Lonely Planet Writer

How to get your cat to travel: tips from this wandering feline's owner

Mao May is quickly becoming one of the most well-travelled cats on Instagram. She has been around France, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain with the help of her owner Giulia Cremonese and has a fondness for photo-bombing famous sites.

Mao May hangs around outside Zurich.

In the era of emotional support animals, it’s still unusual to see a cat travelling around but Giulia told Lonely Planet that it was born more out of necessity. Mao is a Korat cat, a breed which typically doesn’t like to be alone. “The first time I went to Paris for two days, when I come back she screamed for hours, I couldn’t even go into another room without her crying.”

Some important planning for the next trip.

In response, she decided to bring Mao with her next time and found the experience surprisingly easy and resulted in lots of funny pictures too. It was her boyfriend Phllippe who encouraged her to set up an Instagram account to document it all.

Normally Mao prefers to travel in Giulia’s backpack. “The leash is just to be sure she doesn’t run away” she said. “I put her in my bag to go to the post office or shopping and she prefers to stay there. She is very curious and like to look around but like humans, she has days when she wants to travel and others she doesn’t.”

Mao is most comfortable in her backpack.

The biggest thing for Giulia is to have a little patience when travelling with a furry companion. “When you travel with an animal, you have to respect her timing to eat, drink and use the toilet. Luckily she is very clean but with a dog I think it’s easier as cats need more quiet.”

The reaction to Mao’s travels has been wonderful both online and off. She has more than 21,000 followers after being featured by Instagram and the positivity extends to the real world too. “Everywhere I go, people became crazy. Mao is very sociable and speaks a lot!”

Mao pops up at Notre Dame.

“When I travel with her I have to ask hotels if I can take the cat with me. At first they are perplexed because I think they’re not used to this question. Then they say ok, but always with a tax, €15 a night usually. I don’t have to pay for her on public transport though because she is a little animal.”

Mao is quite popular when out and about.

You can follow Mao’s adventures on Instagram here and, as a cultured kitty, you might pick up some history and architecture lessons too.