BaxterBoo Blog
September 22, 2017

Quick Tips for Safe and Easy Car Travel With Cats

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If you are getting ready for a trip and your cat is coming along, you want to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible. Most cats do not spend a lot of time in cars, so it can be a bit intimidating for your furry friend. The key is knowing how to introduce your cat to your vehicle and taking the right steps after so that your cat is comfortable for the entire ride.


Find the Right Cat Carrier for Your Cat


It is imperative that your cat is in a carrier for car rides. If an accident were to occur, if your cat is not contained, this could increase the risk of serious injuries. In addition, if your cat becomes scared or anxious and they are loose, this could become a major distraction for you. It is best to keep your cat in a crate or carrier so that they are safe and contained. This might also help to keep your pet calm since the carrier might feel more familiar than the vehicle.


Let Your Cat Get to Know the Car Before Your Trip


The week before you leave, it is a good idea to bring your cat to the car and let them sniff around and check it out. If you have a kitten, be mindful of any areas they might be able to get up into, such as an open vent. Five or 10 minutes of sitting in the car and letting your cat roam around is typically sufficient. You should start this with the car not running and then start it so that your cat is able to hear what the engine sounds like. You should do this once a day for the week leading up to your trip.


In addition to sniffing around, give your cat a bite to eat in the car too. You might consider treats or a full meal, depending on how well your cat is adjusting to being in the car. This helps your cat to see that good and familiar things happen in the car, allowing them to be more comfortable. Play time with a favorite toy or catnip is also a good idea as part of this process.


After the first two to three days, you should take your cat on a short drive. You can simply cruise around your neighborhood for a few minutes for this purpose. Make sure that your cat is in the carrier they will be traveling in so that they get used to it. A drive of 10 to 15 minutes is typically enough for your cat to get used to how a moving car feels.


Put a Familiar Object in the Cat Carrier for Added Comfort


If your cat has a favorite blanket or small pet bed to lie on at home, consider putting this in the carrier with them. This brings a sense of comfort since it is something that they associate with comfort and safety. You might also choose a favorite toy if they have one since this can have a similar calming effect.


Use the Usual Food and Litter Your Cat is Familiar With


You will typically have your cat eat and use the bathroom in the car when you are traveling. Bring their usual food and water bowls, food, litter box and litter. The key is to ensure that the items are familiar so that your cat recognizes them. You can set these up on the floor of the backseat of your vehicle and when it is time for a food, water or bathroom break, let your cat out of the carrier so that they can take care of business. Since your cat might still be a little anxious, make sure that the doors to the vehicle are closed for this so that they are not tempted to flee. You should also be in the car with them to offer comfort and love.


Take Frequent Driving Breaks on Your Trip


Every two to three hours, you should plan for a short break so that your cat can come out of the carrier to use the bathroom, stretch their legs and get a snack. You might consider putting a harness and leash on your cat when you do this to prevent them from taking off if they are scared. This also makes it easier for you to take your cat out of the car to get some fresh air. You also want to ensure that your cat has updated identification tags just in case they do escape.


When you are ready to get back into the vehicle, make sure that the cat carrier is clean before putting them back in. For example, if you cat used the bathroom in the carrier, clean this up before putting them back inside. You should also adjust the crate so that it is not in direct sunlight before you continue your journey.


Talk to Your Veterinarian for Additional Advice


Your veterinarian might have some tips or ideas that are more specific to your cat and their personality. Let your vet know when you plan to take the trip and about how long the drive will take so that they can tailor their advice. Your vet can recommend the right carrier size and products that might make the journey less stressful for your cat.


If your cat tends to be anxious or has an issue, such as motion sickness, your vet can make recommendations for this too. For example, there are medications for feline motion sickness or calming tablets that might be helpful. Your vet can give you suggestions concerning the brand, dosage and administration based on your cat’s size, general health and overall need. This helps to ensure that your cat is as comfortable as possible throughout the entire trip.


You can see that it takes a little work, but you can make your cat as comfortable as possible in your car. Make sure to utilize this information and check your cat frequently throughout the trip so that he or she knows that you are right there with them. 

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This entry was posted by Shauna.

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