Car Travel Tips for Cats

Traveling with cats can be super stressful for everyone involved. I had a vision if I ever owned a cat mine would be adventure cat, fearless roaming the neighborhood and ever curious. Unrealistic expectations, as she turned out to be scaredy cat. She was just over a year old when she unexpectedly adopted me.

My sweet cat broke her back leg 12 weeks ago and needless to say there have been many trips to the vet as well as finding creative ways to keep her calm and happy through a 3 months period of being mostly confined in her cage to restrict her movement. Jumping was forbidden by the vet during her recovery. How that all happened is a long story.

It would have been ideal to start training her as a kitten to ever have had the potential of enjoying a spin in the car. As this was not my case. Patience, patience and more patience from us both and some practical planning on my part made the trips and entire process easier. In essence I tried to appeal to all her senses to keep her calm.
Here are a few tricks that were beneficial.

Cat Relax App

Try different apps that play soothing music and sounds to calm the cat at the tap of a 
button. Play the relaxing music for a short while daily when the cat is already relaxed and in and out of snooze mode. Test their response to get a feel for their taste in cat app music. The Cat Relax app features appease, stimulate and reassure mode.

Sleepypod Cat Carrier
Get a comfortable Cat Carrier

Even if you do not foresee the need to travel with your cat in a car besides a vet check up or for vaccinations, emergencies happen in which case your kitty will likely already be in a hyper stressed state. A cat carrier is a non negotiable, can’t have your feline rogue in the car. One that can be secured by a seat belt is even better. You can buy a good quality cat carrier that doubles up as a cat bed. SleepyPod has well designed attractive carriers with certified safety features and are extremely comfortable for your cat. There are some optional accessories you could add on depending on how you would like to use the carrier.

Prepare the Cat Carrier

Get the carrier out well in advance of the car trip and wipe it out with a wet cloth to remove dust and smells. Place it in the living area with a clean towel inside (or something that smells like yourself or your cat). Let your cat explore this new space on his or her own terms. It may take some time for the rest of the house smell to permeate the carrier. Once they are comfortable snoozing in the pet bed come carrier, they won’t have that dreaded ‘who are you trying to fool’ frown when you try shut them into the carrier and carry them to the car.

Test Run

Once the cat seems satisfied, place it in the car with the engine off, followed by rides around the block to gently acclimatize your cat. This also gives you the opportunity to know what to expect and resolve any issues that might arise such as motion sickness. You can then check with your vet for appropriate medication or perhaps try feliway (spray some in the carrier about 15 minutes before you leave). Do not feed your cat up to 4 hours before traveling in the car. Keep the carrier in an area of the car that will receive good air circulation. Avoid direct sunlight on the carrier for longer trips. Keep treats in the car for these short trips to reward your cat.

Checklist for travelling with a cat

Besides the carrier and particularly for longer road trips you will need to take along their water and food bowls again with the associated smells of home. You should continue feeding your cat the food it usually eats, as well as the same water it usually drinks. If your cat usually drinks tap water, take some along with you in a bottle. You can also pack bedding and toys as well as a disposable litter tray or small litter tray, fresh litter and a collar and leash for breaks. Don’t forget to press play on your phone’s cat relax app for some soulful feline tunes.

Many cats are terrified of traveling. There are associated negative experiences such as trips to the vet or worse the boarding cattery. Mine is simply terrified.  Hopefully with some careful planning and the trust factor well established when it comes to the car, short trips and longer road trips can become more tolerable or even an enjoyable mini adventure (wishful thinking).
 

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