West Alabama Animal Clinic Articles Tips to Ease Traveling with Your Cat

Tips to Ease Traveling with Your Cat

By msb  Feb. 28, 2012 12:49p

Why Cats Hate Cars
It’s safe to say that most cats don't travel by car very often and the most common car trip is usually to the vet, which causes enough anxiety by itself. Getting stressed out by the car ride to the vet may make it difficult for the veterinarian to tell what is "normal" and what is “stress-related behavior” for some cats. Here are some tips to reduce travel stress to West Alabama Animal Clinic and beyond.

The Carrier
For the safety of the driver and the cat, cats should always be transported in carriers. Cats startle easily and can interfere with the driver when they are stressed. Letting your cat explore the cat carrier at their own pace and without a pending trip is always a good idea. Offering them a treat or small amount of food during this process may help persuade them into the carrier.

Feliway for the Carrier, Car and Home
Feliway, a pheromone product, is a great "secret weapon" for calming cats down. Spraying your home and/or car before you attempt to transport your cat can help put them at ease before a stressful situation. This spray can also be applied to the towel or bedding in the carrier to induce a state of calm and content in your cat and hopefully eliminate any negative associations. A Feliway®-spritzed towel can be used to cover the carrier so the cat feels safe and "hidden." This product is also available as a room diffuser for regular usage.

Cat Transportation
Even though your cat will be inside a crate, it's helpful for your kitty to experience positive things about the car before you start the engine. Cats are sensitive to environment and territory which is why they prefer staying home in familiar surroundings. So allowing your cat to make the car more familiar by rubbing against the interior, spreading their scent and claiming the car as their personal territory, they'll feel more relaxed and calm during car trips. Five minutes should be long enough. Be ready to get your cat back into safe, non-scary surroundings should they act overwhelmed. Repeat this five-minute car visit a couple times a day for several days until your kitty stays calm during the routine.

Short Trips
Once your cat accepts the car as their territory, place them in their carrier, set it on the back seat (away from air bag), and start the car. Then turn off the motor and get out without going anywhere. Do this three or four times during the day until the pet takes it as a matter of course. Each time, give your cat lots of affection or other rewards once they are released from the crate. Finally, once your cat is comfortable with the car being turned on, back the car to the end of the driveway and stop. Do this two or three times in a row, and continue to increase the car trips in increments: trips around the block, then a trip down the street, and so on. Make every car trip upbeat and positive so the experience makes the cat look forward to the next trip. If your cat cries or shows stress, you may be moving too fast for them. The process takes forever, but it works. And while it may be considered a hassle to take your cat for a quick ride of no consequence, it may help reduce car anxiety and build confidence in your cat with each car ride.

Creative Scheduling
Request that we schedule your cat's appointment during quieter times of the day. West Alabama Animal Clinic has a cat-only entrance and waiting rooms which also help to keep cats calm.

Sedation Medication
If your cat is one that will not be calmed in the car or at our clinic, please ask us about the possibility of giving your cat a light sedation at home prior to the trip. This may maximize the thoroughness of our exam while reducing your cat's stress.

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