Travel Anxiety in Cats
Stress-free Travel With Your Cat
Cats plus cars don’t always equal a smooth ride. Even the shortest trip can turn your sweetest cat into a feral beast. Skip the moaning, crying, pacing, clawing, and hissing with our tips on how to keep your cat comfortable during road trip and avoid any car sickness.
Invest In a Great Cat Carrier
Although the temptation to let your cat roam free in your car is hard to resist, don’t do it. Your cat will be more comfortable confined to her carrier, trust us. The ride will be smoother for her and you don’t have to worry about a roaming cat affecting your driving. Note: Some cats can claw through a cloth carrier so you may want to invest in a plastic one.
Try a Few Trial Runs
Get your kitty used to traveling in her carrier by testing it out a few times throughout the week. Try increasing the length of time as your vacation gets closer. Make sure she has a blanket and her favorite toy to make the time in her carrier pleasant. Over time, she’ll learn to love her carrier and actually relax in it. Also, try a few mini trips to get your cat accustomed to the motion and noise of the car. The more you expose her to travel, the quicker she’ll be at ease with the process.
Be a Safe Driver
Duh … but really avoid going too fast, taking sharp turns, and stick to smooth roads. Traveling by highway is often the best for your kitty because the road is smoother and you’re driving at a steady pace. In addition to that, make sure your music isn’t blasting, the car is at an ideal temperature (not too hot or too cold), and that her carrier is secure and not shifting back and forth. A great spot for the carrier is on the floor in the back seat — the lower center of gravity will reduce any extra movement.
Stop for Potty Breaks
If you’re going on a long road trip, you’ll need to stop for potty breaks and so will your kitty. Once you’re stopped, be sure all the windows and doors are shut and open your cat’s carrier — let her come out on her own. Try putting the litter box on the floor in the back seat across from the carrier. After your kitty has done her business, offer her some water and let her roam around the car for a few minutes before going back in her carrier.
Decrease Car Sickness
Keeping your cat in her carrier and slowly introducing her to the car will decrease your cat’s chances of getting car sick. You’ll also reduce stress and sickness by driving slowly and steadily and regulating the car’s temperature. Mostly importantly, don’t feed your cat three hours prior to your trip. Check her often throughout the ride and make sure she has plenty of water. If your cat is ultra-sensitive, ask your vet about medication to decrease motion sickness or a sedative to lower her stress level — another reason for car sickness.
Protect Your Cat
You should never leave your cat unattended in the car for any length of time. Heat exhaustion can happen fast and can be deadly. Make sure someone is always watching her or take her with you. Proper tags and a micro-chip are also important. Traveling can be very disorienting for your kitty so she might get frightened and run off. Having the proper identification will increase her chances of getting back to you safely.