

Wild Cats of the World

“Domestic cats have accompanied people to almost every corner of the globe. Wherever people have travelled, they have taken their cats with them,” write Mel Sunquist and Fiona Sunquist in Wild Cats of the World.

“Geographic features such as major rivers and oceans that are barriers to most animals have the opposite effect on cats. Almost as soon as people began to move goods around on ships, cats joined ships' crews. These cats travelled the globe, joining and leaving ships at ports along the way.”

Steeped in legend and mythology, the rich history of cat travel features a number of delightful tales.

Viking sailors took cats with them on long journeys and prized the love and beauty of cats, according to mythology detailed in A Brief History of Traveling with Cats.

The Norse goddess of love, fertility and beauty, Freja, had two grey cats, Bygul and Trjegul, to pull her chariot as she travelled. Based on this legend, the gift of a cat was traditionally given to a new bride in a symbol of all Freja represents – passion, magic and destiny.

Travelling cats also feature in modern history. During the First World War, UK Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill famously took a shine to Blackie, the ship cat aboard HMS Prince of Wales. In 1941, he accompanied Churchill across the Atlantic to meet with President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his mission to defend Europe from the Nazis by seeking American support for the Allies.

The large black cat with his distinctive white markings was later renamed Churchill in his honour.

These remarkable cat journeys are a far cry from the realities of travelling with your pet today. So next time you bundle up your fluffy friend into its cat carrier and embark on your travel adventure, imagine how these travelling cats of years gone by would think of its surrounds.

Cocooned in a travel carrier as modern as the versatile SleepyPod, newly available from Land of Meow, cat travel today is convenient and safe. The airline approved Sleepypod is ideal for travelling and has passed numerous safety tests to ensure the protection of your cat companion.

Embark on adventures great and small with your cat thanks to the innovative design that allows the carrier to be easily strapped into your car – create a secure bed on your boat!

Land of Meow Sleepypod mobile cat bed