Many of us that attempt any travel with cats, even a trip to the vet, realize how traumatic it can be for our cat, and for us. There are some steps cat owners can take to make car travel less stressful for all concerned. As with any change, it must be done very gradually so the cat can ease into the new experience.
It’s important to have an appropriately sized carrier for your cat to ride in, rather than allowing him to roam freely in the car. The hard plastic ones with wire doors and vents along the sides work well. Add a blanket, towel or washable carrier pad to make it more comfortable for him.
Make sure your cat has identification, preferably a collar with ID tags, and a microchip ID is a great backup. Make sure any contact information is up to date so you can be easily contacted in the event your cat escapes.
Some cats suffer from motion sickness, so don’t feed your cat or give him water for a few hours before you travel. If he is extremely anxious, try flower essences like Rescue Remedy to calm him. For cats, car sickness is usually due to anxiety about the new environment, so keeping him calm will help minimize illness in the car.
Travel With Cats Is A Gradual Process
As I mentioned earlier, introducing new experiences to your cat can be a slow process, but if done gradually your cat can become much more tolerant of car travel. Here are steps to introduce your cat to travel:
- Get him used to car noise. Take your cat to the car, open the door slowly and sit down, holding your cat on your lap, then turn on the car. Reward him with a treat, exit the car with your cat and go back into the house. Repeat several times and reward her with a treat each time.
- Introduce him to the car’s motion. Take your cat to the car as before, turn the car on. Back out of the driveway, then stop the car. Reward him with a treat, then repeat.
- Familiarize your cat to travel. Building on the steps above, after getting your cat into the car, take a drive around the block, rewarding him with a treat after each excursion. Gradually add more distance, being sure to keep reinforcing positively with treats and praising him for good behavior.
It can take a while, but in the end you may very well have a fun new feline travel buddy!